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Building the Fence Houses 21t hopper

Trevor H


Over the last few days I have been building some etched brass 21t hopper wagons using the "Fence Houses" kit, which is basicaly an etch that folds up into a very nice model of the prototype.


With the etch you receive a descriptive history about the prototype, an exploded diagram of how the kit goes together, along with another five pages on how to build the kit of which are very well explained, I followed the instrutions to the tee and didn't find any problems with the build.


Only additional parts required are 3 hole wagon wheels & bearings, springs and axleboxes and a set of buffers all available from the 2mm Association and then some paint and transfers to complete the model.


Tools needed are a craft knife for detaching the parts from the etch, pin vice and drill bits, a couple of needle files, some 145 detailing solder and flux and a soldering iron, I went for a Antex 18w which was more than efficent for the job. I also used a Hold n Fold to make all the bends, although not essential it does make life easier.


The following is a breakdown of the build for anyone interested along with some photos, which I apollogise for their quality.


The etch showing all the components to build a 21t hopper diag. 1/146



Building the body

The body basicaly consists of two parts the hopper body itself and the internal hopper chute.



The body sides need to be folded to shape, the bends been at roughly about 45 degree, whilst the internal hopper chute is at about 90 degree.



We now can solder the body up, this is done best by placing upside down on a flat surface and once all is square join the end to the side, the body end fits inside the body side, you can also solder the four angled corners checking all is square, but not the very bottom parts of the chutes for now, this will be done when fitting the internal part of the hopper chute. I found it best if you went around tacking it a bit at a time and checking all was in the right place, then when satisfied all was square and flat you can solder all the joints up.



I then fitted the internal part of the chute and adjusted so all was a snug fit and no gaps with the hopper body and the doors were in their closed posistion, once happy all was soldered in place.



The next job was to fit the side stanchions, this is a double thickness etch which is tinned on the inside, folded over then sweated together, the tabs are left on between the two halves to hold all in place whilst sweating the two parts together.



These are then tinned on the back and with the hopper body upside down and sat flush on a flat surface, with the stanchions held in the right place they are sweated onto the hopper sides, again I found it easier to do a bit at a time starting with the top rail checking all was in it's correct posistion as i went along. Their is some overhang at each end of the top rail, do not remove this until after the end stanchions have been fitted.





We now do the same with the end stanchions making sure the slots in the lower legs are on the outside when the two halves are joined together, this slot will help locate the end suports when fitted later in the build. These end stanchions need the two lower legs folded on their etch line to follow the angle of the hopper, to do this i found it easiest to sweat the two halves of the toprail first so all was flush then to bend the two lower legs to the correct angle, once happy with the angle I then sweated the lower halves ot the legs together. Once happy all was a snug fit and with the hopper body upside down on a flat surface I soldered the end stanchions to the body starting at the top rail first and making sure the two slots for the end suports were on the outside. Once fitted the excess top rail from the side stanchions can be gently filed flush with the end top rail, would sugest when doing any filing that you give the body a quick rinse under the tap to remove any flux residue first, otherwise your needle file will be clogged up in no time.



The next job is to fit the gussets, this is done in the same way as the stanchions by tining the inside of the two halves then then folding and sweating together, their are also two modified gussets on the etch with the 45 degree angle for those who need to fit them on the centre stanchion as was to be found on the prototype in a later period. Once the gussets have been doubled up it is worth cleaning the edges up with a file so they are a good fit, the bottoms of the gussets need to be flush with the bottom of the gap between the two chutes, this is worth a few dry runs to get it right before soldering in place. Once fitted you can gently run a file over the bottom of the gussets if required to get them all level and also file the excess from the bottom of the stanchion, this will all determine the height of the wagon when fitted to the chassis later in the build. Finally you need to sweat the basher plates on to the sides of the hopper body, this will dependent on your chosen prototype as not all were fitted with them.





At this stage the body can have a good clean and be put aside whilst we now turn to the chassis.


Building the chassis

The next job is to build the chassis, at this stage it is worth running a 0.3mm drill through all the etched holes to check clearances, whilst you may also need to open the holes for your wheel bearings, check with a dry run.


After removing the main chassis from the etch you need to bend the half etched part of the the two internal cross members down to about 45 degree, these will eventualy join to the hopper ends. You also need to bend the two sides with W irons down at 90 degree, followed by the buffer beam and then solder wheel bearings in place. Fit wheels and check all is square on a flat surface and if happy solder in corners between buffer beam and sides and then check all is still square with all four wheels touching the floor.





Next job is to bend the brake unit at 90 degree and fit this to the chassis, this can only go one way round due to the slot and tab method so it should be impossible to get it backwards. It is a good idea to have wheels in place when fitting to brake unit to chassis and to thread a piece of 0.3mm brass rod through the vee hangers and brake unit with plenty of spare either side to fit the brake levers later in the build, when all is in posistion lightly tack the brake unit to the chassis and check you have equal clearances between wheels and brake blocks, otherwise adjust to suit and when happy solder unit in place.

