As a diversion from the problems I am experiencing in completing my Waverley-class 4-4-0, I have put together a Broad Gauge carriage body, using photo-printed sides.
I have previously described making various standard-gauge coaches by using my Silhouette cutter to cut out several layers, some of which I pre-printed from photographs of actual coaches. I gradually refined and simplified my methods, resulting in the construction of an early Passenger Brake Van (PBV), which I built back in 2015.
To re-cap, my method was to use my Silhouette cutter to mark out the sides and ends of the main body shell on 20 thou (0.5 mm) plastic card. I then assembled the sides and ends around a rectangular floor plate, cut from 40 thou (1 mm) plastic card, using polystyrene cement, to create a firm, rigid structure. Next, I attached the ‘cosmetic’ side layers using book-binders' adhesive. These layers were pre-printed on photographic paper and used the registration marks, printed by the Silhouette Studio software, to ensure that the window apertures aligned with the openings cut into the inner sides.
The problem is that the Silhouette cutter can only cut through 10 thou plasticard whereas, for rigidity, the body sides need to be much thicker than this. For a PBV, with only one rectangular window aperture in each side, it was easy enough to cut these out by hand but, for a more complex passenger coach, much of the advantage of using a computer-controlled cutter would be lost.
Some time ago, I had the idea of using 40 thou (1 mm) clear (transparent) plastic card for the sides of the main body shell, so that windows only need to be cut in the thin ‘cosmetic’ outer layers. I decided to try out this method in practice, to construct a simple Broad Gauge carriage body.
My chosen prototype was one of the 6-wheel ‘Revised Standard’ composite carriages, built for the GWR between 1854 and 1857. I started by creating a scale image from the dimensioned sketch on the Broad Gauge Society Data Sheet No.154. I then copied my image, as a background layer, into my Autosketch CAD software and traced over the main outlines and the window openings, to create a DXF file for transferring to my Silhouette Studio software. Alongside this cutting diagram, I also produced a coloured image of the carriage sides, using Photoshop Elements software, to create a JPEG image that I also transferred to the Studio software.
The next step, using the Studio software, was to align the photo image with the cut lines from the DXF file and then to save the composite image in Studio format. After selecting to add registration marks, I printed the file on photo-quality paper, using my HP Deskjet ink-jet printer. After printing, I sprayed a protective coat of matt varnish (I use 'Liquitex') over the photo image. Once the image had dried, I inserted the paper into my Silhouette cutter, which found the printed registration marks and cut out the sides, in alignment with the photo image.
I actually built each side from two photo layers – an inner layer with smaller window apertures, representing the droplights and wooden window frames, and an outer layer, with larger apertures, to allow these window frames to show through, as three-dimensional structures. After gluing the layers together, with book-binders' adhesive, I did some re-touching with Venetian red paint to cover the exposed edges of the cut-outs and so complete the window apertures.
Now, I constructed the main body shell by cutting rectangular pieces of transparent plastic card for the two sides and ordinary white plastic card for the ends (all 40 thou thickness). I assembled these into a box structure, exactly as I described previously for the PBV. Once the polystyrene cement had cured, all that remained was to glue the coloured sides in place, with the ‘windows’ showing through the transparent body structure.
My final photo shows this carriage body mounted on a broad gauge chassis, built from a Broad Gauge Society kit. Of course there is a lot of detailing that needs to be added, to represent door handles, hinges, etc. but the basic form of the body proved very simple to construct.
To return to my ‘Waverley’ 4-4-0 locomotive, I had the idea of using some filter conversion rings, as used by photographers to fit different sizes of filters to their lenses, as a basis for constructing the splashers.
I managed to find some rings on the web of the correct diameter and waited patiently for them to arrive from China. At first, it looked promising, and I cut off the protruding threaded portions, to leave a rim representing the brass outer edge of the close-fitting splashers on the prototype. Unfortunately, the rings were just too shallow to cover the full depth of the wheel and, being made from aluminium, I could not solder them to an inner structure.
I have paused again, for further thought, but may use these rings as templates, around which I can form some brass splashers of the correct depth.