Following the last delivery from the etchers, it was time to get on and do the first test builds. First up was the dia 51 Full Brake. This vehicle was one of the later coaches from the Highland Railway and was of similar design to the cove roof corridor coaches that have been available from Lochgorm Models for some time. They were also amongst some of the last highland coaches to service as tool vans etc. This is what one looked like late on in its career after its corridor connections had been removed.
As with my efforts for the scrap tank, I am seeking to try and be a bit smarter with some of the kit design to draw together ideas of assembly of my own and also those of others. So starting with the ends, these will be made with a double skin to both provide the footsteps and, less commonly, some tabs to allow the sides to be secured to them.
I have always found that too many etched coaches have flimsey sides that become distorted as they are made (or when ham-fisted me does anyway). Therefore, I have designed this such that the head and base of the side have significantly sized stiffening pieces, as can be seen below. These are designed to interlock with the tabs at the ends such that most of the locating of the parts is largely defined by the kits components.
Once the basics of the shell are together, this is what it looks like.
The roof proved to be one of the most challenging parts of the build. I had originally designed this with an inner to form the shape of the roof and then a thinly etched outer layer to go over this to provide the rainstrips and other detail. It proved too difficult to get the two to laminate well or even be rolled to a similar curve.
Instead, therefore, I ditched the outer layer and relied only on the inner. This had been half etched on the underside to assist its rolling to the curved profile. I found that it was still difficult to roll the roof due to the tightness of the curves at the extremity of the roof but by simply using bending bars it was quite easy to put the curves in with a limited amount of faceting. Faceting is where short straight sections with bends to the next short section that gives the impression of a curve. Once this was then filed on the outside to smooth out the facets, a smooth curve became pretty good. Thereafter, it was necessary to form the rainstrips with wire and file them back to square sections and as you can see, the effect is pretty convincing.
The underframe and bogies are to follow, in part 2.
I guess that it is pretty difficult for the RTR manufacturer to take a stab decent corridor connections because they have to design for toy train set curves and clumsey hands but it is a weakness of all proprietary coaches. Hornby’s buffet also seems to have overly skinny corridor connections and most noticeable they are mounted too low – they should finish at the meeting of the roof with the ends.
Whilst it is possible to simply slice off the connections off and move them up, I chose to remove the and them with some produced by Comet – as this is an LNER vehicle, you need the Pullman type. The core of the operation of the corridor connections are the bellows which are formed with a pair of sheets of fairly stiff paper. These have slots cut to half their width and are then folded into a concertina shape, with the slot between the folds. Two such pieces are then offered up to each other, with the slots opposing and these then slide over each other as shown in the first picture.
To create a concertina bellows like this.
Thereafter, the etched end plate is attached to one face. Whilst not provided in the kit, I formed a second plate from plasticard and affixed this to the other end. it is important to ensure that no glue gets on the concertina sections of the paper, as they need to be capable of compressing with minimal effort to correctly operate without derailing the carriage.
This is how Comet envisage that the completed connection should look like but I felt that the bellows did not look very realistic, especially from above where the crossing point is all too obvious. In practise, the top of these connections had a fabric roof and applying this dramatically improves the appearance of the connection and has the added advantage of providing some control to the operation of the connections which do tend to expand out and look rather flabby!
I dealt with this by putting the rain hood on the top of the connection, which is afterall prototypical (and makes a huge difference to the appearance as you can see). I did this in a manner that meant it acted as a restraint to the movement of the connection. I acheived this by only gluing it at the very back and front of the connection, so that the bellows could move unimpeeded but once they had moved to the required extent, the rain hood pulled tight and stopped them going any further. I found that doing this at the top was not sufficient as their movement continued at the bottom and they took on rather drunken appearance – however, this was solved by simply repeating this at the bottom.
Key to getting this to work was to use material for these restraints that was ultra flexible. I did think about trying silk but settled instead on the rather more mundale – plastic from a bin liner. This is remarkably thin but is still tough enough to hold the connections. A tiny dab of super glue at the front and back and then it can be laid onto. It is important not to sigh with releif for some time though – the stuff is so light that it blows away at the slightest. So this is what it looks like:
I think that I have still allowed the connections to be too big and if there were two together this would definitely be true but next to a rather skinny Bachmann corridor connection, I think they look pretty good (and a big improvement on the originals).
The first task in dealing with ready to run vehicles is to work out how to get into them – not always as easy as it sounds! In this case, this is achieved by slipping finger nails between the sides and the underframe solebars; this releases four catches and the top pops off. The interior then slips out without bother but the glazing is a little more tricky as it is secured with some very gooey glue. Whilst this releases the perspex relatively easily, it was difficult to then remove the remaining glue – I found it best to do this by rolling it with a thumb and accumulating the residue on a scrap of paper but it was a pain getting it all off.
Prior to attacking the model with knife and blade, a sensible precaution is to protected all of the areas that are not to be cut with masking tape, which you will see I have done. This was effective but I did find that I dislodged a filler pipe when I removed it, so perhaps a slip of paper over these would be prudent next time.
Then it was time to get cutting; I varied between using a razor saw and a scalpel to cut a grove by using parallel cuts but in both cases it is important to cut to the waste side of the finished line. I found that it was best to work to an existing bead line, even though when working to the saloon end of the coach the bead was the side of door jamb (this is where I found the knife best and I made sure this was one of the first cuts to be made) so that there was no stress on the thin piece of material. By the time the cutting had been finished the holes were quite big!
Nearly all the cutting done now; but the last panel to the right did also get cut away
It pays to dress the sides of the opening with care so that they are straight and square as this makes the fitting of the infill pieces much easier. These should be cut fractionally over large and then sanded back by small degrees checking regularly to determine if it fits and taking care to ensure that the square/straight edges are maintained. Once it fits, I let it into the hole and secured with butonone and then left it to cure for a couple of hours so that I did not disturb it when I subsequently fitted the beading. This was formed with 0.2 * 0.2mm microstrip and these needed to be set out with considerable care – aided by the use of venier calipers – to get them regularly spaced and vertical. Even the most minor of inconsistencies detract from the affect.
Replacement panels now in place, including a partial infill of the window by the door
Next up was the removal of the various roof vents and cowls as these too changed. I suspect that these were no consistent across differing vehicles and it is quite difficult to determine what goes where but I was assisted by some photographs from here. Utilising some of the vents salvaged from the Hornby model and also from Comet Models, the latter generally with their shields filed away as the roof views I have have straight flanges as shields – which I formed with brass strip as I though plasticard would be knocked off.
Roof vents in place, based on a photograph of the roof of 9132 at SRPS in the 1970s. I also noted that the alarm gear on the roof was at the other end of the vehicle in comparison to the Hornby model, so this is going to need to be cut away and recreated at the opposite end.