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.
Whilst my memories of the former HR’s line from the 1970s and early 80’s only ever had BR mk1s as coaching stock, there were occasional strays coming onto the line in the form of Thompson/Stanier full brakes and Gresley buffet cars. As I understand it, a pair of the latter were indeed the regulars on Glasgow to Inverness trains. So, wishing to enliven my passenger trains up a little on Portchullin, I thought that it was time that the punters had a buffet car to buy that notorious rock hard pork pie in!
Hornby introduced a range of Gresley stock some ten years or so ago and they represented a significant step forward in terms of quality of coaching stock generally and particularly in comparison with their predecessors. If I recall correctly there were some problems with the direction of the graining that Hornby quite quickly sorted out and the teak coaches look the part – especially as to do them oneself is a very challenging exercise. The only vehicle that they offer in blue/grey is the buffet and this is what it looks like.
As with nearly all r-t-r models now a days, the finish is exemplary and at first glance it definitely looks the part, capturing the curves at the roof very well and it will stand out nicely in comparison with the remainder of the coaches on Portchullin. It is true that the panelling cover beads are a bit thick, which is not visible on the teak finished coaches due to the graining but is rather more visible on the grey here but as I am going to weather down this vehicle to a fairly battered condition, I am hoping this will fade to a lessor impact. Some commentators criticise the tumblehome being too slight and the bogies being subtly incorrect but I am struggling to see either defect so will ignore these points.
What I will not be ignoring, however, is the most significant problem with the model. These vehicles only made it into the 1970s because they underwent a fairly significant rebuild in the 1950s. Hornby have simply painted their LNER era model in blue/grey whereas the rebuild affected their appearance on one side quite significantly. Here is a comparison and you can see that three windows have disappeared altogether, the panelling arrangement on the near end is different and the roof vents were adjusted to accommodate the revised internal arrangement.
I have seen moans on the forums about this error and even moans from people at the people who are moaning. I make no criticism of Hornby at all; it is obvious that the revised tooling that would have been necessary to correct this would have made the model uneconomic. Therefore, we have to either accept it is as it is or pick up our tools to correct it. I make model railways to do simply that, make them and I derive the greater proportion of my satisfaction from building or modifying things – thus I simply see this as part of the pleasure!
So my next project will be a bit of plastic surgery on an old lady, to get her looking proper! I do not propose to do a full respray so it is not that difficult to do; so to both the moaners and the moaners at the moaners, I would simply encourage you to pick up your knives to follow suit!