Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

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Guy Rixon
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Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:02 pm

IMG_3902.JPG


The ultimate aim is a train of 9 or 10 coaches, with alternate brake-ends for services on the Met and on taller railways. The actual subject for the challenge is a brake-3rd which I actually finish (the previous three coaches in this train were becalmed years ago), and in which I solve the problems of bringing all the coaches up to a standard I can live with.

These models are Branchlines kits from the mid 80s. For early etched kits they're actually not too bad, and I can use almost all the kit parts. The planned deviations from the design are as follows.
    * Instructions say to solder the body to the chassis. I'll make it separate to make things easier.
    * Etched brake-gear is not very good in this kit, so I'll probably replace it with a print.
    * Buffers will be replaced with prints (which I have already) so I can spring them.
    * I can use the cast axleboxes, springs and shackles, but there's nothing to represent the spring hangers, so that might mean another print.
    * If I use the provided, wooden armature for the roof, I need to do something to secure the ends alongside the roof observatory.
    * I cannot face soldering the droplight frames (with no location built in), so I'll replace them with paper frames.

Philip Hall
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Philip Hall » Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:25 pm

This stirs up some memories! I built this very kit as a review for Model Railway Constructor just after it came out, and used it for years on my old Taw Vale layout. It never got painted until I eventually sold it to Martin Marrison (who I think is on here) and who produced a wonderful paint job.

The roof wasn't easy, especially the little sections either side of the birdcage.

I’ll look forward to seeing what you make of it.

Philip

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Fri May 01, 2020 10:46 am

IMG_4835.JPG

After a long diversion to finish a 31-year-old model of a goods van (don't ask), I got the big bits of the coach together.

I've arranged for the body and chassis to be separable. The "stilts" under the body are 12BA studs to engage the holes in the chassis top. I find it much easier put nuts onto studs than to put screws into captive nuts. That's because I have a set of the GW-models box spanners as seen at the right of the coach. Anybody who deals in small fasteners needs these. The crucial thing regarding body-securing studs is to put them far enough in-board that the spanner can be fitted onto the nuts. Some kits have the holes too close to headstocks and solebars.

I always find building a monocoque body challenging. In this case, I tried tacking the ends to the chassis by their flanges and assembling the sides to them, so that it becomes self-jigging. This wasn't a complete monocoque-up but didn't work as well as I'd hoped, firstly because it's hard to align the ends to the chassis accurately enough and secondly because I made two tacks on each end --- the solder still shows on the chassis; releasing them was harsh and damaging. If I did this again (I won't), I'd make one tack in the centre of each end.

What I shall do for the remaining six coaches in this set is to make up the body securing plates, which are 0.5mm brass strips that run across the lower flanges of the sides, not solder them to the sides initially, and use them to clamp the sides to the chassis.I can then align the sides with the ends of the chassis, space them using the loose ends, then solder the securing plates in. I then have a jigged up body making it easier to solder in the ends.

The motivation, incidentally, for converting to a removable body (when the roof is already separate) is to be able to get into the birdcage to roof and glaze it. That's brutally hard when the body is fast to the chassis. The kit design gives an access hole in the floor for these stages, but it's really not wide enough.

None of the body details have been put on yet. I prefer to put these on with lower-temperature solder after the monocoque has been cursed into existence. And the birdcage monocoque is yet to conquer.

williambarter
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby williambarter » Sat May 02, 2020 7:15 am

Guy, what is your plan for the close-coupling buffers within the set? Between each pair of coaches, one had a sort of dished block, and the other had two short buffers with rather more spherical heads than conventional. This is shown on HMRS drawings and photos from the Gloucester RCW archive.
Reason for asking is that if you are printing any, count me in for a few too!
Regards,
William

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat May 02, 2020 12:48 pm

I haven't quite worked out how to do the short buffers yet. I was hoping to adapt the castings in the kit.

Using the castings, internal springing a la AGW and MJT can't work as there isn't enough depth to house the spring. A print could fix this.

