The old Jindenco/Falcon Brassworks kits will be well-known to old hands, but there has been some interest shown on the forums in their recent re-introduction under new owners so it is perhaps worthwhile to present a review of one of the 'new' kits. I recently ordered a couple of these kits, an AA6 PW brake van and a CC3 Signal Dept. tool van and both arrived within six weeks. I assume that if you are the first to order a particular kit then you'll have to wait a similar period, but they may be producing a small number of each kit when it is first ordered so subsequent orders might be delivered more quickly.
Apart from a freshly produced etch, the kit contains various pieces of straight wire and white metal castings. For some reason, perhaps problems with the packing list, no buffers were supplied, though the AA6 kit included a suitable set of MJT buffers. The instructions, always one of the least satisfactory parts of these kits, have been retyped using a computer. They are still just a copy of the originals but, hopefully, given time and feedback from builders they can be improved.
Time, I think, for a photo. I forgot to take one of the complete etch (there's one of the AA6 here), so let's start with the body:
The instructions, like many other Jidenco originals, tell you to fold this up with the etched detail to the outside. That may be correct for all those vans with external planked detail but for this iron bodied van it is quite wrong. Here, the fold lines should be on the inside, but first the rivet detail along the bottom of the sides and ends needs to pressed out.
Once the body has been folded into a box, the next problem becomes apparent. Like Iron Minks, the iron bodied vans in the CC group all have curved corners, though the kit folds to a simple right angle. The solution is to fill the inside corner with a suitable piece of brass -- I used some 1.6mm square section -- and file the corner to shape:
The next item in the instructions is also wrong. It says that both side and end windows should be attached to the outside of the body. Whilst the prototype had external window frames on the sides, the end windows were opening and are more correctly represented by soldering their frames to the inside of the body. The required effect is seen here, together with the doors that have been added to the sides:
Perhaps the most difficult part of many of these kits is folding the solebars. I use some home-made bending bars in which one plate has been milled to suit such tasks. Perhaps one of those Hold and Fold devices would also do the trick but, otherwise it will be tricky without some suitably sized pieces of metal:
The axle guards and brake detail supplied in the kit may also cause problems. Both etched pieces are identical, so one has to be folded in the reverse direction to the other. Otherwise, the rather minimal brake detail will not match up correctly:
Whilst it should be possible to construct a rigid chassis using these parts, I replaced everything between and below the solebars with readily available and better alternatives. I used Bill Bedford sprung axleguards. The outer ones were carefully aligned and soldered in position, then the solebars and buffer beams added. The central axleguards were then aligned relative to the outer pair and soldered to the back of the solebars. Once the solebars were in place, the body strapping was added, wrapping it down over the outside of the solebars.
The roof was supplied as a piece of pre-rolled brass. That would have been helpful if it were the right size and correctly curved. Unfortunately, it was both a couple of mm oversize in both directions and insufficiently curved. It's a bit more difficult to trim the sheet to size once curved and it needed further rolling to match the ends before fitting the strapping. I also cut out the areas underneath the roof lights so they wouldn't show after glazing.
These vans had iron roofs with rivetted strapping over the panel joints. Whilst there were a few odd pieces of strapping left over on the etch, there was not enough for this job, so I used some rivet strip from a Mainly Trains wagon detailing etch. The roof lights and oil lamp tops were added, and I also made up a little stove unit with its flue emerging from the roof. The position of the oil lamps shown on the drawing in the instructions is, I think, wrong. The drawing is copied from the Swindon original but, by comparing the Swindon drawings for this family of vans, I came to the conclusion that the roof details shown for CC3 are simply copied from the, already suspect, CC1 drawing. The positions of lamps and strapping is more likely to be correct on the CC4 and CC7 drawings.
The oil lamp tops are very nice castings, but those for the springs and axleboxes are less suitable. They are the correct types, but are ones that include the axleguard or W-iron so are not really suitable for the kit as intended to be built or, as here, with added axleguards. MJT do a suitable 4'6" spring and box casting with long J-hangers (part no 2248) for the central axle, but I don't think they do a suitable one for the outer axles. To get round this I cut and filed the supplied castings to remove the axleguards and allow them to fit. As mentioned earlier, no buffers were included so I added a set of MJT sprung ones. The DCII brakes were made up from parts from one of Bill Bedford's DCIII etches.
Finally, to the paint shop. I've long been a little suspicious of the extent to which black was used for departmental vehicles at this time. Many photos (although I know of none of CC3) certainly show a darker colour, but many of these are quite heavily under-exposed. For this reason, I decided to paint it using Precision GWR wagon grey. However, I had forgotten how dark the paint in my two tins of this were. When first sprayed it looks like a very dark version of the usual grey but, when dry, it is almost black. So, it looks like I'm going to have to go with the black, or at least very dark grey, livery.
Lettering was entertaining, all done with HMRS methfix. Apart from having far too few pre-1904 'G.W.R', the sheet includes 'Reading' in both italic and roman and 'Signal Dept' in roman. Unfortunately the latter is far too big for one of these vans and the style is probably incorrect for pre-1904. In the end, I used italic 'Reading' as supplied, 'Dept' from an italic 'Engineering Dept', and 'Signal' was made up from parts of 'Slough' and various other place names.
Overall, then, I enjoyed building the kit and produced, I think, a satisfactory result. The instructions could be significantly improved/corrected, and It does need extra work beyond just soldering the etched parts together so is probably not one for an absolute beginner. Nevertheless, it was much less difficult than one or two other Jidenco/Falcon kits I've tackled in the past.
Added photo, taken as per centre metering, not over-exposed, to give a better idea of the colour. Black, slightly glossy unweathered wagon on left and Railmatch GWR grey on right:
EDIT: to add a couple of views of the sliding central axle arre=angement: