Rites of Passage for a Model Railway - 11: Corridor and Suburban Passenger Stock
From Period timber-bodied charm...to post-WWII Austerity steel-bodied utility
Railway Operation for the Modeller
Another specialist topic for the discerning modeller, PASSENGER TRAIN OPERATION from Bob Essery. From the humble branch stopping train or milk train to express workings, read about the operational aspect of moving passengers, milk and other non-passenger traffic attached to slow and semi-fast trains. Period black & white and colour photographs. A must-buy.
No need to shell out or break the piggy bank for stock.
I've found several carriages from second-hand sources, reduced price 'bins' or by building kits. Several Kirk Gresley 51' non-corridor carriages. Only one of the vehicles on the Thoraldby layout was bought new, a Hornby 51' Thompson non-corridor four compartment brake 3rd, reduced through Model Railways Direct. Almost as soon as it was out of its books it was modified and in service. The vintage 49' David Bain North Eastern brake 3rd (above) was built by a friend of mine two decades ago, painted and liveried by me. Two other Thompson 51' carriages were bought at a small exhibition in Leytonstone for a song, conversion jobs I modified or detailed. One was a lavatory composite, the other an eight compartment all 3rd. They'd been Kirk kits converted with Comet tumble-home sides (bowed).
Make a point of not paying the manufacturer's asking price and you'll see the savings you make, buy second-hand kits or ready-to-run and update them. Scour the model press or exhibitions for bargains. It's not necessarily a rich man's hobby, only if you're a collector or can't use tools.
What's available on the R-T-R market? See also below
Passengers, Milk and Mail
First thing in the morning down the branch, before everyone was up, there was a working listed for passenger duty which was in fact the milk and mail delivery. There was some passenger accommodation, but mostly it was floor-space for any milk churns to be forwarded to a local dairy, newspapers and mail and any packets for first delivery.
This would be a train of perhaps a bogie brake third, bogie all third, and a four- or six-wheeled (possibly bogie) utility van. Hornby recently introduced their Gresley non-corridor stock, and there are several proprietary makes of utility/parcels/baggage vans that would serve branchline purposes together with (outside the LNER/BR region) Maunsell, Bulleid, Collett, Hawksworth or whatever LMS suburban stock there was around. There is a choice out there, and even if your local model shop doesn't stock what you want there's mail order available. You would find model railway retailers in the HORNBY MAGAZINE (Ian Allan), BRITISH RAILWAY MODELLING or RAILWAY MODELLER, for example with practically unlimited stocks of r-t-r passenger and non-passenger vehicles:
Hatton's Model Railways, 0151-733-3655, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kernow Model Railway Centre, 01209 714099
The Signal Box 01634 826370, www.thesignalbox.co.uk
The Model Centre, 01947 896040, www.themodelcentre.com
Rails of Sheffield, 0114 2551436, www.railsofsheffield.com
These are the big ones! If they don't have what you want, shop around on e-Bay or go to second-hand sites
For a choice of what's not available in r-t-r best is to go assembling kits for yourself. There is again a huge range, possibly greater than for proprietary models - but you need basic modelling skills for most kits. For some you need an eagle eye and a microscope to see what you're doing. Well, that's a bit of exaggeration, but not far off! Take heart, though, the majority of kits - certainly plastic kits - don't need a degree in engineering to carry forward. There are choices to be made on the kit front, whether you want to go down the etched brass kit road or the plastic kit road. Within either sphere there will be an element of modification with white metal or lost wax brass castings. To begin with it's best to stick to the kits as supplied, but with brass kits there are white metal and/or lost wax castings to add for detail with the kits.
Ready-to-run: Hornby Non-corridor Gresley and Thompson stock
Michael Harris was the foremost authority on LNER passenger train stock - not only passenger carrying vehicles but also full brakes, pigeon vans, utility vans and other stock you would have seen in a passenger working. I've had a copy of this book since it emerged on the railway modeller's and historian's market for reference. Contains pre-Grouping stock as well as Gresley and Thompson stock. Worth its weight in gold for accuracy and numerical/build date reference. If you're building a rake of carriages for a London [Kings Cross] - Edinburgh [Waverley] express, a London [Liverpool Street] - Shenfield/Enfield local, or even the Cambridge Buffet Car train this book is your first selection! .
