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2mm Scale GWR Diagram AA16 Brake Van

John Brenchley




What with a change of job and one or two modelling projects either stalling or taking longer than expected, it’s been a while since I last posted on RMweb though I didn’t realise till now that it was over 18 months.


Having recently finished the paint job on a couple of GWR wagons and taken some final pictures now seems a good time to add a blog about the diagram AA16 brake van.


Detailed notes on the construction of this David Eveleigh designed etched kit have already been written up by Gingerbread in his 4 blogs on Building an old Toad so I don’t propose to repeat the excellent notes that were written there. However, Gingerbread’s toad was based on the original 1882 design with 4 shoe push rod operated brakes. I wanted a version that was more suited to my modelling period of the mid 1930s so chose to vary the chassis to match the version that was "modernised" during the First World War by fitting clasp brakes, self-contained buffers and a few other modifications. This version was given the diagram number AA16. By this time, the van would also have been fitted with oil rather than grease axle boxes and had additional hand rails and sanding gear added.


Luckily I had some clasp brake etches left over from a 2MM Scale Association wagon chassis etch that could be used on this van. The wagon chassis was for a 9‘ wheel base so I had to separate the clasp brake etch into two parts so as to fit the 11‘6“ wheelbase of this brake van. I also took the opportunity to thin down the etch where it joins the two triangular parts together so as to better represent the rod connections that could then be bent to approximate the way the operating rods were connected (see bottom left of first picture below).






I think David’s etch is meant to represent the original grease axle boxes and since these seemed rather too square looking and omitted the obvious join between the two parts of an oil axle box, I opted to remove this part from the final layer of the etch (attached to the footstep layer) and replace it with a large oil axle box etch left over from another kit (can’t remember which one and might not even have been GWR but it seemed close enough in appearance). The picture below shows the chassis folded up with the brakes attached and oil axle box layers soldered on to one side. One footboard etch is shown before alteration and below it the folded up and soldered version with the grease axle box removed.




The final addition made to the chassis was to solder four pieces of wire into holes drilled in each corner to represent the vertical dry sanding pipes that are visible in some photographs of these brake vans.




I opted not to fit the final sole bar and footboard layer until the body had been fitted to the chassis so as to make sure no gap was left between them – a tip learned from Gingerbread’s notes (its great being able to learn from other modeller's observations)


Another thing I picked up from Gingerbread’s blog was that it was difficult to line up all the body parts if they were soldered to the top of the chassis one by one. I therefore opted to build the body as a separate box which would be screwed to the chassis once completed. This method also allows the roof to be soldered to the body from underneath which would not be possible if the chassis was already in place.


David uses the clever approach now adopted by many etch designers of attaching the body layers to separate frames that have holes in each corner allowing alignment of the layers for soldering. These frames are only removed after soldering is complete. The only problem I found was fitting the corners smoothly together. As designed, each layer slightly overlaps the previous one creating a stepped edge that creates interlocking between the side and end pieces at each corner. However, once the three layers were soldered together, I found it very difficult to completely remove the tabs that attached the ends to each frame – any residue of a tab rather got in the way of a tight fit between the sides and ends. With hindsight I should have removed the tab on each vertical edge and filed it smooth before soldering the layers together. The tabs on the top and bottom edges would have been sufficient to hold the layers in alignment and can be filed off more easily after completion.


The original version of the 1882 van only had the mid-level horizontal handrails and a couple of vertical ones by the door to the verandah and at the far end of the cabin. In later life they acquired an extra vertical rail on the other side of the door plus two low level handrails along the bottom of the cabin sides. I decided to be masochistic and make up hand rails knobs from twisted phosphor bronze wire. The back of the inner etch layer had indentations to mark where these should go so I carefully drilled these through all three layers using drills of about 0.3mm to 0.4mm, breaking quite a few in the process but I think it was worthwhile as the handrails do stand out slightly from the side of the van rather than being soldered directly to it.






A couple of extra fittings that show up in the next photograph are the brass brake lever bought from N Brass Locos and the sand boxes fitted to each corner of the verandah which were made from scraps of plasticard – I think some vans originally had one box or bench across the whole width of the verandah but I obtained some drawings and notes from other GWR modellers that suggested that the AA16 version had the two separate boxes.




I could not find any evidence of examples of these vans allocated to Plymouth during the 1930's which would have been appropriate for the Tavistock branch so I opted for number 8819 whcih was allocated to Taunton, the closest location I could find. A little modeller's licence may be needed to explain it's presence at Tavistock. Also, I haven't worked out yet how I am going to do the lettering for "Taunton" as it isn't on any standard decal sheets


Only two other things remain to be done. Firstly some light weathering which will hopefully hide the annoying edges of the transfers – I don’t think I had the finish sufficiently glossy before I applied them. Secondly, I only had thin shanked buffers available at the time I built the kit but I now hear that the 2mm Scale Association has some 3D printed self-contained ones available – designed I think by Julia Adams, so I’ll get some and retrofit them to any of my wagons that should have had this style.





A final photograph showing the brake van and a couple of other wagons on Tavistock. The diagram V18 van uses the resin body available from the 2mm Scale association and I have modelled it as one of the vacuum braked versions that had an iron roof and an extra small central ventilator just below the roof at each end.

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  • RMweb Gold

Really great work John and once again it shows the beauty of 2mm FS off nicely.


Hopefully it won't be 18 months until the next post? ;)





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  • RMweb Gold

Hello John, what a "clean" and neat build. And very nice to see one of these in 2mm. In my opinion, if it's outside framed it's good :-)

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Beautifully built and described.  I've always had a soft spot for these brake vans (and like Mikkel most outside framed stock - to me they always look more attractive than later iron framed wagons).



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Thanks for your comments Mikkel, David and Ian


I agree about the outside framing - I enjoyed building the associations kit for the Midland outside framed van as well - their slightly smaller size makes them appealing too.



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Lovely. I've been trying to pluck up enough courage to do the handrails on my 4mm version, but now I've seen it done in 2mm, there's really now no excuse for me.

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  • RMweb Gold

I have built one of these as purchased second hand off the Great Western by the North Somerset Light Railway but I do have a second etch in stock which I may well do as it should be having seen the stunning job you have made of yours.


Your work is some of the neatest I have seen and is always so crisp. Beautiful work, don't leave it 18 months before the next update on progress.



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Brilliant work John - must remember this article (& the 'Gingerbread' link) when I get down to some 2mm modelling again!

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