Wagon Construction - Building the Parkside 16t Mineral Wagon Kit (PS30)

Prototype History

Hundreds of thousands of the ubiquitous BR all-steel 16 ton mineral wagons were built to several very similar designs. The subject of this article is the Diagram 1/108 version, which was not only the most common of all mineral wagons designs, but also the most common of all BR wagon diagrams.

Diagram 1/108 abandoned the use of bottom doors and this made the fitting of morton brakes possible. Documentary evidence states that double brakes were fitted, but there is photgraphic evidence to indicate that this was not always the case. Construction was all welded, as opposed to the rivetted construction used on some earlier diagrams and upper and lower side doors were fitted.

Contruction commenced in 1950 with Lot 2223 (B70400-70899) and proceeded through numerous Lots through to 1957 with Lot 3219 (B594350-594749), making a total of 206,444 wagons! Many of the later Lots were vacuum braked.

The history of these wagons is complex. For an in depth study, the reader is referred to Donald Rowland's 'British Railways Wagons' book (David and Charles, ISBN 0 7153 8183 0).

The Kit

This kit was originally available under the Parkside Dundas brand, but since Parkside have been taken over by Peco, it is now sold under the 'Parkside by Peco' brand.
Like all Parkside kits (and most 7mm scale kits for that matter), this model is supplied in a box which is suitable for storage of the completed model.
When opened, the box contains a collection of packages containing all the parts necessary to complete the model. Wheels are supplied as are sprung buffers, couplings and transfers. All that is needed to complete the kit is tools, glue and paint.

Getting Started - Building the Chassis

When building any rolling stock kit, I always start with building the chassis: get this straight and sorted from the beginning and the rest of the kit will go together nicely. If the chassis isn't square, the model can never be square and will have all kinds of running problems for ever more.
This kit utilises the standard Parkside pattern of axle boxes prototypically moving up and down within the W irons as a means of compensation. Two plates form the axle box and 'sandwich' the W irons, with a cover on the outside and a brass bearing (supplied) is pushed into the back, thereby retaining the whole assembly. The W irons are separate to the solebars.
Following on from my experience with Building the Parkside PO Mineral Wagon Kit (PS33), I decided to check for excessive axle side-play before I constructed this kit. Needless to say, this kit has the same problem:

The left side solebar is fixed to the base plate. The right solebar is not fixed. The axles are pushed into the bearings as far as they will go. It can be seen that it is not posible to position the right solebar at right angles to the base plate without causing a significant axle side-play problem ie the axleboxes are too far apart.

I have raised this with Peco in the past. They advised that the reason for the side-play was to enable the chassis to be built and then the wheels fitted afterwards.
Personally, I don't believe this is good advice or a good construction method because it results in a badly running model. There's no excuse for this in 7mm scale!
I prefer to fit the wheels at the same time as I construct a chassis so that I can ensure that everything is square and tight from the start, with no side-play. Fitting wheels afterwards causes solebars to need to be bent outwards. They tend not to fully go back to their original position, exacerbating the side-play problem.

To resolve the side-play problem, I filled in the recess on the backs of the axle boxes, making them level. The recess is intended to house the hat surround of the bearings but actually isn't necessary. My modification has the effect of the bearings not protruding into the axle boxes as far, thereby reducing the distance between two axle boxes and therefor, eliminating the side-play problem.
The following image shows the axle boxes in different stages of modification progress. The back two are completed. The front left has been drilled to accept the bearing. The front right has had the recess filled, but it yet to be drilled.

The above image also shows circular mould marks on the back of the solebar - these do need to be filed off otherwise the chassis framework will not fit.

Assembling the Body

Following assembly of the chassis, I commenced fitting the body. This proved to be problematic because the kit actually doesn't fit together properly! The following images show how the body sides do not line up to be level at the top with the ends:

The solution was to file down the black supporting brackets (lower red ring of last image above) which are part of the base plate moulding so that the sides sit lower on them. The ends have several mouldings which line them up with the base plate and chassis framing, so they are not the problem. Once filed down, the sides fit correctly and squarely. 'Dry running' before assembly is recommended.
The following images show the result of filing down the support brackets and refitting the body sides:

Once the body is complete, triangular gussets with overhangs are fitted to the top corners:

Assembling the Chassis Detail

Fitting the chassis detail is a straightforward process on this kit.

Firstly, I fitted the buffers. As with all Parkside kits, this model has sprung buffers. I assemble the buffers as self-contained units (with a dab of superglue to stop the nuts coming undone) and then push them into the buffer beam holes. This saves having to fit tiny nuts on the backs of buffers within the confines of the chassis framework.
One of the four buffers required some reaming out so that the buffer shaft would thread through the chank, but otherwise, all assembled correctly and working without problems.
The instructions note that when fitting the buffers, the short web on the shank goes uppermost - this is important to remember as I find I'm always looking this up for every kit I build!
The image below shows how I have filed the faces of the buffers to remove the residual effects of turning. Had I not done this, the buffers would appear to have an uneven surface once painted.

