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Shock to the system

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The small shunting plank is firmly Transitional. It may use diesels (or an honourary diesel - Y3) but it's the sort of inner city goods depot you really can't justify existing after about 1970. Consequently the modest fleet of stock for it is very traditional indeed: no air brakes here. The ex LMS fish van is meant for it , and various circumstances resulted in me acquiring and building one of the new generation Parkside kits for the BR standard 12T van . Potentially very useful for the plank


In the last couple of years I've been fairly heavily committed on a number of fronts , not least with Blacklade, and not much has happened on the plank side of things . In fact the little depot has hardly been operated - I seem to have been too busy. However with one or two commitments winding down I've a little more time , and one Parkside kit sparked off another and another.


Ravenser Mk1 was a compact shunting micro of an unorthodox design, taken from a plan called "Swan Yard" in RM June 1988 (I think) . For various reasons it didn't work terribly well, but when the trains weren't falling off the tracks the operational interest was high. A fleet of about 20 wagons and half a dozen locos was accumulated over about five or six years. It was set in North Lincolnshire, and, largely by accident, in 1983 - I had some 16T MCOs and then discovered unfitted operations ended in December 1983. The Speedlink airbraked stock was RTR but the traditional stock was virtually all kit built . This was my first serious venture into building wagon kits, and nearly all of them worked . It was also my first attempt at proper weathered stock.


When I moved into my present flat about 7 or 8 years ago, I had grand ideas about building Ravenser Mk2 . The study was earmarked for it. However I'd joined a club and a couple of societies, and became actively involved with a club project and one of the societies, which ended up meaning quite a lot of commitments. I'd also started a light rail project , and Ravenser Mk2 never actually happened. The shunting plank was built as a micro for a competition a little later and then I built Blacklade for the RMWeb Challenge to act as the larger layout I'd never actually managed to get. Ravenser Mk2 was quietly abandoned as an aspiration at that point. The main rationale for the early period on Blacklade is to provide a use for locos and passenger stock acquired for Ravenser Mk2; the later period provides a home use for various items acquired in support of a club project , though in both cases the core of what I had anyway has been expanded with new purchases


However, this means that for the last 6-7 years all the wagons from Ravenser Mk1 have been sitting in a stock box in the study, unused. When I built the current shunting micro , I realised that it would have to be set pre 1970 and it became an excuse to build all the kits which were completely out of period for a TOPS era BR Blue layout but which I had somehow acquired or really fancied - fish vans, Palvans, wooden PO wagons, cupboard door and slopesided minerals , prenationalisation vans etc etc, and Silver Fox bodied shunters. It also became a test bed for trying something better than tension-locks - Sprat &Winkle couplings. TOPS lettered wagons with tension locks didn't suit, and there they sat. I've ended up with three completely different OO fleets, one of which hasn't been used in years .


So, with one or two commitments off my plate , and a nice new Parkside kit under my belt in double quick time, I had a rush of blood to the head. Out came the old stock box and I had a look through it for suitable candidates for a set of new couplings and a revived life on the shunting micro.


I said earlier that nearly all my early ventures into kitbuilding worked. One didn't. I built a Red Panda Shockvan , and it looked very pretty. Unfortunately the chassis wasn't square and it fell off the track with much more enthusiasm than the other wagons. Effectively it was useless . And Red Panda underframes are delicate and fragile and this one got some knocks and was rather battered with bits missing.


A Shockvan would be very nice on the shunting micro , and a Red Panda underframe kit was found in the kits box in the cupboard.


Not a pretty sight at first:




The old underframe has been removed. The problem has been identified - one end is very slightly lower than the floor at one side (the body is smaller than the underframe, since this is a shockvan). This has thrown it out of square. A little work with the file and we are in business. The kit provides for a sliding body and thus fills up part of the area between the solebars . This made it awkward to break out the old chassis bits , and it also means that there isn't much room to add lead . Sadly I didn't remember to put it inside the body in those days. the van turns the scales at about 35g - once the couplings are on and a bit more lead stuffed into the last orifices, I hope to get it up to about 40g , though that's really still too light


I was rather pleased with the finish of the body and have managed to retain this. I was trying to retain the vac cylinder , but unfortunately stuck on the new solebars the wrong way round. I resorted to stuffing clippings of lead inside the replacement cylinder before supergluing it in place , in a desperate attempt to add a fraction more weight. Fitting the brakeshoes was not a nice job - the mouldings have to be cut down severely to fit and are easily damaged in the process. I got them in, just, but not all the push rods (45 thou wire) are dead straight . I've added rain strips of the 3 part variety from microstrip , after cleaning off most of the incredible never-drying matt varnish on the roof ) with white spirit. The van used to stick to the plastic lid of the stock box and was a mess. But I didn't dare try adding a canvas roof - I reckoned I'd damage the finish on the sides in the process


I haven't posted in the first and latest models thread , but this one will have to do. "And here's one I made earlier". Its not in fact amongst my earliest efforts, but shows an old Lima body with vents added on a spare Parkside claspbraked underframe, which was a RTR upgrade for Ravenser Mk1 inspired by reading Rice's book. And next to it is a brand new Parkside kitbuilt van . (The thing they are standing on is my Sprat and Winkle fitting gauge)




The kit provides alternative ends and alternative planked and plywood doors. I went for plywood doors/planked sides for the hell of it , with the later hydraulic buffers. It seems ply doors/planked sides coincided more or less with the change to clasp brakes. Thus the conversion to the left is wrong - the doors shouldn't be planked ,or if they are , it should have push rod brakes; and that on the right is questionable - the clasp braked underframe would arguably have been more common on these , though lot 2990 apparently featured ply doors on the older underframe, and the wagon will carry a number from this lot. But the only photo I've found shows the older buffer design....


Oh dear! I can only plead that published info is limited, and when I did the original conversion years ago I had almost zero info on BR 12T vans


The body and underframe are now painted and await transfers and weathering. I've got Spratt & Winkle couplings on this one andthe LMS fish van , so they are useable on the shunting micro - unfortunately there is a minor clearnece issue with the 12T vent van in one place, so a little discreet carving is called for.


Getting Sprat and Winkles on the Shockvan will be more interesting as the lead sheeting prevents the normal mounting block and melt in staple attachment. It can be done , with wire fixing and the baseplate glued onto the lead sheet but it won't be as good and I'm uncomfortable about hanging a heavy load behind it. Fortunately on this layout it won't have that issue


And with an excess of enthusiam , I've dug a kit for a Parkside LNER fruit out of the cupboard and made a tentative start on that as well....

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