I had considered an unsprung arrangement where the buffer head is drilled along its axis and pivots on a wire threaded through the cup on the opposing headstock. If this works --- and it's not clear to me that it does work, not having built a test unit --- it works only because the bar coupling keeps the inter-coach distance constant at the headstock centres.

Speaking of those couplings, do we know what form they took? I have drawings of the couplings on the close-coupled bogie sets and those had a ball between the headstocks as a pivot; could that device have been on the short coaches?

Anyway, the simplest thing that could possibly work seems to be to drill the cast buffer-guides through at the diameter of the rams and to use leaf springs behind the headstock. I shall probably try that first and have the printed, self-contained buffers as plan "B". But if you still need those buffers I can make prints available to you anyway; I still have the drawings you sent a few years ago.

williambarter
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby williambarter » Sat May 02, 2020 2:11 pm

I never did my own etchings for these, but when I did the 6-wheel thirds that were converted to brake coaches to work with them, I provided for the close coupling by incorporating a fold up ear behind the headstock to retain a buffer spring.

Photo attached, also some to show the close-coupling arrangement. Definitely side buffers, with short buffers on one coach matching a dished block on the next.

Regards,

William
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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat May 02, 2020 10:28 pm

William, thanks for the extra information. I'll think about the buffer guides. The coupling itself seems clear enough.

In other news, the brake-3rd has acquired end steps. These, and their handrails, need to go in before the birdcage is built as they are hard to reach otherwise. Thankfully, there are only steps on the brake ends --- the coaches are coupled too closely for a man to climb between them --- as the steps in these kits are horrible to fit. The tabs on the steps don't fit the slots (except on the two where I narrowed the tabs to fit and then found that the slots were longer) and there's no half-etched line for folding down the tab. It's very hard to get them at a consistent depth from the end of the coach. In the end I put them on slightly too shallowly and filed back to consistent depth. BFI FTW! Recalling some nightmares from my youth, I remembered not to try bending wonky steps to horizontal. That works on kits with thicker ends, but not in the thin brass of these early kits. Any significant torque distorts the panels.

In passing, there's an obvious (to me) design for coach steps that I've never seen fully realised. First, back the tab behind the cosmetic step with a shoulder that sets the depth exactly. Secondly, divide the centre of the tab into three "fingers", which need to be about 0.75mm wide and 3mm long. To fit these, push the tabs through and bend two fingers up and one down, so that the step is held against the end for soldering. Simples!

Having done the soldering inside the end, I can now build the sides and inner end of the birdcage, but that's tomorrow's fight.

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Flymo748
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Flymo748 » Sun May 03, 2020 8:17 am

Guy Rixon wrote:In other news, the brake-3rd has acquired end steps. These, and their handrails, need to go in before the birdcage is built as they are hard to reach otherwise. Thankfully, there are only steps on the brake ends --- the coaches are coupled too closely for a man to climb between them --- as the steps in these kits are horrible to fit. The tabs on the steps don't fit the slots (except on the two where I narrowed the tabs to fit and then found that the slots were longer) and there's no half-etched line for folding down the tab. It's very hard to get them at a consistent depth from the end of the coach. In the end I put them on slightly too shallowly and filed back to consistent depth. BFI FTW! Recalling some nightmares from my youth, I remembered not to try bending wonky steps to horizontal. That works on kits with thicker ends, but not in the thin brass of these early kits. Any significant torque distorts the panels.

In passing, there's an obvious (to me) design for coach steps that I've never seen fully realised. First, back the tab behind the cosmetic step with a shoulder that sets the depth exactly. Secondly, divide the centre of the tab into three "fingers", which need to be about 0.75mm wide and 3mm long. To fit these, push the tabs through and bend two fingers up and one down, so that the step is held against the end for soldering. Simples!