Old to not quite so new
Carriages are needed for almost any model railway
...They make the scene. Small station, main line terminus or through station, in each case you'll find passenger vehicles of all descriptions. Ready-to-run stock will not cover all your needs if you are modelling a regional scene. With the two-horse race we have nowadays of Bachmann vs. Hornby there's a good chance you'd need to find a lot of second-hand r-t-r like Lima, or Mainline. There were vehicles available from these people you can't find now. With Hornby chasing Bachmann in the innovation stakes, we might yet see re-introductions but generally a visit to any shop's second-hand case could solve some of your problems if you feel you're not up to assembling model carriage kits. Replica Railways has made it back onto the market with an as yet limited range, but watch this space...
If it's kits you want, step this way. One magazine that caters for modellers who wish to put kits together there's MODEL RAILWAY JOURNAL (MRJ) that caters more for fine scale modellers, but OO gauge modellers will find products in the catalogues available through the kit makers. Basically it's only the wheelsets that differ if you're proficient. By and large etched brass carriage and GUV/Parcels/Baggage vans are available through MRJ, but there are some manufacturers who offer resin cast bodies for carriage/loco modellers. If you want plastic carriage kits HORNBY/BRM/RAILWAY MODELLER and other general modelling magazines are best. What began over a decade ago as Ian Kirk kits has changed hands several times and is currently owned by Cooper Craft, who also produce the Mailcoach kits and their own range of BR Mark ! coach kits. Spares are also available, so a certain amount of scratchbuilding could be embarked upon - given the underframes, bogies and wheels, some chopping of sides and so on, your own model making skills are all that limit you. Alan Gibson wheels are also available from Cooper Craft as well as stock boxes to transport your made-up models to exhibitions.
Additionally there are kitbuilders who will take the agony onto themselves - at a price. Personally I prefer to do my own. We all make mistakes (I know I did when I first set out, and turned the air blue with it (just ask the wife)! I then began to sell my coaches, and went on to setting up a kitbuilding service I called LNE STRUCTURES through The Booking Hall at Charlotte Place near Goodge Street in W1. I built a number of corridor, opens and suburban coaches, including quad-arts, quint-arts and a few retaurant triples. Nigel Downend, the owner, sold up some time ago and I turned to other things. Sherwood Models is one such service, whose products look quite good. They are pricey, but if you've got the cash... Ian Kirk Coaches as such make 'O' Gauge coach kits if that's what you're into, also good when well assembled. They have a web site, but you only need to type in Kirk Kits on your search and 'hey presto!'. Chivers Finelines is another maker of plastic kits, but their LNER BY Parcels/Pigeon van is currently out of production so you might turn to a stockist in case they have one lurking around their storeroom. The kit makes up nicely and it's a shame it's not in production right now, as I wanted another one - they make up that easily. You could try Parkside Dundas, who sell the Chivers' range - just in case. Otherwise try at an exhibition or swapmeet.
Having opened the packaging scan the instructions to see what tools you need. You might need to dash out and pick up a few items from your local model shop before getting stuck in. Who knows, you might make more progress than you think before coming to the first hurdle. Pick up thr phone if your model shop can't help and ring around. The Double O Gauge Association, the EM Gauge Association and Scalefour Society all have someone who can help - and this applies to metal kits (below) as well - with advice on best tools etc. See how far you can get before you need to stop and await your mailed tools. [There are shops who might not be involved in model-making but who deal in small precision tools and materials in the hardware department. There is a shop called '4D' , their web address is www.modelshop.co.uk and they have a vast array of model-making materials and tools. Their main market is architectural students in London, but with this web address you can access their Aladdin's Cave. They can also help with your soldering needs. The shop is in a row of railway arches on Leman Street in London E1, with a posse of staff who can turn their expertise to your advantage. Remember this for your needs in tackling the etched brass coach kits as well].
Plastic kits will contain parts you feel you do not need. For example bogies will be lightweight, and the more delicate sprues of parts could break and leave you stranded. Fear not, bag your bits and when you've completed the kit and don't need them for spares you can lob them in the recycling bin. I have bought brass bogies with white metal cosmetic sides and ready assembled Replica or Bachmann bogies. Paint your bogies on completion and set aside to dry. Remember, you can sidestep some problems with lateral thinking. MJT and Comet bogies have a form of built in compensation to improve the ride which - with the supplied thin brass wire and some manual dexterity - you can achieve a passable result. Next: underframe detailing can add weight and improve running. Comet and MJT are useful here - see below - and contain better detail. The body is an important element that people look closely at, but correct bogies help the image too. Build the body shell, mask off the ends and spray on the base colours. In the case of crimson and cream carriages mask off the bottom half and spray the cream colour before reversing the masking tape when the first coat is dry. Paint the ends last. The corridor connections can be painted black or the 'weathered' colour straight off. Paint the underframe with a brush, using a weathered finish if you so wish. Apply any lining at this stage, as well as numbering and lettering. Spray varnish when set in place. I use satin varnish for coaches. Too glossy and they'll look wrong, there should be a sheen, especially on teak coaches.
