Over the last few years I've been very consciously trying to rein in my spending on the hobby, and reduce the pile of stuff in my cupboard. Money has been tight at times, and a couple of short periods of unemployment have brought home to me that I have accumulated an awful lot of unbuilt kits and bits over the years, and that I have made very limited progress with building them.
"Don't buy - build!" has been the watchword.
I'm afraid that my good intentions have not been fully realised.
To be honest Moral Restraint has turned me into a bit of a sucker for the cheap, elderly, and questionable.
Yes, I bought a Hachette Mk1
(And a Great British Locos Jinty and D11/2, and a Hornby 0-6-0T with a dubious shunter body in dayglo livery in order to motorise the former)
The thinking was that this coach might become part of a "modern" mainline set for the steam period on Blacklade. Since the steam period is a not terribly authentic spin-off anyway I wasn't prepared to pay for a Hornby Railroad Mk1 , let alone a pukka Bachmann one. But a Hachette second with flush-glazing for a fiver wasn't bad - especially as I already had a NNK plastic Mk1 underframe truss in stock anyway.
I fitted Hornby wheels and Kadees - and there the matter rested , with the underframe untouched and the coach in a box in the study
The Hachette Mk1 was supposed to be paired with a Mailcoach LNER Tourist Brake 3rd kit which I picked up at Ally Pally for a very reasonable price from a trader a couple of years ago. Fancied the stock, plenty of seats, compatible gangways - seemed like a plan
But then I learnt that those kits are not highly regarded, getting a decent result is thought difficult - and I had plenty of other, more urgent jobs to do involving things in Rail Blue. So there the matter rested....
Until recently , when I thought I'd got a great bargain: an LMS Porthole Brake 3rd kit in the form of a
punched aluminium bodyshell with bits - almost all complete said the trader, and just a fiver.
BSL kits had a good reputation, and I used to gaze enviously at the Hobbytime adverts in the Modeller when I was very young, listing all sorts of wonderful pre-nationalisation coaches, all quite out of my reach.
I was rather deflated when someone pointed out the MTK sticker on the header card. Aaarghh - garlic and silver crucifix, quick! But he assured me these particular were thought to be quite buildable.
So I got it home, opened the packet , and took a look. You can see the contents here:
First assessment: all the bits that should be in the kit are there except one of the guard's duckets. The coach requires an interior and wheels. I've a packet of Hornby wheels and a rummage in the boxes in the cupboard revealed I'd enough spare bits in the various Comet interior packs I have to cover a 4 compartment brake
Second assessment: the quality of the castings is quite reasonable, given MTK's very dubious reputation. The buffers are a bit basic, but I have plenty of Comet LMS buffers left over from the Dapol Brake 3rd. The gangways are rubber and passable but I found a Roxey pack for two pairs of working LMS/GW gangways . Only one end needs to work, anyway. The vac cylinders aren't great but I found a generic ABS pack in stock which will be an improvement. I have Comet etched crossframes left over from the Dapol Brake 3rd
So far so good. None of these upgrade bits will cost me anything extra
The bodyshell seems to be 2mm overlength, but I'll live with that . A scale drawing is included with the kit, which might even be accurate.
I've bought a Comet detailing etch which will give me hinges, a gangway plate and one or two other bits and pieces, plus a pack of 10 Comet guards duckets , said to be LMS/LNER. Total cost , just under eleven quid
In the meantime, whilst I'm awaiting a pack of transfers from Modelmaster, attention has turned to the Hachette Mk1.
As can be seen, I've dismantled it - unscrewing the 3 screws below (two of which are hidden under the bogies) proved an easier route than trying to lever off the roof. The solid trussing has been cut away piece by piece with Xurons - on my model the battery boxes and brake cylinders are very firmly glued in
I sharpened up a fairly blunt chisel blade on a small oilstone to clean up the remains, and duly got Blood On My Hands when the blade slipped and my finger demonstrated that the sharpening had indeed worked. I do have a tin of Birds Custard Powder in the cupboard, but this one's staying in maroon
I then glued in place the replacement underframe truss from Precision/NNK (4PM/022, and still available on their website), trimming around the battery boxes and with some fettling to get the brake cylinder shafts in place, and we get this:
I really will get around to writing up the current state of the 155 at some point...
I've also removed the end handrails and water-fillers prior to replacement in wire. The interior will be painted and populated