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Set 1 - Under False Colours - Pt.1 - Overview

Ravenser

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Having rashly flung down the gauntlet and declared I'm thinking of running a third , not terribly authentic, period on Blacklade to give an airing to the bits of steam era /green diesel stock I seem to have acquired, I've actually made a start in the form of a pair of Ratio kits: two of the LNWR kits to be precise. The twist is that these will actually constitute the ER's contribution on the coaching side, until I lay my hand on some Kirk kits.

 

I've rather fancied the Ratio LNWR coaches since they first came out . They were new products, they looked really rather stylish with those big windows, and I suppose they were a bit cool. As I went modern image in my early mid teens, there was never any scrap of justification for buying one - until I got involved with a small informal group locally. Amongst other things we were talking about building a small branch terminus, and because of others' interests it was bound to be steam.

 

The LNWR seems to have embraced the concept of corridor coaches and gangwayed connections very quickly and with some enthusiasm. By 1893 they had commissioned a full train set for the 2pm Euston - Glasgow express - thereafter, for a generation "the 'Corridor'"(until the LMS formally named it "The Mid Day Scot") - and by the late 1890s they were building corridor coaches in volume for their own main line services, not just the WCJS. Ratio's range of 4 kits represent these , built from 1898-1903, and not extinct until after World War 2. I've always been surprised these kits never took off - there was a time when their MR coach kits seemed virtually ubiquitous and if you wanted a pre-grouping coach it was a Ratio MR kit or a Triang clerestory, but somehow I've hardly ever seen the LNWR kits crop up in layout articles. The prototypes feature in Historic Carriage Drawings Vol 2 - LMS , edited by David Jenkinson, as do the MR suburbans and the MR non-gangwayed express clerestories : and no doubt that's how Ratio came to choose all three types.

 

The twist in the story comes in 1936 , when the LMS offloaded some of them on the M&GNJR, apparently along with some ex MR gangwayed clerestories which I think are available as kits from 51L Models/Wizard , and which are far too grand, sophisticated and expensive for me to consider... A few months later (October 1936), the LMS offloaded its interest in the M&GN on the LNER. Given that the LNER promptly scrapped most of the M&GN loco fleet -, and the LNER wasn't rich enough to indulge in extravagences like "scrap and build" - I think we can take it that the M&GN was in dire need of re-equipment by that point and the LMS wasn't prepared to stump up hard cash. It's pretty clear why the choice fell on these coaches for transfer. The M&GN was a lengthy cross country main line and its big passenger traffic was holiday expresses from the Midlands. A lot of those passengers were families making 3-4 hour journeys, and by the mid 1930s subjecting them to non-gangwayed stock without access to toilets was unacceptable. The LMS duly off-loaded some of the oldest corridor stock it had in order to "modernise" the M&GN, and since the MR came to corridor coaches much later and more tentatively than the LNWR , inevitably old LNWR stock was going to feature in the transfer.

 

So some elderly ex LNWR and MR coaches ended up as LNER stock in E Anglia . Beyond this point we find ourselves peering into the mists of history - which are pretty thick and misty hereabouts. As a modern image modeller of Eastern leanings , my references for this are pretty scanty : 3 volumes of Historic Carriage Drawings, Harris' LNER coaches and the notes to the Ratio kits , prepared by a Mr P Millard. According to the latter "several" vehicles were transferred to the M&GN , but he doesn't say what. I have been shown a photo of an M&GN train from the mid/late 1930s with one of these coaches clearly visible , still in LMS livery . It wasn't a brake, and holiday expresses aren't obviously in need of lots of all firsts, so I think we can assume some all thirds were transferred. Whether any brake coaches were is anybody's guess: Historic Carriage Drawings does not even mention the transfer, and nor does LNER Coaches

 

