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.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

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.

RAIL AR­CHIVE STEPHEN­SON

‘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.

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