Worseter Shed

The shed complex is based on the Great Western shed at Stratford upon Avon in its final years when it was very rundown. At that stage an additional siding had been provided to take the additional allocation of locos generated by the closure of the old LMS shed. Worseter uses a mirror image of layout and structures.

Worseter shed was built on the site of an old canal basin off the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. The canal is still in use but the basin fell into disrepair with the coming of the railways and was purchased by the GWR when they were looking for a site for a small shed to service the handful of locomotives needed to service local passenger and freight services. The basin was infilled and most of the buildings were demolished. The GWR did, however, retain a couple of warehouses, one of which still has a rail connection. In later years, one corner of the site was leased to a local company to erect a small industrial unit and the line serving the warehouse was extended across the public road to provide a rail link into the factory.

The amount of rail traffic in and out of the shed and factory did not merit the provision of level crossings, all movements being controlled by a flagman.

The two main structures were the shed itself and a water tower/coaling stage.

Coaling Stage and Water Tower

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According to information in 'An Historical Survey of Great Western Engine Sheds' by E. Lyons, the coal stages at Stratford, Kidderminster and Cheltenham were all the same size (30' x 16') with identical water tank capacities (22,500 gallons). However, photographs in that book and in 'A Pictorial Record of Great Western Architecture' by A. Vaughan, show that they all differed both in detail design and size. Fortunately, an article on Stratford upon Avon in Great Western Model Railway Journal (found while looking for something else!) provided several photograhs of the coaling stage and more were found on a Warwickshire Railways website. By using known dimensions of objects in the photographs (height and width of loco tenders and wagons, track gauge, etc.), it was possible to extrapolate enough reasonably accurate dimensions to prepare a decent set of drawings. Once these had been completed, they were used to prepare construction drawings for the model.

The model is built almost entirely of plastic card.

Timber clad coaling stage - I was originally going to built a box with 40 thou top and walls laminated with 40 thou inner and outer skins (with the boarding scribed on the outer skin) separated by 40 thou spacers/framing. However this would have presented problems at the corners and at exposed edges where it would have been difficult to disguise the over thickness. I therefore used 15 thou for the outer skin to better represent the thickness of the boarding. To compensate for the lack of rigidity of the thinner material, the spacing of the framing was reduced. The base was another lamination, the steel floor represented with 20 thou card (the thickness is visible at door openings) with a 40 thou false under floor and spacers to give rigidity. The underfloor also provides support for the steel frame below. Holes were drilled in the top and bottom prior to applying the outer skin to allow any fumes from the solvent to escape. Failure to do this can result in the solvent distorting thin material. Boarding was scribed using an Olfa cutter prior to the panels being cut out and fixed to the box. The boarding for the end door had been scribed onto a spacer piece prior to assembling the box. To make life a bit easier, the rear canopy and loading platform at the front were left until later.

Steel Structure - I had originally considered using brass sections for the structure. However, on the real thing, the columns and beams were riveted composite members fabricated from steel plate. The rivets are very obvious and, while I could have used thin brass overlays to achieve the same effect, I decided to fabricate the structural elements from plastic card. My riveting tool works just as well on plastic as it does on brass! As rear of the beams and columns are unlikely to be seen, I was able to rivet the structure (prior to fabrication) without using overlays. In order to ensure that the columns were kept square and vertical, I made a base from 40 thou plasticard with vertical framing 10mm high to take the base of the columns. This would subsequently buried under fill and out of sight. The base of the water tank (15 thou) was fixed to the top of the coaling stage prior to fitting the support steelwork. This base was reinforced with 40 thou splayed at the edges to represent the fillet around the base of the tank.

Water Tank - Another box! The basic structure comprises walls with cut outs, cross bracing, false base and top, all in 40 thou plastic card. Again, top and bottom were drilled to allow any fumes from solvent to escape. The steel sheets were fabricated from 10 thou card and fixed in place once they had been rivetted. Each sheet (they were all fixed idividually) is different as, in addition to the rows of rivets fixing the panels to one another, there are rows fixing the panels to the structure, the spacing of which is does not match the size of panels! Another sheet of 10 thou forms the top of the tank and also incorporates the platform at the top of the access ladder. The curved roof structure was built in much the same way, again with riveted overlays. the 20 thou roof was precurved prior to fixing. Fixing of the currugated sheeting was left until later.

Loading Platform - This was put together in much the same was as the coaling stage. The tricky part was making the whole thing work! The geometry to get the pivot in the correct position was worked out on the computer. Five tubs were also made, painted, filled with coal and set aside for later.

Steps - These was made as a separate unit. That way it was easier to paint both the steps and the main structure. The two flights of steps were made up first, the treads being fixed to one stringer before the second stringer was added. A base with vertical framing (much like that for the steelwork) was made to hold the vertical posts square and upright. The posts were made up as two pairs complete with handrails and landing bearers. Once in place, the remaining bearers and landing was added. The lower flight of steps and associated handrails were then fixed. Falsework to support the top end of the upper flight and handrails was fabricated and the steps and handrails secured to the posts. Once firmly set, the whole unit was tested for fit against the main structure.

Detailing - The ladder is a modified MSE signal ladder using etched rails and wire treads. Strapping hand handrails are made up from brass wire, the latter on a jig. The water level indicator is also a brass fabrication although the wheel and bracket were made up from plastic card. The lamp is a clear plastic strucure (the frame is painted on) on a bracket fabricated from brass and phoshor bronze (the curly bits) wire. Pipework is brass rod and tube. Currugated sheeting from Ambis was cut into individual sheets, curved to the correct profile and secured with superglue.

Prior to painting, the ground level under the coaling stage and steps was made up using polystyrene and filler.

Rear Canopy - This was made up with a concealed plastic substructure with brass sections for the visible framing. The whole was then covered with corrugated sheeting, again from Ambis.

Painting - Firstly the roof received a coat of grey acrylic primer. The interior and underside of the main structure were then airbrushed dirty black before steps, main structure and rear canopy were airbrushed with cream paint. The water tank was then carefully masked off before airbrushing with 'chocolate'. The loading platform, pipework and treads and handrails to the staircase were hand painted as were the bases of the columns. Everything was masked off to airbrush the access ladder and platform. The roofs were then handpainted.

Finally, the coal tubs were glued inside and main strucure, steps and rear canopy were united!

 

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