Until the arrival of canals, railways and finally roads, coastal shipping was the UK's prime method of cargo transport: with nowhere on the mainland more than 70 miles from the sea, it was the obvious way to transport goods in bulk. Even after the arrival of canals and railways it was a major player, working with these alternatives carrier rather than against them. Only the arrival of motorways and containeristaion put paid to them, in exactly the same way that railway branchline pickup goods became uneconomical.
Coastal shipping reached its zenth with the arrival of the steamer, massively lessening the impact that winds (or lack of them) could have on journey times, and from the late ninetheenth century until the early 1960s, coasters were a common sight in docks and larger harbours.
Coasters fall broadly into two groups, liners and tramps. Liners belonged to fleets owned by shipping lines, who specialised mainly in regular contract work, while most tramps were owned by smaller organisations or even individuals, and made their living by picking up and delivering what ever loads they could ad hoc - sometimes a rather precarious hand-to-mouth existance.
The overall look of the steam coaster changed very little over the years, especially as the big lines often sold their older vessels on to smaller concerns, so some ships might still be around decades after their launching.
'Puffin' is not an exact copy of a prototype simply because I couldn't find any exact plans for what research had suggested to me was the archetypal small coaster. So I've taken bits from various plans to replicate what I was after.
She's very obviously a sister ship to 'Roamer' but here depicted at the opposite end of her life cycle, having been sold on by her original owners and now eeking out her existence as a tramp ship. She's gained a wheelhouse along the way, but is otherwise less well cared for, and in need of a fresh coat of paint. She might have looked like this any time from the 1920s until the very early sixties, and would be particularly suitable for the British Railways Steam Era The model is high-poly, but has five levls of LOD as well as the main mesh, so shouldn't create huge problems on most systems.
Lastly, thanks to PEV for his fantastic tools, and to fellow members of Trainz Carriage and Wagon Works, for their knowledge, encouragement, suggestions and help.