Guy,

If I understand the challenge you've had with the design of the steps properly, then kudos to Alastair Wright and the original design of the coach ends which are in the 5522 range. These use a front cosmetic plate, and a backing plate that goes behind it. The steps (and any other end-of-vehicle details) are folded up to pass through the cosmetic plate. This gives proper alignment, and a really strong final result:

LM 312 part - large.JPG
LM 312 part - large.JPG (140.38 KiB) Viewed 2083 times


LM 312 side - left - large.JPG
LM 312 side - left - large.JPG (76.94 KiB) Viewed 2083 times


A really clever design, and ones that I was pleased to be able to write comprehensive instructions for:

LM312 instructions.pdf
(49.89 KiB) Downloaded 18 times


It's certainly an idea that I've learned from, and one that I hope other future designers of etches can use as well.

Cheers
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Sun May 03, 2020 9:45 pm

Paul: yes, Alistair's design is indeed well engineered. Two-layer ends should really be standard for etched coaches where the ends are panelled, as they are otherwise too thin for safety. I've only once had the chance to build a kit with two-layer ends and it was so much better than the norm.

Back with the primordial brass, next up is the birdcage. I remember this from my first build of a Branchlines 27' brake, back in 1987. It was a bit traumatic.

The outer end of the birdcage is integral with the end of the coach while the inner end is a separate piece that bridges across the upper flanges of the main sides; the birdcage sides are loose rectangles of brass. That is not an easy thing to assemble square; I remember many tries and much cursing back in '87. The earlier kit was for one of the 1901-built brakes with a lower birdcage to fit the Metropolitan loading-gauge. The current kit, for a 1894 brake, has a higher birdcage and a different etch ... and lo! it doesn't fit. The sides and inner end need to be 0.5mm taller if they are to rest on the main-side flanges and the top of the inner end is to be level with the outer end. One is presumably intended to put the birdcage together as a flying cantilever from the outer end. Just ... no. Didn't work for Frank Lloyd Wright either.

I had some 0.5 x 4.0 mm strip that just happened to be as wide as the birdcage sides should be high, so I cut and folded a U shape to form the visible sides and a hidden support for the end.

IMG_9367.JPG


Even I can solder that in straight! The problem here was bending it. I filed grooves at the end points, as if the thing had been half-etched. That gives location but work-hardens the brass so it doesn't want to fold to 90 degrees; the first one I made fractured at the bend. On the second try, which is the one finally fitted, I annealed the bend locations in a candle flame before bending and this seems to fix it.

Before fitting the U-bracket, I'd offered the inner end of the birdcage up to the outer end to see how much it needed to be packed up from the main-side flanges. It turned out that an off-cut of the 0.5mm strip was just right.

IMG_4479.JPG


And I now have a roofless aviary. Rolling and fitting the roof is tomorrow's job.

IMG_4995.JPG

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat May 09, 2020 11:37 am

Roof decision time. The birdcage roof is easy, being a single arc with an etched piece supplied in the kit. I soldered it on, being very careful not to leave gobs of solder where they could obstruct the glazing. There's little space around the etched glazing bars to secure plastic glazing and any intrusion can make things difficult. Soldering the roof on the outside of the curved surface and the inside of the stright bit worked for me.

IMG_1797.JPG


The main roof is three-arc or semi-ellipitical or some hybrid of the two.The more-modern editions of this kit supply a rolled, brass roof, but this old version has a wooden armature with a printed-paper overlay. On the non-brake coaches, this can be arranged to sit between the ends by friction and remain removable for decorating the insides. On the brakes it's harder because of the narrow strips alongside the birdcage.

Plan A, c.1986 when I started this train, was just to fret out the right shape from the wood. I tried that on another brake and it didn't work, the wood being too flexible and too fragile to hold the right shape. The wood in this kit has been seasoned for much longer (cough, cough) so it might just work ... but no, not going there. Plan B was to file up the prongs of the roof from brass and to epoxy them to the wooden bit. Plan C, given that I've separated the body from the chassis was to fix the roof permanently.

In fact, my loutish handling of the model is forcing me into plan C. At some point the top of the non-birdcage end has been distorted. Being very thin and springy brass, there's no way to bend it straight such that it stays straight when standing by itself. However, if I form the end of the wooden roof and glue the brass to that there's some hope of hiding the damage. The gaps by the birdcage can be built up in scrap pieces and filler.

