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Starting from scratch - 2

The main difference between these two wagons and the vans described previously was in some more advanced materials; such is progress. Otherwise, the basics were unchanged, and remain so to this day.

Once again, they were built via a magazine article by the likes of Nick Campling and Peter Tatlow and the subject was the ubiquitous 5-plank merchandise/open wagon that was built by all the companies in huge numbers - although the LNER chose 6, slightly narrower planks. Several types were produced, the early manually-braked ones on a wooden underframe, with 9ft and 10ft wheel spacing. Later there were to be AVB versions, and even steel solebars, but the "basic" pair was described and that's what I built.

Tatlow LNER opens

The article came with drawings and prototype photographs; here is a selection from Peter Tatlow's "A Pictorial Record of LNER Wagons". This is the original edition, it was reprinted a few years later with a slightly different selection of illustrations: either way you can see the format with modeller's drawings and illustrations (four pages for these opens). The most recent and gloriously illustrated version, with more numbering information, came out recently from Wild Swan as "LNER Wagons, Vol.4A" and this time, there are an astonishing 13 pages of information on these wagons! Here's a specimen pair:

Tatlow 4A

I mention these sources to show how much more information gradually becomes available and how much easier it is to make the models. Meanwhile, here are the two wagons as originally built.

LNER opens

Click to view full-size image

As before, the body sides and ends were scored in one run on a long piece of Plastikard. For the strapping I moved on from zinc sheet from toothpaste tubes and went over to thinly cut, Plastikard strip. The notion of laying bolt heads hadn't been invented and I impressed them with a sharp point, over a sheet of lead. A triangular-section piece of PK was fettled for the lower part of the doors - a distinctive part of the design - and glued on. Some brass wire made the hinge underneath. Cast metal parts from the Kenline range were used again, this time beginning with T-section, end stanchions on the body - beautifully cast and so easy to use. Solebars were also Plastikard with various details added, all pretty plain sailing.

For the two variations, always a pleasing part of modelling, I used combined axleguard and axlebox box castings: the RCH type with spoked wheels for the 9ft wheelbase, and for the 10ft, version, slightly different castings which I filed flat to make them look like the LNER axlebox. Nowadays so many accurate castings are available ready-to-use from the likes of MJT, for example, whose etched brass W-irons also make it easier to assemble underframes and get them truly square for the sake of good running. I also used castings for the running gear where, again, little has changed except for a higher standard (such as ABS castings or etched brass from Masokits). An embellishment was the safety loops for which I used copper split pins from coupling sets: they're nice and narrow and easy to fold.

Buffers were Kenline too, also now now available from MJT and ABS (as one-piece castings or sprung versions). Bolt heads on the solebars seemed quite prominent so I drilled holes and pushed in short lengths of wire (styrene micro-rod is a little easier). Brush painting was as before using Humbrol with individual planks picked out in different shades to give a weathered look. Still no transfers at the time, so it was Letraset dry-lettering for the "NE" again and a fine paint brush for the rest. Note how I added cast plates on the solebars: quite a small detail but one that brings to models to life. As the years passed, transfers came on stream.

The main things evident between the vans described first and these two opens is, well, not a lot! The basics were the same - and will always be so - it's the quality of some of the parts and fittings, and more experience, of course, that took them to the next level. Nowadays kits are available for vast numbers of wagons, in plastic and whitemetal, yet these two models stand up quite well - and they teach you an enormous amount of modelling for future projects, among which there are hybrid approaches and, all too often, kits that need improving, or tweaking into a type that still isn't available!


And finally, a general view at Peterborough c1960 with express and ordinary passenger trains passing behind A3 60055 Woolwinder and 61207. In the foreground the goods wagons include four different kinds of open with, on the far left, an ex-LNER 6pl open on 10ft wb. Condition is recently repaired but the new planks unpainted. Another 6pl wagon alongside has a steel chassis and self-contained buffers, apparently a BR variant. This one has also been refurbished but painted. In the yard beyond, many more open wagons of this basic kind were still in service.

To be continued...

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