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The Ultimate Airfix Cattle Van conversion?

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Back in 1971, when we first started exhibiting our P4 model of Bembridge (IoW) station, I was often asked about how I built the station building. I used to reply, in all seriousness, that it was converted from Airfix Cattle Van kit. That was a bit of joke, of course, playing on the fact that the model magazines of the 1960s had been full of articles in which all sorts of unlikely prototypes had been modelled as a conversion from 'such and such' kit.


In reality, the station building was 99% constructed from plastikard, the embossed brick sheets (then in one bond only) of which had fortuitously just appeared on the market. However, there was a ring of truth in my 'joke', as parts from an Airfix Cattle Van kit had indeed played a critical part in the construction of the station building.


I have posted below a couple of contemporary photos, taken by the late Ian Lyle, in which the parts converted from the Cattle Van kit are clearly visible. Can you spot them?





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The answer is the decorative bricks set horizontally at a 45 degree angle. They caused much head scratching until I realised that the floor piece of the AIrfix cattle van kit was (more or less) a nice flat rectangle of a suitable thickness and colour. V-shape grooves were carefully filed across it at the appropriate spacing and then 1mm wide slices cut and mek-pak'ed in place.


The shaped roof tiles were created by screwing two suitable strips of aluminium together - from memory about 100mm long. The shape of an appropriate number of tiles was then filed along one long edge of the pair of strips. Luckily, one tile had fallen from the roof of the derelict prototype building without breaking and this enabled the precise shape to be copied. The tiles themselves were made from strips of 10 thou white plastikard, approximately a dozen at a time being clamped between the two aluminium strips and the required shape filed following the shaped aluminium. Finally they were nicked to appear as individual tiles before being mek-pak'ed in place.


The main chimney pots, incidentally, were 'simply' made up from plain and brick plastikard, however their complexity meant that each incorporated nearly a thousand separate pieces.


I must have been mad in those days!

Edited by bécasse

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