I've been building stock boxes : one last weekend and one this. And here are the results:
which is the air braked box and
the steam age stock for the shunting plank.
There is absolutely nothing original about this - the idea was taken from Chris Ellis' book "Next Steps in Railway Modelling" , published a couple of years ago, in which it is credited to Stuart Robinson. The construction should be obvious from the photos - take one box file (price 3 quid) , rip out the spring clip and insert dividers using corregated cardboard from a dismembered box and parcel tape. The result is remarkably effective - because the compartments are close fitting and sometimes even a shade tight, the stock doesn't move around and doesn't get damaged. And because of the honeycomb effect , the partitions are strongly reinforced by other partitions and end up pretty rigid
It also saves a lot of space. 2 box files for the shunting plank contain a total of 35 wagons and 4 locos. I reckon you save about two-thirds of the volume storing stock this way compared with leaving wagos in the manufacturer's boxes. Not to mention that the vast majority of my wagons for the plank are kits so there wasn't a box to start with. It's also much quicker and easier to find things in these boxes - just lift the lid and it's all there. As opposed to using the long cardboard loco boxes they sell for a couple of quid, where you have to hunt from box to box and unwrap everything to find the wagon you want.
This was brought painfully home to me when turning out the collection of long boxes that was housing a lot of this stuff before. I found a Conflat or two I'd forgotten about and never run- not to mention a Red Panda Lowfit I'd forgotten I'd ever owned - built for Ravenser Mk1 and rarely if ever used, not least because it was stored somewhere else and forgotten about. Once fitted with S+W couplings it can go into use on the shunting plank.
As well as helping to clear up some of the debris around the place and bring a bit of order and accessibility to my fleet, this exercise has helped to define my wagon building activities for the medium term. As you can see, there are a number of vacant slots. These will take the wagons I'm currently working on, plus the ex WD road van and the etched COV B which have both been sitting on the bookcase for an embarassingly long time. There are slots for a couple more wagons to be recycled out of the fleet from Ravenser and fitted with S+W couplings for the plank. And that leaves just 2 slots for further steam-age wagons.... Plans for Tranche 4 of stock for the shunting plank have therefore been abruptly curtailed, especially as once I'd turned all the "overspill" stock out of it's boxes it was clear I was already almost there anyway. So this just leaves space for a rebuild of a Hornby refridgerator van and an elderly Ratio coke wagon kit I picked up unbuilt at the club, and tranche 4 is done.
On the airbraked side, there's no real need for most of the revenue vehicles now I'm less actively involved at the club. With a little bit of work with a knife, and some more parcel tape I relocated a partition in one of the stockboxes I built about 2 years ago - a further advantage of thistype of construction is that, if push comes to shove , you can modify the size of the compartments. This now provides a home for the Walrus which has acquired its Kadees (no 49 long overset , if you're interested) and in a burst of enthusiasm I coverted two more wagons to Kadees while I was about it. With some wagons transferred from the old box to the new, there are now slots for a Dogfish and a second Shark from the bag of Cambrian kits I was given earlier this year (The idea here is to have an engineers's train for both early and late periods - in the early period it runs with Walrus , Dogfish, grampus and Zander , using an ex GW Toad and a Shark - in the later period it has Seacows, Rudd, PNA, and a pair of Sharks. Hence I could use a Shark in olive green, which could run in either train) I could also probably squeeze in a Starfish with a bit of ingenuity (another kit from the cupboard) . On the other hand there's no slot for a scratchbuilt PNA . And the fact that there's a convenient slot for an old Lima CCT as well as for my PMV means that sorting it out has risen up the To Do list..
Suddenly the way ahead on the wagon front is much more sharply defined. If it's in the boxes, it will probably get run....