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Improving the Oxford Rail North British Jubilee Wagon

As I mentioned in my previous post the Oxford Rail Jubilee wagon is a pretty good rendition of the original but it does have a few small issues and is fundamentally the wrong colour!  Actually, these proved very simple to fix and the conversion to P4 was relatively painless; so within a couple of hours you can have a good rendition of this typically Scottish wagon.

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First off was the conversion to P4 which is not possible to do with the existing underframe as it is too narrow.  In an approach that I have not seen before, Oxford Models have created an underframe that slips between the solebars.  Even better, this is not secured with glue and merely popping out the buffer shanks from their housings allows this to drop out.  Neither the buffers nor the brake gear are secured with glue either and I elected to temporarily detach these from the model throughout to prevent any damage to them.  Bill Bedford pre 1907 RCH sprung W irons were then used but it was necessary to scrape back about ½mm of the inside of each solebar to get these in.  Checking the ride height against the buffer height gauge I found that the right height was achieved without the need for any packing.

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Although the axleboxes that are provided as part of the model are a bit crude, I did not have any better ones available (although 51L do provide them) so sought to retain these.  There is a fair amount of cutting required to remove the remains of the plastic W iron and open up the rear of the axle box to take even a waisted pin-point bearing.  Definitely do this with a finger drill and not a powered one as you need to remove as much plastic as you can short of actually going through it.  Cutting these rebates was the slowest part of the whole task.

The end stanchions were separate pieces and popped off without bother but the planking joints did not run behind them continuously.  Therefore, whilst it was easy to reattach the stanchions with glue, I had to score the missing plank joints in first.  The buffer shanks are a tad too long, more appropriate for NBR fitted wagons than unfitted but these were easy to deal with.  The metal heads pop out easily and then a few strokes with a file takes off about ½mm to reduce the length.  The fixing hole needs to be deepened slightly and then the head can be resecured with a dab of glue.

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The missing ironwork to the solebar was from a left over etch; Mainly Trains do alternatives.  I found that the bolt heads to the straps either side of the door had some of its bolts in impossible locations (in the joint between planks) and I therefore shaved these off prior to applying replacements with Archer transfer rivets.  This is the first time I have actually used these and they are really easy to use; much quicker than any other method.  The strapping to the inside of the wagon was missing, so this was added with microstrip and more Archer’s rivets.  The hinge rings to the end door should be almost a full circle so these were replaced with pieces of bent wire to conclude the physical modifications.

The model comes fitted with scotch fulcrum brakes to both sides which is correct for some vehicles but I cut away one side as I wished to represent the more common variant that had these only to one side.  The actual fulcrum and brake block detach from the underframe without difficulty and I found that I could reuse it, after first mounting them on a piece of plasticard secured to the underside of the floor.  I did, however, change the brake lever which I thought to be a bit clunky with an etched replacement and added a fair amount of lead as the model is very light.  I also attached a piece of scrap brass to the underside – as seen below – as a temporary means to hold the wagon whilst it is painted.

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I chose to lightly abrade the surface of the existing lettering with a fine wet & dry paper as I was concerned that they might leave an impression through the new paint.  Thereafter I painted them all over with Tamiya Paints, German Grey, picking out the ironwork to the solebar and below with black.  The lettering was from PC Transfers sheet 20 but it will be partially lost below weathering; when I get it to this stage!

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Here we can see the benefit of the brass strip to hold the model with during painting and weathering.

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Oxford Rail North British Jubilee Wagon

Until recently, there have never been any mainstream ready to run locomotives or stock suitable for the pre-group modeller of the Highland.  Whilst there remains nothing that emanated out of Lochgorm, with the release by Oxford Rail of a NB 8 ton jubilee wagon we do at least have one that would have made it onto the system regularly!

