16mm Projects

Alan Poxon : Five more Penrhyn wagons

Penrhyn Blondin Coal Wagon

I came across a photograph of a Penrhyn coal wagon that was different to the three types that I have built. All steel, with an end opening door, the wagon had side fixings for use with a blondin crane. This would allow the wagon to easily reach the quarry locomotives on the more inaccessible levels. A cine film from the late 1950s showed the same wagon at Port Penrhyn in a consist with an early wooden coal wagon, an  Anglesey Shipping coal wagon and an Ogwen Tile Works coal wagon. I decided to build this, and the other four models in this report, by repurposing my rake of PS Models freelance slate wagons. These were surplus to requirements now that I have built a rake of late-era Penrhyn slate wagons, that include all five variants. The donor wagons have the correct wheelbase for the Penrhyn wagons in this project and have curly-spoked wheels. With a little weight underneath, they all run very smoothly. Taking the dimensions from the photograph and screenshot, I built a plasticard body on the donor wagon chassis. Coffee stirrers were used for the blondin fixings and brass rod for the hinge mechanism. Additional detail was added using plasticard strip and angle. Rivet detail was produced using NailArt half-moons in two different sizes to match the prototype. A real coal load on a removable wooden frame was the final touch.

Penrhyn blondin coal wagon.

Penrhyn 'Wood & Iron' Slate Wagon Between 1876 and 1878, Penrhyn Quarry purchased seven vertical-boilered locomotives from deWinton of Caernarfon for use in the quarry. The last of these locomotives was named Ina after one of the daughters of the 2nd Baron Penrhyn. Among other duties, No.7 Ina would have been used to shunt the 'wood & iron' slate wagons that had been hauled to Port Penrhyn by horses. 420 of these earlier slate wagons were built at the quarry workshops between 1859 and 1862. These 'wood & iron' slate wagons were originally fitted with double flanged wheels. However, 200 wagons were eventually fitted with single flange wheels produced by Hadfields of Sheffield. From 1878, these latter wheels became standard on the next generation of all iron slate wagons. As the name suggests, 'wood & iron' slate wagons had oak frames with a riveted iron basket for the slates. Examples of this earlier design of slate wagon were in use until at  least 1892.

Wooden frames and plasticard basket.

The frames of the donor wagon were cut back and the characteristic wooden dumb buffer arrangement fabricated to the dimensions of the prototype. Planking was heavily scribed into the bed of the wagon which was then distressed to represent quarry wear and tear. The basket was built using plasticard strip and angle, with NailArt 1mm half-moons for the rivet detail. Brass draw gear was made with a 3d printed hook that matched those on my late-era Penrhyn slate wagons.

Penrhyn 'wood & iron' slate wagon.

The wooden frames were stained with Humbrol dark brown enamel wash and weathered with Humbrol black powder. A grey undercoat was applied to the iron basket and a top coat of the correct shade of Penrhyn grey. The axle boxes were painted matt black and the wheels treated with RailMatch light rust paint. The small amount of weight under the frames of the 'wood & iron' slate wagon allowed it to run well behind my deWinton No.7 Ina.

Penrhyn No.7 Ina with a 'wood & iron' slate wagon.

Penrhyn Early Wooden Rubbish Wagon By far the most numerous type of rolling stock used in Penrhyn quarry were the rubbish wagons. At the peak of production, over 1,000 rubbish wagons were in use taking waste rock from the working face to the tips and taking slate offcuts from the cutting shed to the tips. The most photographed were the later type of rubbish wagon that had a steel body mounted on a steel channel frame. Wooden frames were used on earlier types of wagon with double-flanged wheels used throughout. To join the 'wood & iron' slate wagon behind deWinton No.7 Ina, I built an example of a possible earlier all-wood rubbish wagons based on one described in another small North Wales slate quarry. A donor wagon chassis was used onto which a rubbish wagon body was fabricated. This has slightly flared sides and floor sloping towards the open end, to aid the discharge of slate waste and offcuts. The model was painted in Penrhyn grey with weathering using real slate fragments and dust.

Penrhyn early wooden rubbish wagon.

Penrhyn General Purpose Wagon Boyd suggests that Penrhyn had a number of general purpose wagons that were used to carry merchandise on Saturdays when there was no slate movement on the railway. These wagons were possibly in use prior to 1884 when the LNWR branch to Bethesda opened for the carriage of goods. I was not able to find any photographs or plans for these wagons but there is a suggestion that they were rebuilt into the original batch of wooden-framed Fullersite wagons.

Penrhyn general purpose wagon.

My model has two-plank bodywork with the same wheelbase as the Fullersite wagons but shorter in length. The bodywork was constructed from 2mm balsa wood sheet, scored to represent the planking. The flatbed of the donor was was similarly cut to represent the planking. Corner irons are plasticard angle with NailArt half-moons to represent the coach bolts. After undercoating, the running gear, frames and buffing plate were painted matt black with the bodywork in Penrhyn grey.

General purpose wagon with fullersite wagon for size comparison.

Penrhyn Hand Crane Wagon Penrhyn had five rail mounted 5cwt hand cranes for use within the quarry. These were in demand for many engineering tasks such as the installation of the masts for the Blondin cranes. The hand cranes were described as swivelling on a kingpost with a tray to the rear for mounting a slate slab as counterweight. I have not been able to find any further details and so I researched other hand cranes that were produced for quarry work. Smith and Balmforth from Calverley, near Leeds, produced hand cranes from 1840. Sometime after 1860, they built the steam crane that now resides at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, when they were trading as Thomas Smith & Sons (Rodley) Ltd. Their hand cranes appear to have been mainly iron in construction with a wood or iron jib. The jib was held at a fixed angle and rotated around the kingpost. The load raised by a chain wound onto a drum operated through gears.

Hand crane in primer.

Detail of kingpost, simplified winding drum and counterweight tray.

The model was built from plasticard, brass wire and wooden coffee sticks. The kingpost, gears, pulley and counterweight tray were sourced from my bits box with rivet detail added using 2mm NailArt half-moons. Stainless steel jewellery chain, with 1mm links, was sourced from a popular internet marketplace and a 3d printed hook attached. The crane was painted in Penrhyn grey with the wagon finished in weathered matt black. Real slate pieces were used for the counterweight.

Penrhyn hand crane with real slate counterweight.

Five more Penrhyn wagons

February 2024


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