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Metals is a wide ranging heading, it covers not only finished goods such as iron and steel sheet, pipes, tubes and rolled bar but also part-finished goods such as slabs and more recently coils of steel sheet, going between steel works, foundries and the like and slabs of aluminium.

The colour of large metal objects presented something of a problem, there are few colour pictures available of this kind of traffic. I understand that most large sheets would be 'boiler plate', which would start off as a light grey colour but which would soon tarnish and rust.

I would suggest the plate be painted a very dark brownish grey (Humbrol used to offer both 'iron' and 'steel' grey paint, the iron seems to have been removed from the list but Matt 32 is close) with streaks and patches of thinned black and reddish 'rust' coloured paint. Having painted it and let it dry rub it over with a soft cloth and a bit of talc to smooth the finish then wash the talc off with cold water.

Naturally there was some traffic in equipment and machinery to the iron and steel works but most inward traffic would have been raw materials as discussed above under Minerals.

The `roll wagon' kit available to members of the 2mm Scale Association is a simple flat body with longitudinal supports used to transport large rollers to an iron works where they were used to roll out wrought iron and later steel. This kit will fit the Peco 9 foot wheelbase chassis (although being 2mm scale it is a shade narrow) or it can be fettled to fit the Peco 10 foot wheelbase chassis using short lengths of Peco sleeper to act as coupling retainers. The heavy rollers can be made up from plastic rod from Slaters or Plastruct, turned in a hand-drill and grooved with a Swiss file. Personally I used small electrical components (failed radar diodes salvaged from ships I worked on).

Ingots, Pigs, Billets, Blooms and Slabs

An ingot is a bar of metal, usually of some more or less standard size. The most basic semi-finished iron ingot is the 'pig' and railways have carried these low value items since the earliest days. I have seen photographs dating to the 1920s showing one plank wagons carrying perhaps 60 pigs in a heap in the centre of the floor. Most of this traffic was carried in standard open wagons but after the Second World War BR built a number of 'pig iron' wagons with capacities starting at ten tons and soon reaching thirty tons. The early lighter wagons resembled standard wooden bodied five plank opens but had steel girders in place of the bottom planks at each end of the body. Peco offer a kit of the twenty ton all steel type on their 9' wheelbase chassis however this looks much better loaded as the floor is raised to accomodate the weight. You can fit the upper floor plate directly to the chassis and add the sides for an empty wagon but you then need to glue some crushed air gun pellets to the under side as ballast. The heavy 30 ton wagons had deeper than normal solebars to carry the load, these can be modelled using a Farish chassis as shown below.

Fig ___ Modelling the BR 30 ton Pig Iron Wagon

sketch of BR 30 ton pig iron wagon

The Peco chassis can also be used, however you need to trim the plugs off the coupling retainers and glue these in position as the body does not extend the full length of the chassis (or you can fit the plugs as supplied and trim the outer ends to set the spacing of the inner pair of end supports) but I have not built one in this way.

The 'pigs' themselves can be represented by short lengths of 10x20 thou micro strip. Do be careful not to over-load your wagons, most forms of iron and steel have a density in the range 7.8 to 7.9 grams per cubic centimetre. Pigs of iron were mainly intended to be handled by men so the size was kept down, typically three inches (7.5 cm) thick by five or six inches (10-12 cm) wide and about three foot (1 m) long. There is usually a slight taper to the pig itself and a small misshapen bit on the narrower end where it was broken from the sprue at the works. Modern pigs of iron, intended for mechanical handling are about six inches wide (about 15cm), nine inches thick (about 22cm) and four foot long (about 120cm). Each of the older pigs would weigh about 130 lbs (59 Kg) and each modern pig would weigh roughly 650 lbs (300 Kg).