Since this model will represent an early unfitted version, it would not have been fitted with 'instanter' couplings, therefore, I fitted three-link couplings.
Buffers and couplings fitted:

I usually leave the fitting of brake rigging until last as it tends to be quite fragile and easily broken accidentally when working on other parts of a model.
Early, unfitted versions of this wagon had the simplest of brake rigging: a single set of brake shoes on one side with brake handles on both sides and a connecting shaft between the two V hangers. Connecting shafts were only possible because the prototype had now abandoned bottom doors.
The casual observer might rightly suggest that this style of braking has evolved little from the days of horse-drawn plate-ways!

There is a tendancy to fit the brake shoes, however, with Parkside kits, there is a couple of steps which must occur before this and I have been guilty of missing these in the past: thread the brake guides onto the brake rods first and ensure that crossrod which links the two V hangers actually threads through any necessary holes. Otherwise, you will need to find a way to fit the guides with the rod already in place. I have done this by spliting the guides (to break their closed loop) and then fitting them over the rods. Likewise, drilling holes needs to be done carefully 'in-situ'. Not ideal, but it works.
The following images show the brake rigging and underchassis detail:


Prior to painting, a few areas on the body needed to be tidied up. On one end, some filling needed to be done where the body corner joins left a grove. I filled this in using a technique recommended by EasyBuild for adding strength to the back of L joins: use a thin strip of plastic and use solvent glue to melt it into the join, then file down once dry. The other area needing tidying was the back of the end doors where the handles thread through - these just needed filing flat.

I model British Railways Western Region practice as it was in the early 1960's and during this period, these wagons were painted in BR unfitted freight grey. The chassis will be well weathered as will the whole wagon. I will apply my Second 16t Mineral Wagon Weathering technique. I think my OO scale implementation is slightly overscale, so when applied to a 7mm scale model, should look about right.

Following is the chassis painted. The second image shows how I have painted the backs of the brake gear, wheels and axles. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it prevents the wheels and axles rusting and secondly, close up photos with a camera and flash are always cruel: the flash always finds unpainted areas which should otherwise be painted.

One thing I find interesting about the second picture is that it provokes thoughts as to why kit manufacturers don't implement coupling systems in the same way as the prototype. 7mm scale is well known for heavier trains. At one exhibition many years ago, I saw the end pulled off a modeller's prize newly built kit van. This doesn't happen on the prototype because a coupling is connected to the coupling at the rear of a wagon with an intermediate spring in the middle such that pulling on a coupling pulls from the rear buffer beam instead of pulling the front buffer beam off. Looking at this kit, it is made in a way that makes such a prototypical modification easy to do.

The model painted and ready for transfers and numbering:


Parkside kits are provided with waterslide transfers with ready-made numbers, but it is worth checking what those numbers actually are!
Although the transfer sheet does have '16t wagons' printed on it, consulation with Don Roland's 'British Railway Wagons' confirms that it is a generic sheet and one needs to be selective about which number is used:

Number Diagram Body Lot Built Comments
B84198 1/108 Welded 2253 1950
B168342 1/108 Welded 2633 1953/4 ?
B257598 1/108 Welded 2801 1958
B196172 1/112 2286 1950 Ex-French Government
B192243 1/112 2286 1950 Ex-French Government
B190385 1/112 2286 1950 Ex-French Government
B197150 1/100 Rivetted 2287 1950 Purchased from French Government
B197312 1/100 Rivetted 2287 1950 Purchased from French Government
B198551 1/100 Rivetted 2287 1950 Purchased from French Government

There are some other numbers prefixed by 'P' supplied which I have not listed as these were applicable to wagons inherited by BR such as 'big 4' wagons and the many private owner timber-bodied mineral wagons.
It can clearly be seen that the majority of these numbers are for the 'French' version of the 16t wagon which were 'repatriated' and refurbished by BR for use in Britain. Except the first three numbers, none are applicable to a Diagram 1/108 which kit PS30 represents. If one is building a fleet of PS30, it would be advisable to consult Roland's book and use the 'spare' numbers on the transfer sheet to replicate other valid numbers.
For the subject of this article, B168342 was chosen and duly applied:

I thought I would 'take a chance' and divert from my time-honoured approach of masking and painting the black patches, this time using the transfers supplied in the kit. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a waste of time: consistent with previous experience, they didn't stick. I used some varnish to hold them in place, but when it came to appying the lettering (which also didn't stick), the black patch broke up and came off. I therefore resorted to my masking/painting of the black patch and will continue with this approach in the future. This isn't my neatest attempt, but I'm not too worried about it at this stage because weathering will hide it.
The lettering is now HMRS pressfix. They took a fraction of the time to apply with a 100% success rate. I really don't understand why some kit manufacturers still supply 'waterslide' transfers! I'll stick (pun intended) with HMRS Pressfix.


