THREE DOWN, 57 TO GO!
I have 20 each of 1, 2 & 3 plank wagons to build. My putative railway, which cannot be started until the alterations and improvements to the house we moved to in January 2008 are completed, will be based in about 1900 as a freight yard serving factories in or near North Birmingham.
This means I need lots and lots, of wagons and a few vans. Bill Parker, after much persuasion over several years, finally agreed to produce kits for these vehicles when I ordered 20 of each.
Over a year later, my sixty kits arrived in August 2008. I shall build one of each before starting a batch building program for, what will be, the remaining 57 wagons to add to the 20 four plank and 1 five plank already completed.
The kits are usually supplied in WEP's normal flat pack together with the invariably comprehensive instructions and background information plus buffers, grease axle boxes, couplings and wire. I elected for mine to be delivered sans buffers and flat packing so a package of 60 etches, and enough axle boxes arrived in due course in a heavy package (that may have taxed our local postman) and I will collect the coupling links at Telford.
The etches, for the 1 plank in this case, are crisply done and the methodology follows closely that for the four and five plank wagons. They are not a difficult build at all but as usual, it is important to read through the instructions first, if only to plan where one is going to depart from the recommended way.
As always, I bent up the all the relevant parts after pushing out the bolt heads before starting construction. A good set of bending bars is essential since some of the bends are only a millimetre or so wide. The job is made easier by using a “scrawker” inside bend lines until a witness mark appears on the other side.
However, the etching process can create problems. The narrow fold over for the tops of the sides on the 1 plank presented no problem but those for the 2 plank did, I think, because the etch line was perhaps too narrow. I was reduced to completing the bend, bit by bit, using flat-nosed pliers. The resulting line of little bumps however, once painted, will simply look like the steel strip that was fitted to the tops of the sides has been battered about somewhat. I now need to find a way to make the etched line wider, rather than deeper. Back to Top
The fold up bars on the axle guards for the 1 plank proved awkward and, after the first one failed to bend up correctly, I decided to break off each piece on its bend line and then solder it in place.
The ends need some careful attention since they are a complex series of bends. I use a “Hold & Fold” for all my bending, which makes the job easy. The shaped, wooden supports on the ends are a fold-up too and can easily be fixed by bending the tabs from behind, then filing them down to make sure they clear the end of the body when fitted.
Next, I tackled the suspension units. Bill has dispensed with bearings for plain holes in the unit and provides some spacing washers to prevent side play. I personally do not like edge bearings and so opened out the holes and fitted standard brass bearings instead, when the washers became superfluous.
Here are all the major components for the 1 plank ready to be assembled.
The coupling hooks are designed to be sprung, a practice I find totally bizarre. The sight of trains of wagons bouncing back and forth on their couplings springs is risible when all that is required is robust construction in the first place.
Mine are always soldered in solid and I have been experimenting with ways to do it. One way is to leave the tails of the laminates for the hook unsoldered. Once the head has been filed to shape, it is inserted in the slot, legs bent out, and soldered to the inside of the end as in this picture. Another way has been to pin the hook in place by soldering some stiff wire through the tail and on to the back of the end, as in the next picture.
The axle guard springs are laminated, neat, strong and accurate. Since I have 240 spring assemblies to construct it made sense to make a jig, which was done by the simple expedient of drilling two holes, to match those in the springs, in the steel plate I use for the negative terminal of the RSU. (One 0.7mm and the other 0.5mm, why so? The first hole was drilled 0.7mm because I was unsure about drilling through steel plate with a fine drill bit; it went though like a hot knife through butter so the other was drilled 0.5mm with similar ease. The difference in size now gives a little leeway when placing the parts.) Back to Top
Wire of 0.5mm diameter is inserted in the holes and the laminates fed onto them, face down, with tiny blobs of solder cream between them, prior to soldering up.
Aluminium hair clips came in useful for holding the sides and ends in place for soldering. It is important that these parts be lined up accurately. I soldered the centre spacer and then checked for square before completing.
The instructions suggest tinning the top edges and soldering the fold over on the sides. I have never found this necessary so far. For the 2 plank, the door furniture should be added before fitting the sides to the body. Offer up the sides and ensure the fold over covers the inside face of the wall, if not, a large flat file over the spacers will sort the problem.
The 1 plank of course has no doors but the 2 & 3 planks do. The top edges of the door panels are etched in on the 3, 4 & 5 plank wagons but have been missed on the 2 plank so I used a sharp triangular file to file them in after the sides were fixed. Once the two sides are fixed, the ends can be lined up and fixed too.
The buffer beam for the 1 & 2 plank fits into recesses in the floor and these may need a stroke with a file to remove the cusp and ensure a good fit.
The corner plates were fitted with body upside down pressed on the RSU base plate and held in place against a magnet and the tip of the probe.
This ensures it is square with the tops of the sides and ends. Be sure that the plates are the right way up, there is "T" etched on the inside of each to indicate which way up it should be mounted, in this case with the wagon upside down the cross bar faces downward. Back to Top
The under frame is a simple fold-up and the grease axle boxes were soldered on using 179-degree solder cream on the cleaned brass and some flux on the cleaned-up back of the box. The grease box is held in place while the RSU probe was applied to the back of the axle guard.
Provided a very thin line of the cream is visible at the side of the box, one can watch for it to flash silver and cut the power instantly while blowing on the work. I find my fingers are excellent tools to gauge how hot the white metal is getting!
Here is the almost complete model awaiting the correct buffers. Then it will be a trip to Ian Hopkins's paint shop, but that will not happen until the other 57 (1, 2 & 3 plank) are built.
They will be painted in varying shades of red in exact pairs so that one can be loaded and the other empty.
A pleasant build, both the 1 & 2 planks each took me a couple of afternoons at most.
To be continued.
Comment from Bill Parker.
Have read your build up and viewed your pictures, as usual a good job. I think that your comments are fair. Keep building and see you at Telford. Regards Bill”