Wooden coal cart - advice needed

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ge_rik
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Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by ge_rik » Tue May 21, 2019 9:28 am

Hi Folks
I'm putting the finishing touches to a horse drawn coal cart constructed from a Hobby's "kit" (basically a few large pieces of plywood, some wheels and a couple of strips of brass strip in a box, plus a plan). This is my first venture into building a wooden model (mostly plywood) and I've now reached the stage where I need to paint various bits before proceeding. The instructions suggest applying a coat of Humbrol Sanding Sealer before painting or varnishing the various bits. However, I can't find Humbrol Sanding Sealer (even on the Humbrol website) and the sanding sealers on eBay all seem to say they are for use before applying a coat of oil to furniture. I feel more inclined to varnish the 'deck' and use ordinary wood primer on the other parts which need painting. Can anyone offer any advice before I head for cock-up territory?

A few photos of progress so far so you can see what I'm referring to.

I've 'borrowed' the horse from a Schleich wagon. I'll need to buy another one and figure out how to harness it properly.
DSCI2700.JPG
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There's a superstructure which goes on the deck. I can't add that until the main parts have been painted or varnished.
DSCI2698.JPG
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I must say, plasticard is a lot easier to work with and doesn't create sawdust. I had to draw on my latent skills with a fret saw (I made an egg timer stand using a fret saw when I was at school 55+ years ago).
DSCI2694.JPG
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Some of the fiddly bits I don't want to become lost in layers of paint.
DSCI2696.JPG
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How it all started. "Kit" in its loosest sense.
DSCI2614.JPG
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Any helpful suggestions will be gratefully received

Rik
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Peter Butler
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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by Peter Butler » Tue May 21, 2019 10:25 am

Rik, I use a Matt Lacquer (rattle can) which penetrates the wood to seal the grain and takes all paints well too!
Spray a light coat and let it dry (an hour is usually sufficient) then use fine wire wool to smooth any slight imperfections, repeat as necessary. This will ensure all surfaces, even those hard to reach places, are coated and sealed.
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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by philipy » Tue May 21, 2019 11:48 am

It's been a very long time since I did anything serious in wood, so I have limited knowlegde to pass on. Peter's method seems to be sensible and has the advantage of him having been the guinea pig!
We used to use Sanding Sealer on model aircraft when I were a lad, and it is easy to come by if you want to follow the instructions. Just put Sanding Sealer into Google and you'll be deluged with adverts for it and links to YouTube. I'm 90% sure I've seen it on the shelves in B&Q and I know our local DIY shop stocked it ( before they closed down).

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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by ge_rik » Tue May 21, 2019 12:46 pm

Thanks chaps. I've found a small jar of sanding sealer on the Hobby's website, which says it can be covered with varnish or enamels, so I'll give it a try. If it doesn't work, I'll give Peter's suggestion a go. I also found a plan for making heavy horse harnesses on there, so hopefully, it will be an idiot's guide. Failing all else, I can pop down the road to the Shire Horse Centre and ask them to take me through the heavy horse harnessing process.

Isn't it amazing how many skills and how much knowledge we have to acquire in our hobby?

Rik
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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by IanC » Tue May 21, 2019 1:10 pm

That's a lovely looking horse and cart Rik. I have very little woodworking experience, especially since my long time ago school days. I do agree with you though on how many different skills are involved in this fantastic hobby.
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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by IanC » Tue May 21, 2019 1:10 pm

That's a lovely looking horse and cart Rik. I have very little woodworking experience, especially since my long time ago school days. I do agree with you though on how many different skills are involved in this fantastic hobby.
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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by GTB » Tue May 21, 2019 3:05 pm

ge_rik wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 12:46 pm
Thanks chaps. I've found a small jar of sanding sealer on the Hobby's website, which says it can be covered with varnish or enamels, so I'll give it a try.
Like Phillip, I'd be surprised if sanding sealer isn't available in your local DIY store, as it's widely used for wood finishing. I've used it on all my wooden models since the '80s when I took up ship modelling for a while. Before that I used model aeroplane dope, which seals the wood and gives a smooth surface when sanded, but doesn't fill the grain all that well.

