Next cab off the rank is yet another project that was supposed to be a quick win - and hasn't been.
In a moment of weakness at Peterborough show a few years ago I bought a Replica Mk1 BG in Transpennine livery . They were being discounted to a tenner at the show, and it seemed too good a bargain to pass up. After all a Mk1 BG is the archetypal modern image parcels vehicle , and I didn't have one for Blacklade.
After I got home I decided that it was a bargain I might have been better missing. The lack of flush glazed windows grated seriously, and the whole thing was more basic than my Bachmann Mk1s. A Transpennine passenger full brake wasn't really likely to find itself on parcels work in the Midlands, and it probably wouldn't have been cascaded to other things until several years into the 1990s . Since Blacklade's "early period" is supposed to be 1985-90 this wouldn't really do (Actually I suspect I am drifting towards this splitting into Periods 1a c1983-6 and 1b 1987-91. And I have a nasty feeling that the steam period may go the same way in the end)
Therefore the box went into the stock pile and stayed there.
Last autumn, while I was off work, I was rummaging through some of the boxes in the modelling cupboard , and found a Hurst Models etched brass kit to convert the Replica BG to an NRX container van. (One of the few things still available from Hirst,actually - rather like the Cheshire Cat they seem to be fading away until only the website is left). These 2 vehicles were an experiment by the Parcels Sector around 1990, the idea being to create a van capable of loading airline hold containers of the type used for airfreight. This would then allow BR to compete for inter-airport transfer cargo. Nothing seems to have come of it: the two demonstrator vehicles rapidly ended up in general parcels traffic, acquiring RES livery in 1991, and in 2001 they were repainted into EWS livery and sandwiched between two PCVs to provide a 4 van express pallet freight service for Securicor between Walsall and Aberdeen. What happened after that I don't know - I suspect this was another of EWS's entreprenurial ventures that faded away later
But in their original guise they're just in my earlier period, and one might just have turned up in a parcels train at Blacklade.
[ Errr.. this shot shows handrails on the ends - something that Hirst don't mention. Looks like remedial work is needed....]
The first problem was that the bogies on the Replica BG were wrong . The NRXs had Commonwealth bogies - the Replica model had B4s . These were hastily removed by pulling out , and a pair of Bachmann Commonwealths substituted from the bits box. Since these plug into a spigot on the chassis, and the Replica bogies have a spigot that plugs into the chassis , I used two suitable brass bolts with the bogies retained by two nuts on each, the bottom being retained in place by a dab of UHU on the nut and thread so it didn't work off (This bodge was pioneered on a pair of spectacles where the screws kept working loose - a replacement glass lens cost £100 and I didn't want it happening again).
The coupling boxes were removed, a plate of plasticard glued across the top, and underset Kadees in draft boxes glued in place with scraps of microstrip wedged down the sides to reinforce the thing. Since the van will not run in any train longer than a couple of coaches, this will do
Work then began on the body and results are shown here. The Hirst instructions were followed , not necessarily in strict order , though I picked up from an old Model Rail article (Feb 2002) that the top of the roller shutter doors needs to be turned in . I also used a substantial plate of 20 thou plasticard across the back to support the doors
This shows the body more or less complete. It took some time to pluck up courage to saw into the body , but
So far , so good, but...
I used an elderly tube of Molak Stucco filler which I think came from a ModelZone. I'm driven to the conclusion it's not much cop, as it seems to crumble away , lift and not fill properly - something which has also happened on the 31 . I suspect I ought to replace it with something like Squadron
I then made a big mistake. After a light spray of etch primer I set about painting the body Royal Mail/RES red, with Railmatch enamel - brushpainted as it doesn't come as an aerosol. I really should have spayed a second coat of normal primer over it first, as the covering power of red is dire . And I should have made determined efforts to remove all the stripes with a cotton bud dipped in surgical spirit. (It doesn't shift the upper blue though) .
Paint , rubbing down and a couple of traces of thick cyano as a desperate filler have pretty well removed the faint traces of the door lines. But they haven't quite removed the very faint traces of the old livery on certain panels, although some of the detail has unfortunately lost some of its sharpness under the coats.
At the time of writing I'm still painting in red.....