Ex-private-owner mineral wagons

models and photos by Tony McSean

Both have been made from Slaters kits. The moulded running gear on these kits really is finely represented and does full justice to the (to modern eyes) spindly underframe detail. It is also child's play to construct a square and level underframe (on the basis that if I can do it first time, every time it must be pretty easy). So in deference to my own limitations, and perhaps my desire to get painting, the kits are constructed almost entirely as bought, apart from 3-link couplings and Gibson wheelsets. The only addition was to fit the internal ironwork using styrene strip and to replace the moulded handles on the end-door with brass wire.

The painting and weathering took absolutely ages, but once it was finished I was very pleased with the result. The method is taken from an article in the model press and seeks to mimic what happens in real life. You start off by painting all the woodwork in a pale, orangey yellow to look like brand new timber – I matched it to a handy offcut I was using as a base for soldering work. Then you wash over the model with many, many coats of heavily thinned darkish grey paint. This gradually dims the newness of the "planks" into their workaday condition, and the process also allows you (with care) to vary the amount of wear on different planks, to simulate the piecemeal repair and replacement undergone by the prototype.

Strictly speaking, you should do this inside as well as out, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to do this convincingly and left the inside evenly weathered on the basis that wiggly variations would look far less convincing. And you can't see both faces of a wagon side simultaneously. The heavily-thinned paint also washes nicely into the gaps between the planks and simulates the build-up of grime between plank and iron.

The last phase was to paint the ironwork. After 1939 this was the only bit that ever did get painted and then only rarely. So the grey paint is left fairly vestigial. I was aiming to portray the wagons at the very end of their life when they were being phased out rapidly. There is rust and decay everywhere, but that's what I remember when trainspotting around Stratford at that time. The lettering was some of the last of my Woodhead transfers, but the Fox and HMRS equivalents are at least as good if slightly less easy to use.

© Tony McSean

November 1999