Barrels, baskets, bales

I’m still working on the goods items for my goods depot. Here’s a selection of various items I've been working on recently. Apologies for getting a bit long-winded with this, but I enjoy learning a bit about goods items as I go along – it’s all part of the scene, after all.

H0 and 0 casks from Frenchman River Works. Great texture and six hoops, which is rare on model casks despite being very common in reality.

The FRW barrels again, now painted. At first I thought they were too rickety for an Edwardian goods depot, but then realized that they represent “dry slack” casks with wooden hoops as used for fruit, tobacco, nails etc - as opposed to “dry tight” casks for eg flour and salted products, and “wet tight” casks for beer, wine etc. Slack casks were typically of inferior materials and workmanship, and were often only used once. An interesting topic in itself, see eg this website.

White metal beer casks from Dart castings. They are reasonable mouldings, but do require some work on the mould lines and flash. This particular type represents Firkins. The whole topic of unit sizes is fascinating but bewildering. For example, a wine and beer Hogshead were not quite the same, and a particular cask unit could be either fat or tall

The Dart casks after painting. Pins on the extreme left, the rest are Firkins. The light ones are work in progress. There’s a slight “Warhammer” look to these casks, but then these close-ups are very cruel.

Prost! Large beer casks from German Kotol. I’m a bit ambivalent about turned wood barrels: The wood grain is often too large for 4mm. Translated to 4mm I would say these are roughly equal to a Butt (a word of advice: don’t try to Google butt and beer in the same sentence!).

These lightly modified casks from Hornby have a nice feel to them, and unlike many other model casks they actually have a bung hole (don’t Google that either). I’m thinking they are Hogsheads. Hoops can be hard to paint neatly, so I painted some masking tape in a rust colour, and wrapped it around the existing moulded hoops. Oxidization of the hoops seemed to happen very quickly on new barrels.

The Hornby casks in place. Most 4mm casks only have four hoops, and at first I thought this was wrong for the larger types of casks. But photos from GWR goods sheds reveal several examples of casks with just four hoops, apparently irrespective of size and date. See GWR Goods Services Part 2A pages 6, 55, 59, 63, 92, 102, 163. On the other hand, there were clearly also many six-hooped barrels in Edwardian days, see eg the wonderful photo on p. 68 of the same volume. So both types would be appropriate, it seems.

On to baskets. These wicker baskets are also from Hornby, now sadly discontinued. There are long debates about Hornby on here, but some of their goods items are fairly good - design clever, in fact!

Gem whitemetal pigeon baskets (ebay seller’s image). At first I thought they were missing the external louvres for light and air that are evident on latter-day types. However, a bit of research suggested that some early types were in fact quite similar to the Gem offerings. See for example this drawing.

It seems this type of pigeon basket was closed with straps, so out came the masking tape again, painted and folded to look like straps. Incidentally, for 7mm modellers Skytrex have some pigeon baskets in their large range of goods items.

Hen’s teeth. After much searching I managed to track down this discontinued Preiser H0 “kit” for produce baskets.

Painted hen's teeth. Photos from the 1900s show baskets of various sizes in goods sheds – both full and empty, and not just in large quantities but also individually or two or three together. The cabbages are a loose fit so far, would they have been covered with something during transport?

Unsung hero. The humble goods sack, illustrated by a rather good whitemetal example from Dart Castings.

More white-metal sacks from Dart Castings, now painted. I might make some more of the flat, stacked ones to my own design. When I was boy playing with toy soldiers, I made sandbags from clay and loo paper.

I wanted some wool bales and decided to make them myself. I began with this type. Finding the right fabric is tricky. Hessian and similar materials looks overscale in 4mm. I ended up with a thin, soft and fairly tightly woven material for making sheets. It was wrapped around a length of plastic rod (several rods laminated to get the right shape), and fixed in place using Loctite Powerflex. The ends are individual cut-outs of fabric, soaked in glue and smoothed tightly to the rest of the bale, giving the impression of a seam.

The rope was simulated by sewing thread. The thread was sewn to the bottom of the bale, wrapped around, sewn again to the bottom, etc. My wife watched with a strained smile, I suppose she would have preferred me to take up sky-diving.

Despite pulling the thread tight, I wasn’t too successful in achieving the bulge between the “roping”. Experiments with a soft “core” of cotton wool didn’t seem to help. This is the best I could do for now.

Next up was a different type of bale, the pressed ones illustrated here.I used the same fabric, but dyed it using an age-old technique: Dunk it in Carr’s sleeper stain and weather with baby powder. Apparently, manual bale presses were in use well before the turn of the century.

To get that bulging look, I wrapped the fabric around H section plastic rod and stuffed it with cotton wool. More manly pursuits!

The bales in place on the mezzanine floor. I'm not entirely satisfied. Even this fabric looks overscale in the texture. But I'm tired of fiddling with them, so apart from a bit of weathering this will have to do.

Inspired by Nick’s cider boxes and Job’s whisky crates (many thanks gents!), I’ve experimented with making small crates from folded paper. I found some photos ofthis attractive Coleman’s crate on the web, allegedly correct for the period. The photos were scaled down, edited, and printed. As this is supposed to be a wooden crate, I glued the prints to sections of plastic rod in order to avoid the folds and sagging that would haved suggested a cardboard box. As far as I understand, cardboard boxes where only just coming into use as transport containers around this time, and I can’t recall seeing any in photos of 1900s goods sheds (but please do correct me if I’m mistaken).

The Coleman’s crates came out OK, but most small crates of the period had an unpainted natural wood look which I find difficult to create in paper. So I’ve now ordered some paper-thin wood veneer that can be used in inkjet printers. Should make for an interesting little experiment.