The Ratio instructions claim extinction dates of 1950 for the brake composites, and 1952 for the brake thirds, but 1947 for the all thirds, even though more of them were built than everything else put together. Historic Carriage Drawings gives an extinction date of 1953 for the all thirds, and says extinction dates for the other types cannot be established but all types reached BR and probably became extinct 1953-5. It's evident from one or two other entries that events in apple green territory are beyond the ken of LMS coach scholars, so these will be for the vehicles which passed from the LMS to the LMR

 

It is quite possible the vehicles which passed to the LNER lasted a little longer. By M&GN standards, in 1936 these were relatively modern coaches. In late 1934, the LNER had set out to eliminate 4 and 6 wheel coaches - of which it still had several thousand - "except for third-rate branch lines, miners' and workmen's trains". What this meant in practice in E Anglia can be established by looking at some branch line monographs. Witham/Bishop Stortford trains were still 6 wheelers until 1940 , when they were replaced by ex GE 50' corridor coaches. The Thaxted branch retained 6 wheelers until 1946-7, when GE 50' corridor coaches were provided - working in 2 car sets. The Mid Suffolk became the last place in Britain served by non -bogie coaches (until the DoT inflicted Pacers on us) - here the 6 wheelers survived until a few months before closure in 1952, again replaced by ex GE corridor coaches working in 2car sets.

 

Given this , it seems unlikely the LNER would have scrapped these ex LMS vehicles before the war. In fact it seems quite plausible that after 1940, when holiday trains would have been few and far between, and the M&GN section probably had surplus coaching stock, they might have been pressed into service to replace 6 wheelers on some very minor branch. Photos show elderly pre Grouping coaches as branch sets on many ex GE and ex GN branches in the early 50s - what probably swept them away was a combination of the first round of ER closures in 1951-2 plus cascading following the arrival of the first Mk1s in 1951-2

 

So - a pair of ex LNWR coaches from the Ratio kits make a plausible E Anglian branch set on a very minor branch in the early 1950s. By that time they would have been in brown - on the GE, pregrouping stock was not given BR crimson, but was repainted in brown with BR lettering , and examples survived beyond 1955. When my local model shop closed down about 4 years ago I bought a brake composite and an all third , for use on the little group branch terminus project. All the other authentic options would have been difficult to source and much more difficult to build. I think they had been in the shop some time - one kit was the earlier version with plastic wheels - and they were discounted. I gave the sides an undercoat and , since it wasn't an urgent job, they sat in the cupboard , waiting for the branch terminus to happen first......

 

As these two kits include the only kit for a brake vehicle I have , it seemed the obvious place to start. I have very little coachbuilding experience - a couple of Ratio kits in my early teens - and Ratio kits seemed an easy place to start. (That theory took a serious knock with the very over-complicated Southern Van B kit, which took me 2 years to finish)

 

First stages are shown here. The exact shade of LNER brown seems to be open to question and photographic research. I bought a tin of Precision Pullman umber and another of LNER dull teak. The original idea was to mix up a suitable brown , but then I reflected that Precision paints don't cover half as well as Railmatch or Humbrol and I'd never match the colour for the second coat - or the second vehicle. So I gave the sides an undercoat in umber, in order to darken the teak top coat - and stopped there.

 

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On restarting last week it became clear that the undercoat on the brake composite was badly affected by nibs and whiskers . I don't have an airbrush , and neither colour is available as an aerosol can. The all third was ok, if not 100% perfect . So I gave the latter a coat of teak - and the brake composite sides got a coat of Modelstrip. The teak coat wasn't 100% perfect either: Precision paint seems to love to form tiny bubbles as you brush . I did the best I could. The brake was given a fresh undercoat of umber, and then teak over. Despite my careful cleaning/degreasing of the sides and cleaning of the brush on a bit of soap to rid it of any nibs, the finish still wasn't perfect - and all sides visibly needed a further coat. There is no way you can apply three brush coats of paint and get a flawless result. I have learnt my lesson and sourced a spray can of Railmatch crimson for all the other coaches, but with the LNW set , damage limitation is all that's possible

