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simon0r

Building/Bodging some SECR Brake Vans

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I've been building goods stock to go with my SECR locomotives, mostly from plastic and resin kits. There is quite a lot available for SECR and other railways around 1918-1920 but something that is hard to find is an SECR brake van. There is a Cambrian kit for the huge 'Dancehall' type but these didn't arrive until quite late and would have been a very rare sight.
 
I have a copy of An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons, Vol.3, SECR that has a chapter on brake vans. The 6 wheel type from 1910, later to be SR diagram 1558, looks sufficiently like a Midland Railway type - for which there is a kit - that I thought I would have a go at some kit bashing.
 
There are two really big differences: The MR van has four wheels while the SECR van has six, and the MR van is too long, we need to reduce the length of the model from 80mm to 72mm. There also numerous small differences in the details.
 
I'm building a pair of them so I started with two Parkside Dundas kits PC58 for the MR/LMS 20 ton van. For the chassis I did consider using brass etchings with full suspension etc. but in the end I wanted to keep it simple and bought three of Parkside's 10 foot chassis kits which I will chop up, they are Parkside kit PA06.
 

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SOLE BARS / CHASSIS
 
First step was to set up the chassis, I kept four of the sole bars as intact as possible - they are slightly too short overall but the wheel spacing is right, I hacked the other two for the middle axles.
 
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Not too difficult to cut out the irons leaving a segment of sole bar for alignment and a strong attachment.
 
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Once the middle irons were in I added a little reinforcement to the inside.
 
To ensure that all the wheels run properly I slightly countersunk the holes for the bearings on the middle axle so that the bearings will sit about 0.5mm deeper than the bearings for the outer axles. This should be enough to introduce a little slop into the middle axle. This way the model will ride on the outer axles and the middle axle will just trundle along at whatever height it wants to be at. Getting around corners shouldn't be too difficult with this slop and the very short wheelbase.
 
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The sole bars provided with the chassis kits are 3mm high but for the brake van they need to be 4mm. What I did was to clean off the upper angle part of the sole bar so that it becomes L shaped but still 3mm high, if I then add some 1mm x 2mm strip to the top it will form a new profile, a 4mm channel. Rather than glue the 1mm strip onto the sole bars direct I glued it to the underside of the floor.
 
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The chassis kit floor is about 1mm too short which will be easy to fix by adding some 0.5mm strip to the ends. It is also about 3mm too wide so I planed it down to the correct width using the original MR van kit floor as a guide.
 
 
SIDES
 
The MR kit sides are 80mm long and need to be shortened to 72mm. By removing four planks they come out at 71.5mm which is close enough. I spent a long time worrying about how to do this but it was actually very easy using a heavy scalpel. On the right of this photo you can see the original MR van sides and on the left the shortened SECR ones.
 

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[ EDIT - to add that you may want to keep the 4 plank offcuts, they can be used to make the veranda doors, if the version you are making had doors ]

 

Next picture shows the various parts prepared for assembly. I've already added a little detailing here and there. There were some curious brackets between the leaf springs which I modelled with some strip.

 

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Having spent much time worrying about how it might fit together and after adjusting everything the sides and floor went together very easily, they are nice and square and without nasty gaps. In the next picture you can just about see where I have lengthened the floor by about 0.5mm at each end.
 
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Next picture shows the sole bars in place and some detailing going on. Looking at old photos of these vans I noticed that in later pictures you can see a steel plate added along the lower edge of the sides. I assume that the exposed ends of the vertical planking must have been vulnerable to wear and rot. Since I'm building a pair of vans I will have one with this strapping and one without.
 
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Final image - for now - showing the wheels fitted and all sorts of detail added: hand rails, some brackets and the coupling hooks.
 
The buffers in the MR kit are heavy MR types but the SECR vans had lighter tapered buffers, I found some suitable ones in my box of spare bits.
 
The MR van had steel buffer beams, I glued in some plastic strip and sanded them so that they now look more like SECR's wooden beams.
 
I've also put some Archers rivets on the steel strap on one of the vans.
 
The wheels do run very well, the slight slop in the middle axle ensures that it turns and nothing is riding in mid-air.
 
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I've used Hornby's spoked wagon wheels. Most kits advise against using these. I think the argument used to be that RTR wheels where a bit crude compared to Romford or Gibson ones but I think the latest from Hornby, and Bachmann, are very good indeed, as good as anything. The Hornby wheels are 12.6mm diameter instead of 12.0mm, the only problem I have had with this is that they touch the brake shoes - easily fixed by sanding the shoes back a bit to accomodate them.
 
 
That's all for now. As the models progress I'll post some more pictures.
- Simon
Edited by simon0r
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In the drawings I have, in An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons, Vol.3, SECR, the wheels are marked as being 3'1" diameter, so it's not far off.

 

("Bodging" is slightly tongue-in-cheek)

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In the drawings I have, in An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons, Vol.3, SECR, the wheels are marked as being 3'1" diameter, so it's not far off.

