GWR Felix Pole 20T Coal Wagon

Parkside for 3mm Society: £5.00 + P&P (at 15 May 2016)

Available through the 3mm Society

The production of this kit was made possible by the generous bequest of the late John Fisher

In an attempt to encourage collieries and coal companies to forsake traditional low-capacity wooden wagons, in 1924 the Great Western built large numbers of 20T all-steel wagons to several slightly different designs. They were hired to a good number of coal carriers and traders, including Stephenson Clarke. Their popular name came from Sir Felix Pole, then General Manager of the GWR. In 1927 the design was changed, fixed ends replacing double end doors, to create high-capacity Loco Coal wagons. In the early 1950s BR abandoned the use of dedicated loco-coal wagons and the fixed-end Felix Poles were used for commercial coal traffic from the then until their withdrawal in the 1970s. In BR days the capacity of these wagons was increased to 21T.

This new kit can be made as a Dia N24 Coal Wagon with two end doors or a Dia N27 Loco Coal Wagon, with Dean-Churchward brakes – and, with a little ingenuity, a number of other diagrams with conventional brakes, as Paul Furner’s detailed illustrated instructions explain. Even if, like me, you’re not much given to following instructions, you’d be well advised not to mislay them this time. As well as the entirely new body mouldings shown below, the kit also includes two versions of the familiar Parkside 12ft wagon chassis and the more recent accessory sprue, which includes original and replacement axleboxes. Paul clearly explains which parts to select from these to make each of the possible variants.

Thanks to Parkside’s usual perfect corner joins and a floor that drops neatly into place, the body goes together very easily, in just a few minutes. Make sure you don’t use too much solvent as there is a chance of its squeezing out and making a mess of the delicate rivet detail on the corners. The fixed-end wagons have self-contained buffers with plastic heads, the end-door type RCH spindle buffers with the usual turned steel heads.

The instructions show livery details through photographs of model and preserved prototype. In GWR times, the end-door wagons were dark grey and the loco-coal ones black. In the BR period both types were pale grey with black underframes and numbering on black patches. By the 1960s and 70s they were nine parts rust, a finish modellers seem to enjoy applying. Any kind of weathering, however gentle, will accentuate the beautifully delicate rivet and angle-iron detail of this splendid kit. Those of you who have been 3mm modellers since the dawn of time will remember how hard it was to assemble the K’s white-metal version of this wagon square and make it run satisfactorily, and will welcome this top-quality, easily-assembled and far more accurate kit. I think we can be sure John Fisher would have approved.