The first of these wagons originated from 1887, the year of Victoria’s jubilee (hence their name) and the bulk were constructed at Cowlairs but with others from several outside contractors.  The design was developed and eventually over 20,000 were constructed, forming the mainstay of the North British’s mineral fleet.  The model represents an example of the diagram 16B wagons, built from 1896 and marginally longer than those that went before.  Oxford Rail presently produce this in NB livery and five private owner liveries, recognising that many of the railway company’s vehicles were leased to collieries and took on their lessee’s branding.

Dimensionally, the model matches the prototype well and as a result the proportions capture the character of the prototype.  One exception seems to be the stanchions to the fixed ends which are placed rather too close together.  Although with such a large number of examples spread over many batches there may have had examples with this closer spacing, I have not been able to unearth any photographs to confirm this.  This problem is not difficult to solve, as the end stanchions are separately applied with small spigots attaching them to the body – thus it is easy to prise them off and reattach them on fresh holes at the correct distance apart.

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The model correctly incorporates scotch fulcrum brakes, although it provides one complete set per side.   Although not wrong, it was more common for the wagon to be fitted with brakes to one side only and this variety can be provided by the relatively simple task of the removal of one set.  In an approach that I have not seen before, the solebars are part of the body moulding with a separate chassis moulding that sits inside this.  This does make the colour changes between the ironwork and the timber crisp but has resulted in the width between the W irons being narrower than usual – especially as the width over the solebars is a tad narrow.  It is possible to convert the wagon to EM but it requires the shaving of a large degree of the inside of the W irons to take the increased width across the wheel faces.  It is not possible to widen it further to accommodate P4 wheels, so to convert the wagon to P4 requires the replacement of the W irons in total.  Few P4 modellers will be put off by this as with some carving away of some the inside of the solebars, Bill Bedford sprung W irons can readily be used.  If the vehicle is to be kept as OO, the wheels can be retained as the correct split spoke wheels have been provided – a first I believe for a ready to run model.

The moulding is beautifully crisp throughout and the detail neatly incorporated.  There are good amounts of separately added elements of detail – such as brake gear and buffers – assist in achieving a quality rendition of the prototype.  They are also readily removed/reinstated, which is of assistance if you chose to enhance your model or convert it to one of the wider gauges.  Rather peculiarly, a number of fairly obvious elements of ironwork to the solebar have been overlooked, including the crown plates.  On the private owner variants these are visible so it appears to have been the intention to paint these on the model but this has not occurred in the North British liveried version for some reason.   However, it is not particularly difficult to add these as they are available as etches from a number of sources.  The most obvious issue with the model, however, is its colour; it is much too light for North British wagon grey and no amount of weathering will disguise this.  This is a shame because the printing of its lettering is exquisite and any repaint will obliterate this.

Other points of detail that are not quite correct are the end hinges, part missing internal strapping, buffers that are too long for an unfitted wagon, overly skinny side door hinges and a few rivets that are in impossible positions.  However, only the more fastidious modeller will want to change these (although this might include me!) and but for the colour this would be a “ready to plonk” model for most people.    Helpfully, none of these points are insurmountable with a little effort and for those that want to improve the model, it will be a task of only a few hours.

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So overall, I would commend this to the Scottish modeller of the pregroup or grouping era as it captures the look of these distinctively Scottish wagons even if it does really need a repaint.  As I have hinted, I have attacked my wagon to correct these issues and convert it to P4; this will appear in the next blog post.

Transfer Update

Back in November 2013, I hinted that I was trying to crack transfers for the Highland’s locos in LMS days; something that is not realistically available via other sources and there does not seem to be much prospect of anyone else doing them.

Anyway, hopefully, I have cracked all I need to with regard to these and the final artwork is complete.  This is what it looks like – hopefully it has covered all the locos you might fancy!

Highland Names

Also on the sheet are one or two other things; but I am less certain that these will work so I’ll keep these as a secret until I find out.

The intention is that these will be available in 4mm & 7mm scales; pricing to be confirmed but I am afraid they will be fairly expensive as the production run is not big and you 7mm chaps in particular eat the page with the size of the prints!

Once they come in, I decide whether they are viable.

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