Very many years ago, when James Callaghan was prime minister and I had not yet discovered that it was possible to make model railways without using steam engines, I had a GW/LMS joint branch line. Because those were the popular prototypes. I wasn't very old but I'd discovered the Railway Modeller, and I had a pannier tank and a Hornby GWR brake third. I wanted a longer GW train but not too long, so a plastic kit for a 4 wheel GW coach seemed a good idea.
This relic survived down the decades in a storage box, and in the last decade vague ideas of doing something with it surfaced. Eventually, last year I actually started but didn't get far, and the project is referred to in my annual survey and resolutions posting: 2019 Resolutions
"The Ratio GW 4 wheel coach rebuild (to an engineer's tool/riding van) still needs to be finished, but should be a relatively quick project.". Well...
The prototype inspiration is two photographs in Cheona's Railways in Profile - 8 : Engineer's Stock 2
These show two ex GW Dean 4 wheel coaches in Engineer's use in 1958 : a neat 4 compartment composite used as the Oswestry Electricians' tool van , taken at Portmadoc , and a rather more battered 5 compartment all third used as a staff and tool van at Plymouth.
Blacklade has an engineer's train in its two "proper" periods - why not for the steam stock too? Since the steam stock is nominally supposed to be 1958 a GW 4 wheeler is at least in period, and one might have been found in the Birmingham area, and come under LMR control after ex GW lines were transferred.
The whole thing is not completely implausible, and for a convenient scrapbox project for the inauthentic steam era, seemed worth doing. So a total reconstruction of my 4 compartment all first as a staff /tool van was begun last year.
The coach was stripped with Modelstrip and predictably this allowed the brittle polystyrene cement joints to break. Some of the panelling was filled in with Squadron filler, and the whole lot sprayed with the big aerosol can of Games Workshop Chaos Black - because I had it, and it was suitable and convenient. Perhaps I should have over-plated with 10 thou plasticard , since getting a smooth flush finish has proved a little difficult
That was where matters were stalled by pressure of life last year.
On restarting a couple of weeks ago, I quickly cleaned up and assembled the basic bodyshell. A spare compartment partition , built from plasticard sandwiching a piece of lead sheet, was used up - I think this was made for my Ratio MR suburban project ("Set 2"). One plastic buffer was missing so I replaced the lot with some long slender brass buffers I acquired at some point - I think they may have originated from a Ratio LNWR coach kit. I have assumed that one central compartment has been retained for staff riding to site, with a long and a short tool compartment on either side
So we get this:
Along the way I picked up one of the Shire Scenes etched brass compensation units for these kits. As originally built (aged about 12) the chassis was not square, and on a long wheelbase 4 wheeler like this it just seemed so much safer to go for a purposely- designed compensating etch. There are separate fold-up cradles for OO and EM/P4 on the etch. Hornby disc wheels were fitted in brass bearings - as originally built it had no bearings and plastic Ratio wheels - and some whitemetal Mansell inserts from MJT were superglued in place. These too were from stock, left over from the MR suburbans
here we are in the heat of battle, showing how the etched brass cradle works
The pinpoints were duly sawn off the compensated wheelset with my piercing saw
There is one major error in the model. On rechecking the photos it seems the engineers usually cut away a section of the footboards by the axlebox and fitted a hand brake-lever. I haven't attempted it - reinstating the missing sections of footboard lost in 40 years of careless handling was enough hassle, and I'm not sure that cutting out sections in the middle of the footboard here would have been easy or successful here, as I was working with partly-assembled units.
This is very much a scrapbox project - actual spending has been confined to the compensation unit
I am now deep into the painting - partions and seats in one compartment have been fitted and sheet lead araldited to the floor between the axles to weight it up to 70-75g. Glazing - sheet plastic from the coach scraps bag, I think left over from the LNW coach kits forming Set 1 - has been fitted. The roof now fits - it didn't the first time I built this - and will be glued at the ends and tacked on the sides with a tough of cement, in the faint hope of getting it off without total destruction in an emergency