Before I can fit the wooden roof I need to sand it to fit. The top profile is good but it's too thick to sit on top of the body flanges. Before I can sand to fit, I need to fit the brass T-sections forming the gutters, and before I can do that I need Mr. Russan's suppliers to get the stock to him. Normally at this hiatus I'd work on the chassis, but I find that working with body bolted to the floor-pan feels stronger and safer; I don't want axleguards etc. as a hostage to fortune. Therefore, the next stage is to prepare the interior parts.

EDIT: I am unsure whether this coach needs an external light-switch. Almost all the 27' stock had a switch on one end worked by a long bars with loop handles on the outer ends. The same bars and handles were used on the gas-lit and electrically-lit stock. There doesn't seem to be an etch for it in this kit, and the instructions are ambiguous as to whether this 1894 3rd-brake had one. Does anybody know? Could the early brakes have had an internal switch in the guard's compartment?

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat May 09, 2020 4:34 pm

I've been trying to work out the variations in this stock, with a view to printing some of the missing parts. It's complicated, of course.

The first of the coaches arrived in 1894. These had 16' wheelbase whereas the kits have 15'6", so the 1894 batch can be ignored.

There were more batches in 1897 and the kit I'm building is supposed to be one of these. In this year, the wheelbase changed to 15'6".

There was clearly a batch in 1898, as per the builders' photo posted above by William.

Finally, there were batches in 1900 and 1901, in which the brake-3rds had two compartments instead of three, were electrically lit from new and had Spencer's patent rubber pads for secondary suspension (i.e. J-hangers instead of T-hangers). These batches include the sub-set of brakes with lower birdcages.

Note that the 1898 coach in the photo also has electric light and rubber-pad suspension. Gloucester have highlighted these fittings in white, so presumably they were novel. The HMRS drawings that seem to match (so far as I can tell from the on-line thumbnails) show the older fittings, so I'm guessing that the spec was changed while these coaches were being built.

The 1987 brakes were in two series, one with steel underframes and electric lights and the other with wooden underframes (flitched?) and gas lights. The electrically-lit ones were said to have jumper cables dynamos but no batteries.

Finally, some of the coaches are known to have been upgraded for faster running in 1906 and 1907. The note in the kit instructions refers to new axle-bearings, but I suspect that the riding improvement was obtained from fitting the rubber-pad suspension. The brakes noted as upgraded are all in the wooden-framed, gas-lit batch of 1897.

At this level of complexity, and lacking photos, I'm inclined to put it down and leave it a while...but that's how I came to have a cupboard full of 1980's kits, so some resolve is needed.

Therefore, best guesses:
[list=]
[*]All coaches built with gas lights were built with T-hangers.
[*]All coaches built with electric lights were built with J-hangers.
[*]Coaches with wooden solebars were flitched so that they look the same as the steel-solebar kind from the outside.
[*]Coaches with suspension upgrades in 1906/7 would have been initially in sets where all coaches had this feature (else why bother changing?), but coaches built with the newer suspension could appear with old-suspension vehicles.
[*]Gas and electric lighting could co-exist in the same set, but beware the jumper-cable arrangements: electric brakes of 1897 could only be next to an electrically-lit coach.
[/list]

I need to print T-hangers for most of my train, which will be old-style. I shall eventually build alternate, 1901-pattern brakes to so that the train can be morphed into something that could go over the Met., so I need some J-hangers as well.

I need to print the brake rigging since the kit parts are too primitive.

I need some oval builders-plates since the kit doesn't have these.

The kit also lacks door hinges. I prefer to fit these at the end of assembly because brass ones mess up my glazing plan, so prints again. They will have 0.5mm spigots, to be glued into holes in the sides.

I may as well do the short buffer-guides that William requested, and in that case I should include the buffing cups, so that these fittings can be used on kits that don't have the branchlines castings.

I think that's it for the prints.

