Just thought I'd share progress on the GWR 4 wheel coaches. These utilise the Mainly Trains chassis, Shire Scenes sides for the brake thirds and Ratio sides for the composite.
I'll start off by saying this is probably the most difficult modelling exercise I've ever done. Nothing wrong with the chassis or the sides, it's when you mix the two together that problems occur. When you put them together it results in what my dear late Dad would call a "b*****s muddle." It seems I won't be doing much else this winter.
I've temporarily abandoned the composite and will need another Ratio kit. I soldered, no welded, the sides to the roof with the sides tucked inside the ends. In that position though the sides sit on top of the solebars rather than just overlapping them, doesn't sound much but it looks totally wrong. I tried filing the inside of the sides down (to nothing) but still no joy, they can't be persuaded to fit over the solebars. The only way to solve this problem is to separate the roof from the sides and re-fit them outside the ends so the sides are spaced wider apart but because the roof is so firmly fixed to them that is impossible. I'm concerned too that when the three coaches are seen together the composite will look different from the other two because of the thicker plastic sides.
Putting the composite to one side I had a look at the brake thirds which use the thinner Shire Scenes sides. Originally again I fixed the sides inside the ends but encountering the same problem I had to resolder them so they were outside the ends. It was very difficult to get a neat join between the two but once I did I soldered some small brass angle into the joint to strengthen it. The ends have a section at the bottom that folds over to create a bracket for fixing to the floor. However this then locates the ends far too high, solder the sides to the ends so they abut the roof and you have a clear gap between the base of the sides and the floor. I therefore had to cut these fixings off and made up some new L shaped brackets which I would fit once everything looked OK. Getting everything OK was again difficult. not only did the end / side join have to be neat but I also had to make sure the sides fitted snugly under the roof eaves. Once I had a box comprising ends and sides (the roof would be fixed later but I made sure it fitted correctly) it took a lot of fiddling to get the ends to just slide over the solebars, it also made a mockery of my careful attempts to roll the tumblehome before I started this work. Once the position looked right I soldered the L shaped brackets to the ends (and also the sides), the small arm against the end, the longer one resting on the floor covering the holes for the 8BA screws.This would locate the whole body assembly in the correct position on the floor. I then marked the position of the holes on the bracket (from underneath), drilled the holes through the bracket and fixed 8BA nuts on top of it. This meant I could separate the body from the chassis to glaze the windows and add partitions after painting and the carefully aligned screw holes should mean the sides go back in the correct position. As I am getting these coaches professionally painted, I made sure that the nuts and brackets were firmly soldered, it was easy to do this whilst the roof was off, it will be impossible once it is fixed with Araldite.
Talking about the roof, my intention was to use two spares that I had. It appears though that the design had changed and one of the spares did not fit the sides as well as the current version. That means another kit required, just for the roof.
I had to tidy up the ends again, soldering the sides to them had resulted in some of the steps and piping coming away. I also had to file cutouts for the two steps that are fixed to the buffer beam, the ends had to be lower but the steps would then have obstructed them.
I attach a photo of one of the brake thirds, it would be easy to show the sides only but in fairness I thought I should also show the less than perfect end. The roof isn't fixed and I need to add the gas lamp piping (there is an excellent article on the GWR modelling website that details the arrangement of pipes) and couplings but otherwise it is complete. I've now sorted the sides on the second brake third so after a few evenings cleaning up that will be finished once I get some plastic rod and couplings.
I'd reiterate again that this has been a painful and difficult exercise, far more difficult than any etched loco kit I've built. The ends need a lot of hacking to get a decent fit, possibly because the chassis kit is designed for many applications but is not quite right for any one. As so often the case though, if I was doing this again I know I'd make a better job of it, trust me though I won't be doing it again!.