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Irish Rail 20ft wagon chassis


David Jackson
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For some time I have been looking for a suitable chassis to use for an Irish Rail 20ft flat wagon. Despite having already collected a few, I had decided not to use the ubiquitous Airfix/Dapol Prestwin Cement Wagon chassis for a number of reasons, the main one being that it is too short.

I came across a Wrenn Hopper Wagon chassis, which, despite turning out to be too long at 86mm, fitted the bill. The wheelbase was spot on and the brake gear acceptable. The fact that it was die-cast metal meant there would be no need for extra weight. The down side is that the chassis is not open frame, and would always require a container, or some sort of floor to conceal this fact.

 

Basic unfettled casting. 

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The first task was to reduce the length of the chassis. This entailed removing metal from each end to give a new chassis length of 78mm.

 

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Once the ends had been tidied up, and the Wrenn coupling mounts removed, new buffer beams made from 1mm plasticard were glued on. This made up the length to the correct 80mm. Buffers were made up using turned down Hornby DMU buffer heads and fitted with a sleeve 1.5mm long X 2.75mm in diameter. Insulation from domestic household lighting cable proved ideal. Buffer shanks were made from 3.15mm diameter plastic tube.

 

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Wrenn plastic pinpoint axle bearings are obtainable to purchase, but I decided to make my own using 1.5mm plastic strip, and Romford shoulderless brass bearings. A 2mm hole was drilled through the plastic strip and the bearing pushed in until it was flush with the surface. The strip was then turned over, and the excess brass sticking out of the back was filed off. The strip was then inserted into the bearing slot, it should be an interference fit, and, and with wheels fitted, adjusted for height. Once all is satisfactory, the bearing strips can be secured with a small drop of superglue.

To complete, NEM coupling pockets were glued in place.

 

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Completed chassis ready for painting.

 

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A coat of Halfords red primer to finish off for now.

 

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I have done six chassis so far, and all in all, I am very pleased with the end result, extremely free runners.  I may have to get some more.

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