Sanding sealer is a fast drying lacquer with a filler added, so it looks like a gluggy version of matt varnish, but it dries fast, glues down any stray surface fibres so they can be sanded off and fills the grain. The one I use can be applied with a brush and sanded smooth 6 hrs later.

One coat gives a smooth surface with some grain still showing. Three coats with a sand between each and the surface shows no grain at all. It sets hard and the filler is usually talc, so it doesn't clog the sandpaper when sanding like varnish often does.

I've had no problems with painting and varnishing over sanding sealer. It does take Humbrol enamels well and doubles as an undercoat.

The cart is coming along nicely, it will look good when finished and detailed.

Would UK coal merchants have used anything as big as Shire horses? Where I grew up the local feed and fuel merchant used a Clydesdale to pull the delivery dray. The UK photos I found online looked to be either Clydesdales or smaller breeds.

Regards,
Graeme

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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by FWLR » Wed May 22, 2019 10:17 am

ge_rik wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 12:46 pm
Thanks chaps. I've found a small jar of sanding sealer on the Hobby's website, which says it can be covered with varnish or enamels, so I'll give it a try. If it doesn't work, I'll give Peter's suggestion a go. I also found a plan for making heavy horse harnesses on there, so hopefully, it will be an idiot's guide. Failing all else, I can pop down the road to the Shire Horse Centre and ask them to take me through the heavy horse harnessing process.

Isn't it amazing how many skills and how much knowledge we have to acquire in our hobby?

Rik
You are so correct about acquiring skills and knowledge Rik from our hobby, those that do anyway are great to know and put into practice. I have learnt a lot from you and other members on the forum and hopefully some of my limited knowledge has been past on and used also.

This is what I have used Rik.
DSCN3575.JPG
DSCN3576.JPG
It is very fast drying and it can also be sanded down and painted over. I got this from my local hardware store.
Rod

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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by ge_rik » Wed May 22, 2019 5:21 pm

Thanks Rod
It looks like sanding sealer is fairly generic. I was concerned that the only ones I could find on eBay stipulated they were for use as a preparation for applying oil to furniture, which sounded a bit drastic for a 1:20 model cart. However, it sounds like pretty much any sanding sealer will do the job.

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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by Keith S » Thu May 23, 2019 12:18 pm

Rik I think you might be overly worried about this "sanding sealer" business, if you don't mind my saying so. It seems to me that sanding sealer is useful when the wood needs to be completely hidden, like on a Brandbright "Panelled coach", but on a model of a wagon which in real life would have certainly shown some evidence of wood grain under the paint, going out of your way to fill and disguise the wood-grain on your model seems unnecessary -as though you're trying to take a wooden model of a wooden object and deliberately make it look like plastic. Almost certainly the model will look more realistic if you simply give it some nice glossy paint and forget about the sanding sealer. In real life, no-one would have troubled himself to fill and sand back the grain on a timber-built wagon. For the varnished bits, you'll get a nice finish if you use thinners to thin your first coat of varnish so it penetrates the grain a bit better.

Imgot this attitude from building my passenger coaches. I built the Brandbright pannelled coach, which looks best with the coloured sides filled, primed, sanded, and painted with a mirror-smooth gloss, so they don't even look like wood anymore. But my "Gladstone" coach, while it would also be very shiny, is made of vertical wooden planks. I found it desireable to paint them in vertical brush strokes, so as not to completely obliterate the wood-grain, even though it ended up being quite glossy in the end. But modelling with real materials instead of plasticard, sometimes it's good to slightly exaggerate the natural characteristics of something wooden, to show that indeed, this actually IS wood. If you see what I mean.

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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by ge_rik » Thu May 23, 2019 1:16 pm

Thanks Keith
Very useful info. I must admit that plywood is not a medium I have much experience with. The only model I've made with it to date has been an IP Engineering diesel loco when, no doubt, sanding sealer would have been useful as, I think, I ended up applying five or six coats of primer and paint to get a smooth finish. I'm following the instructions on the plan for the cart, mainly because I'm on unfamiliar territory. I suppose they are assuming that most people will be wanting to produce an ornamental display exhibit rather than a 'working' model. You're right, I want to produce something workaday (and weathered) and so it makes sense for the wood grain to remain visible under the paint.