In theory an early standard ten ton wooden bodied wagon would carry something like 150 of the older pigs, but only 30 of the modern type, similarly a sixteen ton steel bodied mineral wagon could carry about 230 old type pigs or about 50 of the more modern variety. In practice however (from the very few photographs I have seen of this load) wagons would typically carry far fewer of these pigs. For example a three plank wagon might have perhaps fifty pigs, piled in loose and rising in a heap somewhere about the centre of the wagon. The photo shows two loads, on the left is a pregrouping NER wagon with a load based on a photo of a similar wagon. The Peco wagon is ahown unloaded. The loads are Microstrip on a bacofoil base, the bottom layer is fixed with superglue with the upper layers fixed using solvent. paint the strip before cutting it to length. The base colour is 'iron grey', when this is dry add spots of various reds and while these are still wet was with thinners.

Fig ___ Model Pig Iron loads
photo of pig iron loads wagon

A billet is a long ingot, typically six inches square and as long as the available rolling stock can carry, Slaters 40x40 thou microstrip is about right for this material. They are used in making wire or rolled flat to make small sheets (which may in turn be used for making pipes). Billets could be carried on multiple short wheelbase single-bolster wagons or on long wheelbase four wheeled wagons, both options being available from Peco. More recently (since the 1960's) they have usually been carried on bogie wagons. They are carried on wagons with bolsters so that lifting chains can be passed underneath or more recently so that fork-lift trucks can lift them. A Peco long wheelbase plate wagon loaded with billets with a cross section of six inches square and perhaps twenty feet long would carry only about twelve to eighteen billets, each weighing in at about a ton.

Blooms are large raw steel ingots being shipped for further processing, this is really a post World War Two development as earlier all the work required would be one at a single iron or steel works. Blooms weigh in at abut thirty tons, they are typically about a foot thick by two foot six wide and about twenty foot long. Blooms are often loaded 'hot' onto wagons and the stock used usually has raised bolsters to allow cooling air to circulate. They can be carried in the new air braked four wheelers, the OBA wagon had turn-over bolsters built into the floor for this traffic and the SPA/SAA has fixed bolsters for the same trade (although the SAA proved unsuitable for the traffic in practice). Blooms were also regularly shipped on bogie BBA wagons in the 1980's.

A slab is a large oblong section length of steel and again they are a modern development. Slabs are big, perhaps eighteen inches thick by a couple of foot wide by twenty foot long. These are shipped to rolling mills where they are turned into sheets or coils, they are transported on bogie wagons. In the 1980's BAA, BBA, and BDA bogie wagons and SPA four wheelers were all used for slabs. In the 1980's quite a lot of slabs were exported to be rolled into long strips of steel sheet and the resulting coiled strips were then sent back to Britain.

Plate and strip coil

Steel or iron plates can be simply off cuts of 10 thou plastic card, although even that is a bit thick (one and a half inches or 37mm scale thickness in N) and is rather too stiff, the real sheets are often not dead flat. I have used quite a lot of Bacofoil type alumninium sheet, cut into strips, folded in half and glued flat with Superglue. Add a few strips (2-3 will do) of paper card to the under side. Loads such as steel rods or large baulks of timber would normally be carried on wagons equipped with bolsters. Where the wagon did not have these, such as the 'plate' wagons, the load should be supported on crossbars to lift them clear of the wagon floor so they could have lifting chains or ropes passed under them for unloading. The load would be secured to the wagon in transit, generally with chains. The model shown has a removable load, the lower layers are strips of cardboard with the top a strip of folded and glued Bacofoil. The secruing chains are strands from brass picture framing wire superglued to the top of the load and then trimmed so they are a snug fit between the wagon sides (this prevents the load moving due to vibration). If using copper wire (fuse wire or strands taken from layout wire) these can be stiffened by giving them a coating of solder.

