Thursday, May 05, 2016

How I weathered some LGB Feldbahn timber wagons and added pit prop loads

One of the sources of traffic on the Peckforton Light Railway is timber. In my imagined history (see A short history of the Peckforton Light Railway), Lord Tollemache developed the forestry on his estate to establish a thriving industry in timber with a sawmill based beside Peckforton Station. Recent developments at the station (see How I extended Peckforton Station) and the acquisition of new rolling stock (see Progress Report 64) have focused attention on the timber traffic on the line.

I have been planning on making or adapting some rolling stock to carry pit props and/or shorter lengths of lumber for some time, so when the opportunity arose to buy some LGB fedbahn stake wagons, I didn't hesitate.

My first job was to dismantle them and give the main bodywork of each wagon a spray of Halford's grey primer from an aerosol rattle can.

However, very few of the wagons on my railway remain in pristine condition for long (see How I weather my wagons) and I like to give all my wagons removable loads (see Progress Report 39) to facilitate fairly realistic freight operations on the line (see Managing freight on the railway).

The first job was to weather the wagons. I followed my usual approach - daubing mucky dark brown and rust coloured acrylics ............

...... on to the wagon body, making sure it penetrated all the cracks and crevices, .........

 ........ and then wiping most of it off with a paper towel before it dries.

As you can see, this accentuates the planking and the indented wood grain.

The same process was repeated for the sole bars and underframes, .......

...... though a more rust-coloured mix of colours was used on the metalwork.

As I like my wagon loads to be removable (so wagons can run loaded in one direction and empty on the return trip), I cut pieces of mounting board the same size as the wagon floor.

 The position of the planking was marked on to the board .......

..... and then scribed with the blade of a screwdriver.

The false floors were then given a coat of grey acrylic to match the body of the wagons. Both sides of the card were painted to stop the board from warping as the paint dried and also to seal the board against damp.

Some research on the web (eg Mike Smith's marvellous resource on railway wagon loads), revealed that pit props were usually between 2' 6" and 11' in length and between 3" and 12" in diameter. With this in mind I scoured the woodland near my house for dead branches and twigs which were between 4mm and 16mm in diameter.

I found elderberry stems and the prunings from a lime tree to be the most suitable, but of course a lot depended on what happened to be available in my neck of the woods.

Wagon 1 - short pit prop load

I decided the first wagon would be loaded with the shortest 2'6" (ie 40mm) pit props. My trusty bench-hook was pressed into service and, with the help of a junior hacksaw, ......

...... a pile of  pit props steadily grew. I decided to use the elderberry stems as these seemed to represent lumber stripped of its bark.

A couple of lengths of stripwood were cut to the length of the wagon floor and stained (with watered down acrylics) to emphasise the grain. The first layer of pit props was laid on them, angled down to the middle using external grade PVA to hold them in place.

Once the first layer was complete, I placed them into the wagon and prepared for the next layer with more PVA.

And so the layers were built-up ........

..... until the wagon was fully laden.

Wagon 2 - Medium length pit props

For the second wagon, I cut a load of twigs 80mm in length (to represent 5' long pit props).

These were laid across the removable board ........

....... in layers ........

....... until this wagon was fully loaded.

 Wagons 3 & 4 - Long pit prop loads

For the remaining two wagons, the stakes were re-inserted and timbers 112mm (scale 7')  in length were laid lengthways on the boards.


Once completed, the wagons were given a few test runs on the new timber yard sidings at Peckforton Station (see How I extended Peckforton Station).

The new wagons have now been added to my freight handling computer program (see My revised freight handling program). These wagons have provided an opportunity for a new freight movement to be added - pit props being shipped from the timber yard at Peckforton directly to the Copper Mine (with empties returning). So, do I add pit prop wagons to one of the regular trains of empty skips or do I run a special service up the Copper Mine Branch? Just the sort of question which an Operations Manager on a real light railway might have to address. The beauty of getting the computer program to generate the freight movements is that each operating session becomes unique.

The only difficulty I now face is that I am running out of storage space in the garage (see How I created storage roads in the garage)! But maybe there might be room for one or two more wagons??


Ian Thomas said...

Excellent article, weathering and loads is something that is usually an afterthought in most build articles so its nice to see a step by step approach. One of the advantages of a blog as opposed to a magazine article, space.

Ge Rik said...

Thanks Ian. My general approach to weathering tends to be fairly quick and easy. Sometimes though, I spend a bit more time and use weathering powders and/or a light spray from an aerosol.