11 more planks

Three more basic open goods wagons for the GWR – all from 7mm Walsall kits.

February was a good month for building things in 7mm scale. In addition to completing two kits for GWR non passenger-carrying coaching stock, I also finished three more Walsall Model Industries photo-etched brass kits for open wagons.


The two at the back in the above photo are four-plank examples. Having completed one of these relatively recently, I was very familiar with the assembly process so I tackled these kits simultaneously. I’m pleased that building these two took about the same amount of time as building my first one: it means I’m more comfortable with the prototypes, with Walsall’s instructions, and with the actual construction techniques. My soldering is getting much better.


The wagon in front is a three-plank open. This is also a Walsall kit. It comes with straight end walls, but the instructions noted that one could modify the kit to give it rounded ends. I thought that would add a different look to my fleet of opens, so that’s what I did.

I won’t go into full details of how I did this, but to make the arch, I used the end-wall portion of a brass fret from a Walsall Iron Mink to trace the curve onto four scraps of brass from other frets. (Note to self: Always save your frets!)

I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out.

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

8 thoughts on “11 more planks

  1. Yep, I see the squared off wagons all the time but that arched end really looks distinctive. I certainly fits the period.

    I should also add that I’m a bit jealous of your modelling skill as all your wagons look gorgeous. And, yes, soldering such things is a real maker skill. Kudos!

    Note that my knowledge of that period is flawed as I’m presently gearing up to build a small branch line railway covering the LNER (BR) circa 1949.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, James. My soldering is not really that great. But I did start building my batch of kits with the easiest and worked my way towards more challenging subjects. It also helps that many of these prototypes have rudimentary appliances – eg: a simple hand brake with a lever only on one side. That greatly simplifies construction.

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  2. Nice work, Trevor.
    The rounded ends were to help support canvas sheets (tarpaulins) but without a central bar between the ends, wouldn’t have done a lot to help. They were removed at about the same time as the GWR wagon livery changed from red to grey (although no one is sure quite when that happened, except no later than 1904, and no earlier than 1892: 1896/7 seems a popular choice right now)*. One thing is almost certain, that round ends wouldn’t have appeared on grey wagons. Which information (not available at the time of construction) means that at some stage I have a wagon or two awaiting re-painting.
    * Unlike locos (average every 2-3 years), coaches (3-5 years), goods wagons weren’t repainted frequently, usually when repaired due to accidental damage or on a scheduled update/repair, typically after about 7 years or more**, and of course in all cases, things could slip through the system.
    ** This is part of the problem with establishing when red oxide (“box car red”!) was changed to grey. We know for certain that red was used at least until the end of the broad gauge in 1892, and that grey was definitely used in conjunction with the large (25” high) GW lettering introduced in 1904, but no copies of a letter telling staff to stop using red have come to light. (I suspect that when the decision was made, old stocks of red were used up and then grey was sent out to the various repair shops.) Candidates for the change are:
    1893: when the small G.W.R moved from the lower left hand side of the body to the lower right hand side;
    1894: when cast number and ownership plates were introduced on new builds;
    1898: when cast number plates were used more generally, I.e. on repairs and repaints as they became due; and
    1904: when the large GW was introduced, as mentioned above.
    There is also the question of whether the whole wagon including the complete underframe was red, or if the below-solebars area was grey. In the grey era, it was all grey and I personally think the GWR went for all-over red, but nobody knows for sure! Also, brakevans (“Toads”) were painted grey for at least a decade if not two before the rest of the revenue rolling stock was grey.
    Personally, I think red persisted up to either 1894 (with grey introduced on new builds) or 1898 (anything repainted as part of a repair/overhaul) with a mixture in place for a number of years: some red wagons would have gone straight into the large GW scheme without cast plates ever being fitted) as reports circa 1904 refer to both colours existing, suggesting that there were sufficient quantities of both around at that time.
    I am plumping for either 1894 or 1898 for my modelling (set in late 1904) which means, to me at least, that certain designs will only be in grey with cast plates, and the rest will be split roughly 2:5 in red with “painted” letters to grey with plates.
    But you takes your choice!
    The last cast plate was recorded in 1913, by the way.

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    1. Thanks Simon. The info on paint is very useful. I’ve decided I want a mix of the red and grey vehicles – more grey overall, but with a few reds still in the mix. Otherwise, it seems, a GWR branch in the very early 20th century would be very monotone!

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      1. Interesting. I’ve found no references to red cattle trucks. Not disputing what you’re saying – just noting that I’m missing that piece of the puzzle. I will likely paint at least one of my older examples in red. Cheers!

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