I have been modelling on a semi-serious basis now since the early 1970's and in my collection of rolling stock are items that I have no recollection of buying or detailing. Some of these have absolutely no place at Blagdon so occupy a separate box to the other stock which is relevant to the Wrington Vale. That box currently hold two Airfix auto coaches, both in as built condition (with windows both ends) and detailed with the Dart Castings kit, a Stephen Poole 64xx 0-6-0PT that recently acquired a Cotswold etched chassis and the Gem Cambrian 2-4-0T, this though may find a place on a future Cambrian micro layout (Fronfraith). In addition to these is the subject of this brief article, the Siphon H, not sure whether it was Airfix or Mainline that did this but I'm quite sure that the prototype would never have found its' way to Blagdon, or any other branch line for that matter.
On a related matter, I do sometimes think that as modellers we overdo the incidence of Siphons attached to branch passenger trains. My understanding is that from the 1920's on, road haulage really ate into the railways share of goods traffic using army surplus lorries and being able to collect milk direct from a farm gave road hauliers an unbeatable advantage. Blagdon was supposed to have a reasonable trade in milk but the photos I have seen show this being loaded into the guards compartment of passenger trains. The amount of milk from the whole of the Wrington Vale would hardly justify even a 6 wheel Siphon (although I do have two of those). Siphons were of course used on other traffic, the strawberry trains on the Cheddar line for example and prior to 1920 there are photographs of Siphons on passenger trains, an early photo of the Abbotsbury branch train shows a milk truck (not a Siphon) attached to the branch train. Siphons appear to have been more generally used on main line trains, either attached to an express passenger or as part of a dedicated milk train that would serve a milk processing centre (the milk having been taken from the farm to the centre by lorry)..
I digress, back to the Siphon H. This was detailed all those years ago with new bogies, brake rodding, wire handrails and lamp irons, additional trussing, brake and steam pipes and screw couplings. Sorting out the models for the "non-Blagdon" box I had another look at this and thought it could be further improved with, naturally, gas pipes on the roof. I laid out the two pipes running along beside the lamps, one of smaller diameter than the other but as I don't have any information about how the feed came up from the gas cylinders I have done no more than this. If anyone can clarify how the gas reached the roof I'd love to know, the vehicle had end doors so I can't imagine they'd have reached the roof that way.. I have also noticed that those who have commented in the past on detailing this model query the bogies that were used. The Russell book has several photos of Siphon H's and all have the American 9ft variety as my model. Sadly though none of the photos show the arrangement of the plumbing on the roof.
Only 20 of these vehicles were ever built so they were very rare birds indeed. The Siphon G was far more common although there were more variations over the various lots.
If I was doing this again I'd certainly change the handbrake levers and maybe add a little more underframe detail. I also need to remove the inner bogie step. Ah well, the trouble with this hobby is that as you delve further the shortcomings of your work become apparent with the ncourse of time. Like many people though I like the brown vehicles and the body of the Airfix / Mainline model is excellent.
The model was quite heavily weathered using Hubrol washes, in this case "dust" colour which, from years washing my various cars, appears to be the predominant shade of "dirt.". You can rest assured though I won't be doing this to the auto coaches.