A Rake of Coaches: Or How Solving One Problem Leads to Another

John Mayne

 

It started out simply enough early in 2004. I saw the listing for a laminate brake standard on the Worsley Works web site and thinking it was a model of the 1958 brake composites, I bought the coach and a Deutz loco kit. I had been involved with the MRSI Loughrea group for many years and thought these models would give us a more accurate representation of the branch line in the “modern image era.” The only thing was that I was in the middle of planning a move to New Zealand!  So the Deutz and coach have never had a trip on the Loughrea layout. The Deutz is essentially a complete loco kit without wheels motor, detail castings and turnings, the coach basically consists of sides ends and underframe, the builder has to source roof, bogies, interior, detail casting and bogies. While the Worsley Works coaches are basically similar in design to Comet, the main issue is in forming a roof as most Irish stock is wider than the British; Comet and MJT extrusions are too narrow.  I model on 21mm gauge and while proprietary Commonwealth bogies might pass muster, I wanted the model to be as accurate as possible and bogies would require custom made side-frames. I was impressed with the detail of the coach and ordered an AEC railcar set, a Laminate second and a Park Royal coach: in for a penny,  in for a pound. Basically the idea was to commission any special components required such as bogies, roof extrusions or pressings and detail parts from UK manufacturers, to complete my own models and test the potential market.

Disappointingly, few of those I contacted responded or demonstrated a willingness to follow up on a serious enquiry for the design and  manufacture of components to compete the project. I had experimented with forming the roof profile variously from brass, plasticard and balsawood without much success, there is little practical guidance on scratch building coaches or metalwork in the contemporary model press. Commissioning an extrusion locally was prohibitive. Eventually I followed Allen Doherty’s suggestion of using a proprietary extrusion as a basis for cutting and filling to a wider profile. Bogies are based on MJT torsion bar compensation units which are easily adaptable to the wider gauge, and other details are a mixture of Comet and MJT components.

The Coaches:
Unlike the relatively rapid development of the BR Mk.1 stock, Inchicore like the GWR in the 1930’s, seemed to have difficulty in building two batches of coaches to the same design and went through several stages of development before the arrival of the Craven stock in 1963. Briefly the 1953-4 period  saw the introduction of a wide range of hauled stock based on a development of Bredin’s GSR flush sided timber framed designs, including open and compartment coaches, buffet, restaurant cars and mail vans. The earliest vehicles ran on GSR design bogies and traditional steel under-frames, later batches incorporated Bulleid triangulated under-frames and Commonwealth bogies. Even in the 1950’s such stock would have been expensive and labour intensive to produce and not readily adaptable to mass production, requiring a large highly skilled workforce to machine and assemble components. The Park Royals with their prefabricated components allowed volume construction using a semi-skilled workforce. Significantly though designed for suburban and main line use, only one design of body shell was produced.

1379 class Park Royal suburban coach

1379 class Park Royal suburban coach

The laminates (aluminium, insulation, plywood panel) are best described as of modular construction with several body designs (based round a small number of components), again allowing rapid construction. There appear to have been at least four designs: a brake composite, 70 and 64 seat main line standards and a suburban coach. I recall laminate coaches being refurbished at Inchicore in the late 1970’s. Each coach was stripped down to roof, ends and under-frames, and re-skinned; either CIE still had a stock of body panels or the manufacturing capability existed. One theory was that it was originally planned to replace the bodies after 20 years, but this was no longer required following the introduction of monocoque design in the 1960’s. Inchicore appears have briefly reverted to timber frame body design for its final batch of twelve coaches (ten standards and two firsts) before the arrival of the Cravens in 1963. Significantly these coaches used the heavier BR pattern of Commonwealth bogie.

The brake standard appears to be based on the 1970’s conversion of laminate coaches to brake standards rather than the 1958 brake composite design. The brake standards of this era were converted from laminate suburban stock and 1953-4 composites. The Worsley Works kit is of a different pattern and appears to be based on a conversion of a main line laminate standard. Two laminate brakes are preserved one the DCDR at Downpatrick, another by the RPSI as a service vehicle in their Dublin excursion train rake. The laminate standard and the Park Royal appear are to be accurate representations.

1448 class laminate standard

1448 class laminate standard

The etchings make up in a similar manner to the Comet coach kits, with the body sides and ends designed to be removable from the chassis. There is a half etched representation of the joints between the body panels, a distinctive feature of the laminates. The chassis comprises a main floor etching, with fold down truss rods, with separate etchings for solebars and a lower body stiffener making up into a nice solid chassis.  The solebars on the laminates and Park Royal coaches do not run parallel with the sides, the coaches running on Bulleid’s triangulated under-frames.  I have left well enough alone, though solebars, say from brass angle, could be set up in a jig to capture this subtle and distinctive feature of CIE stock of the era. The sides are easy enough to curve using brass bars and a straight edge. The Park Royal sides are etched in three sections with over lapping tags but are a bit flimsy being half etched.

Laminate coach - first section of roof in position

Laminate coach - first section of roof in position

I would rather use a formed sheet metal roof like the TMD Bredins, should a suitable one become available. I recently completed a C&L narrow gauge coach: forming the arched roof even with the down ward curving ends was simple enough, though forming a “modern” elliptical roof is a different matter and a subject seldom if ever covered in the main
stream model press. The etched brass assembly is soldered, and the aluminium roof extrusion glued in place using cyno reinforced with epoxy resin, with a strip of plasticard to reinforce the joint between the two sections of aluminium and support  the filler.

Laminate brake standard

Laminate brake standard

In the end on Allen’s suggestion, I used a Comet BR Mk1 roof extrusion cut down the middle the gap filled with body filler. The roof detailing covers a multitude of sins and lifts the model. Comet torpedo ventilators and PC lining strip  gives the roof its distinctive and  jointed appearance.  I decided to include a fairly high level of detail with door hinges, knobs, handles, toilet filler and communication cord pipe-work. Next stage is pattern making and castings for bogie side-frames, dynamo and vacuum cylinders, heating and  vacuum pipes, couplers, finish painting, build layout, couple up to B141!

Laminate coach sides clamped while glue sets

Laminate coach sides clamped while glue sets

Worsley Works underframe, MJT bogie compensation units, plasticard spacers for 21mm gauge, MJT LNER buffer shanks

Worsley Works underframe, MJT bogie compensation units, plasticard spacers for 21mm gauge, MJT LNER buffer shanks

Laminate coach with Comet seating units, plasticard floor and bulkheads

Laminate coach with Comet seating units, plasticard floor and bulkheads

There is also a lot of useful information on building etched brass coaches like these on the Comet Kits website: http://www.cometmodels.co.uk/ Follow the links: Downloads  Building Coaches the Comet Way.

[Ed: for more details see the following paper on coaching stock built for or by CIE from 1945 to the arrival of the Cravens: Kennedy D (1965) Modern CIE Coaching Stock Journal of Irish Railway Record Society 7 (37): 14-61]

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