 

("Bodging" is slightly tongue-in-cheek)

 

Top class 'Bodging' in anyone's book

 

Great to see the step by step process

 

Best Regards

 

Ian

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Excellent work. This sort of thing used to be commonplace, but few people seem to do it any more. Really nice.

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Looking in my books the wheel sizes at this time seem to have been all over the place. I wonder if standardisation was an RCH thing? Perhaps something to do with post WW1 pooling?

 

I've made some progress over the weekend - all those horrible fiddly jobs: lamp irons made out of staples, tie rods between the axle boxes and supports for the foot boards. In my experience plastic supports break and the foot boards keep falling off so I'm having a go at using brass rod, I think they will look OK once they are painted black.

 

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Edited by simon0r
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I am loving this build. I spent some time a while ago looking for MR 6-wheel brake vans for conversion to SECR for use in my pre-grouping train, but gave that up as a bad joke. You have now inspired me to have a go in the not too distant future.

Actually, it's a pity you hadn't started your build and posted just a few weeks earlier, as I only ordered some pre-grouping GWR wagons off Parkside Dundas a few weeks ago. I would have ordered the necessary bits to do what you are doing at the same time if I had known these conversions could be done this way.

I also have a not-quite-finished SECR brake van from Roxey Mouldings, but have been pondering the best way to put the footboards on so they won't get knocked off the first time I handle the van. I like your ideas here, although the Roxey van is all brass, so drilling the holes in the solebars won't be quite as easy.

Thanks for posting the details and all the lovely photos of your progress. :)

Edited by SRman

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Just the sort of modelling I enjoy seeing.  Excellent idea, expertly executed.  if I ever get my Merstham project off the ground, these would be perfect.  Thanks for showing us how you did this.  Look forward to further progress.

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I've used Hornby's spoked wagon wheels. Most kits advise against using these. I think the argument used to be that RTR wheels where a bit crude compared to Romford or Gibson ones but I think the latest from Hornby, and Bachmann, are very good indeed, as good as anything. The Hornby wheels are 12.6mm diameter instead of 12.0mm, the only problem I have had with this is that they touch the brake shoes - easily fixed by sanding the shoes back a bit to accomodate them.

 

Wagon wheels are nominally 3ft diameter but to cater for 'fair wear and tear' new wheels are given as 3ft 1.5in or even 3ft 2in according to wagon diagrams and go down to about 2ft 11in over the yaers. I think most kits are designed to take 12mm wheels which is why the makers recommend that size. As you have found out, the 12.6mm wheels foul the brake blocks where 12mm shouldn't. Remember that when wagon kits were first invented, folks like Tri-ang and Wrenn were still fitting steam roller type wheels to their RTR wagons so RTR wheels at the time were really a non-starter for serious modellers.

 

Edit p.s. Should have added that I like the idea Simon and must make a note to investigate making a Midland van or two.

Edited by Poor Old Bruce

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SRman mentioned the Roxey Mouldings kits, I have seen them and I would love to build some of them but soldered brass is beyond me at this stage, it is something I aspire to do one day. For now I'm still gluing plastic together. I have built some resin kits and I have a couple of whitemetal kits waiting to be done which I will probably do with epoxy.

 

I noticed that I said in an earlier post that these vans date back to 1910 and that is true for this version but the basic design is older than that.

 

Meanwhile, the models are getting there. The foot boards were quite fiddly to fit. I tacked them on with polystyrene cement and then fixed them with epoxy. I have painted the brass bits with some (red coloured) metal primer because enamel paint does't take to brass very well without it.

 

The chimneys are made out of 2mm copper tube. The only remaining things to add are the half doors on the veranda sides for which I should be able to find something in my scrap box.

 

The next step will be to paint them in fairly dark SECR grey. The research I have done says that these vans did not have bright red ends, SECR had them grey all over down to the sole bars with black below that. The roofs were either grey or (very) dirty white and the hand rails were painted bright white.

 

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Edited by simon0r
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.............The roofs were either grey or (very) dirty white and the hand rails were painted bright white.

Van and coach roofs were generally painted with white lead paint which gradually darkened to a sooty black both as a result of the smokey atmosphere in which they lived and to lead sulphur being formed.   Only vehicles virtually straight out of the works would have pristine white roofs.  The principle exception being the Royal Train(s) whose roofs were presumable repainted for each outing as they always appear white.

 

Jim

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The vans looks very nice indeed. I'l be interested in how well they hold the track, since 6-wheeled vehicles can be tricky in that respect.

 

There was a D&S kit for the earlier 6-wheeled van of the SE&CR, the kind with one enclosed and one open platform. I have one built and have another to do some time.

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There is a thread elsewhere on this forum about a 3D print of a MR van with six wheels. The subject is the first kind that the SE&CR bought, the same as the D&S kit. The CAD looks nice but we haven't been shown a print yet.

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A summary of the information in An Illustrated History of Southern Vans Vol.3 - SECR.