Interior detail: On corridor coaches judge for yourself what width you need. Plastic internal corridor walls are a bit wide, so Comet can help here. They produce wall etches you can shorten to suit, such as in BR Mark 1 coaches that have cross gangways between doors halfway along the vehicle as well as at the vestibule/toilet ends. In a composite coach these are uneven, four first class to five standard class compartments. Seating: when I was building carriages to order I had a circular saw that I could whizz the seating units through for the right length. Leave a gap to insert glazing strip. For restaurant, Pullman and buffet cars the plastic tables in the kits are awkward to assemble, both MJT and Comet produce table frets and 'winged' seat end frets for the gangway ends of the seating units. Insert glazing, in strips or individually in the case of toilet or coach end windows. Measure depth from roofline to corridor floor or to compartment floors and insert into the gaps. For handrails in corridor stock check the size of passengers' hands. A man's hand would fit comfortably around the top of the handrail. Cut 1.5mm X .3mm strip and fix to the glazing either side of doors the height of the wall to the roofline, Cut another length to the height of the rail and fix against the first length from the floor up. Another will be cut to about .5mm longer and fix to the front of the second strip. Insert rails, don't have them cross over the door! Fix another length to hold the rail in place to run down from the roofline. Hey presto, you've got handrails in your corridor. (I did the same in the Hornby coaches I modified).
Apply figures, seated, standing, walking down gangways, reading books or papers (a small piece of folded paper will do the relative size of broadsheet papers like The Times or Daily Telegraph in 1st Class, tabloid for 2nd/3rd; glue together much smaller, thicker paper sizes for books) or along corridors as if heading for the Buffet/Restaurant/WC. It's your world, use your powers of observation!
Before you slam the roof on, let's look at the roof itself: Carriages from different companies and different eras were furnished with a variety of ventilator cowls. The instructions for your kit will show you the type needed. Chances are the stalk to 'plant' the ventilator casting is short, or more likely split. Toss the ventilator aside and go for a casting. The hole to drill will be wider, and the stalk will protrude under the roof casting but no-one will even try to see if it's visible from the windows once the roof is down. There are also tank filler caps for toilets, and different cowlings for restaurant car out-takes over the kitchen, as well as piping on British Railways' restaurant car roofs. Paint to specification. Post-War LNER, GWR and Pullman coaches had their rooves painted dark grey to avois being strafed by German fighters or bombers from the Channel and were seldom repainted White Lead. For pre-War LNER white lead I mixed white with silver - experiment to see what balance you think is right - and applied by brush, spray varnish with satin to bring out the sheen.
Set the roof in place, secure it with light elastic bands - so as not to distort corridor walls, you could always set narrow 'formers' above the window line to keep the corridor walls straight - and run a narrow brush along underneath the roof edge loaded, but not over-loaded with MEK/Plasweld, watch the adhestive run along the roof edge to the end in a capillary action. Do the same on the ends, there should be a very narrow lip under the roof-line. Watch the adhesive doesn't run down the paintwork. Re-attach the bogies. There you are. Let me know if you think I missed anything out, won't you.
Got the next one ready to put together yet?
(Take a rest here while I shuffle off for another coffee).
Preserved pre-Grouping and LNER varnished teak, and early British Railways' steel-bodied Main Line stock
Model Railways Direct
- Hornby, Bachmann, Peco, Dapol, Graham Farish and Heljan Train Sets - Model Railways Direct Ltd
Online bargain prices on many brands - they will e-mail you regularly with new offers on locomotives, rolling stock, controllers, track and scenic items
Plastic coach kits
Etched brass kits with white metal detailing
Much finer when painted and finished well, etched brass kit-built carriages and vans are 'the bees knees' but cost more than plastic ones. build them yourself if you have the skill with a soldering iron and a steady eye. Practice makes perfect, of course. Try your hand with simple brass wagon kits to begin with - they still cost more than the plastic ones but don't need as much weighting - or four-wheeled vans. Some layouts may be too tightly curved for six-wheeled wagons, but here's where membership of a group or club kicks in. You get advice as well as admiring looks for your efforts when successful. You can get good results when painting, too, providing a fine, thin coast of primer has been applied.
