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Set 4 - Modernity on the Cheap: Part 4 - A Twist in the Tale



We left this saga a couple of months back with me finding that the NEM pockets on the Hachette Mk1 were way too high, and that I therefore couldn't couple it to anything. Pro tem the Coopercraft Tourist Brake 3rd was coupled to the Dapol LMS Stanier  Composite from Set 5 and pressed into service as an improvised set:




I don't seem to have written up the final rounds of my bitter fight with the Tourist BTO. The Wizard aluminium roof was cut to length, filed back on each side at the ends, and stuck on with Evostick. The roof detail is plasticard strip, stuck on with superglue, and with a distinct tendency to break off. It may be a little heavy, but it was the best that could be done under the circumstances. The whole lot was sprayed with Halfords Grey Primer which proved to be too light, then weathered, patch-painted , re-weathered.. The body was patch-painted again, transfers and Modelmasters post 1956 lining were applied, and the whole thing was brush-painted with gloss varnish. Then the underframe was weathered.  A working gangway was added to one end , and we were done.


It's not wonderful but it will pass as a layout  coach and to be honest, given the "quality" of the kit and the number of coats of paint that have to be applied by brush to get sufficient opacity, not much more could be hoped for from it. Very much better modellers than me have struggled to get good results with this kit. There is a metal kit available from Wizard Models , and if the Coopercraft kit is never seen again I doubt we've lost very much.


So to the present...


I went to Ally Pally last weekend , and by chance I came across a Hornby Gresley BCK in blood and custard at a silly price. After a moment's reflection it was too good a bargain to miss , so I bought it. (The awkward lack of first class accommodation in Set 4 and the fact these BCKs were intended as through coaches was also in the back of my mind when I bought it)


I also managed to source a solution for the coupling height problem on the Hachette Mk1. After a lengthy conversation on the Keen Systems stand (during which I was repeatedly told that Kadee couplings don't work) I acquired a converter pack for a Bachmann Mk1, which is intended - amongst other things - to put the NEM pocket at the correct height. 


I've never before dabbled with Keen Systems products. This is mainly because they are based on rigid fixed links between the vehicles, and that is not much interest to me when I run 2-car sets on a portable layout and want some flexibility in how I can deploy my stock. And the quoted ability to get a rake of coaches round first- and second-radius curves close-coupled is of limited relevance  when my tightest curve is 2'6" and the general radius on Blacklade is 3' or greater. In any case I fit working gangways to the inner ends of my coaches and my DMUs - and there's only one set of gangways in a 2 car set.


Sadly the replacement resin close-coupler cams are nowhere near a drop-in fit for the Hachette, despite the latter's origin as a back-engineered "Bachmann knock-off".


I had to file out the cam to get it to fit in place on the coach,  and of course the profile of the resulting hole isn't a great match for the taper of the Hachette original. Then I found the Keen Systems cam wouldn't seat correctly . This was because the head of the screw holding the coach together was fouling on it. Cue more filing to create a suitable recess to clear the screw head... Because you really don't want to breath in the dust created as the screwhead grinds away at the soft coupler arm....


I thoroughly dislike anything that involves working with resin castings because of the health risks from the dust - and the huge awkwardness imposed by the  precautions you have to take as a result. All working of resin has to be done outside in the open, wearing a mask - with (of course) no modelling bench - meaning that every check or new round of fettling means running up and down two flights of stairs to the flat and though one or two doors with Yale locks. And the need to wash down and decontaminate the tools means carrying water jars and kitchen roll up and down as well. Not to mention the fact that washing your files thoroughly in water isn't exactly very good for them. Oh, and under normal circumstances it also means that resin items can only be worked on during British Summer Time or at weekends , otherwise it's dark outside.....


Fortunately on this occasion I'd taken the day off, and the job was done reasonably quickly, without it (so far) killing me. I suppose white lead from dust-shot and PVA or working depleted uranium are much greater health risks. But this was one occasion where a drop-in fit would really have been appreciated.


You will not be surprised to hear that I decided that sorting out one end for a Kadee was quite enough. This will be the end where the loco couples on, and the intention is to use one of the NEM plastic steam-pipes Bachmann supply with their Mk1s as the coupling within the set. This can adjust for the mismatch in NEM pocket heights between the vehicles.


However this does mean that the Hachette Mk1 can't run with the Coopercraft BTO, which has fixed Kadees. It will have to be paired with the newly acquired Gresley BCK.


So Set 4 as it was originally conceived is no more... Long live Set 6!




(This isn't the end of the matter - I still need to resolve the mismatched scratch-set of Tourist BTO+ Stanier CK. And there is the question of blue/grey sets as well


Here we take a detour through ancient history, set out in an earlier posting on my layout blog:   Flaxborough Almost all of that layout's coaching stock is visible in the photo , and it has all been in stock, pending reworking...


One Lima CCT has been thoroughly reworked and written up. https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blogs/entry/9843-a-small-parcel-arrives/

I decided that all the lettering was really too much of a bind to do a second time, so I salvaged the Hornby-release body, swapped it onto an old Lima underframe as the next "donor vehicle" and disposed of the hybrid Lima body/Hornby underframe CCT on the club stall this weekend.


I started trying to upgrade one of the vintage Hornby Mk 2 brakes (really a BFK) a few years ago but it rapidly became clear this is not a quick or easy exercise. Partial repainting will be required, the window openings need filing back....It went back in its box, and I decided I didn't have the moral fibre to do it twice. So the second Mk2 brake , still in its box, was also disposed of on the club stand. Thus the BCK is nil cost in terms of both space and money...


In the course of time I have also acquired two sets of Comet sides (Mk1 BSO and CK), sundry Comet castings, a large pile of MJT and Bachmann bogies, assorted SE Finecast flushglaze and an unbuilt Kitmaster Mk1 SK kit. Not to mention a Tony Wright DVD showing carriage conversions and quite a few vague aspirations.


When Blacklade runs as BR Blue , I use a 2-car loco-hauled set  composed of a BCK off the Bachmann stand and a Mk2Z TSO acquired when my local model shop closed down almost a decade ago. In the same closing sale I bought a Mk2a BSO, and a Mk1 BSK and SK. I have had various aspirations to sort out some more blue/grey coaching stock, but it has never seemed urgent - DMUs are a higher priority. 


In steam mode Blacklade requires at least three 2-car sets plus a parcels train to operate - which explains why most of the carriage-building activity has gone into the steam-era stock. The dates on my blog reveal it has taken just over 6 years to reach the dizzy heights of five serviceable steam-age sets plus a parcels train.


Building the MTK LMS Porthole Brake 3rd as a proper partner for the Dapol Stanier CK is still firmly on the agenda. But that means I need a new partner for the Tourist Brake 3rd to form Set 4. The best option, given what I have available, is to build a Mk1 CK using the Comet sides on one of the old Lima BG bodyshells, but to put it into maroon livery, not blue/grey. I'm fairly comfortable with the idea of spraying a single-colour livery like maroon, whereas the challenge of doing blue/grey properly , with its rounded corners and white lining, is a major obstacle to tackling several modelling projects. Most if not all of the Lima underframe will have to be removed, but I have all the necessary replacement bits in stock. It would be a chance to do a first "proper" coach conversion project, though obviously I'm not in the same league as Larry Goddard.


And as a medium term project I could strip down the Triang-Hornby RMB, upgrade it as far as it can be reasonably taken, and put it back into maroon. Sandwiched between a pair of my 2-car corridor sets, it would  provide an instant 1960 5 car train...)








Edited by Ravenser


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