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The following ‘step by step’ description is for modernising an unpainted Dapol five or seven plank wagon and providing it with a tarpaulin covered load, as was extensively used throughout the railway network by the railway companies prior to 1948.

Remove wheels and couplings, and then remove body from chassis and retain the metal weight.  Take the body and carefully clean all surfaces with methylated spirit using a cotton wool bud and leave to dry for about 5 minutes, before painting.

Paint the wagon body ends and sides with the selected colour of paint. (I use Phoenix Precision paint applied by sable hair brushes). You will see from the photograph that both sides need not be painted to their full height, as the tarpaulin cover will come part of the way down them. Set aside to dry thoroughly for at least 12 hours, so that the paint has hardened.

Apply the transfers to the wagon body sides, which will vary according to which type of wagon is to be created, and it may be necessary to do some research if you are unsure. I use the HMRS ‘Pressfix’ type of transfer, but “Methfix’ and waterslide are readily available, if preferred. Once the transfers are in place, apply a coat of matt varnish and set aside to dry thoroughly.

If not already prepared, now is the time to create the outline of a suitable load to be covered with the paper tarpaulin. As the wagon already has a weight, I use pieces of ‘Foam Cor’ lightweight board, cut to size and in layers, as necessary, with the top layer chamfered to project above the sides of the wagon.

Take the black paper tarpaulin, crumple it up and then flatten out, so that, when placed onto the ‘loaded’ wagon, it will have realistic creases showing. Then take reinforced polyester thread and a needle and carefully push the threaded needle through the paper tarpaulin (from the underneath) at each corner, leaving a small piece to which PVA glue is applied and left to dry. This will secure the thread on the concealed side of the tarpaulin, allowing for stretching into place later.

Reassemble the wagon body and chassis, remembering to include the weight, place the ‘load’ into the wagon and then carefully position the paper tarpaulin into its correct position. Several attempts may be necessary before the correct position is achieved. There are several different ways (and adhesives) that can be used to fix the tarpaulin. I am fortunate to have access to very narrow, thin and strong double sided tape which is used to fix the paper in place.

Each corner of the paper tarpaulin now needs to be carefully folded and glued into place. I find using ‘Pritt Stick’ (applied with a plastic cocktail stick) aids adhesion and keeps the corner correctly shaped and intact.

Take one strand of the thread and gently pull taught by the inside of the buffer underneath it, dress under the chassis and use a small drop of ‘Super Glue Gel’ to secure it. Once the gel has secured this strand, then proceed to secure the remaining ones. Once all have firmly set, carefully cut off the unwanted strands, and you should be left with a neat and tidy looking wagon.

Insert the wheels, check that they are free running and the wagon is ready to use. (Images)

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