I have been building a couple of Mousa Model‘s kits lately; which has been a bit of a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly. Whilst the bad one will be written about in due course, this is the good one! The remarkable thing about it is its ease and speed of construction – so much so, I timed its construction just to see how fast I could build and paint it. The prototype is a LNWR dia 32 covered goods van, with a door to one side only but also with a roof door. This is the tale of its construction:
0hrs 1 min – Straight out of the box, the body & underframe are separate cast resin parts, as is the fret with the axleboxes, springs and brake gear. The underframe is an etch kit and the buffers are 3-D printed.
0hrs 15mins – The operational underframe has been folded up and fillets of solder run down the joints. Waisted top-hat bearings inserted in the bearing carriers along with the suspension springing wire. The first two carriers have been cleaned up and are inserted in the W-irons ready to receive the first wheel.
0hrs 25 mins – The remaining bearing carriers have now been fitted and the operational underframe has been stuck to the underside of the cosmetic underframe – wait 10 mins for the araldite to fully go off – so time for a cuppa!
0hrs 45mins – the casting has been cleaned up to remove any casting burs/flash, which was apparent in small amounts around its base but actually the main casting was pretty good. The first two axlebox/spring assemblies fitted – but only after I opened up the rebate to their rear to ensure that the top hat bearings had room to slide and cleared away rather more flash. Being cast resin, the vehicles are pretty light so some weight has been added – 25g per axle is my rule of thumb. One thing I have found with vans is that the weight can detach so I tend to mechanically fix the weight too now, in this case with a couple of 8BA screws.
1hr 0mins – the second set of axle guards and springs now affixed, as is the body to the underframe. I decided that the bolt heads on the solebars were a bit too proud, so took them down a little with some wet and dry paper. A brake block has been attached – the kit provides a choice of timber brake blocks (for early periods) and cast iron – I went for the latter. I also decided, however, to cut away the brake lever as I felt it was both a bit too delicate to survive and also it was not quite straight. Instead, I provided a piece of 0.6mm brass rod to both help secure the brake block in place and to provide a mount for the replacement brake lever.
1hr 15mins – the buffer shanks have now been fitted (a tiny amount of fettling was required to the open the holes out slightly) and coupling hooks have been added. The kit does provide etched versions which I only failed to use as I thought I could save 5 minutes of the build by using Exactoscale hooks). A new brake lever and lever guard are etched brass from 51L models and should be more durable than the resin one provided in the kit.
Still 1 hr 15 mins – a piece of PCB has been provided for the eventual fitting of AJ couplings and I took advantage of this to provide a temporary bracket of metal to hold the model by during painting. A good scrub in warm soapy water, followed by a rinse and a second clean with a cream cleaner (washing up liquid leaves a residue, so I always do the final clean prior to painting with a cream cleaner) occurred next. So that is the model built in only an hour and a quarter, which is faster than anything I have built before – including converting r-t-r stock!
1hr 45mins – after masking the inside of the bearings, the whole model was painted in a mid grey – Tamiya TS 4 (German Grey). I thought this was about right for LNWR grey but as all greys of the time were lead based and thus darkened considerably over time, I tend to be quite cavalier about wagon greys! I did have a bit of an accident such that it ran on the roof but this was salvagable with a little bit of wet and dry once it had dried off. These paints finish to a semi gloss and thus are ideal for taking transfers, in this case HMRS Transfers sheet 16 in methfix because the vans were pretty archaic by the time that the grouping occurred, so I presumed that few would have been repainted in LMS livery.
2hr 15mins (but 10 mins of this was me correcting my messed up roof painting!) – ironwork below the solebar, the draw bar, buffer shanks and brake lever were all picked out in black. All then sealed with Testors dullcoat a couple of times.
So whats left? – I do need to weather it, some AJ’s need to be fitted and the “holding tab” will need to be removed. I am waiting to do a batch of weathering, so it will be a bit quicker; maybe 30 minutes for the vehicle. So I reckon this will be a complete, painted and weathered very good quality van or wagon on the 3 hour mark – well worth doing and no need to moan about when the r-t-r manufacturer is going to produce it!
Putting aside the body for a while, to take a look at the chassis because it is necessary to mount the two together and it is not possible to close up some of the element of the body until this is sorted out.
