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2mm Midland van D257

John Brenchley


As the weather here in Perth, Western Australia has been too hot for me to use an airbrush outside, I decided to press on with making another of the 2mm Scale Association's kits and wait for cooler days before painting all the LMS vehicles in one go.


This one was for the Midland Railway's diagram 257 van. The date on the etch is 2007 so it has been around for a while and I have noticed examples of completed vans in pictures elsewhere on this site but I am not sure if anyone has posted any details of the construction - apologies if they have.




The kit is a nickel silver etch for the van body and has to be matched up with one of the Associations etched chassis kits. The body etch is one of Chris Higg's designs and this was the first time I had tried one of them - I was most impressed. The sides and ends of the van are made up of a series of overlays (in the case of the van side, 6 layers in total). The clever part of the design is the method of alignment - each layer is contained in its own frame that has 1mm holes in each corner - these are aligned by using something like a top hat bearing or anything else of a 1mm diameter inserted in the holes - the frames are then cut off after soldering. The method works very well and I know something similar is also used by David Eveleigh on some of his kits so I do not know who to credit with the original idea.


The picture below shows all the layers attached and also indicates the method of aligning the parts together round the floor - the ends have a slot into which a tab at the end of the floor is located. Also, the inner layer of the sides is slightly smaller at the bottom, giving a lip that locates over the floor.




Almost at the last minute before soldering the sides and ends together, I noticed two small holes etched into the sliding door layer. Checking with prototype pictures showed these to mark the position of a door handle so I found my last remaining 0.3mm drill and carefully started to drill them all the way through with the intention if inserting a piece of guitar string bent to a rather square cornered U shape and soldered from the back of each hole. With hindsight it might have been better to pre drill through each layer before assembly rather than trying to go through all of them at once since despite being really careful, I managed to break the drill after one and a half holes. This still enabled me to fit one handle as I cut off most of one side of the U and passed the other long side through the complete hole and soldered it to the back - the short side was effectively pulled tightly down and just sits in the half drilled hole. The handle on the other side will have to wait till more drills arrive from Eileen's Emporium.


The instructions say that the sides fit between the ends but after I had attached one end and one side in this manner, I found that the floor seemed a bit short if I fitted the other end outside the side. Maybe some of my soldering had not been careful enough but there was no way I could adjust all the layers now so I was a bit stuck as to what to do. I decided to bend the roof to shape and see if this helped me identify if I had the van too long or too wide. In fact both seemed to be the case as it looked as if the roof would be a bit skimp in both width and length. Perhaps I have too much solder between some of the layers and this has made the sides and ends too thick. In the end I decided to compomise and assembled the other sides and ends with alternate corners either inside or outside, making the body slightly wider and shorter than intended by the thickness of one etch layer. I may have to cut a new roof from scrap metal so as to get the appropriate overhangs all round but that will have to wait till next weekend. Did anyone else who has made up these kits have similar problems or is it just me?


Below is a picture of the van in its current state, taken from the side with the door handle fitted. It has been cleaned up with a glass fibre brush and old scalpel blade to get in the corners - the fine scratches show up on the picture quite prominently but I think from experience on previous models that they will not be evident once the undercoat is applied.



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Guest Natalie Graham


the fine scratches show up on the picture quite prominently


The trick is to scratch in the direction of the planks and then let everyone marvel at how you have even modelled the grain of the wood. ;)

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The model looks good.


The construction method of multiple layers of etch, positioned by a bearing-sized hole, is familiar from the David Eveleigh old toad (unfortunately, so is the difficulty of fitting the corners together afterwards...).


I have recently acquired a small/cheap ultrasonic cleaner - judging by the colour of the water after using it, it provides another effective way of cleaning up after soldering.



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Very neat soldering as usual!


I had a similar problem when assembling this etch - the floor was too short. I put the van to one side after that, but I'll try and dig it out and have another look. I will probably be seeing someone on Saturday who has built lots of these vans, so I'll ask his advice.


I think it was Stephen Harris who first used the idea of aligning layers with top hat bearings in 2mm scale, but I could be wrong.



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Thanks for all your kind comments.


From looking at photographs, I think the corner framework is square section timber so on the finished model they should look the same thickness when viewed from either the side or the end. Therefore if the sides go between the ends, the framework on the sides should be thinner than that on the ends by the thickness of a layer of etch. Now that the kit is assembled its hard to measure but looking at my first photo on this blog entry, if anything the ends look thinner which would suggest the ends go between the sides.


I've just measured the finished model with a digital caliper - I come up with the following:-


Length - model approx 29.9mm - 30.0mm, prototype drawing says 14' 11"

Width - model approx 14.8mm - 14.9mm, prototype drawing says 7' 5"


If anything, the model is a touch too long but I'm happy enough with the compromise construction method I used. I think if I'd stuck with side between end for all four corners, the model would have been too long. Now I need to measure the roof that came as a separate piece of etch - my suspicion is that it may measure too small in both dimensions.



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