Fig ___ Steel plate load on a Peco plate wagon secured with twisted wire chains
photo of Steel plate load on a Peco plate wagon secured with twisted wire chains

Plates wider than about 8 foot have to be carried at an angle on trestle wagons, see Fig ___. The former Skytrex range included a white metal kit of a Trestrol (no longer produced) and the N Gauge Society over a very nice etched brass bogie trestrol kit. Alternatively a Peco Plate wagon can be modified with a trestle built from thin card as described in the section on Kit Bashing.

A metal plate eight foot wide is a big thing but trestle wagons would be seen around iron and steelworks, shipyards and boiler makers or steam engine building firms and heavy engineering works. Other cargo for trestle wagons would include any large flat objects such as the metal external gear wheel rings for rotary cement kilns. If you use two strands from a length of picture hanging brass wire the 'chains' are sturdy enough to make a removable load, if using 5 Amp fuse wire the chains can be coated in solder to stiffen them up.

Fig ___ Steel plate load on a trestle wagon (modified Peco plate wagon) secured with twisted wire chains
photo of Steel plate load on a trestle wagon (modified Peco plate wagon) secured with twisted wire chains

Strip steel coils appeared in the 1950's, the early coils were quite small, about three foot (1 m) in diameter by up to seven foot (2.3 m) long with a hole up the middle about eighteen inches (0.5 m) in diameter. They were transported on one-plank wagons fitted with a wooden cradle, some types of coil were shipped covered with a tarpaulin, making modlling much easier. By the early 1960s coils were up to 5 feet in diameter with a hole in the centre between two and three feet in diameter (all the coils in a consignment should be the same). You would be unlikely to see a single strip coil wagon, a rake of at least five would be acceptable.

Fig ___ Early Strip-Steel Coil wagon

Sketch of an early Strip-Steel Coil wagon

The basic coil wagon is now available (with a two coil load) as a kit from Parkwood Models, however to brake up the rake some former Palbrick wagons with their sides removed were transferred to this work in the later 1960s or early 1970s. Modelling Palbricks is dicussed in the section on Kit bashing, the coil version has no sides and two hefty longitudinal baulks to carry the single coil.

Fig ___ Palbrick converted for Strip-Steel Coil

Sketch Palbrick converted for Strip-Steel Coil

Coiled sheet steel can be represented by cartridge paper rolled up (I wound mine round an empty ball point pen refil for consistency), with a final layer of Bacofoil shiny side in, dull side out. This method does require time and patience, and the result is perhaps not up to the standards a professional mould maker might produce, but at the time of writing the only ready made loads available were those supplied with the Fleetline bogie wagons and the Parkwood Models four wheeler. I have yet to find a supply of suitably thick-walled tubing, which would be an easier option. I did try using concentric Plastruct tubes but these ended up less even in length than those made from strips of paper, I may try this again however, being a little more careful this time. The even numbered Plastruct tubes telescope inside each other and so do the odd numbered tubes. You need three or four tubes to make up the strip coil, but with ten inch tubes you get a lot of coils for your money.

Modern coils are larger, ranging from four foot to six foot (1.2 to 2 m) in diameter and between four and seven foot (1.2 to 2.2 m) long. They are all approximately the same weight so the larger the diameter the shorter the roll, the hole through the middle is eighteen inches to two foot (0.5 to 0.75 m) in diameter. By the 1980s it was quite common to see a mix of coils with different diameters loaded on a single wagon. Coils of strip steel are usually banded with straps, either two or four passing through the centre and sometimes with two or three wrapped round the coil. In the early days the ends of the roll were protected with rags where the bands passed round them. You would be unlikely to see a single wagon load of strip coil, usually the delivery is of a dozen or so coils minimum, all of the same size and type, and a bogie wagon would only carry four or at most five coils. A lot of strip coil is used in pipe making and some is exported.

