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BYA covered steel wagon, first model



I am building a kit for a BYA covered steel wagon. This should be ideal for Shelf Island - a compact model, modern and very British. The prototypes were built by Thrall Europa at York, with the first deliveries to EWS in early 1999. The kit was produced some years ago by a company trading as 'British H0 Models Limited', and I was lucky enough for Elaine Harvey (Elaines' Trains) to think of me and ask if I would like to have the two kits she had come in stock.


To begin with I am building only one of the kits. If there are problems I will know in time for the second kit. Realistically, I doubt I will ever be able to buy any more, so it would be good to not make too many serious mistakes.


The kits include some resin castings for the body floor and covers, a brass etch of detail parts, some brass wire, buffers (also resin), two Life-Like bogies, NEM coupler pockets, and transfers. So really, the kits are essentially complete except for glue and paint.



1. Making a start

The castings are clean and sharp and need hardly any fettling, but the arrangements for attaching the bogies and couplers are a bit too rudimentary for my taste. I have therefore started work with the floor casting, to build a rolling chassis.


The floor casting has moulded spigots as bogie pivots. The idea is, you put the bogie over the spigot and hold in place by pushing in a slip of plastic sheet:



I don't think this will last very well in service, so I bought some knurled M2 bushes. These have an M2 thread inside and tiny barbs around the outside. The outside diameter is 3.1 mm, so I drilled out two 3.0 mm holes to hold them (not 1/8 inch holes!) and punched them into the floor with a nail set:



Then I temporarily attached the bogies with M2 screws and gave the chassis a test run. It was pretty clear, the couplers would pull the wagon off the track on the curves on my layout (450 mm radius) and to be honest, I've never see these NEM pockets with the simple fish tail mounting on a bogie vehicle before. So I cut away two rebates in the floor to install a pair of Symoba cams. This is easier than it looks, the resin is very soft.




I attached the first cam with cynaocrylate, put the bogies back and gave the chassis another test around a reverse curve. The model stayed on the track using the long (standard) Symoba NEM pocket, and derailed due to buffer locking using the short pocket. So I found the mechanical limits of the chassis straight away.


Note. The finished model sits too high on its bogies and the cams need to be recessed further into the base to achieve a scale ride height - see my heading 4. below.


The model did stay on the track using the long pocket but it will be very lightweight so I added some lead sheet. This will take the weight of the finished model up from 60 grams to about 115 grams. There are two M2 screws passing up through the floor and the lead. I couldn't find any spring washers so the nuts are fixed with Loctite 601:



Then the chassis had a test at speed over the reverse curve and stayed on the track, so I proceeded to finish off this first stage of the build. I put some strips of styrene inside the cover casting to help locate it centrally onto the floor:



My original idea was to make the cover detachable, so I fixed one buffer beam onto the cover. Then I managed to destroy the second buffer beam and decided it would be better to fix everything together permanently. So I hope the Loctite does its job forever.


I added some brass wire and two Peco track pins around the coupler cam to provide a key for some more glue.  Then I added the second cam, also with wire and pins, and glued the cover casting onto the floor. I put the model upside down in a Peco cradle and poured runny Araldite around the cams and their wire and pins:



This is the old-fashioned "extra strong" Araldite which takes an overnight wait to set, so this is the end of part 1 of this write-up.


2: Bogie and coupler installations

I have "made" the bogie pivots using axle bushes and some 1/8 inch brass tube:



In essence, the mounting hole in the bogie frames is an unknown US (imperial) size, a fraction too small to accept a Markits MRAXGB axle bush, these are a 3.65 mm to 1/8 inch bush.


So with a little easing, an axle bush goes into the bogie frame and stays put held by friction. I took a second axle bush, soldered it onto some brass tube, and cut the tube to length. There is an M2 screw to hold everything together. The brass tube is tightened down onto the threaded insert in the floor of the wagon, and long enough to let the bogie swing freely. This actually works really well, but I had to make four of my "shouldered spacers" to get two the right length ...


With the bogie in place you can see the space available for the NEM pocket on the Symoba cam. Obviously, the NEM pocket is a bit too far outboard, but this does let the wagon negotiate a 450 mm radius curve without buffer locking, when coupled up to a loco with no close coupler mechanism.



