In the absence of better information, I reworked the underframe as proposed, sawing the Comet LMS battery box castings in half in then X-Acto mitre box, and plating the cut ends with 20 thou plasticard. The Comet vacuum cylinders were also installed , though possibly they could have been filed down to sit a bit lower. The completed bogies were fixed onto the composite and I had two completed coaches. They've come in at 110g all up: slightly more than the intended 100g (25g x 4 axles) , but a satisfactory weight to achieve good running. As the kit comes in the box, it would weigh about 40g and give lots of trouble
A first test run on the layout when I was programming the decoder for the Bachmann Ivatt Co-Co revealed an unexpected problem - buffer locking at the brake end. I'd done all I could to close up the gap between the coaches with short Kadees but the intermediate buffers are about 4mm apart. Nothing can be done - and as I'd run out of suitable short heads , the bogie with the medium Kadee went under the brake end where the longer buffers would cover it.
After the fight with the intermediate couplers it never occurred to me that a medium head would be too short. But the long shank buffers at the brake end are much longer and the knuckle on a medium head is a little way inboard of the buffer heads. It would be extremely destructive to attempt to remove the draft boxes and change the head - I'd probably find myself writing to Peco to source a pair of new bogies
My intitial thought was that I'd have to remove the buffer heads with a pair of Xurons, tidy up and shorten the shanks a little with a file and glue the heads back on. A nasty bodge, but less destructive of authenticity than anything else - the buffers would simply look compressed. However the other evening I was combining programming of a decoder in my J11 with a bit of test running. and it became apparent that only the L1 actually had a problem with Set 2 , and then only at one end. (In fact I was able to swap Kadee 19 NEM longs for 18 Mediums on the Bachmann Ivatt diesel and it could still handle Set 2 without trouble).
So I did the sensible ,easy, thing. The NEM Kadee at the bunker end of the L1 seemed to be slightly the shorter of the two , so I replaced it with the next size up. Provided the loco is run so the bunker end couples to the brake end of Set 2 , trhe problem is solved. The coupling at the smokebox end is in fact ok except through the curved front exit from Platform 2 via the crossover - at 2'6" radius the only curve on the layout below 3'
The remainder of finishing off comprised lettering, weathering and vanishing, and here there were setbacks and disappointments . The coaches were numbered using bits taken from a couple of Modelmaster sheets for other things . After much poring over the sheets andHistoric Carriage Drawings 2. I managed to get a suitable number for a Birmingham area D501 6 compartment brake out of what I had, but I couldn't readily make up a suitable number for a Birmingham area D551 composite , and I ended up with a number falling in the block allocated to the slightly different Nottingham area composites. Then I realised I'd put the number on a panel at the brake end on both sides of the Brake - meaning it has left hand numbering on one side (used up to 1952) and a right hand number (1952 onward) on the other....
I gave the sides a brush painted coat of satin varnish, as there are too many small windows to attempt masking , and then decided that perhaps I preferred the sides dead matt. I suspect really old wooden coaches at the end of their lives wouldn't have had any sheen. The one colour shot I have of ungangwayed stock in this livery (from Parkin's Mk1 book , taken at Bradford Forster Square , lurking behind a nice blood and custard SK ) shows them a rather brown and dusty colour , but I don't necessarily trust colour rendition in a photo of that age . However I wasn't really up for a second brushpainted coat , and in any case the matt varnish has had a few "issues" of its own.
Weathering owed a lot to Humbrol's blue/grey wash. This is far too thick for my taste and was thinned with white spirit . I also added a little of the brown wash into the mix to represent traffic muck from below. The blue grey was used almost neat but thinned on the ends with excellent results - it approximates very well to a colour photo in Parkin's Mk1 book of the grubby black ends of a maroon Mk1 (A grubby black end in one red livery is going to be pretty similar to a grubby black end in another) With a bit more brown in the mix a similar wash was very effective in toning down the underframe - the brown in the mix was stepped up a bit more for the top surface of the footboards
At about this point disaster struck.- I dropped the composite on the table. To my horror I found that one of the seats in a third class compartment had come loose - the roof is sealed irremovably in place and you can't get inside . Still worse, it was now the wrong way up and I couldn't seem to get it back the right way by shaking the thing. I seemed to be stuck with a beige blob at the window - admittedly , with a bit of care it didn't look much different from the other coloured blobs at the windows (my carefully painted Slater's figures) from a distance of 2 ' And the Kadee head had taken the force of the impact and the knuckle wasn't springing back properly. Just when I was starting to feel quite pleased with my efforts all the gilt was taken off the gingerbread
Somehow - I don't quite know how - the wandering seat has subsequently managed to right itself and is no longer noticeable ./ And the affected Kadee head will still couple up - and as it's the end inside the set, it won't have to do much coupling and uncoupling anyway.
Set 2 undertook its trials while I was programming and testing the J11 and a couple of photos show it in all its glory . (I know that a modern image layout isn't really the right setting for this kind of stock, but at least it gives me a place to play with it)
The shiny roof is undesirable - unfortunately the Humbrol washes come up quite glossy. I resorted to a brush coat of Humbrol matt varnish , which swiftly became two coats of matt varnish. Then I had to remove the areas where it was drying white (too thick) with a brush loaded with white spirit, and finally touched up the remaining marks with a grey-brown compound of acrylic dry brushed. I'm now happy with the result.
And just as I was putting the set away, finally complete - disaster struck again . One bogie dropped off the composite. Inspection revealed that the plastic pin through the plate into the bolster had become glued solid both to the mounting plate and the bolster - and had sheered neatly across , probably as a result of being required to flex while trial running
Since I couldn't get at or replace the plastic pin, I resorted to an emergency bodge. A few years ago I saw someone's multiple unit where they had left the bogie loose and it fitted onto brass bolts protruding from the body as pivots. I don't recommend this approach - it seemed to cause a number of problems - but it suggested a desperate remedy. I found some thick brass wire - I think about 0.9mm diameter - and drilled a hole dead centre by eye into the two halves of the pivot pin - the bogie and the bolster - using a 1.0mm drill. A short length of the wire was super-glued into the hole in the centre of the bogie , adjusted by eye as near dead straight in both planes as possible and allowed to set hard. It gives a fairly tight fit into the bolster, so there should be little slop , but the bogie will fall off when I try to manoevere the composite into its slot in the stock box. I'll probably need to wrap this end round with tissue paper to keep everything together when putting it away.
The Ratio bogie is designed to rock relative to the stretcher piece (which you don't glue in - it's just trapped) , thus taking care of any inacuracy in the for and aft plane . I just hope its ok in the lateral plane. I haven't actually re-erected the layout to re-test it
Still , I've come a long way from where it all started , with this gruesome object