Rhymney Railway - Brake Van №29
This page has been created to document the building of a 4mm scale model of one of the old brake vans with two open verandas. It has been prompted by the HMRS making available a scan from their Metro-Cammell drawings collection (HMRS drawing reference 19843) and the knowledge that Jonathan David is preparing a version of this drawing to be published in the Archive of the Welsh Railways Research Circle, an excellent follow-on to his article in the HMRS Journal on RR goods wagons (Volume 22, Number 10, April – June 2017, p. 331-345) and his talk to the Circle.
So, on to the model. The first job was to collect all the photos I could find of this type of van: I know of one at Bargoed (number illegible), several in the Real Photographs collection taken probably at Cardiff Docks (numbers 18, 26, 28 & 30) and one (34) involved in a collision with an ADR loco (Welsh Railways Archive Vol. II No. 10 p.236). Although very similar, there are detail differences between the vans, particularly in planking and brake gear. There are clearly going to be some modelling challenges but at least the vans were simple in two respects: they appear not to have had safety hangers for the brake push rods, nor sanding gear. I really wonder how effective they would have been in holding back a loaded coal train going down the valley on a typically wet day.
The first consideration is that one can see the inside of the verandas. This had a 4×4″ frame with 1″ planks rebated into the framing. I consider it too difficult to adopt this approach as cutting the rebate would not be easy and scoring very thin plasticard would almost certainly cause distortion. Normally I'd use 30thou plastic or 0.8mm ply (unpainted bits) for wagon bodies but this would be visibly too thick. Hence I've decided to go for a compromise and make the bodywork of 20thou. A consequences will be the need to fill the joint between side and ends to simulate single corner pillar, laminataion to get framing thickness correct, reinforcement of van body to stop distortion, lamination of headstocks and solebars for strength. The van floor was 2″ thick but the only ply I have is either nominally 0.5 or 0.8mm thick so I have decided to use the 0.8mm and reduce the height of the main body ends to keep the overall height correct.
With 5′11½″ between the ¾″ thick W irons and padding between the W irons and solebars, the distance between solebars was 6′2″corresponding to 24.7mm: the Masokits W irons that I intend to use measured as 25.2mm hence one can't have scale thickness solebars without some drastic alterations: at least at the W irons the maximum possible is 1.75 instead of the scale figure of 2mm. With 20thou sides/ends laminating with 60thou Slaters microstip will be just a bit too thick so I decided to use this and file down to acceptable thickness by the W irons.
So stage one of actual modelling, mark out:
- sides including solebars, full length and accurate heights
- ends including headstocks full width minus twice side thickness (roof radius not shown on drawing, but estimated at 10′)
- floor full length minus twice end thickness, width full less rebates for sides
- headstock lamination from 60thou and width minus 2 side thickness
- solebar laminations from 60thou less twice thickness of end plus headstock lamination
While waiting for delivery of some plastic strip I've started work on scribing the planking. My first trial was to grind the blade of a scrawker to be flat on one side and with a shallower finish to the other so as to simulate the type of boarding used: the cutter however did not perform well, having a tendency to wander away from a straight edge. I therefore used a conventional blade and held it at approximately 45° so the edge next to the rule was vertical: without moving the rule I took a scalpel and used it to scrape the other edge of the groove to make it shallower and wider. Whether or not this works won't really be clear until after the van is painted.
The next step was to consider the half round beading that covered the edges of the planking and framing. I couldn't find any half round materail of the appropriate size so there appeared to be two options, cut a groove and add round rod or thin some rod and stick it where the joints would be. I chose the latter, thinning the 0.5mm plastic rod by scraping with a scalpel.
Washer plates and door hinges are being made from 5 thou plastic sheet with bolt heads cut from tiny bits of 10thou strip. These look much too big, and the wrong shape, to represent bolt heads but are OK for representing nuts: I hope they will look acceptable once painting and weathering is done. I must try to find a better alternative for the future. The window frames are represented by 5thou strip in the openings: I don't intend to model the part of the frame inside the body.
At this stage the floor of plywood has been fitted to the sides, ends and solebars; the cabin ends have been largely cut out and the roof supports marked out. It is very clear that that reinforcement of the body will be needed, as expected, to avoid distortion. One door will be modelled open, hopefully to let one see the inside of the van, but I've no idea on what colour(s) it should be painted. The sides will be vulnerable for a while as the cabin ends would clearly impede access to the verandas to enable the detailing of the insides of the ends to be done. So next step will be fitting the bracing of the ends but before all of that can be done the guard rails have to be fabricated and fitted, the support ring being fixed between the side and end pillar rather than attempting to drill the end pillar later (a near impossibility!).
After a considerable break while the garage was being worked on, it's time to make more progress. The insides of the ends have been detailed with plastic strip including body framing, tie rods, brake column box, seat, battens to hold the tail lamps and kick plates at the entrances. I chickened out from making proper tie rods for the framing as I thought drilling through the diagonals and seats would be too difficult: I resorted to sticking in bits of slightly overscale (0.5 rather than 0.3mm) plastic rod. Painting the battens for the tail lamp, without painting the floor is going to be a challenge!
And so on to the next step: after having painted the insides of the verandas, the ends of the cabin have been fixed in place and the side framing added from 1mm square plastic strip. The ends were partially painted before assembly, as will be the inside boarding made from 10thou sheet.
Some of the fiddly bits are the stove (turned brass plus extras) and the chimney cap - don't look too closely at this!
Those interested in the RR are also recommended to view Richard Spratt's web site, showing his impressive Penrhos Junctions project and much more of interest, particularly on RR goods vans.