I've made a very slow start on things, but there is some progress to report with the Ratio Southern parcels van.
I've seen some adverse comment about this kit on here - notable Roger Chivas' remark that having seen somebody build one he went off and designed an etched brass kit because it would be so much easier. Given that most people are frightened by etched brass [I'm not saying they ought to be, just observing factually the way people actually react] this makes it sound like the Ratio kit is unbuildable and may put people off even thinking about trying it.
I'm far enough in now to make some comment on the kit. It is certainly much more intricate and fiddly than the older Ratio MR and LNWR kits. Take the roof - which I'm currently tackling. This is moulded with a slightly textured surface - probably to represent canvas. You have to drill out holes for seperate whitemetal torpedo vents - the instructions say 1/16" drill which equates to 1.6mm in new money. I've still had to ease every hole a fair bit with a broach to take the torpedo vent casting. And at first glance the roof moulding looks a bit long - so I may have to file back at each end. Now compare with the older Ratio kits - a one piece roof with the vents moulded on in the plastic. No doubt not quite as effective but much quicker and simpler.
Take the sides. These require seperate doors to be fitted to the basic side, and etched drop light mouldings to each door window. Not to mention seperate droplight mouldings for the guards' door. The Ratio LNWR coaches have a single injection moulding for the whole side
Take the underframe. Each battery box requires the addition of 4 lengths of microrod. The dynamo comes in 4 bits
There's nothing exactly difficult about each operation, and everything is supplied. It's very far from difficult to build so far - bear in mind that I've not attempted a coach kit since a few teenage attacks on Ratio MR kits, so I must be counted as a novice builder here. But there's no doubt it's a much slower, more laborious and intricate process than the older Ratio kits.
I've added lead flashing along pretty well all the floor to bump the weight up to 130g+ . I know 4 x 25g is the standard formula for a 4 axle vehicle , but that seems a bit light for a 50' coach
Two detailed gripes - not exactly with the kit design. The transfers cover SR and BR pre 1965. Nobody seems to do BR Corporate image post 1965 transfers in white. [The same situation exists with the PMV - the only "4mm" transfers available are actually to 7mm ] This is odd, because these vehicles were well known as the last surviving pre nationalisation coaching stock and ran for over 20 years after the Corporate Blue livery came in. And it's not as if there were only one or two survivors either. There must be plenty of modern image modellers who fancy a bvit of variety in their fleet by adding some Maunsell vans in rail blue
And somehow quite a few of the brake blocks have come out of the sprue, and despite a hasty search on Sunday I'm now two short. I am reasonably certain I had one floating around on the workbench earlier and didn't realise what it was. Somehow I'll have to improvise for the one wheel I can't cover...
I've even made a start on the Dapol open I bought at St Albans , to turn it into a retro-fitted LMS wagon. This is a very simple conversion - a spare Parkside vac cylinder cut down for height, remove the old couplings and securing lugs which hold on the chassis , glue body to chassis , cross shaft from plastic rod, scrap of plastic rod for the crank off the vac cylinder , and there we are, ready to paint. Can't think why it's taken 6 months to do...