Build a retro wagon kit
Don’t dismiss a kit because it’s old. Chris Leigh explains how, with a little work, you can create a little gem from an old kit.
Chris Leigh brings a vintage kit up to modern standards.
Ilove the fact that even when you’ve been a railway modeller for as long as I have, you can still discover new things. I’ve been working to assemble a Wisbech & Upwell train to run with our new ‘J70’ (see page 18) and that means acquiring a lot of fruit vans. ebay is my first port of call for such a project, just to see what’s available. A search for ‘ fruit van OO’ revealed this ‘Rex BRMSB’ fruit van kit, amid loads of Bachmann and Parkside offerings. It immediately fired my curiosity. The British Railway Modelling Standards Bureau – BRMSB – established the first sets of standard dimensions for various UK modelling scales and gauges. Among them is the 14.5mm back-to-back measurement which is still the standard for ‘OO’, though many of the BRMSB standards have been superseded in the past 50 years. The fact that the kit description mentioned BRMSB certainly dated it, but the ebay entry showed nothing more than the box, still sealed from the day it was first packed 60-plus years ago. Having won the auction, I was in for another surprise. The box measured little more than a couple of inches long and an inch or so square – scarcely big enough for a ready-to-run ‘ N’ gauge model. I broke the ancient paper seal and removed the tightly packed parts, neatly wrapped in a strip of vintage Daily Mail which carried no date, but mentioned the 1953 Australian cricket team and carried part of an advertisement for the Austin A30! So, the kit dates from the mid-1950s. Let’s put that in context. Ready-to-run ‘O’ gauge tinplate was still in vogue. ‘OO’ gauge meant the crudest of Tri-ang coarse scale, and Hornby-dublo three-rail with tinplate wagons. It was Christmas 1955 when I received my first Hornby-dublo train set. I was just – by a few days – nine years old. It was no wonder that the kit stressed its BRMSB credentials for here was a model which must have been state-of-the-art in its day. In fact, ‘J70s’ were still working daily on the Wisbech & Upwell when this kit was made. I decided to build it. Even if it’s not brilliant by current standards, it’s not that bad, and with a bit of extra detail it would not be out of place among modern models. I’ve no idea if it is based on a prototype or if it’s just a generic short-wheelbase van, so I made some homemade decals to suit BR lettering style. I think the model would benefit from the addition of brake levers so I will be checking to see what I can find in my spares box [ Now fitted! CJL]. In the meantime, I’m already halfway through building a cute little brake van which looks very like the LNER type, and I’m bidding on a tank wagon kit.
‘J70’ 0-6-0T No. 7130 at Wisbech, circa 1935, with short goods train, comprising 12t steel-ended van No. 185785 and a ‘Toad B’ brake van. Fruit vans were common sights during the busy harvest period, with general purpose vans and open wagons used throughout the year.