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Well, this project is complete.  I am now the proud owner of a rake of five clerestory suburban carriages. 

 

First off, the final carriage, a composite brake: 

 

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When I coupled my rake together for the first time I was pretty appalled by the couplings.  They were huge!  I reckoned that by keeping the Hornby couplings I was adding around 8 or 9cm to the length of the rake- or in other words half a carriage length.  So I did something about it. 

 

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My solution, when in operation, 

 

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Step one is to remove the tension lock coupling and drill a hole in the bogie. 

 

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Step two is take a length of wire and fold it into an 'S' shape.  This is then hooked into one of the holes and secured in place (I used pliers to force it closed, glue or melting the wire into the bogie with a soldering iron would also work). 

 

Then the carriages just hook onto each other.  Much neater and more realistic. 

 

I kept the tension locks on the brake ends at each end of the rake.  My intention at present, when I have a layout, is to keep my carriages coupled together in semi-permanent rakes, with RTR couplings on each end for loco coupling.  

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Six months down the line and... I've had a little bit of a rethink. 

 

Actually, a total reconsideration, taking into account the amount of work involved. 

 

Straight after building the rake of clerestories I hackbashed a GCR 1903 full brake out of the remains of two Hornby clerestories (the bits that hadn't been used to build a brake composite clerestory).  At the same time as an experiment I used a different mix of paints to achieve the teak effect; rather than a couple of matt dark browns I used a gloss creamy yellow and a satin mid-brown....

 

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Yes, a far better result I think.  

 

For a few months I kept the clerestories packed away; I had a couple of other modelling projects competing for my time (a 'Lord Faringdon', 'Director' and GCR 11A/ LNER D6).  

 

It was about two months ago when I decided to start seriously looking for alternatives to the tension lock coupling, and to be able to make an informed decision about that I needed a guinea pig to experiment with.  Thoughts gravitated toward the clerestories.  

 

The wire hook and loops I had installed earlier had not aged well; they were too fragile and liable to distort to really be useful, and needed replacing.  My first attempt was some homemade three link couplings; for all that they looked good I ouldn't get them to work.  So then I moved onto Kadees.  

 

Starting with a packet of Kadee no.5 couplings and crossed fingers, I set to work, quickly finding that to fit the new couplings the bogies needed to come off.  To get the bogies off I needed to get inside carriages to release the bogie lugs, and to get to the bogie lugs I eventually ended up wrecking the interiors.  

 

Ignoring that for the moment, I was then able to file away roughly the middle third of the bufferbeams and fit the new couplings.  Then I could look to rebuilding the carriages.

 

The first thing to do of course is to remove what's left of the interior, basically bringing the carriage back down to an empty shell.  Bulkheads, weights, seats and glazing were all removed, and everything except the weights thrown away.  

 

The carriage body was then given a coat of gloss cream/yellow paint and set aside to dry.  

 

Bearing in mind my earlier escapades of trying to access the carriage floor, I decided that in future any carriage interiors I fit will be removable.  I also decided that for this particular rake the replacement interior will be limited to just the floors and bulkheads.  The windows in these carriages are so small that all that you see from a normal viewing distance are the bulkheads and a hint of the colour of the seats and walls.  

 

A false floor was cut from paper, and once it had been test-fitted I cut a long length of same and folded it up to get floors and bulkheads.  It was then glued down to the false floor and painted.  

 

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Then the weights were refitted and the interior offered up to the carriage for a final check (basically to make sure that the bulkheads line up with the window spacings).  

 

The interior was then set aside and the carriage body brought back.  Working quickly with an old brush, I applied a thin layer of mid-brown satin enamel paint, working on a small area at a time.  I then wiped over it with a piece of tissue paper- to remove all but a smear of the brown paint and show the yellow undercoat beneath.  It looks convincingly like teak. 

 

The roof was then repainted in mid-grey; the original white finish to my mind was somehow lacking. 

 

Once it had all dried, new glazing was fitted, the interior dropped in and the roof snapped back into place. 

 

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They still need transfers and varnish, and maybe a little weathering, but this is I think a massive improvement on the original model. 

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Well well well. 

 

Lick of paint and it looks quite good!

 

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I built a very rudimentary interior of balsa wood and plastic sheet- sheet for the compartment walls and balsa for the seatbenches- and once painted in teak, dark blue and crimson I left it at that and put the roof in place. 

 

When it came to painting I put a solid light brown undercoat on, then brushcoated a thin wash of a a much darker brown above- the brushstrokes and inevitable little missed bits from only putting on one coat serving as a form of timber graining.  The only thing I have done with the bogies has been to spring the wheelsets out, paint the wheel centres in teak and drop them back in. 

Nice models and I like the teak finish -  I've just completed a teak coach (M&CR pre-1908) and found that a final coat of matt black painted on and immediately wiped off really brought out the mouldings and gave a nice weathered teak effect. 

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Thanks; I'll have a go at the matt black coat when I come to repaint my short Hornby Gresleys (having just finished repainting the last of my clerestories I'd be heartbroken to again find a better way right at the end!)

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