The brake lever cam found on the one side of the chassis needs to be bent to shape which is aided by the two half etched lines and the footstep need to be folded up. Next job is to fit the inner chassis channels, these have a small cut out to fit over the brake unit and slot and tabs at the ends, these need to be soldered 90 degree to the chassis floor.



Next job is to make up the solebars, these are double thickness and are made up in the same priciple as the side stanchions you made earlier for the hopper body. The etched tail is for the brake lever guide and needs to be cut at the right place from the main etch, this is important and is clearly explained in the instructions.



These can now be fitted to the chassis, to save less chance of damage I have bent up the brake lever guide and fitted it through the hole in the solebar, but havn't soldered it in place yet as i need to fit the brake lever in place, their is also a small strap at the bottom of the lever guide which is bent to the right angle and fitted to the bottom of the W iron.



At this stage I would fit chosen axleboxes and springs, but I dont have these at the moment, then bend and fit the two brake levers, so I will omit these for now and fit later. Also the door operating levers will need to be fitted, I opted for the ones without the half etched lines which should be substansialy stronger. You can also fit the coupling hook and backplate and your chosen buffers at this time if you wish or you could leave till later in the build.


Fitting the hopper body to the chassis

Now we're getting near to the final assembly, firstly if you havn't done so check your chassis is still all square, then with a few dry runs test fit the hopper body to the chassis, If it sits too high (there should be no sign of the central cut out above the chassis), this could be down too three things, a) the half etched part of the inner cross member is stopping the hopper from going down, b) the gussets sit too low and this can be rectified by gently filing the bottom of the gussets until corrected, or what I kept finding was c) the bottom of the legs on the two end stanchions was siting on the inner cross member, again a gentle filing off the bottom of the end stanchions soon rectified this.

Once happy with the fit turn hopper body upside down and fit chassis, I tack soldered where the half etched cross member meets the underside of the hopper body, then checking all was square between chassis and body at sides and ends and that all four wheels were touching, I then just soldered at the point where I had tack soldered earlier, when the end supports are fitted later this will be more than enough to hold the two parts together



Next job was to fit the end suports, I tinned the edges and fitted in the slots in the chassis floor and the slots in the end stanchions mentioned earlier, I found it best to fit one at a time then checking the chassis was still square and all the wheels were touching the floor, then if there was a problem it would probably be the down to the support I had just fitted.



Once all fitted it was time to fit the etched handrails which are bent to shape as per my photo and fitted in their appropriate holes, do not bend the end of the longest part of the handrail as this needs to be threaded through the two holes on the end supports first and one of the longer brackets fitted before bending to shape, once happy all is square and straight the handrail can be soldered and the excess cut from inside the hopper body.


Finally if not fitted earlier you need to fit buffers and coupling hooks, then a final clean up before painting and weathering.


Well that was my insight to building the "Fencehouses" 21t hopper, which followed the instuctions as laid out. All the three kits I purchased have now been built, the first one took a couple of evenings which is the norm when building a different kit, but by the time I got to the third one I had put it together in one evening and if you follow the instructions you cant go wrong.


The kit went together and all the parts fitted as they were meant too, which is more than can be said for many kits I have built over the past in larger scales! and I will certainly be purchasing a few more to add to my collection.


Wow!! sorry for going on, this write up took a lot longer than expected, infact longer than it took to do the third kit.






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Thanks for taking the time to write this up Trevor, it was quite an enjoyable read. Keep up the good work.

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Oh yes... TOP entry sir.

Very readable and enlightening on these kits - just ordering some this week actually.

This layout and stock is looking a real tasty collection of bits and bobs; very encouraging for a fellow 2mm newbie ;)

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This shows why Bobs' kits are so well respected. Brass origami at its best! :)



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Thanks lads,


Glad the write up was all worth it, when reading it back for the first time I thought i'd gone OTT, but if it helps others take the plunge then it was worth the extra work.


I certainly cannot complain about the kit, it must be a good kit because I didn't burn my fingers oncebiggrin.gif and I certainly will be ordering some more to add to the collection.


Is it just me or is this 2mm stuff addictive



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Thanks lads,




Is it just me or is this 2mm stuff addictive




VERY!!! :lol:

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"by the time I got to the third one I had put it together in one evening "


...so another 47 evenings work will produce a nice long rake :D


Great post Trevor and really informative - thanks for sharing as its really inspirational.

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Thanks Trevor. Just assembling one of these chassis which is now sold as S2-358. I don’t think the body is available any more but I’m merging the chassis with the NGS plastic and etched brass kit. Only the exploded diagram from Bob’s instructions is now available so your blog has answered a few questions. Glad I found it in time, I could have really messed up the brake levers without it.

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