Mineral Wagons – Part 3 ‘Planked ex POs’


So from the 16T, I have moved onto the planked ex Private Owner. The RCH design is most familiar to ex railwaymen and modellers a like. When we tend to think of POs, it’s easy for our mind to only think of the brightly coloured wagons supplied by model railway manufacturers.  I think we have all been to several shows where their bright liveries have been seen festooned on many a  BR period layout. The truth of the matter is that, yes at one time the POs were relatively well maintained by their owning companies, however the degradation had set in during the Second World War and come the Nationalisation of the Railways in 1948, they were all inherited by the newly formed BRITISH RAILWAYS. Like they had in the war, BR were relatively happy to continue to patch them up where possible and simply add new P prefix numbers.

I picked up this Tir Pentwys Pontypool PO a few weeks ago for a good price (I’ll go onto cost comparisons later) and it felt somewhat appropriate. The first stage was the use of a fibre glass brush, to just distress the lettering slightly, but to also give the paint something to key too. The next stage was the adding of replacement planks and further washes followed. The interior was also painted and given several dirty washes. Transfers added were from Model Master, and further washes to finish. The chassis as to represent wood, was painted with a mix of Matt Black and Humbrol 98 ‘Chocolate’ (another method picked up from Ian Fleming). Final touches was the addition of a little bit of powder work on areas of the chassis.



Another cliche that you see on layouts is to the other extreme, exPOs all in unfitted grey. From what I have read, when BR decided upon it’s wagon liveries, it wasn’t automatically transferred over to the older POs, rather being concentrated on new wagons being built. It wasn’t until around 1958 that someone high up at BR instigated the painting of the ex POs, and at that stage it was only ever going to be a smaller number that received the livery, as scrapping of older pre war wagons was somewhat imminent.

Photographs too can be deceptive. It’s quite easy for what can appear to be an unfitted painted wagon, to actually be bare timber. However I have seen a couple of photos on the Blaenau Branch of grey exPOs, and I do like the livery. Now some may say I am being hypocritical in my time period of operation (1953-1959), so periods are somewhat mixed regarding stock. However along as I get the balance right, I don’t believe this to be too much of an issue.

My exPO was a Bachmann Grey model I bought a year or so ago, however my views on this are well known to my blog readers, and it’s been repainted with Revell 76. With this one, I wanted this to be in relatively good condition, with just a small amount of weathering (slight rust on the iron work) to take the edge off it.



As can be seen in the first photograph, both wagons have been fitted with my removable coal (based on the Geoff Kent method, but with a twist) more information of which can be found on my thread on Modellers United here. Both wagons have been fitted with Ambis hooks and links.

I touched on cost earlier. Now the Tir Pentwys PO, I purchased last week brand new for £7.45. I have picked up a pack of three limited edition Bachmann POs (theres a nice Cambrian branded one in there) and individually they worked out at under a tenner each. I had considered purchasing the new Oxford Rail PO, but once I saw the work required to bring it up to the same standard as the Bachmann model and as I could obtain Bachmann models for the same/lower price, I couldn’t see the point and would prefer to focus my modelling skills elsewhere, but each to their own. 🙂

To bring this to a close, it’s been a rewarding project. The Tir Pentwys although wasn’t timed, must have taken in the range of 3-4 hours, but it’s been very enjoyable. Once again, like I mentioned in my 16T article, the most important aspect as been preparation and research. Instrumental again has been the works of Geoff Kent and John Hayes.

Finally, I’d like to wish my followers a very Happy Easter, and for those going to York Show, see you on Sunday. 🙂



7 thoughts on “Mineral Wagons – Part 3 ‘Planked ex POs’

  1. Lovely work Tom, I do like to see ex PO wagons, especially when they are painted and weathered like your examples.

  2. Most kind of you Geoff, thank you. Overall, I find it an enjoyable and rewarding process. I remember seeing some tank wagons of yours somewhere and looking rather nice! 🙂

    I can’t find one photo showing tank wagons in a Bala-Blaenau pick up goods. I’m suspecting Blaenau was supplied by the London Midland line from Llandudno.

  3. Very nice, I too have attacked the TP wagons (hattons had them as a bulk bargain a few years back so I bought a job lot), I haven’t done agree one but yours looks fantastic so I might have to dig out my spare bodies.

    • Cheers BDB 🙂
      It’s a bit like the limited set I’ve just bought from eBay (from Rails actually). I had wanted the Cambrian PO, with its Welsh connection. Some guy was trying to flog one separately for £18….no thanks. £29 for three wagons is pretty good!

      Very worthwhile weathering job though, just a case of checking reference photos and taking ones time.

  4. Having seen that Tir Pentwys in the flesh, it has come out very well; all the more for saying that a black wagon can prove challenging in terms of contrast.

    I’ve said right from the off that the Oxford PO will do very well in commercial terms, but thereby hangs a paradox. It’s well priced by today’s standards and its relatively minor shortcomings won’t bother the majority of the market it’s aimed at. If it were the only RCH 1923 PO available, it’d be the obvious choice for the finescaler looking for a ‘quick fix’. But it isn’t, and I think those same factors are what render it a bit of an irrelevance to the ‘doing’ end of the market. Those little shortcomings can easily be addressed by those with the skills, but really, why bother? The Bachmann one is admittedly getting expensive at RRP, but as you’ve said there are still plenty around at lower prices, even without considering the secondhand market.

  5. Agreed Ian. I suppose at the end of the day it’s what you enjoy doing, but I’d prefer to spend my modelling time on building kits of stock not available RTR.

    It will be interesting what the RRP will be on those PO’s we were looking at with Dennis Lovett at York.

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