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Set 2 - MR suburbans : Part 1



For my next trick, as they say, I have a pair of Ratio MR suburbans. These are intended to form the second set of steam age coaches on Blacklade


The reason for selecting these is simple. In my early teens, before discovering modern image modelling , I perpetrated several Ratio MR coach kits . The best of them, replacing my first attempt at a kit , was this gruesome object . It's also pretty well the only one to have survived . I remember I was quite pleased with this at the time




The worst of this is the dire paint job, and since money is a little tight at present , the idea was to strip it, patch it up as best I could and pair it with a newly built brake. A Ratio MR suburban 6 compartment brake 3rd kit has duly been sourced


So now the weather is a bit warmer , and hile I still had a bit of time available it was subjected to Modelstrip overnight and cleaned up with a toothbrush under the tap.


The roof had already come off , but as I cleaned it up most of the rest started to come away as well. I think I painted parts before assembly with this one , and I suspect elderly cement bonds may be affected by Modelstrip, especially if they were patchy to start with. With a bit of judicious encouragement , I was soon left with this:




This is no longer an attempted patch up but a complete rebuild, though in terms of the final result that's all to the good . It also gets me round one potential difficulty , which was repainting with spray can paint - now the sides are seperate , or more or less so, and the glazing removed, they can be sprayed normally, along with the sides for the brake.


Like Ratio's other LMS coaches, these vehicles are covered by Historic Carriage Drawings Vol 2 - LMS. The Midland built a number of batches of arc roofed bogie non-corridor suburban coaches during the Edwardian period for suburban services around Manchester (1903) , Birmingham (1907-9), London (1910) Nottingham (1911-13) and Sheffield (1912) . The last three batches featured 8' bogies, not the 10' versions depicted by Ratio, and those for London and Nottingham were 9' wide not 8'6"


These coaches are, for a miracle, more or less authentic for a steam era period for Blacklade set in 1958. The Nottingham area coaches survived until 1957-8; the Birmingham area coaches until 1956-7: Blacklade Artamon Square would have LMR local services to both. It is extremely unlikely any of the ex MR suburbans ever recieved maroon, so these will be painted BR crimson


Since a total reconstruction of the all first is now in hand, I can take advantage of the fact that the composites for Manchester and Birmingham sets used the same body as the all firsts , with three compartments reduced in size by internal partitions for third class . I have a Cunning Plan for using this fact to improve the weight , which is a major problem with these kits. Before dismantling , the all first weighed only 50g , which is about half what it should . No wonder my teenage Ratio coaches were not reliable runners


A reasonable start was made on these kits while I had time available , and progress shots are shown here:


The reconstructed all first - to become a composite



and the new 6 compartment brake third



Sides were prepainted with an aerosol can of Railmatch Crimson, 3 thin coats, and the improvement in quality of finish compared with the brushpainted LNW coaches is substantial


The instructions urge you to start with the underframe . The all first has a very slight twist in the floor pan , probably caused by it's previous incarnation: I didn't quite manage to eliminate this in reconstruction, though it's possible that adding the roof will finally do so, and since there is inherently a bit of slop and rock between bogies and body, absolute squareness is less critical than with a wagon , where if it isn't square it won't run . The brake 3rd seems to be dead square


I now have two bogies, one suitably cleaned up from the all first, and the second reconstructed from the heap of bits into which it had disintegrated. I'#m sure the bit of the sprue with the brake blocks was knocking around in my box of spare sprues for ages , but I have an awkward suspicion I eventually threw it out....

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