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Fortibus es in ero




blog-0496789001391276515.jpgWell, only two buses actually, but the latest one has given me enough trouble for 40! I described building a GWR horse bus from a white metal kit in an earlier post and commented then that an etched brass version might provide better details. I've now tried the etched brass kit from 'Scale Link' but it's not been easy! In fact, decidedly 'trying' at times.


If you suffer from any signs of hamfisted-ness or less than perfect eyesight, do not attempt this kit! By 4mm standards, it is very fiddly and, as I progressed, I felt often needlessly so!


The etch is only about 7.5 thou (0.2 mm) thick and hence, bends very easily. The instructions suggest building the box structure of the body first, which is only held together by a micro-thin strip above the rear door! I found there was no strength in the body, to allow me to either glue or solder the floor-well into place reliably.




In the end, I flattened out the body again and soldered the floor-pan to one of the sides and then folded the body around the floor-pan, to solder the opposite side. This worked fairly well. Throughout the construction, however, it is impossible to apply any pressure, when attaching parts, as the structure just collapses. I found this very frustrating on several occasions.



The instructions suggest fitting tiny details, like the lamps (very basic, with no back, bottom, or top) and the handbrake-lever, early on, where they would subsequently be very vulnerable to damage during the rest of the construction. I would say "do not do this!". There are many other places where both the design and instructions leave something to be desired. For example, although there is a very fragile brake lever, there are no brakes on the wheels!


To assist construction, I used Blu-Tack to hold some of the tiny parts together during assembly..This was particularly useful when soldering the axle strip to the notches in the springs on each side of the body.



The use of such a thin fret is a liability in several areas, not just from its lack of strength. For example, the wheels are only a scale 1/2 inch thick, rather than about 2.5 inches for the real coach. The axle itself is just a flat strip, so the wheels do not rotate, despite a complex construction involving two minute washers inside, and a washer and hubcap outside the wheel. The designer apologises for there being no working door handle but I would much rather have seen some etched spring detail, brakes, and ribs on the roof in the correct orientation.



An advantage of etched brass is that some fine details, such as the rails around the roof, can be included but there was no obvious means to connect these at the corners. I left short lengths of the sprues in place, to facilitate connection, but there was still very little attachment area and, in trying to hold these joints together, I inadvertently broke off the rear rail - what was that about ham-fisted!


I'm not even going to attempt fitting the micro-fine strips that are intended to form the beading around the body sides, though I might try sticking them with the paint, later.


So, in summary, a delightfully delicate but somewhat flawed design. I feel that a mix between the rather 'chunky' white metal kit and this 'fragile' etched brass version could have resulted in a very good overall model. Next time, I'll scratch build one!




I have another of these kits, to make a 'Victoria' carriage, but I am going to think how to provide a more robust structure, before starting the build, and I'll probably use different wheels.


Good news - I've heard that my Cleminson chassis kits will arrive shortly - apparently, there has been a problem in the sorting office, which delayed my order - so I'll soon be able to put together some coaches, using my laminated sides :)



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The whitemetal wheels do look better

I agree. On the other hand, there is a crispness about the body, which is lacking in the white metal version.

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Thanks for this review Mike. As mentioned earlier I've been meaning to try out one of these but I think I will follow your advice and scratchbuild something instead. Looks like it needs a 2mm modeller's dexterity and I haven't got that.


Having said that, your two buses look delightful. Are they going in a station forecourt?


Glad to hear the Cleminson chassis arrived. Yours could be the first early GWR coaches ever built with the Cutter!

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Thank you Mike.


Like I'd been looking at these as well, I'm not put off by the fiddly assembly too much but I do not like the wheel or axle assembly. I will consider that if/when I purchase one and I now think the 'if' is a lot greater than it was.


Thanks again 




ps. I've a bit of catching up to do on your other blogs too by the look of things. 

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Having said that, your two buses look delightful. Are they going in a station forecourt?

That's the plan - I have a lot of work to do on the scenics, which I hope to get around to, when I stop building locos, coaches, and other vehicles :)



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I'd been looking at these as well, I'm not put off by the fiddly assembly too much but I do not like the wheel or axle assembly.

I agree that the wheels and axles do not 'work' in etched brass.  Since Langley supply wheels separately, I may replace with those.  There's a lot that I like about the brass kit, but the shafts and undergear are just too thin.



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