Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

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Guy Rixon
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Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:21 pm

The ex-Slaters wagon-kits were mentioned recently in the thread about resurrecting Coopercraft. I suggested there that a serious amount of work was needed to get a finescale result from the kits. Since I've recently built one, and have some photos, I thought I'd describe the reparative work involved.

My take on the PO kits is that the residual value is in the outer surface of the sides and ends, when the livery is pre-printed. Everything else is way off the pace and needs mending or replacing. And I wouldn't use a Slaters kit if I had to letter it myself; I'd use one of the Cambrian kits. That said, here's what I did.

1. Recut the planking grooves on the inside. They are way too slight to show through the interior paint.

2. Fill the moulding marks on the insides of the sides and end.

3. Recut the planking grooves again, where they were bunged up with filler. (If I don't cut them before filling then I lose them altogether.

4. Cut holes for the bottom doors. I'm awfully bad at scribing details like door frames, so chose to make and separate doors. By reference to an RCH specification drawing (reproduced in the Ince Wagon Works book), I made the doors are 14mm x 8mm. I also filled the floor-plank grooves outboard of the door frames, to represent a single, wide plank running along the length of wagon on each side, between middle bearers. Tiny stubs of lateral planks outside the door frames makes no sense.

princess-royal-02.jpg


I'm not very good at cutting square holes, either...

Most of the structure needs to be stripped off the bottom of the floor. The middle longitudinals have to go as they get in the way of replacement axleguards. I left stubs to locate the headstocks as this eases the body assembly. In the photo, I've left on the ribs that roughly equate to the middle bearers, but that was a mistake: they had to come off before I could fit the suspension.

5. Make the bottom doors. They're just 1mm styrene, scribed with three equal-width planks. Rather than scribe the door bands, I actually cut (filed) grooves to take bits of microstrip.

6. Paint the inside of the sides, inside of the ends, the floor and the bottom doors. I did it with artist's acrylics, over Halfords' red spray-primer.
princess-royal-03.jpg


7. Fit the bottom-door bands, from microstrip pre-painted black. I'm not so good at painting neatly up to a straight edge inside a panel. Painting a separate part and fitting it was easier for me.

8. Fit the bottom doors.
princess-royal-05.jpg

My wagon seems to have a damaged plank alongside one of the doors and should probably not be in traffic.
Last edited by Guy Rixon on Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:30 pm

9. Build the internal ironwork onto the sides and ends. (Sorry, I forgot to photograph this stage.) From the RCH drawing, there's quite a bit to add. Vertical bits of three knees on each side, one each side of the side-door (above the middle bearers), and one by the end-door. No vertical knee at the fixed end, but there's a small one tying the top plank of the side to the top plank of the end; i.e. it goes round the corner and has to be made in two parts, mitred to match the mitre of the kit parts. On the sides, at the fixed end, and also on the end, two vertical washer plates. On the end door, three vertical door-bands, at positions to match the washer plates moulded on the outside. All washer plates from 0.010" strip; side knees from 0.030" x 0.040" strip, filed to a taper; brackets at the corners, and end-door bands, from 0.020 strip. All the ironwork was pre-painted, then stripped of paint on the mating surfaces and then let into grooves filed through the paint on the sides and ends. It's actually quite easy to do before the body is assembled (and damn near impossible to do well afterwards).

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:56 pm

10. Assemble the body. Perfectly standard operation, except that the added detail and the paint has to be protected throughout (the acrylic paint doesn't like the plastic solvent) and the $%&* mitre never quite matches, of course.

11. Make up Bill Bedford axleguards to replace the kit's mouldings the latter being too coarse, too fragile and too rigid.

For this wagon, I folded the side-plates of the axleguards above the baseplate, so they stand up when the axleguards are right-way up. These sides then engage with a plastic slab, 10mm wide, that I cut from 0.030" sheet to hold the axleguards into the wagon, the slab being welded to the floor later in the process. To get the ride height right, I had to file down the side plates to just about the level of the central hole.
princess-royal-08.jpg

In the photo, the unit on the left is as etched and the one on the right is filed down. I also remove the little square tabs from what has become the bottom of the side-plates.

I like to make up the axleguards as a skeletal chassis by fixing a wire between them to hold the wheelbase. I set the wheelbase using a Brassmasters' gauge with the axleguards sitting on a flat surface and then fix it by soldering the wire through the holes in the side plates.
princess-royal-09.jpg

The brass-work is chemically blackened rather than painted.

12. Extend the solebars to the right wheelbase. Yes, really. Comparing the spacing of the axleguards moulded onto the solebars with the brass ones shows the mouldings to be a bit more than 0.5mm too close together. Interestingly, the solebars are about 0.5mm to short to fit well between the headstocks, so I really think they're wrong. With this degree of misfit they could jam the suspension, so they have to be fixed. I cut them down the centre with a knife, then spaced them out with microstrip and made good with a file when all was set.

