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Updating Airfix 16 ton minerals

Fen End Pit


I was luck enough to have the opportunity to get hold of a pile of original Airfix 16 ton mineral wagons. Nice little kits which are worth a bit of work to bring up to modern standards. The price seems quite reasonable too!


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I wanted to use Bill Bedford sprung W-irons so first thing was to remove the plastic W-irons to just leave the spring and axle boxes. i was actually surprised that this wasn't more difficult than it proved to be. I started off with a razor saw and then finished off with a file and an emery board.


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The assembled W-iron frames were stuck on to the floor of the wagon using araldite and a Brassmasters Jig. If you don't have one of these yet and you build wagon kits get one, they are indispensable.


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This gives a nice square rolling chassis which has a smooth ride on the spring steel wire springs.


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Next up was to work on the brake gear, rather than just replace the lot with brass I decided to se what I could do to improve the original plastic castings. I filed the back of the safety loop and then stuck a piece of plasticard on the back so that it looks like a loop rather than a solid block.


On a similar vein I hollowed out the brake handle catch. I started off with a drilled hole and then opened it up a piecing saw and a little work with scapel.


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Putting it all together and we have a pretty decide chassis. Next step will be to work on the bodies, and the other six I got to build!


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Just been and checked the boxes in my garage- you win, mine were 38p each.They do however still have the Sellotape on the boxes. My wife has just commented (a) "And you still haven't made them"and (B) "How many have you got" (I haven't counted, but there seem to be examples of most of the kits down there.

Seriously though, its a fantastic tribute to the original pattern maker that a kit that is almost 50 years old can hold its own both in terms of of accuracy and ease of construction with todays offerings. The brake gear is a bit heavy by modern standards, but you have addressed that admirably, and I will follow this with interest as inspiration to make some more myself.


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Thanks to a PM from a member for pointing out gently and in private that of course the brake gear appears to be on the wrong way around. Looking at the kits this morning I can see that he is correct and the brakes would indeed go 'off' as the brake handle went down.


Looking at the molding the detail is on one side only so it isn't just that I got the molding the wrong way around, which begs two questions, what were Airfix doing and how do I fix it?


I could either, take the brake gear off, make some detailing on the other side of the molding (a strip of microstrip to form the edge of the brake shoe) and then reverse them. Alternatively I think what might be the issue is that Airfix were actually looking a wagon with Morton brakes and just misinterpreted what was going on. There seems to be a particular design which had brakes on one side only and the Morton clutch which would have reversed the direction of the movement on one side.


Any better ideas anyone?



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