Fig ___ Strip-Steel Coil loads

Sketches of strip coils loads from the 1980's and 1990's

Until recently strip steel coils were mainly carried in simple wooden cradles, often these cradles were de-mountable but they were returned to the wagon after emptying. The coils rest on their sides in the cradles, laid either across the wagon or arranged tube fashion along it. One point to note is that he cradles often had a rather small semi-circular cut out at each end, this was not the carry the coil but was provided to allow lifting gear to be inserted into the hole up the middle. The coil itself sat inside the wooden cradle.

On the modern BAA wagons the coils can be laid on their ends (called 'eye to the sky') or they can rest in a steel frame running along the wagon ('eye to the front'). The steel frame consists of a series of cradles, one per coil, which are used to lift the coils without damaging them. On the BAA wagons, when carried 'eye to the sky' you typically get five coils per wagon, two quite close together toward each end and one in the centre. Four steel rods are inserted into holes in the floor of the wagon around each coil to secure the load in place, these rods are often rather bent and battered in service.

Wire Coils, Bars and Girders

Since the 1930's there has been a regular traffic in coils of steel wire, going to nail-makers amongst others. Before the Second World War coils of wire about four foot in diameter with a large hole in the middle about three foot in diameter we common on the railways (although smaller coils might also be carried). The pre-war coils were quite small, between six inches and a foot thick as they each had to be man-handled at some point on their journey (although they could be lifted using a crane). After the war as mechanical handling became the norm coil diameter remained about the same at around four foot but the size of individual coils increased to about three foot each, by the 1980s they were about five feet long. The the photos below show modern coils being handled, the figures give a sense of scale. Wire will be either a very dark grey (often referred to as black) or light grey (galvanised wire, does not need sheeting).

Fig ___ Modern (post 1950s) wire coil loads.

Photos of Modern (post 1950s) wire coil loads

Coils can be made up from monfilament fishing line or the fine wire in electrical multi-stranded cables. In the case of wire you strip off the insulation and separate out the strands, wind a single strand round a nail into a tight bundle until the desired size is achieved and either soak in solder or super glue (a slight smear of Vaseline on the nail will prevent the coil sticking). For fishing line I have had success using a paper tube (cigarette paper wrapped round a rod and given a light wash of dilute PVA, slip this off the rod and allow to set), the line is first would evenly along the tube to the length of the wagon less about 1mm, then built up in sections at an angle to represent individual coils in a row leaning slightly toward one end. The whole thing is then coated in thin super glue, I had a bit of brass wire bent into an L shape and set in a blob of Blue Tak putty, the tube can be slipped onto this and left to set solid whilst I wound the next. Trim away the ends of the paper tube when the 'coils' have set solid.

Most wire coil traffic was shipped in standard 5 plank open wagons, typically the coils were about four feet in diameter, so you get two rows in the wagon along the length of the wagon. If using wire you might make up a simple insert with half coils glued on top to save weight, but full coils of fishing line are light and easy to make. The LMS and BR have built special open framed `coil' wagons, which require the full coil. Loads of coiled wire were often sheeted over by the 1980's, so a length of plastic tube with 'bulges formed of fishing line or cotten thread can be used for the load, covered with a paper tarpaulin. Unsheeted loads were also carried (galvanised wire by its very nature does not need weather protection).

Fig ___ Coil wagon based on the (Peco type) BR plate wagon.

Coil wagon for wire coils

Lengths of Plastruct fineline I section BFS-2 serve well for a girder load, on a pair of single bolster wagons or a four wheeled twin bolster wagon twelve lengths would be a reasonable load, again the heavy bodied bolster wagons could carry more, typically sixteen or so. On the bogie wagon it would be common practice to add strips of timber to separate the layers of steel section to allow unloading chains to be passed between them, the shorter lengths carried on a four wheeler twin bolster would be lifted as a single lift.

Bar steel, shipped as part of a larger consignment for export, often had a band of distinctive colour painted on it to identify the individual consignments. Iron or steel rods can be lengths of microrod (from Slaters) or you can use the soft iron wire as sold in florists, called logically enough `florists wire' but this is a bit thick for 'N' so do not use too much (ten to fifteen lengths on a Peco fifteen foot bolster wagon). Rose wire is thinner (and made I believe of steel) so this can be used as an alternative, in either case a coating of matt varnish prevents them rusting.