As with the body, I am trying to take a moderately fresh approach to the chassis to make this a little easier to build than certainly most of the kits I am used to. In this regard, most of the kits for the Highland are quite traditional in their design and I readily admit that all but two of my ideas has been either all out pinched from other designers or at least significantly inspired by them. All I am trying to do is use more of these neat ideas in a single kit to make the life of the builder easier. I am, however, finding that it makes my life more difficult, as there are a lot more moving parts to most components, so more places for the tolerances to be catered for; so as John Price has already said, the list of little tweeks and amendments to make is growing! At least, no one can say this particular kit designer has not built their own model.
Anyway, this is what the chassis looks like in the flat; note that it is a fold up design – this is inspired by the Mousa Models chassis, so a pinched idea!
And this is what it looks like with the basic folds made up. What it achieves is really neat, as it is instantly sufficiently stiff to work as a chassis; by the time a couple of further cross braces have been installed the basic chassis is more than robust enough for its life.
My design uses the same slide in hornblocks as utilised by Comet and Brassmasters for their chassis. After a tiny bit of practise, it is possible to size the hole for the hornguides such that these are just too small when etched. This means that with a few strokes of a light cut file on each side, the hornblock becomes a tight sliding fit. Once all of the hornblocks are in, it is then possible to measure the distance between each on both sides of the chassis and also on the corresponding coupling rod. This is done with digital callipers and by the expediency of measuring the distance at its maximum with the callipers facing outwards and then repeating with them facing inwards the average being the actual distance between the centres. I reckon to be able to measure down to 2 or 3 hundredths of a mm, which is rather better than I can build to! Where there are inconsistences, this is dealt with by a few more strokes of the file on the side which needs to be adjusted to change the centre. This needs to be done anyway to turn the tight sliding fit to a snug but smooth fit for the hornblocks to work properly soif the centre does not need to be changed, the file strokes are undertaken equally on both sides of the hornguides.
This does need to be done after the coupling rods have been formed, of which we will see in the next posting. However, the chassis is also designed with a keeper plate to accommodate all of the cosmetic springing to the model and the ashpan sides. This is secured with a series of 12BA screws to enable it to be removed to allow the wheels/axles to be dropped out. A great boon as the model is built and painted.
To make the assembly of this element easier (in fact in this case a lot easier!) I have created a jig that holds the two layers of the laminate in exactly the right position. The jig is chunky enough to avoid distortion as it is folded up and it locates the parts perfectly. In this particular case, the soldering needs to be done with care as there are folds to make after the jig is cut away and it is important not to fill this with solder before hand.
And this is what the keeper plate looks like – it is pretty delicate until it is mounted but fine thereafter.
And the two components assembled look like this. The beginnings of the cylinders are also visible, this is a slide in module that can be removed for assembly and painting (although the scrap tanks were painted fairly simply, so this is not really relevant on this model).
Over the break, I have been concentrating on trying to finish things. Like many people, I find it much easier to start a kit or project than it is to get it fully finished. Indeed, do we every truly finish our models – certainly not our layouts!
Back in March 2013, I completed a dia 39 goods break. These were the final Highland Railway break vans and it is not clear that they were actually finished prior to the end of the HR era. Given that I model in the mid 1920’s, I am quite content to do this in LMS grey which to date I have not seen the model depicted in! The main body painting has been completed and the van has been lettered but weathering, the interior and final detailing/glazing is still to be completed. Based on the Lochgorm Models kit with minimal adjustments (a few pipes below the chassis and sprung W irons in lieu of the compensation provided in the kit) this is what it presently looks like:
Also coming through the paint shops are a pair of vans. The first is a Great Central van build from a Mousa Models etched brass kit and the other is a LMS early standard van from an injection plastic moulded kit from Cambrian Models. Both are pretty simple models to build; the Mousa Models one was built as designed and no adjustments were found to be necessary. I only fitted springing to the Cambrian one and got rid of the rather too thick W irons in the process. Again the bulk of the painting is complete, but some dirtying work is definitely still required.
Apologies for the slightly squiffy photos; I left it a bit late in the day to take them and the light was poor. I have made a lot of progress painting the NER hoppers, but the photos of these really did not make it and need to be repeated. Something to post tomorrow I suspect!