An excursion into plastic.
I decided about a year ago (this is written in January 2014) to try the Slater's kit for this vehicle. I am not keen on plastic, especially having to joint the sides, roof and floor together in the centre but I had seen finished versions and they looked fine. Besides, I wanted the vehicle type for my 1900's railway. It was supposed to stay in a cupboard until I had cleared my workbench of clients stuff but, being struck down by some bug or other I needed cheering up and so caved in to temptation (I can resist anything except temptation) and opened the box.
So what is in the box? Several packs of parts for the sides, ends, roof, seats, wheels, underframe, wire and plastic rod etc., a bag of lost wax brass castings and a pair of etched and plastic bogies. I had built this type of bogie in the past (see the D15) and was impressed with them. There is also an instruction manual running to 22 A4 pages giving some historical data and references followed by detailed instructions with many drawings and diagrams and a 7mm scale drawing of the vehicle with a good plan of the roof. I have not built a plastic kit for nigh on 55 years. The last one I think was an Airfix Bentley and so approached this with some trepidation and, it must be confessed, prejudice.
The instructions suggest starting with the bogies but I elected instead to start on the body. Much time is spent on preparing the parts in removing some flash and the moulding pips and generally ensuring that the parts are clean and square, particularly on joint edges. As with an etched build, as much detail needs to be fitted while in the flat as possible, though in this case this is was not a great deal. However, I wish I had fitted the steps to the ends then. The steps are an etch with dimples for the bolt heads. I embossed these and folded up the steps, only to find that the bolt heads were now on the wrong side. The steps are designed to folded with the groove on the outside but that is not mentioned in the instructions. The recommendation is to solder wire pins to the backs to aid in fixing. I shall now have to drill out the bolt heads and solder wire in to represent the bolts and act as fixing points. It would have been far, far easier with the ends in the flat. At least I shall know for any future next time.
The ventilator bonnets, once fettled, go on in a few minutes but it is important to get them the right way up. Using a flat surface and steel straight edge, each pair of sides were butt jointed and left to set before cleaning up the joint and smoothing it so that it will, hopefully, be invisible once painted. The same applies to the roof too. Here are the sides and main roof ready for assembly.
As for any coach kit, the next thing is to fix one end to one side being certain to get each one square and vertical.
I left them for about an hour to set and then joined each side/end unit to make a box and fitted the floor. Once sure that all was square, they were left overnight to harden off. The bendy sides should straighten out when the partitions are fitted. Back to Top
Next day the partitions were fitted and did indeed sort out the bendy bits, as can be seen in this, rather poor, picture. It is important that the partitions are both vertical and centrally placed between the witness marks moulded on the inside of the sides or the roof will not fit.
Here the roof base is laid on temporarily and the central cross member in the clerestory roof tried for fit. It is necessary to open out most of the slots in the roof to fit around their respective partition to make a smooth fit.
While the various parts were hardening I started on the seats, relatively easy and simply a matter of cleaning off the flash, shortening the seat squab for the thirds and seconds and making sure that they will fit in the compartment easily. I decided not to glue them in until after painting having established that it is possible to insert the seats with the false ceiling in the clerestory fitted and glued. That makes it easier for the painter.
The underframing comes as three parts and the nuts for the bogie pivots need to be fitted, which I did by opening out the holes a little, fitting the nut and bolt and tightening while the hole was flooded with butanone so the nut sank beneath the surface. Once cemented in I left them to harden overnight before starting on the solebars. The racking plates were cleaned up and superglued in place, taking care to get the correct one at the step end.
I cannot see any couplings provided for in the kit probably to allow for people to fit their own choice on the bogie or body; anyway I would not be using them since I have standardized on CPL couplings for all my passenger and locomotive stock for the sake of consistency and ease of coupling.
The buffer beam is too frail, being only welded at the ends, to withstand much haulage force being applied. Firstly, I modified the slot to fit the CPL hook and then fabricated some 1mm nickel silver rod as shewn here with the tail passing through the floor but with a reinforcing block welded in place too. The hook was fettled up so that the coupling will slip on easily once the painting is finished.
Work started on the populating the underframe, the difficult bit is soldering the brake rodding together while in situ but, with care and a good heat sink it is possible with an RSU and I imagine a soldering iron. The gas tanks need some filling to smooth them off.
There is a gap in the centre of each solebar so I welded some plastic rod into the space and will later scrape it to fit flush.
Underframe now largely complete but I still have to fit the gas fillers and gauges. The trussing was soldered into the queen posts and then bent to shape before supergluing the queen post and welding the ends of the truss rod in their slots in the back of the solebars with scrap plastic and butanone, which give me more confidence that it will stay in place if the cyano fails. Were I to build any more, I would fit the trussing and gas fillers before fitting the tanks and vacuum cylinder. The buffers too are now fitted and have been upgraded since the kit was first produced. The instructions refer to fitting the springs behind the headstocks but those now provided are integrally sprung, a great improvement.
The instructions make reference to an Article in MRJ some years ago in which there is a description on how to add 'canvas' to the roof sections using a single layer of tissue flooded with solvent and smoothed into place. So I tried it and it worked very well as can be seen in this picture. Once the parts had hardened off the excess was carefully trimmed away.
However, this turned out not to be a good idea as the process caused the roof to warp badly. Perhaps if it had been coated on both sides it may not have warped. So I am now awaiting a new set of roof parts from Slater's.
The bogie parts ready to start work. The instructions are very comprehensive and I followed them fairly closely, starting with the basic frame. It is not an easy fold up but with care it can be persuaded to take its intended shape.
Here are the four main elements that go to make up the bogie frame awaiting final assembly. Cleaning most of the cusps was easier once the frame was soldered up and the bends lines strengthened.
Now is the time to do a dry run fitting the wheels, it ran well, level and easily so the frames were dunked in a bath of Viakal and then into the sonic cleaner.
So here are all the components to be fitted. I decided not to fit the brake shoes, they are a great fiddle and the lack of them was not at all apparent in previous sets of these bogies I had built, see the D15 Brake Third.
Fitting the springs can be a trial as one needs more than two hands really but with patience they go to make up a neat set of sprung bogies, which when fitted put the vehicle at the correct ride height.