13. Remove the moulded axleguards, leaving behind the springs and axleboxes.

14. Mill out the centre of the axleboxes. I use a 1.9mm router bit in a minidrill. It's quite easy to do in soft plastic (harder in whitemetal), but the milling has to go very close to breaking through the axleboxes to be sure of having room for the suspension to slide. I aim to get the side slightly translucent, like fine china.

15. Paint the solebars to match the body sides: it's the basic, Humbrol bright-red for this kit, can't remember the number. Paint the solebar ironwork black. Get black paint on the bits that were supposed to stay red, then patch it up. Curse a lot.

16. Make up the brake components, using the Bill Bedford etch for RCH brakes. These are great components to work with and give (IMHO) a lovely result.

princess-royal-10.jpg


Since this wagon is to the 1907 standard, it has non-reversible brake-blocks, whereas Bill etch has reversible. I ground off the surplus lugs.

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:04 pm

17. Fix the axleguard-locating slabs described above, and at the same time, fix the solebars. The latter give the fore-and-aft position for the brass chassis. Check that the suspension can move. The axleguards can, in principle, be removed at this point, but I left them in.

18. Fit the brake hangers and push rods. They need to be packed slightly off the floor to align with the wheels. Setting the wheelbase with the Brassmasters' gauge ensures clearance between wheels and shoes. Setting the wheelbase to match the kit's solebars ensures lack of clearance.

billbedford
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby billbedford » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:13 am

Guy Rixon wrote:1. Recut the planking grooves on the inside. They are way too slight to show through the interior paint.

2. Fill the moulding marks on the insides of the sides and end.

3. Recut the planking grooves again, where they were bunged up with filler. (If I don't cut them before filling then I lose them altogether.



Planks were not chamfered on the inside of wagons. Any visible lines on the inside of wagons were due to dirt working its way into the cracks between the planks.
Bill Bedford
Mousa Models
http://www.mousa.biz

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby Guy Rixon » Sun Jun 28, 2015 10:03 am

Bill: yes indeed. But the plank edges were visible, and the best way I've found to achieve that, given my painting technique, is to exaggerate them. The moulded representation of planks may be closer to scale but gets lost. Drawing the planks on with a lining pen might be an alternative.

Concerning the main build, the steps so far get to this:
princess-royal-11.jpg


Final work is:

19. Fit the V-hangers for the brakes, aligning by eye with the previously-fitted brake-tumbler. I glued the outer hanger directly to the paint of the solebar, which is weak but sufficient. Add the brake shaft as a short piece between the hangers, with a stub for the lever. The Bedford brake-parts allow large holes for the shaft, so I used 0.7mm wire.

20. Fit the brake lever and guard. The loop on the end of the lever won't pass though the guard (possibly I formed it wrongly) so the lever has to be fed through from the shaft end. It can't fit through when the guard is in place because the headstock is in the way. Thus, I inserted the lever before fitting the guard. The latter has to be glued to the solebar and this is a critical joint. To help the cyano glue, I cut through the paint at the fixing site with a file and rubbed off the blackening from the guard; the bare-metal-to-plastic joint seems stronger than the alternative.

princess-royal-12.jpg


21. Fit buffer heads. No room for sprung buffers in this 15' wagon with the axleguard springing so I didn't try.

22. Fit capping irons. I used pre-painted strip. AFAIK, the capping irons were screwed down at this period, not clipped, so I have not represented clips.

33. Fit the moulding for the end-door bar. The stubby door-bands on this moulding are at the wrong spacings so I cut them off and welded the bar to the top of the door.

34. Add weight using lead. There's barely enough space to get it up to 40 g, let alone 50.

35. Tart up the paintwork (you can see where I've damaged the previous painting), add the number transfers, varnish, and then weather.

All this leads not to a super-detailed wagon, just to one complete enough for me not to feel embarrassed; and I'm not claiming that this item is particularly well-built. It's upwards of 10 hours work to get to this result, possibly less per wagon if done in batch. Is this the kit whose production we really need to save for our finescale work?

Philip Hall
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby Philip Hall » Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:57 pm

Guy,

I particularly like your representation of the wood interior. What shades/make of artists' acrylics did you use?

Philip

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby Guy Rixon » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:29 pm

Thanks, Philip. The base colour is a tinted grey, and the tint is opaque raw sienna. It doesn't need very much tint, and the degree of tinting depends on how "young" I want the wood to look. The base coat needs to be fairly thick to cover evenly, hence the over-scale plank-grooves. As the base coat is drying, I over-brush with a dark wash mixed from black ("ivory black", but no elephants were harmed, etc) and umber. The wash is wetter than dry brushing, more like a watercolourist's wet-in-wet technique, and I only put a little colour on in each pass. Sometimes I need to wipe off the wash, but otherwise the technique seems repeatable.

dal-t
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Re: Improving a Slaters PO-wagon

Postby dal-t » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:31 pm

Guy Rixon wrote:Is this the kit whose production we really need to save for our finescale work?


No need, since POW Sides say they've now obtained a 'direct line of supply - anyone who want's PO bodies can get them. Different matter for the Slater's MR wagons and Passenger Stock, though - and they don't need half as much flumduffery to make them into decent models.
David L-T


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