Another load on a layout based any time after the late 1920's might be steel reinforcing rods for concrete structures. These rods come in various sizes, the smaller ones are typically one and a half to two centimetres in diameter they are shipped made up into loose bundles about ten inches across and as much as forty foot long. These rods are grooved to form a key into the concrete and you can make them up by winding thread round two nails tapped into a scrap of wood. Position the nails as far apart as you want the bundles to be long. For a Peco fifteen foot wheelbase wagon the nails should have a clear gap of about 45mm between them, which is around twenty three foot in N. Soak the thread in diluted PVA glue and leave to dry. There are usually bits of wire wrapped round the bundles to hold them together, a scrap of 5 Amp fuse wire (or a single strand of wire from multi-stranded layout wire) serves well for this. Add the wire before the glue sets solid to secure it, if this fails add a drop of super-glue. When you cut the thread you get two bundles and a wagon load would be 10 or 12 bundles for a fifteen foot wheelbase Peco bolster or plate wagon. They should be painted rust brown (BR bauxite is pretty close to the required colour).

For a heavy bogie bolster wagon such as the BBD/BDA (made from a Graham Farish coach chassis or a John Grey kit) you can load up about eighteen of these bundles. As these particular rods are so flexible I would suggest it is unlikely the bundles would be carried on pairs or triplets of single bolster wagons.

Castings and Foundry Produce

Large castings and other really heavy items can be moved on the heavy 'armour plate' wagons (see Fig ___ and Fig ___), in the case of a basic casting this might well be left open to the elements in transit, so keep an eye open for unusual shaped bits such as the clips used on plastic curtain rails etcetera to form the load. The normal method of securing would be chains laid over and around the load, fastened to the loops on the wagon solebar.

Finished castings (and military loads) might well be sheeted over, with the sheet itself tied off to the loops on the solebars. When large castings were shipped in conventional open wagons they were often laid on a bed of gravel or cinders (widely available in the days when everything was fueled by coal).

Other traffic from foundries includes guttering, usually a dark grey colour, and (up to the 1950's) bath tubs without their feet, usually a light grey. Bracken and straw were used for packing the wagons with this brittle but heavy cargo. I made a load of bath tubs, without feet and nested, by cutting an oval hole in a scrap of card then forcing Milliput through this to produce the basic shape. This was then sanded down to a proper bathtub shape and thin cotton was wound round to represent the lips of the nested baths. I loaded four such stacks into a wagon, packed with tumble dryer lint dyed to represent bracken. An alternative for the tubs would be 'bubble packs' used for some medicines, but availability depends on someone getting ill.

Fig ___ Bath tubs


There has always been a traffic in iron and later steel pipes, probably the two most famous pipe works were at Stanton and Staveley in Derbyshire (which were merged into a single company in 1960) producing cast iron and later steel pipes, but pipes were also shipped from large and small iron foundries all over the country. 'Metal' pipes can be produced using the paper and pin method, for big pipes I have used the stems from Q-Tip cotton buds with the cotton removed and extra-long Rizla cigarette papers. I left the Q-Tip stem inside the pipe (this leaves a nice length of paper tube at either end) but this was probably unnecessary.

Shedloads Models offers two 'pipe loads', one of large pipes andother of small pipes. each with three different loads (so they are not all the same). Photo courtesy Shedloads Models.

Fig ___ Shedloads Models pipe loads.

