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Railway & Modelling Obituaries

Adrian Swain, ABS Models


djparkins
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Very sorry to hear this.

Speaking from the 'non railway modelling' side, my main knowledge of Adrian was through his London bus kits. At shows I would always stock up on those things that no one else could provide - radiators, wheels etc as well as full kits. On one occasion- I think it was Scalefourum (Leatherhead?) - I took along some photos of some recently completed kits, I told him that they had been painted by my good friend Bob Fridd;

'I've heard of him' he said. 'Would you like to meet him, he's here with Road Transport Images'.

Introductions were made and I went off to peruse the exhibits. Over an hour later I returned and they were still going nineteen to the dozen.

On the few occasions when I met him he was always encouraging - he told me the only way my painting technique would improve was to keep practising, I still am!

 

Les

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/06/2020 at 13:24, cctransuk said:

 

It builds into a very nice model.

 

Regards,

John Isherwood.

Sorry to say that after fighting with it for several days I've basically given up!  The white metal it is made of is comparable to cheese and bends at the slightest provocation.  The small mitres on the match truck tool boxes were, at the very least, a challenge as was its construction and I just can't get the crane parts to line up to allow it to be accurately built.  Perhaps I should have e-bayed it so that someone else could have had the joy of building it.  I've built several of Adrian's wagon kits and used many of his parts in the past and always been satisfied with them.  Perhaps this one was just a bit to far!

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3 hours ago, 5050 said:

Sorry to say that after fighting with it for several days I've basically given up!  The white metal it is made of is comparable to cheese and bends at the slightest provocation.  The small mitres on the match truck tool boxes were, at the very least, a challenge as was its construction and I just can't get the crane parts to line up to allow it to be accurately built.  Perhaps I should have e-bayed it so that someone else could have had the joy of building it.  I've built several of Adrian's wagon kits and used many of his parts in the past and always been satisfied with them.  Perhaps this one was just a bit to far!

 

That's a shame - mine went together beautifully, but it was some years ago.

 

John Isherwood.

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Sad, but not unexpected. A good man sadly gone. I only ever dealt with Adrian over the phone and email. He was so helpful in sorting out what I needed to complete a second hand O gauge wagon kit that I had aquired. Photos of random bits were emailed and missing parts arrived in the post for the cost of a return stamp or two. I'll leave these images as part of his legacy of product and service to customers.

 

DSC01438.jpg.1fa15f1152ad9c45c12e3376ec6efed9.jpg

 

DSC01439.jpg.af8347f4199b8f2343dc12aff963aafa.jpg

 

DSC01463.jpg.3c06c428afc50eac3947246a3e09a433.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 27/06/2020 at 15:47, 5050 said:

So, that's at least 2 of these that has been built! Any others?

 

 

Yep!  Me!  I'd built several of Adrians kits and always found they were nicely cast and went together well.  There is, however, an exception to every rule and, like 5050, found this was it!  I eventually got it together and it looks very pretty, but it has stay permanently parked at the end of a siding because I never could persuade it to run acceptably

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16 hours ago, mike morley said:

 parked at the end of a siding because I never could persuade it to run acceptably

I fitted MJT inside bearing w-irons, mainly because it is P4 - but I could see that trying to get it running well with the cast axle holes etc. would be a challenge.  The MJT ones aren't all that free running either but OK for the sort of trips mine will be doing!

 

BTW, thanks for all the likes from everyone.

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1 minute ago, 5050 said:

..... I could see that trying to get it running well with the cast axle holes etc. would be a challenge.

 

I invariably fit brass pinpoint bearings to all kit-built and upgraded RTR stock; a cast whitemetal wagon thus fitted rolls superbly, but can be a bit destructive if shunted with a heavy hand on the regulator!

 

Regards,

John Isherwood.

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A great man & such a loss to the hobby, I have only spoken to him a few times, a very helpful and knowledgeable man he was.

Thank you David for bringing this sad news, I now hope his range will be available again.

 

Ian G 

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On 03/07/2020 at 22:29, dibber25 said:

 The hobby has lost another knowledgeable and stalwart, if controversial, cottage industry manufacturer of the kind who cannot, these days, be replaced. RIP ABS. (Chris Leigh)

 

Agree Chris -

 

Can there be a sadder epitaph to anyone than 'he mean't no harm', or equivalent? We need people who tell it like it is, and Adrian certainly did that!

Edited by djparkins
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1 hour ago, djparkins said:

 

Agree Chris -

 

Can there be a sadder epitaph to anyone than 'he mean't no harm', or equivalent? We need people who tell it like it is, and Adrian certainly did that!

 

I'd be quite happy if my epitaph was "He was a Lancastrian who called a spade a shovel"!

 

Adrian might have not tolerated fools gladly - but at least he did it from a standpoint soundly grounded in fact.

 

John Isherwood.

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I could almost echo Chris Leigh's comments word for word. I too first met Adrian in the late 1960s when he was a natural choice to produce white-metal castings of a LBSC wagon axle box for which we had a critical and urgent need when building our pioneering Bembridge P4 layout. We met regularly after that at shows, managing a chat about this and that during the brief moments when his stand wasn't besieged by customers. 

 

He was an expert caster in white-metal, greatly helped by his personal knowledge of a very wide range of prototypes and his philosophy of perfection. It was no surprise that so many "cottage traders" beat a path to his door for the castings that they needed for their kits, and not just castings either as Adrian would wholesale other basic necessities, gears for example. When these traders eventually decided that enough was enough, Adrian was the natural buyer of their marque, although, sadly his quest for perfection meant that often the marque effectively just disappeared.

 

If Adrian had a blind spot, it was in his failure to exploit multimedia techniques in kits. It wasn't that he totally eschewed etchings but certainly some of his offerings would have been better had more parts been in brass or nickel-silver rather than white metal even though it might have required more skill on the part of the modeller.

