Wagon Construction - Building the Parkside 20t GWR Loco Coal Wagon Kit (PS47)

Prototype History

After absorbing the railways of South Wales in 1923, the GWR took steps to improve the profitability of South Wales coal traffic. One strategy was to use higher capacity GWR wagons to replace small privately owned vehicles. This required improvements in the coal hoists used for shipment of coal and modifications to the GWR wagons to provide doors at both ends. Wagon turntables at the docks were still restricted to the smaller wagons.
A fleet of 760 wagons was selected and mostly allocated to large customers - this type is portayed by the PC41 kit.

In 1926, 100 wagons were fitted with Dean Churchward III brakes for evaluation. In 1934-37, the GWR decided to extend the benefits of these wagons to its own coal traffic and subsequently converted 200 wagons to Loco Coal wagons - diagram N28. During WWII the capacity was upgraded to 21 tons.

After Nationalisation in 1948,, the wagons took a DW prefix to their numbers. In the mid 1950's, BR dispanded its own loco coal wagon fleet and the N28 wagons were taken into the general coal wagon pool. It appears that at this time, the 'DW' number prefix was dropped in favour of a 'W' prefix. Examples survived until the mid 1960's.

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, 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 square 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.
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 and require the same solution.

Assembling the Body

Following assembly of the chassis, I commenced fitting the body (wagon on the right). The wagon on the left was used for alignment and comparison:

It was at this point that unfortunately, I discovered that the axles were not running perpendicular to the rails. Fitting the body had highlighted the issue. How could this be ? The solebars even had a slot arrangement on the base plate to ensure they went in a fixed pre-defined. It turns out that the slotting was out of line. I had to dismantle the solebar from the base plate, cut and file the slot and then re-assemble. This was actually quite an involved task but the net result was that I was able to rebuild it correctly and squarely and to look at it now, one would never know the extent of work done.

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!

Since this model represents an unfitted vehicle, 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.

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:


This model was built for my father, who models British Railways Western Region practice as it was in the mid 1950's and during this period, these wagons were painted in BR unfitted freight grey. The chassis would be well weathered as will the whole wagon.

Following is the model painted with the chassis in a track colour brown and the body in a light freight grey. The 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.


Parkside kits are provided with waterslide transfers with ready-made numbers. I compared these with Don Roland's 'British Railway Wagons' to confirm accuracy. For the subject of this article, W33345 was chosen and duly applied:

I used my time-honoured approach of masking and painting the black patches before applying the transfers.


As previously mentioned, my intention was to to represent a well-worn wagon which had seen considerable use in service. To achieve this, I used located of few pictures in my Ian Allan 'In Colour' books. Unfortunately, Paul Bartlett's excellent and highly recommended Wagon Photos web site didn't have any suitable pictures. Sourcing pictures wasn't easy because these wagons had largely disappeared by the early 1960's which is the period for which I have most reference material.

Those pictures which I did locate showed these wagons in a relatively well kept form with weathering effects. The following images show the wagon with Carrs weathering powders applied:

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 and then used watered-down PVA/washing up liquid to secure the coal:

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 misalignment and continue, but I had to fix it because it did cause the wagon to 'crab' badly when running and this just didn't look right to me.
I believe that Peco could improve this kit by fixing the manufacturing faults with the chassis so that it can be built properly according to the instructions.

Since there are no ready-to-run (RTR) versions of this wagon type, it adds a unique vehicle to a layout.

In summary, this kit makes up into a nice model and is enjoyable to build.

Related Articles

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

Graham Plowman (Created on 12/11/2021, modified on 5/12/2021 1:16:03 PM +11:00)

Kit supplied by: Tower Models Logo  and   Parkside

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