As previously mentioned, my intention was to to represent a well-worn wagon which had seen considerable use in service. To achieve this, I located large number of pictures in numerous Ian Allan 'In Colour' books, together with images from Paul Bartlett's excellent and highly recommended Wagon Photos web site. My reason for using both sources was because the Ian Allan books show wagons as they were in the early 1960's, my modelling period, whereas, Paul's photos show them as they were from around 1980 onwards when they were 20 years older and in considerably worse condition. Having said that, some wagons in the 1960's period were in a poor condition, especially the earlier 1950 builds, so a combination of multiple sources of pictures is invaluable - the more information, the better.

To create a reallistic-looking weathering/damage effect, one must understand how the subject matter was used and abused. Contrary to what most modellers believe, the rust effect on the subject matter of this article did not start in corners and then progress out towards the centre of panels. It actually did the opposite and the reason it did this was because of how they wagons were loaded and what they were loaded with. Wagons which had been loaded with soft materials typically displayed little damage. Those which had been loaded with hard materials like minerals and coal were typically loaded from above and their load litterally 'dropped' into them. The effect of this was that the hard minerals would crash against the inside of the wagons and the weaker parts such as the center of the side panels would suffer dents. This cracked the paint on the outside of the body, after which water ingressed and rust progressively took over. To summarise, dents to the inside of the wagon during loading caused the weaker middle parts of side panels to rust throughcracking of the paint. Once the rust started in the middle of a panel, it then progressed outwards towards the edges. Strongly supported areas such as corners and the frames around doors did not suffer this damage, although over time, they did attract dirt. Paul Bartlett's website shows many wagons in their very last years where they were pretty much consumed by rust all over.

Observation of the rust effects on the prototype reveals that the edges of the rust, while random and jagged, are actually quite sharply defined, therefore, to model this effect, I needed to apply paint in a way that would give sharp edges. This ruled out paint brushes and the commonly used 'sponge' approach because they both leave fuzzy edges. I used a toothpick. By dipping it into some paint (I used 3 different tones) and then dabbing the wagon sides, I was able to get the desired effect. The important thing is that you must have enough paint on the end of the tooth pick to create spots on the wagon body. The tooth pick must be pointed straight at the sides, and not moved side to side or approach the body at an angle like a paint brush does otherwise you won't get sharp edges. It helps to 'blunt' the end of the tooth pick a little to make its end surface area slightly larger. In fact, having one blunted and another not enoughs variying effects to be achieved. Don't worry about an even, raised surface resulting by 'dabbing' paint on because that is exactly what you are trying to achieve to represent a dent from the inside.

After applying the rust effects, I applied a light brushing of Carrs powders to tone it down a little. This is only very slightly done as the prototype grey was still very prominant.

The following images show the wagon after rust and Carrs weathering powder application:

Note how the framework under the end door always became heavily damaged.

Due to their physical size, 7mm scale wagons will hold a lot of coal, therefore, a 'cheating' method needs to be employed to reduce the amount of coal used. To that end, I built a card in-fill:

The image on the left shows the infill upside down with its supporting strips. The right image shows it the right way up. This was painted matt black and then slotted into the wagon. Coal was loaded from above (from a scale height!) and the standard watered-down-pva-with-washing-up-liquid method used to secure it.

The Completed Model

The completed model, loaded with coal:


This makes up to a nice model, but the issue with the chassis would likely be a 'show stopper' to many building this kit. I suspect that most people would probably just accept the misaligned sides and continue, but I had to fix it because it didn't look right to me.
I believe that Peco could improve this kit by fixing the manufacturing faults with the chassis and body sides so that it can be built properly according to the instructions.

With the advent of ready-to-run (RTR) versions of this wagon from Dapol and Lionheart, the author is inclined to believe that the time and effort required to complete this kit and correct its problems makes RTR offerings a more attractive proposition, especially if a number of them are required. However, RTR models are not without their problems as can be seen in other reviews on this site.

In summary, this kit makes up into a nice model and is enjoyable to build. A must-have for any BR-era layout.

Related Articles

Index of Articles
Building the Parkside PO Mineral Wagon Kit
Weathering Wagons

Graham Plowman (Created on 20/6/2021, modified on 13/11/2021 5:42:59 PM +11:00)

Kit supplied by: Tower Models Logo  and   Parkside

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