 

Away from exhibitions, I doubt whether Adrian ever enjoyed retailing, but Kay Butler came to the rescue when she purchased the Wrightlines product range and offered to take over retailing for the whole range of the ABS group of marques, a partnership which worked well for a good number of years. In some ways though it worked too well as demand grew and grew, and Adrian told me that Kay rang him to say that she intended to retire at the very moment when Adrian was about to ring her to say that they had to find a means of curtailing demand because it was getting too much. There was another potential purchaser in the wings for the Wrightlines range itself, but with Adrian unwilling to supply someone else with castings, the range came back to him, effectively disappearing as stocks ran down.

 

Not long after that I moved to southern Belgium and my trips to the UK became limited to duty visits to my aged mother-in-law in Reading. The pre-Christmas trip coincided with the annual Reading O gauge trade show where, when I could get near his small stand, I was able to chat with Adrian. An endearing memory of almost the last time that I saw him was that, while we chatted, he pulled a wad of banknotes from his hip pocket and started sorting them, there must have been several thousand pounds in that wad!

 

Hopefully at least some of his range will survive as I know that various parties have expressed an interest in parts of it - they will have to find a comparable caster though and that, I suspect, won't be easy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just finished an ABS Van in memory of Adrian .. it was in its original bag with its instructions held in with rusty staples...but the castings were clean and it went together very easily

409817985_ABSunfittedLMSearlyvan.JPG.da3d2d24d4aeeb875684c090620d373f.JPG

 

an unfitted early build LMS van, Castings were great - a bit of flash on the turn over for the roof.. but that plasticard roof needs to go!

 

Thanks for all the kits Adrian..

 

Baz

 

 

 

Edited by Barry O
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My last two GWR ABS wagon kits complete as intended with their drawing pin sprung buffer heads, DCIII brake gear and slightly over scale three link couplings.

 

Great kits to make in O Gauge,

 

 

DSC05759.JPG.20aab2a8429b45cada730143fad053c1.JPG

 

 

DSC05756.JPG.878800959343d44cf08a53a1310fa16b.JPG

 

 

a scale that brings out the most in Adrian`s pattern making skills and fidelity to prototype practice.

 

 

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I've just picked up on this obituary, I'd heard through other channels that Adrian had passed away. I first met Adrian at one of the MRC's shows at the Horticultural Halls in the late 1960, early 1970s when he used to take his tram layout along. Prior to that in 1968 when I worked at the Kings Cross shop I'd heard about him in there. I was saving to buy my prototype GS67 bus and had already had a set of patterns made by Mike Shepard in the shop for the LT Scooter 6 wheel single decker. One had recently been discovered in the west country (it's only recently been completed btw) and Mike suggested Adrian do the casting.

 

Things grew from there and Adrian made more patterns for my expanding range of GS Models bus kits until I eventually had a range of about 10 or 12 kits. I used to meet Adrian at odd places to collect kits, usually from his house at West Byfleet and another time after he'd moved back to Poole somewhere near Westbury. Sitting in his car was interesting, there was a pattern for the Trix AL1 bogie sideframe. Adrian told me he'd made the pattern many years ago, it wasn't right as the wheelbase was too long so it could utilise an existing casting. But it was used.

 

Business died off a bit with the appearance of the EFE 4mm scale buses in the early 1980s and I sold the business to Adrian. I could have as many kits as I wanted but never really took him up on this offer. At one of the post-exhibition parties in that period Adrian was invited along to a rather boozy event at my place in Mitcham Lane. He enjoyed the company and was a bit surprised when somebody brought out an 8mm projector and proceeded to show a selection of films that would make a vicar blush!

 

I lost touch with Adrian for a number of years, the last time we spoke was maybe 8 years ago when he phoned me and told me someone was doing copies of my kits and advised me to sue the perpetrator for breach of intellectual copyright.

 

Adrian did indeed do casting for a lot of other people, Mopok, Varney Bus kits, Bec trams and the people who done the N gauge stuff, can't remember their name at the moment. I recently found one of Adrian's suburban coach kits in its tube, made up but with the sides falling off. I don't know of anyone who really perfected a method of sticking the excellent printed sides on the vacuum formed bodies. For their day they were superb models. I've still got a few of my bus kits kicking around made and unmade.

 

I have to thank Adrian for providing a source of income for me which went towards the preservation of my GS67 and my BEA coach MLL721. Rest in peace Adrian.

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  • 1 month later...

The Zero Zephyr O gauge Steam Locomotive range has been acquired by cspmodels.com and work is ongoing to sort through everything with the aim of bringing them back to the market in due course. Burton tank and Fireless Andrew Barcley will probably be first.

Philip

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On 29/09/2020 at 12:22, kipford said:

The 4mm range has been acquired by one of our club members, but he needs to sort out what he actually has before re-launching.  So watch out for further details. 

Please do keep us up to date - I have a voracious appetite for Adrian’s kits as a pleasure to build and of the highest quality. It would be a slight to his abilities to let the ranges fall by the wayside.

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On 29/09/2020 at 17:22, kipford said:

The 4mm range has been acquired by one of our club members, but he needs to sort out what he actually has before re-launching.  So watch out for further details. 

 

I would be interested if the range of bus parts comes back into production as I have a few of the mk2 for transit components used for various models and would like to get more

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6 minutes ago, LongRail said:

 

I would be interested if the range of bus parts comes back into production as I have a few of the mk2 for transit components used for various models and would like to get more

Gary, The Model Bus Federation have acquired the 4MM, 1/76 Range of Coach, Bus, assorted road vehicles Models and parts. and they are available to members mail order.

 

Meld

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