Great-Grandpa's 10-Ton, 7 Plank Coal Wagon

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Project by KWBaughb posted 05-03-2020 04:30 PM 1461 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In the late 1800’s through early years of the 20th century my great grandfather owned a mattress factory in Nailsworth, England called the Purified Flock & Bedding Company. While searching for family history info I came across a UK model railway group that had a 1912 photo of the actual coal wagon his factory used. I was also able to find some blueprints online for similar vintage coal wagons, along with some of the 1887 specifications to which the car was originally made. Having only just completed the T&J train I was used to the nicely detailed blueprints that they provide for making models in wood. I was intrigued with the thought of making a model of the coal wagon, after all, it’s just a box, right? But I was not prepared for the effort required to convert 100+ year old English blueprints for building oak and steel rail cars to a scale model all out of wood, nor the effort required just to get a working brake system, but I think it turned out ok. The original car was known as a 10-ton, 7 plank coal wagon, with a side door, and used a single-side lever brake system.

I rough cut all the oak “planks” on the bandsaw and left them that way to provide the more rugged appearance that I wanted once finished. The “steel” components are mostly maple, with a wee bit of poplar. The “chains” are made of maple. The 200+ “rivets” were drilled and inserted individually. The ebonizing was done using a homemade concoction of steel wool & vinegar, with the wood first being treated to a well-brewed cup of afternoon tea to raise the tannin levels in the wood and help darken the stain. I included a pre-stain photo to better show the rough cut oak, and other details.

I haven’t put any protective finish on it as yet as I want to get the artwork done first. Our son is an artist and has offered to do the artwork when he has time later in the year.

-- Bob, Waterloo, Ontario - "I came, I sawed, I sanded...."

16 comments so far

View socrbent's profile


1042 posts in 3353 days

#1 posted 05-03-2020 05:02 PM

Awesome build! Sure this will be a great family heirloom. My first impression was that you had restored the real thing.

-- socrbent Ohio

View Dutchy's profile


4099 posts in 3252 days

#2 posted 05-03-2020 05:12 PM

Indeed a awesome build. I have to be honest that my first thought was that this is a 3D rendered drawing. After reading I realized it isn’t. This is more than well done. Hat off


View GR8HUNTER's profile


8422 posts in 1796 days

#3 posted 05-03-2020 06:06 PM

a wonderful model of the real car looks identical to it GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View hookfoot's profile


396 posts in 3033 days

#4 posted 05-04-2020 12:25 AM

This is one wonderful and amazing job. Figuring how to make all the detail parts takes more time then most people want to do. But there is a lot of personal satisfaction when it all comes together.

View crowie's profile


4585 posts in 3035 days

#5 posted 05-04-2020 12:45 AM

WOW, Wow and wow sir, That carriage looks so realistic indeed!
Love the story, family history is so important to pass on to children, grandchildren and great grandchildren!

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View swirt's profile


6197 posts in 4056 days

#6 posted 05-04-2020 02:22 AM

That is really cool. The history is neat too.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7463 posts in 1666 days

#7 posted 05-04-2020 02:50 AM

Incredible build! Congratulations!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Redoak49's profile


5246 posts in 3073 days

#8 posted 05-04-2020 10:52 AM

Fantastic build and story.

View drogsod's profile


113 posts in 879 days

#9 posted 05-04-2020 01:04 PM

Great work. The level of detail is amazing and your treatment of the wood to give it that weathered look is just perfect.

View curlyq's profile


6 posts in 786 days

#10 posted 05-04-2020 01:41 PM

great build,great story
Thanks for sharing.

-- woodie508/

View RCCinNC's profile


500 posts in 1411 days

#11 posted 05-04-2020 02:06 PM

Fantastic build and wonderful history to go with it. I like that it’s a working replica…which I’m sure made your coal wagon an even more pleasurable challenge. Your great grandfather would have been very impressed!
You say your son is an artist. Hmmmm…I wonder where that came from? ; )

Please repost when painted!

-- Live to putter...putter to live!

View tt1106's profile


241 posts in 4153 days

#12 posted 05-04-2020 07:04 PM

Amazing work. Really accurate rendition. The detail is amazing. You should be very proud of yourself.

-- -Todd

View KWBaughb's profile


54 posts in 410 days

#13 posted 05-05-2020 02:24 AM

Thanks for all the kind comments! It was fun to build; stressful at times when I thought I was in over my head trying to interpret the old specifications and blueprints, but it all worked out in the end. But I may stick to using pre-existing plans for the next few projects! :-)

-- Bob, Waterloo, Ontario - "I came, I sawed, I sanded...."

View jkm312's profile


88 posts in 487 days

#14 posted 05-05-2020 11:34 PM

What were the dimensions of the original car and then of the replica you built?
Hats off to you for bringing some family history back to life.
Another chapter in a family heirloom.
Thanks for sharing with us.

View KWBaughb's profile


54 posts in 410 days

#15 posted 05-06-2020 01:17 AM

What were the dimensions of the original car and then of the replica you built?
Hats off to you for bringing some family history back to life.
Another chapter in a family heirloom.
Thanks for sharing with us.

- jkm312

Thanks for the comments. I tried to make it as close to 1/16th scale as I could while allowing for the realities of working in wood. The 1887 specifications for the 10-ton coal car were 14’11” in length by 7’4” in width. The length of the model is slightly longer than 1/16th, at approx. 13” (not including the bumpers) and the width is pretty much right on at 5 1/2”. Each of the 7 planks on the sides are almost exactly 1/16th original english oak dimensions. The wheels are T&J 2 1/4” train wheels that I scroll-sawed into spokes and I think they are just very slightly smaller than 1/16th actual UK wheel size.

-- Bob, Waterloo, Ontario - "I came, I sawed, I sanded...."

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