Photo of Shedloads Models pipe loads in open wagon

For really big pipes plastic drinking straws can be used, although those from the fast-food outlets really are big so if you have more than one layer add wooden battens between layers to allow lifting chains to be passed under the pipes. My tube large tube loads are 3mm diameter plastic drinking straws from the local grocers. The are 'flangeless' and I made up loads for a consignment of five Peco bolster wagons for a post war layout. In practice, where pipes are handled regularly a set of hooks on a long loop of chain was often used to lift them, the hooks being inserted into the ends of the pipe. For further information on these lifting aids see Materials Handling - Crane Hooks and Lifting aids. The example shown below is a load of steel unflanged pipes cut from small 3mm diameter plastic straws, where the pipes had flanges on the end a wooden cradle would be required between each layer of pipe.

Fig ___ Unflanged steel pipe load on bolster wagon.

Photo of Unflanged steel pipe load on bolster wagon

Smaller pipes and tubes can be represented by glass 'bugle' beads from your local sewing shop. I have several pipe loads based on 'Trimits' tubes, sold in small packets, one of which will make up a couple of loads. They come in a range of diameters and lengths, the longest being about 30mm long, just right for a 10' wheelbase wagon load. On longer wagons you can have two piles of the 30mm tubes and in standard open wagons I have a couple of loads made up of the shorter tubes. I stacked the shorter tubes toward the ends with 'planks' (10x20 thou strip) laid across the ends and a few more pipes laid between these with a couple of timber props (20x20 thou strip) across the gap above the pipes to prevent them being damaged by a 'rough shunt'.

Fig ___ Short cast iron pipe load.

Photo of Short cast iron pipe load

Pipes were usually black or dark grey in colour and where a large load was being shipped it was common to have the manufacturers name in white on outside faces of the stacked pipes stacked. Modern pipes being shipped by rail are wrapped in plastic sheeting, one example used blue sheeting with ten inch black bands about every four foot. To model these wrap your pipe in cling-film or thin parcel tape &paint then add strips from painted plastic parcel tape.

Scrap Metal

The railways have been carrying wagon loads of scrap metal since the mid 1930's (possibly earlier), however this is a low value cargo so it was usually moved in the slower goods services. During the second world war government support saw a growth in scrap recycling and many scrap yards were established with a rail connection. By the 1980's there were fewer such yards using a rail siding but larger companies such as Sheerness Steel commissioned large bogie wagons for this traffic. The steel works of Sheffield had large yards specifically to receive and sort scrap, most was handled in the open but some works had large open-ended sheds in which the material was unloaded and sorted by electromagnets suspended from gantry cranes. (I believe the Sheerness works closed in 2002, part of the collapse of Allied Steel and Wire)

Scrap metal is still (mid 1980's) a significant traffic on the railways, one of its main uses being the manufacture of steel. Since the 1940's the ratio has been typically 70 percent scrap metal to 30 percent pig iron. These days its main value lies in the recovery of special steels as it is often cheaper to re-process scrap than to produce special steels and refine rare minerals.

In the early days scrap metal was moved in wooden bodied, fairly standard, 'mineral wagons'. British Railways used their standard steel 16 ton and 21 ton open wagons to shift it in and some dual vacuum/air brake fitted 21 tonners were still used up to the mid to late 1980's coded MDW. British Rail re-bodied some of the 21 ton wagons for scrap, I believe in the 1970's, these had no end doors, sides similar in height to the large twenty four and a half ton coal wagons and a single door on each side, similar in design to those on the Peco Butterly wagons, located towards the left hand end. On modern (post 1985) layouts the scrap would mainly be shifted in bogie and 4 wheeled tippler wagons, most of which are PO or leased stock. The four wheelers from Standard Railways Wagon Co's Railease subsidiary and the large bogie vehicles built by Procor for Sheerness Steel are illustrated in the section 'Railway Freight Operations - Ore and Metals'.

