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Having constructed a coal cart from a Hobbys kit (see How I constructed horse drawn coal cart), Iwas faced with the prospect of finding a horse of a suitable size and then figuring out how it should be harnessed.
Fortunately, not far from where I live in Cheshire is the Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre, which has a good selection of Schleich horse models in appropriate scales. I selected one which seemed appropriate - the Clydesdale gelding (Item No. 13808)
As I didn't need the fancy ribbons, I trimmed them off with a craft knife, touched-up the cut areas with some acrylic paints and then sent for the guidance sheet provided by Hobbys for harnessing a heavy horse.
I then picked up an A4 sheet of faux leather from my local 'The Works' shop.
The sheet comes with a self adhesive backing which I could have used, but decided I would prefer to use UHU clear glue as I know from experience this is reliable. I therefore stuck some black Gaffa tape to the back of the faux leather. I then scrunched the leather to give it some texture.
I set this to one side while a cut two strips of leather approximately 10mm wide and stuck them back to back.
This was then wrapped around the horse's neck and trimmed to fit with a 20mm overlap. It was then glued to make a collar by stripping 10mm of leather off alternate halves of the ends and gluing them together.
A length of 2mm half-round brass rod was then wrapped around the collar and trimmed so leave around 7mm excess at each end.
Two pieces of brass shim 4mm wide were then trimmed to make hooks.
These were then soldered on opposite sides of the brass collar, together with two L shaped pieces of 1mm brass rod to form loops for the reins.
A brass hoop made from 1mm brass rod was soldered across the top of the collar.
The 'spikes' on the backs of the rein loops were then forces into holes on the leather collar and bent over to hold the brass collar in place
A 10mm wide strip of Gaffa-backed leather was wrapped around the belly of the horse and trimmed to fit with 10mm overlaps. A couple of rectangles of leather were then glued to the strap to form a saddle.
This was then glued to the horse using UHU clear glue.
4mm wide strips of Gaffa backed leather were then trimmed to make the breechings, using the rear of the horse to ensure they were the correct size.
Small brass washers were then attached to the back piece of the breechings ........
.... at the junctions with the cross pieces.
The breechings were then attached to the back of the horse.
Two 3mm wide strips of Gaffa backed leather were cut out, together with 7mm wide strip which was cut down to form the blinkers as shown. The position of the blinkers was determined by wrapping the strip behind the horse's ears and marking the position of the eyes.
The two strips were wrapped around the horse's head as shown - the noseband being the lower one and the brow band the upper. These were trimmed to length and glued into place.
The longer head strap with the blinkers attached was wrapped around the back of the horse's ears, glued into place and trimmed off either side of the horse's mouth. A 1.5mm hole was drilled from side to side of the horse's mouth and a piece of brass rod threaded through and trimmed off with around 2mm protruding each side, These ends were then bent through 90 degrees to represent the bit.
Two D shaped loops were bent from 1mm brass rod as shown.
A length of fine chain was connected using a twist of fine copper wire.
Two 1.5mm hole was drilled into the sides of the horse at the lower ends of the breeching straps and the loops inserted with a dab of UHU to hold them in place,
The chains were cut to length and then attached to a loop made from 1mm brass wire with another twist of fine copper wire.
At the same time, another length of chain was passed over the saddle and attached to the slider bars on either side, again using twists of copper wire.
Finally, trace chains were connected from the the lower loops (hames) on the collar to tug hooks positioned near the ends of the shafts.
After some consultation with members of the Garden Railway Forum who are more knowledgeable than me on such matters, I realised I needed to shorten the trace chains and the ridge strap (the chain passing over the saddle) to raise the shafts, otherwise there would have been too much slack in the harness.
The reins were made by sticking two strips of Gaffa tape together and then twisting them tightly.
Unfortunately, the twists make them very springy and so it's difficult to get them to droop realistically. I might try experimenting with wrapping the Gaffa tape around some of the thin copper wire to see if that enables me to give them a more appropriate shape.
The driver is a secondhand resin figure I picked up at the Llanfair Show. I have no idea as to its origin but it depicted a bald headed chap in overalls wiping his hands on a rag. I reduced the size of the rag and drilled a hole through it to pass the reins through. He was given a cap made from Milliput to cover his bald head and then repainted with a fair bit of additional coal stains on his overall, face and arms.
The loaded coal sacks are resin castings, again picked up at Llanfair, I believe from Trenarren Models, .......
.... and the empty sacks were made by folding over some tightly woven pieces of cloth and gluing them down with UHU
There are still a few jobs to finish off - the nameboards need some lettering, for example. Rather than using the transfers which came with the kit, I want to create some using the name of the coal merchant which emblazons the coal office at Beeston Castle Station. The name was taken from the 1911 census for the area. I have assumed that the son of the coal merchant will have taken over his father's business, twenty years later (and had a son of his own).
I will find a way of making some coal scales for the cart and maybe add a bucket and a feed bag to hang from the back of the cart for the horse refreshment purposes.
Other than that, I am quite pleased with the outcome. Isn't amazing how many different skills and chunks of knowledge we need to acquire as railway modellers? When I started building my garden railway, I had no idea that fifteen years later I would be researching how horses were harnessed and wooden horse drawn carts were constructed. Well, it certainly keeps me out of mischief!
This article first appeared on riksrailway.blogspot.com
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