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Gresley all-steel BG (model)

steel BG steel BG

Full historical notes and 18 pictures are here.

There is no kit for this BG, the prime one on the ECML, so I asked William Barter to make a custom etch. And built it with MJT parts.

But first, I'd like to say that we tried something mildly heroic in an area that is the bane of etched brass coach building of steel or steel-panelled bodies: the grade of brass that is used normally is too springy and resists forming. In old money (I am going to use the old terms because they have the advantage of lucidity) the grade was called "1/2 hard". And it's not meant to be a formable grade. "1/4 hard" would be better, but it's not available. Comet Models offer a solution for Big Four era stock by pre-forming it with a press but, alas, it's an exaggerated LMS profile. No problem to many eyes I'm sure, but for Gresley and Thompson coaches, the tumblehome was quite gentle and from the mid-waist.

So we tried the next grade that is available, which is "fully annealed". Well, dear readers, the tumblehome was a dream to form: a fabulous profile that took no effort at all. But then, I dropped the side onto the floor... and it became a write-off. It was too soft, at least in 4mm scale. So we have been forced to stay with "1/2 hard" brass, and do the business of forming the tumblehome as before: around a piece of skirting board gripped in a Workmate. Panelled sides don't have this problem because the etching process removes one of the work-hardened skins on the brass sheet. At least we tried!

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The first view shows the sides being made up while still flat: in the upper view the tumblehome has been formed and the strip along the waist added. In the lower view, droplight, hinges and bump stops have been fitted and holes are being drilled through the horizontal strip to take the long handrails - a feature of early LNER BGs that doesn't show on many photographs and tends not to be noticed by modellers. Look at the colour picture above of the BG in red photographed on a sunny day: the handrails are quite clear. Fortunately for modellers of later BGs, Gresley dropped this feature.

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The MJT floorpan - it's the slightly narrower BG one - with side tabs and ends folded up, awaiting the sides.

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The sides have had the top tab folded down and been attached to the floor pan.

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My apologies for the soft focus of this shot but you should be able to see the solebars attached. They were pre-drilled with holes for the long step supports (0.5mm wire which is more robust than the MJT tabs). The ends don't show in any of the pictures: I used the MJT cast ends with the beading removed.

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A closer view of an end with the aforementioned holes in the solebar clear to see, and Milliput in the holes along the waist after I had to open up a few. I'd struggled to get them all central and this fix was handy. The lighting is very oblique to show the effect of this strip along the waist (on the prototype it covered the joins between the steel sheets used to make the body).

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The bogies were pure MJT: castings and compensation. To my eye these are the best Fox bogies on the market.

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The finished body and underframe being painted, requiring multiple masking. The black underframe will represent the ex-works condition. The body has received a coat of mid-brown upon which the teak will be grained. At this stage the nature of the vehicle is unmistakable. Again, the lighting is at an oblique angle to show the basic simplicity of the vehicle.

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A general view with the light positioned to highlight the teak graining and lining that was used to simulate the panelling. The long handrails along the waist also stand out. Since completing the model I have learned that such ironwork was probably painted brown. That would of course make it hard to see on the model, a shame after all the effort!

A big feature is the absence of trussing with the battery boxes (two sets, one on each side) hung from the floor in the same way as on vehicles with turnbuckle trussing.

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The view from the other side, with a little reflected light to show the steel body sides. I didn't want to overdo this and the model is best seen in the flesh: it runs in the "Flying Scotsman" on Cliff's The Gresley Beat, where it really stands out compared with the panelled stock in the rest of the train. Also noticeable is the roof which looks a bit like a boiler! I used the MJT system, adding the "boiler bands" with Microstrip.

Another feature is the Fox bogies (MJT again) which lend an old-fashioned feel to the model, despite the absence of trussing. It's a bundle of contradictions, this van.

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A closer view of one of the ends from a higher angle shows the boiler bands. As far as I could tell, they did not continue below the rainstrip, possibly internally? There may be no panelling on the sides but there's still quite a bit of detail and the model is far from plain.The Fox bogie was the standard fitting on all bogie vans at the time.

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The middle of the model seen from the other side. As always, the guard's door opened inwards, hence no visible hinges (they were internal), and the bottom of the door was higher to clear the interior floor. The long handrails along the waist are prominent.

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Related topics:

Gresley all-steel BG service is here.

ECJS and GNR clerestory BG: is here.

56'6" ECJS and GNR BG: is here.

Thompson 61'6" deal BG: is here.

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