HSA conversions from the HEA coal hoppers (available as a kit from Taylor Plastic Models) entered service in the mid 1980's to carry 'shredded metal'. This is processed to recover a variety of materials, one example being Iron Powder. The powder is produced by treating the scrap with hydrochloric acid, producing a ferrous chloride solution which is filtered, crystallised and cooked at 800 degrees Celsius to produce iron powder or small briquettes of iron of about 99.5% purity. Powdered iron has many uses including making magnets and electronics components and as a catalyst in ammonia synthesis.

Scrap metal comes in all shapes and sizes including old lengths of wire, bits of metal sheet (often with holes punched into it), parts of casings and big lumps of old machinery. Scrap metal merchants recieved a lot of waste material from local engineering works this might include (depending on the nature of the works) three plank wagon loads of rivet hole punchings, swarf (the shavings of metal from lathes and drills) from machine tools and hammerscale from a forge. Rivet punchings can be represented by fine sand painted black with traces of rust in N. Swarf is light stuff, some coiled in a spiral like a watch spring but most in a long helix like a coil spring. This was piled just above the top of the side on 16 ton mineral wagons, quite shiny when new and difficult to represent in N. The the grey type of anti-static foam is quite an 'open' material and the top surface can be teased with a pin (do not over do this), then washed with a rinse of very thinned matt aluminium and light grey paint. Hammerscale is the the flakes of metal that fall to the floor whilst the metal is being worked (notably in a forge), this was dense and heavy so again a three plank wagon load, very fine sand piled to a peak in the centre and painted black with traces of rust.

The smaller elements of a scrap metal cargo stuff can be represented with scraps of paper or tin foil whilst the larger bits and lumps can be anything that comes to hand, from broken off bits of match stick to sections of sprue cut from a kit frame. Scrap wire can be represented using human hair or strands of wire recovered from multi-core 'layout wire' (this can have a little solder added to make it stiff and rigid). I have used 'stretched sprue' for adding character to scrap metal loads. Stretched sprue is produced using the sprue or frame from a plastic kit, cut a length about two inches long and hold the middle over a candle flame until the plastic softens. By pulling on the ends you can now draw the plastic out into a long thin filament which (usually) retains the cross sectional shape of the original sprue. This produces something with a little more character than hair or wire but you do need to loop it to shape before it cools as it then becomes rigid and will snap rather than bend.

Scrap metal plate or sheet often has paint remaining on it, so when the load is assembled on its insert give it a wash with 'track colour' then pick out a few bits with red, green and blue (yellow was not a common industrial colour before the 1960's) and finish with some spots of black and a wash with dirty thinners to bring out highlight details.

Since the later 1960's a lot of scrap metal has been compressed into small oblong blocks. This crushing was originally developed for dealing with scrap cars, giving blocks or 'bales' (the correct technical term) typically three feet (1m) square by four foot (1.3m) long. Since the 1980's re-cycled tin cans have been similarly compressed, the blocks are usually smaller, typically forming a two foot (60 cm) square bock about three feet long. Since the later 1970's these blocks have occasionally been shipped by rail, and by the late 1980's they were quite common 'wagon load' traffic. They form a neat and tidy load but they are chocked in place to prevent them sliding about and damaging the wagons. Old motor car tyres are often used to block in such a load.

Non Ferrous Metals

Imports of zinc, chrome, tin and copper from East Africa came in ingots about 2 foot long, 6 inches high with sides tapering from 7 inches wide at the base to 6 inches at the top. With the increase in mechanical handling aids in the 60's these were carried in small bundles, each of 16 ingots, laid alternate ways and banded with steel.

Lead was shipped in rolls, about 3 feet long by a foot in diameter. If there was a regular traffic the rolls of lead would be hoisted by a crane using 'lead hooks' which were two metal L shapes set at a rather acute angle, connected by lengths of chain to a hook, these L shapes would be inserted into the ends of the roll for lifting. Ingots banded as above were introduced in the 1960s but lead sheet in rolls continued as a regular cargo. The rolls of lead, and the ingots, would be carried in sheeted wagons or vans as they were valuable cargo.

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