GWR horse-drawn trolley


Here’s another horse-drawn vehicle for my goods depot, this time a scratchbuilt light trolley in the GWR’s “Birmingham” style. The model was built from styrene and bits in my spares box, with wheels
bought in from Langley.

Drawings and photos suggest that there was a bewildering amount of detail variation within this basic type. I based my model on a drawing on page 241 of P. Kelley's "Great Western Road Vehicles", which was built in several lots. Another almost identical version can be seen on page 243 of the same volume. Various photos of the trolleys in action at Hockley can be seen here, although my particular version is closer to one depicted at Slough on page 38 of "GWR Goods Services" Part 2A.


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The vehicles had a protective canvas cover over the driver which could be extended backwards over the load in wet weather. The canvas was held by hoops over the seat, which – unlike many other goods delivery vehicles – seem to have been permanently fitted. In typical old-world fashion, these otherwise mundane vehicles had moulded panels along the sides. I fashioned the latter from strips of Evergreen - could've done with a Silhouette cutter there!



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The wheels were a bit of a problem. The closest I could find were Langley’s 12mm wheels. These are 0.9 mm too small and have 11 spokes where they should have 12. In the end I compromised and used them. If I find better wheels I'll replace them. The springs are modified leftovers from Coopercraft wagon kits.



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The fore carriage and shafts were a nice little puzzle to build. The drawing does not clearly show the type of shafts used. The GWR used several varieties, with designs becoming simpler over the years. To cut a long story short, I chose the graceful “curvy” style of the earlier types.



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Main parts assembled and ready for painting.



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Lettering presented the usual problem when you need non-standard sizes. Photos of trolleys from the 1900s show some with serif lettering, some with sans serifs. Some have numbers at the front, others at the rear. I eventually used HMRS Hawksworth coach lettering (!), which is a compromise but not too far off for sans serif lettering. I've only just noticed the broken spoke - a fault in the casting it seems.


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The weather sheet fitted. Again there was variety on the prototypes. On some vehicles the sheet extended all the way down over the sides, on others it stopped short above the deck. The sheet was fashioned from a wagon tarpaulin from the Smiths range, turned over to hide the lettering.



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Final detailing included adding a few bits of this fine chain which I've only recently discovered. It is imported by Cambrian Models and has the great advantage of being pre-blackened. It is 33 links per inch, and can be obtained from Cambrian themselves or by internet order from H&A Models (I have no connection to either).



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For horse power, I chose the recently introduced "feathered" Vanner from Dart, seen here on the left together with a mate from Shirescenes for comparison. As always with figures, I prefer relaxed/calm poses - and I liked the way the Vanner was bending its head down. The bucket was fashioned from bits in the spares box. Keeping draught horses in good shape was taken very seriously, and photos show them both feeding and drinking while waiting at goods depots (eg here).





So that's about it. It's been interesting to scratchbuild this vehicle and thereby learn about the design of these vehicles. Sometimes doing a small project like this can bring as much satisfaction (and challenge!) as a whole layout, I think.

Comments

  1. What a lovely model, Mikkel. The care and attention to detail are exemplary and it's beautifully finished. Shame you can't convert this into a kit and sell it!

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    1. Thanks Chas, glad you like it. You're not the first to mention the kit idea. I wouldn't know where to start, but others might: I think if there was an entrepenurial kit manufacturer out there it might be a good idea to look at horse drawn company vehicles.

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  2. A beautifully made and finished model, as always. I particularly liked the fore carriage and shafts, a very fine bit of styrene woodwork! I didn't know anything about Vanner horses...I do now! The modern ones are a bit like "My Little Pony" on steroids, but your version I think is perfect and in a great, relaxed pose. Another inspirational post!

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    1. Hi Ian, "my little pony on steroids", that had me laughing out loud :-) The fore carriage and shafts were fun to build, although I imagine this is the kind of work that will soon be left to the new "cameo cutter" techniques, see eg the amazing developments in this RMweb thread:

      http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/79025-a-guide-to-using-the-silhouette-cameo-cutter/

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    2. Ah, yes, I have had my eye on that thread for a while, and counting my pennies. Traceries for signal boxes, ornamental barge-boards and all the rest would be very easily output, by the looks of it.

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    3. Yes, the possibilities are endless when you think about it. I imagine the workshop of the future will include 3D printers and cameo cutters and what not. Hopefully there'll still be room for a bit of old-school modelling!

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  3. Yet another fascinating and interesting post Mikkel not to mention some superb modelling. The 'Vanner' with it's head in the bucket looks fantastic and so natural.

    I agree with you about small projects giving as much satisfaction as a layout and even more so when the contents of the spares box has been put to such good use.

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    1. Hi Geoff, yes I agree the horse does add a lot. Another win for the Dart Castings horses (no connection etc).

      It would be fun to have a "build something using only parts from your spares box" challenge. Mind you, it would would be very difficult to make sure people didn't cheat!

      "Honest Guv, I just happened to have these parts for Windsor Cathedral in my spares box".

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  4. An excellent build, Mikkel, and beautifully painted too

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  5. Hi Lee, thanks for that. I do like the GWR's colour scheme for their horse-drawn wagons. The brown body and red wheels suit each other well.

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  6. Hi Mikkel,
    What a fantastic horse drawn model, I hope you do some more please.
    Can you tell me what dimensions the fore carriage and shafts are also what size styrene.
    Thanks

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  7. Hi David, I've just had a quick look with my ruler. The fore carriage is 1.7 mms across, and the styrene is 0.5 mm square rod. Be warned that those dimensions may not be exactly to scale, I'm not sure but I vaguely remember that I had to do some guesswork with the fore carriage.

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