I've been fairly quiet for a few months, partly because of work getting on top of me . But after finally managing 2 weeks holiday , having previously not managed more than an odd day off since I started the new job just over a year ago , I'm feeling human again , and I'm trying to resolve some of the various unfinished projects .
One small project is nearly there - an ex GW MICA meat van.
At present the main vehicle available for the cold store on the box file is a Blue Spot fish van from a Parkside kit. Nice kit - but it's really a bit big for the box file. The thought occurred to me that I should repaint the Blue Spot van as a BR Blue example in parcels service , for use as tail traffic on Blacklade - and replace it with a reworked RTR body from the junk box - either the Hornby ex NER refrigerated van, or an elderly Hornby Dublo GW MICA. As I didn't fancy scratchbuilding a 9'6" wooden underframe using castings, I went for the MICA.
There is nothing original about the conversion - it's based on one of the first "proper" wagon-building articles I ever read as a boy - "Taking the MICA" by Grp Capt Brian Huxley , in the Railway Modeller for July 1977. It was the first of a whole series of articles covering different headings in the GW wagon diagram list - he was trying to build a "representative collection" of GW wagons, meaning a model of pretty well every wagon diagram
However as most people won't have access to 40 year old Railway Modellers, the details of this exercise are worth summarising here.
The old Hornby Dublo MICA is a hybrid. Most MICAs were 16' long and had full width bonnet vents on the ends. The last diagram, X9, was on a 17'6" RCH underframe with bonnetless ends . Hornby Dublo, Wrenn and Dapol sold you a 17'6" van with bonnet ends.
There were therefore two approaches in the article.
Firstly you could cut out the van sides neatly, reduce them by 3mm each end, chop 6mm out of the rest of the body moulding , stick the whole lot back together , add a suitable underframe (Dean-Churchward brake gear, anyone?) and get any type of 16' MICA.
Or secondly, you could cut out the ends, replace with plain planking . add a standard RCH 10' wheelbase fitted underframe and get X9 of 1929.
The world has moved on since 1977 - there is now a recent Parkside kit for the 16' X7 MICA , and that is probably the easiest route to the 16' vans. And these days most folk model post war, not - as was the norm in 1977 - the interwar GWR. The earlier vans are probably much less relevant now.
So finally, after 40 years, I've done the deed. (Since the wagon had a cast Hornby Dublo chassis it must be nearly 60 years!)
The ends are Slaters planked plasticard , as recommended by Brian Huxley. However the planks don't line up exactly these days, despite my efforts - mind you some of the preserved examples have the same issue.. The steps were removed from the original ends with a chisel blade in the craft knife . I seem to have found this rather easier than it was in 1977 , though there are plenty of spares.
A Parkside 10' wheelbase underframe has been fitted from the spares box, built onto a 40 thou plasticard floor. Unfortunately, at that point I realised the kit was clasp-braked, and the prototype had 4 shoe Morton brakes. A rummage in the cupboard produced a packet of ABS Morton brake gear, and this was added with cyanoacrylate. I couldn't find the buffer beams so used some which I think came from a Cambrian PO wagon. They were rather too deep so had to be filed down top and bottom, and cut to an angle at both ends. The buffers had to be replaced with more ABS whitemetal castings for RCH fitted buffers. I had glued a couple of strips of lead flashing inside and with the whitemetal parts the total weight was up to the desired 50g (25g per axle)
These later vans used dry ice, and had a single hatch at each end, not two - so the roof hatches had to filed off the model and replaced with new ones (7mm square in 20 thou plasticard). Brake pipes are DMR brass from the bits box, and spoked wheels are Bachmann
It now needs only the end handrails and axlebox tiebars adding, priming (I'm not taking a chance with different coloured ends and white paint) and painting into BR (grubby) white