 

The first few of these six wheeled vans were built at Ashford in 1898, they were originally a clone of a Midland Railway design (MR diagram 393). A further batch were built in 1900 by Brown Marshall & Co. but all the rest were built at Ashford. The first forty vans were built with a veranda at one end and open at the other, all of these were converted to a veranda at both ends between 1914 and 1920. Fifty more vans were built between 1910 and 1914 with a veranda at both ends. All 90 vans passed to SR and the majority lasted into British Rail days.

 

There is a lot more in the book, lots of photos and drawings. It's a very useful book if you are modelling SECR vans and wagons.

 

The models I have made are based on the 1910 batch which were the first to have a veranda at both ends. Guy Rixon's model, No. 2014, is from the very first batch built in 1898/1899.

Edited by simon0r

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Congratulations, Simon! You have now inspired me to part with more money (perhaps you should ask for a commission from Parkside Dundas!!).   :jester: 
 

More seriously, I have been inspired by yours and Guy's models to have a go myself. I'm only planning to do one of the 6-wheelers, so ordered one MR/LMS brake van plus two of the LNER chassis and a few extra wheelsets. I intend to attempt the single-verandah version, so there will be a little more hacking involved (my techniques amount to more than "bodging" ;) ).

I'll try to post a few photos of my progress once the kits arrive and I can make a start.

Thanks for providing the inspiration and the means to achieve one of these vans.

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........ (my techniques amount to more than "bodging" ;) ).

Let us not forget that a 'Bodger' was someone who worked in (usually beech) woodlands producing spindles and legs for beech chairs from green wood on a primitive, portable, treadle driven lathe.  An occupation which I would suggest required a considerable degree of skill!

 

Jim

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That definitely leaves me as a "hacker"!!

i bit the bullet this evening and drilled four holes along each solebar on my Roxey van (actually an ex-LCDR type). Being brass, my holes were a little erratic in their alignment, though not too badly so. I have done roughly what Simon did with brass wire hangers for the footboards, superglued into place. I put a small dogleg at the very top so they hook through behind the solebar and are in no danger of becoming dislodged, although mine are not as neat as Simon's because I had to crank them back slightly, but once the footboards are sodlered to them and the whole lot is painted dirty black, I don't think it will look too bad.

 

Further thanks are due to Simon for the inspiration - this was a job I had been putting off for quite a long time.

Edited by SRman
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Painting -

 

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I ought to note that the way I have done the handrails is not quite right for SECR, they are more MR style like this.

 

Transfers and more painting next.

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Small staples make fairly unbreakable lamp irons but it can be hard to cut them consistently. I use a pair of flat nose pliers as a jig. Line the staple up against a mark (made with an indelible felt pen) and snip. I made the support irons for the footboards in a similar way.

 

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I want one o' dem! I want, I want, I want!!  :jester: 

 

Seriously, nice work, Simon. And I really do want one of them, and have set things n motion to build one myself.

 

p.s. I also have now had success with the footboards on my ex-LCDR brass kit - I soldered the step boards to the wire hangers. It took several attempts to get one of the smaller footsteps under the guard's doors to solder into place; the brass solebars acted as heat-sinks and drew all the heat away almost instantly, even with the iron turned up quite high.

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Congratulations, Simon! You have now inspired me to part with more money (perhaps you should ask for a commission from Parkside Dundas!!).   :jester: 

 

More seriously, I have been inspired by yours and Guy's models to have a go myself. I'm only planning to do one of the 6-wheelers, so ordered one MR/LMS brake van plus two of the LNER chassis and a few extra wheelsets. I intend to attempt the single-verandah version

 

From what I can make out, looking at drawings and photos, the half-doors appeared on the vans that were built as double ended and on the single ended vans that had been converted to double ended. The single ended vans had a hand rail on a hinge that went across the doorway to close it. I cannot find a picture of a single ender with a half door. That's not to say that they didn't exist, but a rail across the doorway will not be wrong.

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Brilliant.  May I ask what transfers did you use?

 

HMRS Southern Railway goods sheet, about half of it is pre-grouping. I have some more transfers from Foxes but I like methfix the best.

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Well, I have now started my conversion for one 6-wheeler, but i have opted to do the single verandah version. I have the basic body shell completed, although my joints don't seem to be as neat as Simon's. I chose to keep the centre section of each side with the bolt heads and brackets moulded on, so cut out two planks on either side of that section, resulting in two vertical joints per side.

I'll post some pictures of my progress in my workbench blog later ... when i have taken the pictures!

Thanks again for the inspiration, Simon. :)

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If you have to opportunity you might be able to do the handrails better than I did. It might involve soldering some brass rod.

There are pictures of the van that can be found by googling 'SECR brake van'.

 

This one on Wikipedia - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SECR_6w_brake_van.jpg

 

And on this page - http://www.preservation.kesr.org.uk/wagons-vans/102

 

The KESR van is a conversion from single ended to double which explains some of the detail like the extra wooden rail of the verandah end.

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