Here is the amount of movement available for the coupler:



The result is not true close coupling (buffer heads touching) but the cam does let the model stay on the track on curves and the appearance coupled up to a van with a built-in close coupler is reasonable:



It is interesting to see that the model wagon is to scale width, it rides close to a scale height on its bogies, it has wheels greatly over scale thickness, and yet it negotiates a radius 2 curve without difficulty. This rather flies in the face of those who claim British outline models "simply cannot be built to a scale width in 1:87 scale" - modern wagons (and old wagons for that matter) are completely practical. The only real difficulty is finding space for a close coupling cam, because 1:87 scale often leaves little space between the outermost axle and the buffer beam.


So, I now have a working model. I don't think I'm particularly heavy-handed but I lost a third buffer while I was fitting the bogies and couplers. To be honest, I don't think resin is really suitable for buffers, at least in the smaller scales. With the buffer beams now set in the Araldite I think it will be best to look for some metal buffers and replace all four.


3. Adding the details

I read through the instructions when the kits arrived. They didn’t give me enough information to make a start so I found a Bachmann 00 model at a show and took some photos of it. On the Bachmann model, the air cylinder under the floor goes towards the smaller end of the body (away from the brake wheels) and I copied this when I assembled the cover casting onto the floor. However, this approach is fallible - the latch mechanisms on the ends of this particular Bachmann model were completely different to those on prototypes I have seen.


The instructions do include colour photographs of a completed model, a nice touch but the example has some of the detail parts assembled in the wrong places. I think it is best to use prototype photos to see where the parts might go, and then check to see if the instructions seem to agree. John (jbqfc) sent me this photograph of BYA 966205 and I used this for most of the other details:



The brass details in the kit are from 0.2 mm (8 thou) brass sheet and this is incredibly fragile, especially where the parts have relief etched into them. The material is satisfactory for parts like the braces behind the latch mechanisms, but things like the operating handles look too weak to last for any length of time on the layout:



To my mind, they are too close to scale thickness, and I might use bits of bent wire next time.


All of these parts are of course that little bit smaller than their equivalents in 4 mm scale, so the detailing is all quite intricate. Here is my assembly of the brass parts on the large end:



The small end was much the same. This arrangement was wrong and I rebuilt it later - see heading 5. below.


I am using a gel-type cyanoacrylate from Loctite for the assembly. Loctite claim this contains rubber, and maybe the rubber will help dissimilar materials like brass and resin to stay stuck together. This glue takes a few seconds to cure, so it is actually quite straightforward to get the parts in the right places. I use one end of a wooden cocktail stick to apply a drop of the glue (the dropper in the bottle is too big) and the other end of the stick to push the part into place.


The brake indicators are fiddly but you only need two and the kit gives you eight. This is a bit obsessive but there there are options to have the brakes showing as ‘on’ or ‘off’, I settled for ‘off’ because my photographs always seem to show stationary trains.


I used solder to hold the brake wheels onto their spindles because it is stronger than glue here and quicker, and then Araldite to hold the spindles onto their brackets. I added extra Araldite to try to reinforce the backs of the brackets. There are bits of 1.5 mm wood holding the wheels while the glue sets:



The BYA has a short horizontal bracket mid-way along each solebar. The brass parts to represent these brackets are too short and do not fit. They are also extraordinarily fragile (much like kitchen foil). I have made some new brackets from styrene:



For the missing buffer, I cut an unused buffer from the second kit and fixed this onto the model with a brass peg and glue. You can see the glue in the next photo. I managed to destroy the fourth buffer of the second kit doing this, so this kit has no buffers at all.


I folded the steps to shape and reinforced the folds with solder. I fixed the steps to the model with the Loctite cyanoacrylate and then reinforced this with tiny applications of Araldite:




And so ... this completes the assembly of the model:



In summary, I think the model captures the look of a BYA pretty well. The resin castings are to a good standard but the brass details are far too fragile. The model runs well, and I think it will look good on my layout.


4. Lowering

By design, the kit has the model riding most of a millimetre too high on its bogies and this is very obvious in the photographs of the completed model. I tried to lower the model onto its bogies, by filing away the excess resin around the brass inserts:



Unfortunately this lets the wheels bind on the Symoba cams on curves, causing derailments. If I had known the model would be riding so high I would have recessed the cams further into the floor. It may be, the designers put the body too high to let the wagon negotiate sharp curves, but there is room to fit thinner solebars, solebars moved outwards slightly, or to carve away the insides of the resin ones. I want to look for ways to sort this out for my second kit.


I have put some M4 washers between the bogies and the chassis to restore the original ride height.


5. Reworking the latch details

When I compared my completed wagon with a Bachmann 00 model, I could see differences in the latch mechanisms. These stem from me following multiple errors in the instructions supplied with the kit, and also failing to see how to use the parts supplied to build something prototypical.


Fundamentally I can see at least four possibilities, but only arrangements C. and D. in this sketch are prototypical:




I decided to go for version D, showing a wagon as originally built. I pulled off these detail parts, soaked them in boiling water and scraped off the cyanoacrylate glue,. Then I set the four etched handles aside to use them on the second kit.


I made four new handles out of 0.45 mm wire and built up the latch parts like this:



The glue on the handles looks a bit clumsy but the assembly is a lot stronger than with the etched handles.


6. Further work

Some prototypes have four rectangular panels along each side, on the covers. These are quite distinctive and maybe I can have a go at adding these. There is also the matter of painting. I mess this up so many times I'm not sure whether to even try! I will experiment with paint and decals on scrap styrene, see what happens.


I have a second kit to try, and it would be good if I could build this with a lower ride height and more robust detailing.




See also BYA covered steel wagon, second model.



Elaine's Trains ... the kit

Gaugemaster ... Roco 'universal' couplers

Falcon Workshop Supplies (t/a 'massiveattack007' via eBay) ... knurled brass threaded inserts

Local builder ... sheet roofing lead

Peter's Spares ... Symoba cams


  • Like 4
  • Craftsmanship/clever 1


Recommended Comments

  • RMweb Gold
On 11/11/2019 at 16:34, Allegheny1600 said:

Very nice, Richard!

Will you be going for one in EWS maroon, the other in DB red?! I have some H0 scale DB logos if you need a pair.




Another John, 'jbqfc' of the RMweb took this photo at Didcot in July 2012 and has kindly let me use it on my blog:



With Shelf Island notionally set in early June 2012, I think I could have a pristine BYA in the DB Schenker livery. So yes please for the transfers!

  • Like 1
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  • RMweb Gold
On 13/11/2019 at 12:11, MikeOxon said:

Thank you for a detailed description of the problems you encountered and how you overcame them.  For me, these details illustrate the essence of model-making.  I can see that adding logos to those ribbed sides will not be easy but feel sure that you will find a way.


Congratulations on your work so far :)


Thank you Mike for your kind words. This is my first attempt at a wagon kit from resin, so I am taking this carefully and hopefully recording possible pitfalls for others to know. It is actually only my second kit from resin, the first was a 7mm scale building which kept falling apart during assembly and went into the bin unfinished. As with a lot of these things, it put me off resin for years.


I saw some BYAs beside the GWR main line on Thursday and I do wonder if it would be sensible to finish the wagon in an even coat of frame dirt or similar, topped off with some graffiti. This would save the need to apply any transfers, and the ones for the solebars especially are miniscule. The prototypes do seem to be an appalling state.


I have the brass detailing parts well underway now and I will add them to the blog post next week.

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  • RMweb Gold

I'm really pleased with this, but I cannot imagine what it is like to be a professional kit builder. It has taken me a week to put it together, and let's face it, it's pretty simple. Fewer than 50 parts.

Edited by 47137
  • Friendly/supportive 1
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  • RMweb Gold

The model has now had a sort of a "break-in" test, 3 hours on a mate's continuous run as the first wagon of a long train. This was really a test of the Symoba cams and especially my Araldite around them, and everything is still holding together. Good.

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  • RMweb Gold

The model is riding too high on its bogies and I cannot rectify this because the wheels will then foul the coupler cams. This is infuriating and all I can do is to try to rectify the problem for the second kit. I've permed in the details in the blog post above in the unlikely event someone else builds one of these kits.


Of course, if the second kit is at the correct height they will look odd coupled together in a train, but I could add some packing washers to the second one to even things out.

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  • RMweb Gold

I have rebuilt the latch details on the ends of the wagon, and permed this into the blog post. A lot of work, but better than living with something wrong built according to wrong instructions.


This has rendered some earlier comments irrelevant, so I've deleted them.

Edited by 47137
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