Saturday, 12 March 2011

A NSWGR SV sheep van

Back in the mid-1990s, I started to drift away from my original modelling period (the 1950s) and head in the direction of the 1920s-'30s, probably due to the 'bad' influence of the annual 'Modelling the Early Days of the NSW Railways' seminar! I had built a number of models suitable for that period and was in the process of building more when my 'hiatus' from HO modelling began. One of the models I had almost completed in 1998 was this SV sheep van.
The model was built from this copy of a NSWGR official drawing given to me by Craig Warton. (Thanks Craig!)

I haven't been able to find a photo of an SV that completely matches the drawing (not surprising, as there aren't that many photos available from that period at all) however, I have found this photo of a very similar SV in the collection of the Powerhouse museum.

This vehicle was one of the 'transition' designs between the original style of sheep van, like the one below, and the '1929' GSV design.
This basic design was used for most of the 19th century. They were double decked but had solid floors and they were very messy, labour intensive to keep clean and not at all pleasant for the stock.

A major breakthrough in sheep van design occurred at the turn of the 20th century when someone had the bright idea of putting grated floors in the vehicles, but with a 'hopper' under the top deck to shed the sheep droppings to the side, rather than onto the sheep on the bottom deck! (The bottom deck's droppings went straight onto the track.) The gap for the hopper can be seen in the photo of SV 8408 above and GSV 12368 below.

The design eventually evolved into the 1929 GSV, which except for the substitution of a standard 10ft wheelbase steel underframe under the batch of 250 built in 1948, finalised the design of NSWGR sheep vans till the type became extinct in the 1970s.

The 1929 design of GSV looked like this:
This photo is an NSWGR official photograph from the Craig Warton collection. It is standing at Flemington Markets, opposite the Flemington station platform, and was photographed sometime around 1930.

Enough of the prototype info, lets get back to the model!
The model was constructed from styrene and timber around the bar sections from a Silvermaz GSV kit. The etched brass W irons and buffer beam/buffer housings came from ILM. Construction was quite straightforward, cut out the appropriate bits of timber and styrene and glue together till it looks like an SV!

Here it is, ready for painting:
I construct sheep vans as three sub-assemblies. This makes it possible to paint the interior!

I painted it with a mix of SEM self-etch black and grey, to represent the NSWGR's 20th century wagon colour scheme, Gunmetal grey. The interior was weathered with a light spray of very dilute in Isocol alcohol Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth. When this was ok the model was glued together and the ‘canvas’ glued to the roof. To do this I spread white glue on the roof, then put some water in the sink and spread out a roughly cut to piece of tissue on top of the water. Quickly bringing the model up under the tissue results in a perfectly ‘stretched’ canvas roof once everything has dried and the tissue trimmed to size. The roof was then brush painted Badger Flat White. 
The vehicle was decaled to represent the appearance of the prototypes circa 1920, with the wagon code on the underframe and the 'Westinghouse brake fitted' symbol on the ends. In this period the number only appeared on the wagon on the number plate and the wagon codes were just starting to appear, normally painted on the solebars next to the numberplate. The ‘Westinghouse brakes fitted’ symbol appeared on the ends of sheep vans, as there was nowhere else to put them!

I wanted to model it as a fairly new wagon, so I went 'light' on the weathering. The vehicle was given a light brush of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown over the springs and brake shoes. A very light coat of Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth was sprayed over the body, concentrating on the underframe. Then some Badger Flat White was sprayed into the hopper section between the decks, to represent the bleaching that occurred in this area from the ovine by-products. The roof was then sprayed with my ‘roof muck’ mix of Tamiya XF-10 Flat Brown and XF-1 Flat Black diluted with lots of Isocol and then my ‘road dust’ mix of Isocol and Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth sprayed from the sides, concentrating on the lower sections of the vehicle where one would expect to find road dust… As I wanted a vehicle in fairly good condition I finished off with a very light spray of dilute Aqueous Hobby Color H343 Soot. The ‘oil’ on the axleboxes was added with semi-gloss black and the coupler tangs painted matt black and it was ready to go on the layout.
Here is the SV in a train of suitable period rollingsto​ck. On the left is an old type sheep van, then the new SV, and then a timber underframed 1929 GSV. Before the late 1920s all sheep vans were coded SV, but around that time the old type vans were re-coded OSV, the modern vans built, or re-built, to the 1929 design were coded GSV, while the rest which didn't fit into either category remained coded SV.


  1. Wow! nice shot! what kind of camera did the photographer use in this shot cause really like that result.

  2. G'day cdc :)

    I take all my photos with a Panasonic DMC-FZ50 digital, and do some post production work in Photoshop.

  3. James, am I correct in saying that wood is a major part of the construction of this wagon? and if so what type is it? i must admit to enjoying construction with timber, but have limited it to building construction. The guards over the sliding doors, paper?

    I too have been effected by this early period, I think it may be because of the fact that it something different to what is 'normally' seen on a layout.

    Great to see your modelling skills on show, Geoff.

  4. G'day Geoff :)
    Yes, mostly wood, with most of it from the Northeasern timber shapes range. The slide covers over the doors were 0.005" styrene.
    Thats why I was initially attracted to the earlier period too, familiar but different!