 

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These kits are slightly peculiar - at least to me - in that they are built round the interiors. In this they differ from the other Ratio coach kits I built long ago from the other 3 ranges. They also show early signs of the overcomplication which makes the Ratio Maunsell Van B such a laborious pig to do. I can't see that moulding the floor pan as two halves which join together with a kind of mortice joint is any improvement on the single piece floor pans found in the MR kits - unless there was an overriding technical reason in the design of the moulds, and since they produced a lot of earlier kits with single piece floores , I can't see it. Similarly, the all third corridor sides are two pieces with a tenon joint - though in the brakes these have to be two seperate mouldings , as the guard's van is in the centre not the end. However the fit of the parts so far has been excellent - the floor pan needs only routine cleaning of the edges and no packing or filing down has been required. In one or two places a few strokes of the file were necessary along the compartment partitions to get the side even. There are little locating pegs on the floor to locate the interiors (except for the toilets) - the all third has these pegs on the compartment side too, but the brake doesn't

 

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In the process of fitting the first side, stage by stage along the side, and holding it tight to the compartment partitions till the solvent set , I managed to get solvent onto the side with some damage to the paintwork . As "cracklature" was definitely not wanted, I have rubbed down the affected panels and they will need touching in - the damage can be seen on the photo . The compartment interiors have been painted with Tamiya Flat Earth acrylic, to avoid anything embarassing being seen through the windows. I am starting to feel that if I have to apply any more coats of brown paint to this kit I'll scream

 

On the corridor side there are recesses for the glazing strip - why the glazing on the corridor side of the all third has to be 4 seperate recessed sections , when the brake manages with just two sections, beats me. The corridor handrail is a piece of styrene micro rod (more brown paint) applied between slots . On the all third, I made the mistake of using solvents at the retaining slots, As a result , I have marks on two windows just above the rail, where it wasn't 100% straight and capilarity drew the solvent where it wasn't wanted. Damn. On the brake third , I learned my lesson , and used the Revell Contacta bottle . In fact I've taken the heretical approach of using Contacta cement very sparingly applied as the first tack bond for the major pieces, with solvent applied to finish the join

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The LNWR carriages transferred to the M&GNJ were

 

21 Corridor Thirds  LNWR D.268 

9 Corridor Brake thirds LNWR D.316

5 Corridor Brake Composites LNWR D.216

11 Corridor Composites LNWR D.138

3 Corridor Composites LNWR D.140

3 six wheeled Luggage Brakes D.385

1 bogie brake Van WCJS D.80

 

The numbers of these surviving at the end of 1952 was 8, 2, 0, 3, 1, 0, 1 respectively. I can supply the numbers of the survivors if you need them.

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Bill - thanks for this. It's a pity the brake composites seem to have gone by 1952, though they have very short van sections which can't have made them ideal for holiday trains - however suitable it makes them for branchline and suburban traffic.

 

Specimen numbers for survivors would be very much appreciated, though presumably this won't be possible for the brake composite, just the all third.

 

I'd picked up that numbering was likely to be a trackless waste : Harris states that the M&GN stock was given numbers in a new 8xxxx block after the LNER take over (though he doesn't say whether M&GN numbers were simply prefixed with an 8 or whether there was a renumbering) They missed out on the 1943 renumbering , and he adds "In BR days the carriages were renumbered within the GE pre-Grouping range". Since that block seems to have started off pretty random, then been further scrambled by vehicles being scrapped /transferred to other Sections , and replacement vehicles being stuffed into the lowest gaps, without some actual specimen numbers, I'd simply be playing "think of a number" and topping and tailing it with Es...

 

(I'm a little stunned to discover from the same page of Harris that the Class 306 EMUs carried 1923 GE section vehicle numbers, - and retained them until scrapping in the early 80s, and presumably to the present day in the case of the surviving unit; and the 506s carried 1923 GC Section coach numbers until scrapped in the mid 80s.)

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