Despite the silence I have in fact been doing some modelling over the last couple of months - I just haven't written it up . However this is to record that I have finally finished construction of the Ratio Van B . It still needs lettering , spot painting and weathering, and there's plenty of scope for things to go wrong in all of that, but the last tiny scrap of etched brass has been stuck in place . At least the last one that I'm sticking on - there are still a small number of tiny bits on the etch whose purpose is a mystery to me. At the death , I decided to use the etched chalk boards , as they are abit neater and more regular than my home made replacements - I've stuck them over the card versions which makes the detail a little chunky , but then the chalk boards are.. It won't be the best coach kit ever built, though I hope it will at least look adequete against the rest of my fleet . This is my first proper attempt at a coach kit, if you discount some cack-handed teenage efforts at Ratio suburbans
It's taken two and a half years to get to this point , although there have been some delays , distractions and interruptions along the way. That's surely too long for a plastic coach kit. The trouble is that everything has been made into as many individiual components as possible. I've just finished sticking 4 tiny etched door handles on one side of the coach with cyano. Not to mention 4 very very small grab handles just below them, each of which rfequires it's two tiny legs folding into aright angle to enable it to be stuck to the side. and so on. I can't help feeling all this would have been better moulded onto the side itself - certainly there would have been a little less finesse if the kit was in the hands of a skilled builder, but for 80%+ of purchasers it would have vastly simplified and speeded the build. Why were seperate doors and seperate etched brass hinges necessary? Couldn't the side simply have been moulded as a single piece of plastic?
One area I am not sure is entirely satisfactory is the attachment of the bogies. This is by a pair of screws, but I can't get them any further home and the bogies hang very loosely. The coach runs ok , but the body flops and rolls about a bit , and on its one trial outing on the layout it seemed prone to the occasional derailment . Nothing I can do about it (this is afirst kit, and rearranging the running gear is a step too far for me at this stage), and the coach works , but I think there are better arrangements on other kits.
Since I started , Hornby have announced a RTR model , and I think the first batch may even have been released. I recall someone expressing the view that Hornby's model was a waste of time and no benefit to modellers because there was already a kit. Well, having built the kit, I beg to differ. Hornby will achieve a better model than I've managed to achieve , a significantly higher standard of paint finish, and it will run better, and have better engineered bogies. It will also come with NEM pockets, making changing couplings a matter of seconds. And it won't take 2.5 years of anyone's life . There's nothing inherently unbuildable about any part of the kit - but I reckon at least 90% of modellers would not manage to finish it.
I do have one consolation - Hornby haven't so far annouced a version in BR blue