A client commissioned me to build him a GWR train circa 1900 and this was one of the vehicles we decided would be part of the consist. Unlike today, there was always a good deal of provision made for passenger luggage to be stowed when required. Such vehicles would also frequently be loaded with unaccompanied parcels, cycles and sometimes even livestock (dogs or a calf in a bag for instance).
The basis for this vehicle is an old Colin Waite bodyline kit from the late 1980's I bought years ago at the "Bring & Buy" stand at Guildex in Telford. I had mostly built it but then put it aside for other projects. After that, it simply languished in a cupboard until being disinterred to be part of the train.
The original parts had presented no real problems being very similar in construction to many such kits available to modelers in Gauge 0 (7mm to the foot).
The parts all fitted together well and the etching is up to the standard one expects from such an illustrious source. These pictures of the body show it needs some further work, having been built before the days I learned to do as much work "in the flat" as possible. So, once it was cleaned up properly, some thought could be given to completing it.
The window bars needed to be removed too (indeed they were replaced with better ones from CPL) so that the glazing could be fitted with the bars behind the glass.
However, it needed a complete under frame building from scratch.
This was started by making up the solebars from brass angle and the buffers beams from solid strip, carefully measured to match a drawing I had obtained and various pictures. The parts were then soldered together with the addition of a centre spacer. To ensure that this unit was truly square, I used a steel plate as the negative terminal of the RSU and held the parts firmly in place with rare earth magnets.
The buffers and couplings are from CPL with the rivet detail on the buffers planks and step are from a sheet of etched parts from IKB.
This is a job that has not been well planned (it was started at least two years ago!) and so this should be read as a master class in how NOT to scratch build.
A method of fixing the frame to the body was tackled next. Two pieces of 2mm x 6mm brass strip were cut to fit between the solebars and two more to fit inside the body. One of each was then lined up and clamped together while pilot holes were drilled. The larger piece to be fitted to the body was drilled and tapped 8BA, the smaller piece to fit between the frames drilled to clear an 8BA bolt.
The smaller lengths were then soldered into the frame, again using the steel plate and magnets to hold them firmly. The frame was then clamped to the body by trapping the body side under turn between the two tapped pieces and the cross members that had been soldered into the frame with four 8BA bolts. Great care was taken to line up the frame with the body before tightening up the bolts.
The tapped lengths were soldered in place from the inside of the body. Result; a strong and accurate fixing. However, one of the consequences of "making it up as you go along" is that the fixing bolts are now just a tad close to the wheels!
The 18' wheel base was marked in and a set of CPL lost wax, long J hangers, springs and axle boxes soldered in place. Some W irons from the spares box were then soldered in behind them. These are entirely cosmetic and serve no purpose in helping the coach run.
At this stage I thought the solebars looked rather bare, so fabricated some overlays using 0.2mm x 6mm phosphor bronze strip, pressing bolt head details from behind.
Once the overlays were fitted, eight Slater's footboard supports had the pins cut off the mounting plate and filed nice and flat before being soldered in place. The wheels were to be mounted in WEB compensated units, which would then be soldered directly to the floor.
The wheel units, the vac cylinder and brake gear will need a firm base to sit on so a partial floor of nickel silver was next fitted. This is held in place with a few strips of 4mm brass angle. It is probably much over-engineered, but I like things to be robust.
The wheels are set in WEP compensation units; the vacuum cylinder unit is from Cavalier in white metal. The brake rods are glued into the adjustable rod pullers but soldered to the floor of the vehicle for strength. The gas tank was turned up from some brass stock and has modified Blacksmith white metal ends glued on with Loctite 480. The central support member had to be removed to fit the vacuum cylinder (yet another consequence of "making it up as one goes along!") but, now that the floor is fitted, does not affect the strength or rigidity of the frame.
The next job should have been to assemble the clasp brake shoes and, ideally, fix them in place before soldering the step boards on. In fact, I fixed the step boards before the brakes. The brakes were cobbled together from some spare IKB etched sheets I had to hand. I also had to fill the gaps in the floor so that my Heath-Robinson mounting system would work.
Once I had the smooth running chassis, it was time to fit the roof to complete the detailing. The roof was made to be removable for ease of painting and future maintenance. It simply clips on and has several formers soldered onto the underside to maintain the triple arc shape, two of which are close enough to the ends so that friction holds the whole thing in place. The grab irons and door handles are lost wax castings from CPL as are the vacuum and steam heating pipes.
The van is now complete and ready for delivery to Dennis Morley's paint shop.
Once painted the windows were fitted and the new bars set behind them on all but the guard's door.
Back from the paint shop and parked in my private siding, it was clear that Dennis had done a great job in bringing this to life.
In the pictures above, you can see it paired with the V2 (ex-Colin Waite kit) an, also painted by Dennis. They were satisfying to build, run well and look great, even if they are far too clean even for 1900ish. But that's how my customer wants them and the customer is always right.
I am a semi-professional model maker and a member of the Gauge O Guild. More about me in my profile.