7mm:1ft - 0 Gauge Railway Modelling.

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How to Model them Authentically.            PDF version

Finished vehicleVery few models of wagons designed to carry heavy or awkward loads, Macaws and Loriots, for instance, are provided with chains and shackles.  In reality, so far as I have been able to establish from photographs, each such vehicle had an allocation of chains and shackles physically bolted to it.  In the case of flat wagons for containers they were kept in special lockers when not in use.


I have now a number of vehicles needing the provision of proper chains and shackles to bring them to life.  Even vehicles such as unloaded Macaws and Loriots had the chains and shackles stacked around the bolsters or lying on the bed of the wagon.


A pair of Loriots were chosen to start and, having looked at a number of pictures, it became apparent that one end of each of four chains and shackles were fitted to eyes in the buffer beam and various cross chains and hooks were fitted as required.


Retro fitting of parts to a painted and lettered wagon is not a good idea and suggests that in future I should plan it a bit better. The CPL (usual disclaimer) shackle set is designed for use with containers and provides enough parts to secure one container at the corners.  The prototype shackles were each connected to a very substantial spring to effect a tight fit.


In the packet are some excellent lost wax brass castings, a length of copper plated steel chain, some copper wire and instructions.  The instructions, which are well written and backed up by an exploded diagram, suggest making each chain/shackle unit up in two parts and then glue the two elements of the spring together as each half is fitted to the wagon and container.


This is to get some tautness in the set-up.  However, since my chains would be lying in the well of the wagon I decided to solder them in.  When I get around to adding some holding a load in place on the other Loriot, I shall do as suggested.


More chain was necessary since the nice copper-coated length provided is meant for the relatively short chains that hold containers.  I used some fine steel chain bought from Omen at an exhibition.  (However, I later discovered CPL will provide longer lengths of chain on request.)


One largely follows the instructions that come with the parts but to enable one end to be fitted into the buffer beams I fitted a split pin at one end.     Back to Top


Later units were made with eyebolts obtained from Squires (usual disclaimer.)  It is necessary to make loops from the copper wire provided by winding it round a 1.6mm drill and cutting across the windings at 90° however, Squires can also provide ready made brass rings in a range of very small sizes.  I also soldered the opening on these once connected to the various chains and hooks.


how the chains and shackles for the Loriot are formedThe first picture shews a completed chain and one laid out in the order of its component parts.


The parts are small, naturally, but with care and a little patience they do make up into very nice representations of the equipment used on Loriots, Mites, Macaws and similar vehicles.

A complete set of chains chemically blackenedThe next picture shews the whole set after being put together, chemically blackened and soaked in Electrofix over-night. These scale shackles are an excellent addition to CPL’s range of products.  They fill an important niche in attaining a more prototypical depiction of goods wagon operation.


the set fitted to a LoriotHere they are fitted to a Loriot after carefully drilling appropriate holes in the buffer beam to fit the split pins.  So far this is the only permanent fixing for them, time will tell if they need to be glued down.


Rooting about in a cupboard for something else, I came across a box containing a Parkside GWR flat wagon and container, in need of proper shackles.  On studying similar wagons in "GWR Goods Wagons" it was clear that a simple shackle and chain with a hook at each end was not the way it was done.


how containers were really securedThis extract from one of the pictures will make it clear: There are three hooks, one of which is fitted directly to the shackle via a single link. (I have drawn  circles round them.) This is used to shorten the main chain, which is also attached to the same end of the shackle, so that the whole unit can then be tightened against the spring.

A little experimentation and some careful counting of links in several pictures indicated that the long chain needed to be about 12 links long.


a set modelled for the container and conflat wagonHere are examples of one completed and one set of parts laid out to shew how the components go together.


The hook that fits directly on to the shackle will need to be filed to shape a little to ensure that it will go through the links in the chain or one will not be able to shorten it to fit as in the prototype.     Back to Top

container and conflat wagon with chains and shacklesHere is the set fitted to a Parkside conflat ready to go to the customer.


Getting them tight is a tad fiddly but by gluing the springs units together after shortening the chain by using the hook on the shackle it is possible to get them tight.


Fitting Out a Macaw

The next item in need of attention is to fit a whole set of chains and shackles to a Macaw, but without the spring units since I can find no pictures shewing them in use on Macaws or similar vehicles.


Study of pictures in Russell and Atkins, Beard & Tourret suggest that alternate chains on one side were long with hooks at both ends and short on the other side with a hooks at both ends and a shackle at one.


Each chain is also bolted to the side of the vehicle with a length of smaller link chain.  A complete set of one long and one short is needed to each bolster.

a set of change and shackles for a McawFor these I used some 0.3mm brass chain, 2 & 3mm brass rings and copper eyebolts from Squires with CPL chain and shackles and hooks as in this picture.  The spring units are not used this time.

the full set ready for blackening and fittingHere are four of each shewing how they were made up.  Like the chains and shackles for containers, the ones here with a shackle have the two hooks to aid ease of tightening. Once they were chemically blackened they were fitted to the vehicle by drilling 0.5mm holes in the side and cleaning the blacking of the eyebolt.  The bolt was then shortened and glued in with Loctite480.


Each side was fitted with one long and one short alternately.  See more about the Macaw here.  A later project in goods vehicles was to build another Macaw but make the bolster pins removable and chain them to the sides too, as the real ones were, you can see it in the picture at the top of the page, Macaw Diagram J4 from a Connoisseur kit.


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