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LNER 61ft 6in Gresley Vestibule 3rd


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I’ve mainly been modelling GWR and BR(W) trains since the 1960s. (See http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/70550-carmarthen-junction-miscellena/ for more details, if you wish.)


The “rot” set in some time in 2009 when I succumbed to temptation and used an unexpected windfall to purchase a Hornby live steam “Dwight D Eisenhower” in BR livery. Over the next few months I acquired a set of BR maroon Gresley coaches. I exhibited the loco and coaches at the Nov 2009 model railway show at St Lukes Church, Hornsby Heights.


I took the opportunity in 2010 to purchase 2 more live steamers as they were remaindered by British on-line retailers. However, “Flying Scotsman” and “Silver Link” were in pre-war LNER colours. I did subsequently run them with BR Mk 1 coaches and a set of Pullman coaches, (as seen currently in the real world with preserved A4s) but felt there was a need to assemble a set of Gresley coaches in pre-war varnished teak livery.


Over the next couple of years I acquired some “Railroad” coaches, as well as some super-detailed ones. At one of the annual AMRA shows at Liverpool, NSW, I found and purchased an ancient BSL kit of a Gresley vestibule 3rd class coach. In Dec 2013 I began its construction.


The kit consisted of:

  • 2 cast whitemetal ends
  • 2 aluminium sides
  • Timber roof
  • Floor
  • Pre-formed tinplate underfloor/solebar
  • Buffers
  • Torpedo ventilators
  • Flat polystyrene sheet from which I was expected to cut strips to make the external beading and compartment partitions
  • Pre-cut internal corridor/compartment wall
  • One only window glazing strip


Components that I needed to find/make included:

  • Bogies & wheels
  • Couplings
  • Bogie mounts/centrecastings
  • Vacuum brake cylinders, reservoirs, Vee-hangers, etc
  • Battery boxes
  • Door handles & grabirons
  • Sundry pipework
  • Truss rods & associated framework
  • Glazing for windows and droplights




I modified a couple of spare Hornby “Railroad” Gresley bogies, fitting 14 mm dia wheels and replacing the Hornby coupling with a neater Bachmann version. I also modified the pivot as shown in the photo.


I made the bogie pivots from 3/16 in Whitworth bolts/nuts.




Body Shell


I assembled the bodyshell as directed in the kit’s instructions and then scribed lines for the door outlines and to locate the beading. I sanded down the ends of the timber roof to match the cast ends and fitted the buffers.








Vestibule Bellows


Given that this coach was to be part of a set comprised mainly of Hornby models, I aimed to reproduce the visual effect of the current super-detailed Gresley models. I decided to make a sandwich of about 7 layers of black plastic sheet with alternate layers: large/small/large/small…. The plastic had come from reinforcing found at the bottom of reusable woven shopping bags. I simply copied the shape of the Hornby bellows and then cut out enough parts to make a pair for this model. They were glued together with cyanoacrylate cement.






I made beading from 0.5mm dia polystyrene rod, with each piece glued to the scribe line with Revell Contacta Professional polystyrene cement. I took care to carefully press each piece into the scribed line and hold it there with my fingers until the solvent evaporated. Each side took about 5 hours to complete.


Ventilators above each door were made from the same black plastic as used for the bellows.






Underframe details


I found a pair of etched brass Vee-hangers in my scrapbox on a Mallard Models etch of GWR grabirons. Vacuum reservoirs were leftovers from a half-forgotten Ratio coach kit. Vacuum cylinders came from an Airfix cement wagon kit. I had to buy some L-section brass rod, some old H0 NSWGR battery boxes and an American steam turbo-generator from my local hobby store (Hobbyland, Hornsby). These were assembled or modified where necessary and glued to the underframe.








After looking at images of restored prototype coaches, I realized that the 3rd class moquette was a reddish colour. I therefore adapted a Peco card kit for a BR Mk1 SK coach interior, joining the two sets of four compartments together around the glazing strip provided in the BSL kit and adjusting all dimensions until it was a snug test fit.






Door droplights


I made these from the supplied plastic internal compartment wall and glued them inside each door.




After spray priming the model, inside and out, with automotive grey primer, I painted the coach as follows:


Lining: Humbrol yellow #8

Teak exterior and interior: Gloy teak (brushed with stiff synthetic (“taklon”) fibre brush)

Solebar: Humbrol satin bauxite #133

Underframe details: Humbrol satin black #85






Door handles & grabirons


I fabricated the door handles and grabirons from 0.5mm dia brass rod and then mounted them into 0.6mm dia holes drilled into the aluminium sides.






I purchased a new set of HMRS Pressfix transfers and then numbered/lettered the coach, choosing a running number of a preserved example. I also fabricated and fitted steps below the corridor side doors, again using the same black plastic as used for the bellows.


After letting the transfers dry for a couple of days, I varnished the coach with Humbrol satin clear #135.






Glazing and Interior


I made glazing strips for windows and droplights from clear PVC packaging material and then used cyanoacrylate cement to mount them. I then adjusted and installed the previously assembled interior.








The roof is yet to be firmly attached. This awaits installation of a few passengers. Only then will I complete the roof details and repaint it.




This has been an interesting project, full of challenges. I’ve had to learn new modelling skills in the building of a model of a non-GWR coach. It’s made a nice change.


Construction commenced in late Dec 2013. It was finished (except for passengers and roof details) in mid-Feb 2014. The model has cost me about $35 overall, which compares rather well with the current retail price for a Hornby super-detailed coach ($90 to $110). It rides smoothly and freely (with no wobbles) and simply glides along – just as well as the RTR ones in its coach set.


The “Railroad” coaches have also had a minor upgrade to ensure they match better with the super-detailed Hornby and BSL coaches:

  • Solebars repainted to match the other coaches
  • Interiors repainted with Gloy teak for timberwork and Humbrol blue #25 for 1st class seats and Precision Paints BR maroon P108 for 3rd class seats.


I know this is never going to be a museum-quality coach set, but it will certainly complement the pre-war LNER live steamers when seen in motion (probably at high speed!) at the occasional show. The BSL model does fit in well with both “Railroad” and super-detailed Hornby Gresley coaches.




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  • 1 month later...

G'day, RonnieS,


Thank you for your comments.


I did think long and hard before selecting the descriptor of this model coach. Like you, I used to think my model was of a "corridor 3rd", but no longer.


I recall reading a number of articles some time ago which clarified the subtle differences between types of coaches - especially those of the LNER and LMS. From them I learned:


  • Compartment coaches are cosy types, with several subdivisions between sections of the coach - each one recalling the seating of ancestral stage coaches.
  • Corridor coaches have a side corridor allowing movement between compartments and, in some cases, access to toilets. They may or may not have provision for passengers to move between coaches.
  • Vestibule coaches may or may not have compartments, but they all have a bellows-like connection between coaches to facilitate safe movement between coaches.

Although Hornby's descriptors are not always accurate, their recent publicity and catalogue information have been consistent with these principles.


I hope this clarifies my choice of words.





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