Perhaps one reason why many won't tackle etched brass kits is fear of failure or lack of skill. Skill comes with trying. I bought myself a soldering kit to tackle brass kits once I retired... With a little more time I shall take it out and get cracking! The investment is greater, however. Soldering kits, good quality air brushes and fine sable brushes don't come cheap so be warned. If you're going to balk at the costs, perhaps it isn't for you because you'd be constantly conscious of the cost of failure. However, you don't need to go buying expensive carriage kits if second hand ones are available, or un-made ones that graced someone's attic or bottom drawer and they've 'gone cold' on the idea of making them up. Remember, 'Mighty oaks from little acorns', and all that jazz! Just think - profit motive working here - if you get good at it, you can make cash from doing it for others! The prices asked for made up and painted kits work out in the hundreds for a corridor coach. You could also put them together and sell them unpainted, which is what some do. Besides John Fozard on Anglesey producing North Eastern coaches, there are others who advertise similar services in the model press at different rates. Quality does not necessarily reflect in the pricing, but it is a good guide. You may see their work at exhibitions. At the British Railway Modelling exhibition around late March/early April each year in the side hall are a battery of small businesses showing, demonstrating and selling their products. Get tips for starting up, angles on different approaches. Ask about how they prepare their work areas, where they work and how long they take on a quality job. See how they work; cleanliness is next to godliness when you're doing fiddly work. Watch for a while as they tackle a task. Never mind what it is they're working on, how they do it is more important at this stage. You're learning, remember. In club surroundings there will be people at different points on the learning curve, and the ones you'd think are at the top will admit they don't know everything. Carrs produce a guide to soldering, as does 4D Model Shop (see web address above in the 'Plastic Kits' section). 4D also hold short courses in model building. Their website is nine pages long and includes a 'gallery' of work undertaken on commissions.
Look at the pictures, see if you think you could achieve the same results - remembering you've got a lot to learn if you've never tried it before - and pick up leaflets from people like Carrs, who've been in the trade yonks. Their demonstrators or sales people can help you make the right decisions for the kind of work you hope to undertake on a given kit. They may tell you the same as you've read here. You might get fazed by all the input from different directions, but bear with it. Channel your thoughts and try out different techniques to see what suits.
Enjoy the pictures!
Etched brass and white metal kits
Materials for assembly
You' ve got your kit, identified the parts and ensured everything's there that should be for putting your carriage(s) together. Now what? Ah, tools, solder, chemicals. OK, look below and inwardly digest:
Eileen's Emporium sells tools and materials for assembling etched kits. Solders, soldering irons, fluxes and so on can be bought through 0117 230 0045, write Unit 19, 12 Highnam Business Centre, Newent Road, Gloucester GL2 8DN, or contact email@example.com
Carrs - C&L Finescale, contact Michael & Norah Sharpe at 51 Sebert Road, Bury St Edmunds, IP32 7EH, 01284 754727, e-mail Tiny@modelling.freeserve.co.uk
A range of solders and soldering aids, surface preparation chemicals, metal blacks, irons and bits, fluxes and cleaners etc. as well as paints to finish the job off.
Additionally, for East London-based modellers there is the 4D Modelshop at Leman Street, E1, on www.modelshop.co.uk, who cater for architectural modellers. Everything you'd want to glue or solder is here, check out their website for a visual treat and to see what you could achieve with practice. Remember, everyone starts somewhere!
John Fozard North Eastern non-corridor passenger stock (below)
John Fozard produced quality railway carriage models that you could buy ready-made in any livery you wished, or unpainted. They were not cheap, but if you had the cash they were worth-while and a good investment in your railway - not for children to play with. He also produced LNER designed carriages (Gresley and Thompson), Great Northern, Hull & Barnsley and Festiniog Railway carriages as well as a small number of NER locomotives.
These images (right) bear testament to the standards he achieved... See the comment below from Mr Leung.
A tribute to John Fozard's skills in building NER elliptical-roofed passenger stock
Some handy web, e-mail and postal addresses
For etched carriage kits of smaller, pre-Nationalisation or pre-Grouping railway companies, contact these manufacturers/vendors:
Acme Model Company, P O Box 69, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 3NA 0208 979 0672;
Mitchell Design, www.swindonworks.co.uk, Malcolm Mitchell's 'A' Shop;
CPL Products, 4 The Glade, Newbury Berkshire, RG14 7AT - for scale rules, custom etchings, parts etc
Falcon Brassworks, www.falconbrassworks.com, kits of various British outline companies;