Rik
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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by ge_rik » Thu May 23, 2019 1:26 pm

GTB wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:05 pm
Would UK coal merchants have used anything as big as Shire horses? Where I grew up the local feed and fuel merchant used a Clydesdale to pull the delivery dray. The UK photos I found online looked to be either Clydesdales or smaller breeds.
Interesting, Graeme. I went down to my local Shire Horse Centre because they have a good selection of Schleich horses for sale. I had a chat with the ladies in the shop and they weren't sure what I was talking about - they suggested a pit pony until I clarified what I meant by a coal cart. I think I really needed to talk to the stable staff, but being a skinflint, I didn't want to pay the admission fee to find them. I take my mum for coffee to the Centre regularly and sometimes the stable staff are in there having a coffee. I'll pick their brains when I next see them.

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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by ge_rik » Thu May 23, 2019 1:53 pm

I've done a bit more to the cart while awaiting the delivery of the sanding sealer (which I might bot use after all). The superstructure is removable at this stage but will be fixed in place after painting and varnishing is done.

Interesting stuff this plywood. The wood which came with the 'kit' is clearly much better quality that that which I got at my local DIY store - as you can see from the nameboard on top - apt to split and delaminate all too easily.
DSCI2737.JPG
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Following the plan, I've now added a few bits of paraphernalia to the shafts. Not sure yet how these are used in the harness (still awaiting delivery of a harnessing plan), but hopefully all will be revealed eventually.
DSCI2740.JPG
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I bought a pottery shire horse in a charity shop. Not as detailed as a Schleich model, but then less than half the price. However, he's too fat to fit between the shafts so it looks like I'll need to make another cart to use him. I've discovered from another pottery horse which I own, that they will take acrylic paints, so I can dull him down a bit and add a few extra details to make him look a bit more realistic.
DSCI2741.JPG
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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by philipy » Thu May 23, 2019 1:57 pm

I'm not into horses, but to my untutored eye, the animals in these pictures don't look big and heavy enough to be what I think of as a "Shire horse"
https://www.google.com/search?client=fi ... euYwA-VpI0

The LMS Society page has a lot of info about their horses, different breeds, and what they were used for, including the following:
"The railway horse was generally purchased as a five-year old after early years on the farm, for a working horse takes around this time to 'fully develop. Many breeds figured in railway service but the heavy Clydesdales, Shires and Suffolk punch were common. Irish and Continental breeds were imported in substantial numbers for use in the goods shafts.

The slighter built Bays were often used for the horse drawn omnibuses, but by 1927 all 22 LMS omnibuses had been withdrawn.

The working life of the railway horse depended largely on the type of work they did, with the heavy London dray horse being sold off after a short life of 5 years. A 70 hour week with a daily maximum of 14 hours was routine and a coal horse would be expected to deliver an average 30 tons per week. "

http://www.lmssociety.org.uk/topics/hor ... port.shtml

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Re: Wooden coal cart - advice needed

Post by GTB » Thu May 23, 2019 3:23 pm

ge_rik wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 1:53 pm
I've done a bit more to the cart while awaiting the delivery of the sanding sealer (which I might bot use after all).
Remember that sanding sealer is used on models to disguise and seal the edges of plywood if nothing else. Plywood edges don't scale and neither does woodgrain to a large extent. Lime and basswood are used in modelling for that reason, as the have very fine even grain (unlike the stuff DIY shops sell.

Areas of a horse cart that took a hammering like top edges and the wagon bed will show the wood, but other areas will still be painted and just as smooth as the day they rolled out of the coach builders. How dirty those areas were would depend on how often, if ever, the owner washed the cart. The signage would get wiped down now and again, if nothing else.

I imagine some owners looked after their coal carts, just as some modern truckies look after their trucks. When you own something you are more likely to look after it, than if you just get paid to drive it for someone else.

On the subject of plywood, I buy spruce plywood from the model aeroplane shop for model building. It's not cheap, but worlds away in quality from some of the stuff in the local hardware shops.

Regards,
Graeme

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