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Fri May 15, 2020 8:32 pm

Planning ahead for the glazing: I need to build "stretchers" to carry the glazing and the droplight frames. The idea is to have the fixed lights hard against the brass side while the droplights are visibly spaced back. Wainwright coaches had their glass near enough in the plane of the outer panels, retained by very thin bolection-mouldings. Since the roof will be fixed before galzing, I need the glazing parts to be easy to fit from the under-body aperture; they need to be self-jigging. If the stretchers are made right, all the glazing for one side of one compartment can be popped in, aligned against the top flange, and glued on a part of the stretcher away from the visible glazing.

I'm on v4 of the stretchers, the first three versions being detailed in a post that this forum seems to have discarded; nothing of value was lost. V1 and v2 were constructed painfully on printed scans of the coach side. V3 was a CAD for prints. V4 is a jig.

IMG_8299.JPG


It lets me repeatably fix a drop-light frame to two strips of 0.020" plastic...

IMG_2598.JPG


...which can then be stiffened with more plastic down the sides of the droplight frame.

IMG_6976.JPG


This latter picture is the view from inside the coach. The drop-light glazing is glued to the brass frame on this side, inside the plastic strips. The fixed-light glazing is glued to the stretcher on the other side.

Note that the aperture in the etched droplight-frame is visibly off-centre; it's an old kit, from hand-drawn artwork and, as designed, it doesn't matter that the overlap behind the side is uneven. For me, it means that the reference surface of the jig has to locate the aperture in the frame, not its outside edge.

Holding the stretcher inside the coach, the alignment seems to be OK-ish, and can be tweaked by filing or shimming individual stretchers if I feel picky.

IMG_1070.JPG


I'm cautiously pleased with these stretchers. Having made the jig, it takes five to 10 minutes to make a stretcher. That's quite a total time for the whole train, but acceptable.

This jig does all the passenger compartments in the train. The first and seconds class compartments are wider than the thirds, but their fixed lights are at the same spacing from the doors. I need a similar jig for the double doors in the guard's compartments. It remains to be seen whether stretchers made on these jigs would fit kits for other Wainwright stock.

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:56 am

IMG_8252.JPG

The brake-3rd now has a roof, by a different method to what I'd originally planned.

The roof is made from the wooden section in the kit, heavily sanded down to fit the etched profile and to accommodate gutter strips, the latter from 0.020" x 0.060" styrene strip. The wooden part is wrapped in the card template from the kit, the card being secured with Deluxe card glue. I did the wrapping before fitting the gutters as I needed to press down the edges of the roof against a flat surface to seal the bond.

The gutter strips were notched to clear the ends of the coach and laid on the top flanges of the body, with the wood-and-card roof clamping them in place. I then ran in CA glue along the gutters to secure them. I used medium-viscosity glue and managed not to glue the roof to the brass prematurely. Since my sanding of the wood was uneven, there were gaps along the gutters which I filled with putty. The overhanging paper at the non-birdcage end was stiffened with more CA glue.

I made the thin fillets to sit alongside birdcage from plastic laminations, welded to the gutter strips.

Roof furniture is a mix. The kit gives lost-wax castings, but they are not so good. One of the ventilators was miscast, and there were no spares, so I replaced all of them with prints from Shapeways. I used the lamp-top castings, but I now realize that I should have replaced them too. The lamp tops are sprued from the chimneys --- a really bad choice --- and after cleaning up to the highest useable point they are probably too low. I need to seek out some good photos to check, but I think I shall need to drill out the chimneys and replace them with rod. The rain-strips are 0.020" x 0.020" plastic strip, fixed with CA glue.

IMG_1446.JPG

I'm fairly happy with the profile at the inner end.

IMG_1958.JPG

The birdcage end is not so good and shows the problem of the fillet pieces springing away from the brass structure. This will be mainly cured at the end of the build when the roof is glued in. However, even them it won't be perfect as I placed the wooden roof slightly too hight against the birdcage and the fillets are correspondingly high. I think it will look good enough and I shall live with it.

Martin M
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Martin M » Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:46 pm

Guys

I always this it is an interesting challenge to update some of these older kits and produce something with a bit more finees. Turning a silk purse out of a sow's ear comes to mind...

Keep up all the good work as you have some excellent ideas I a may copy...

Martin

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Socially-distanced challenge: SER 27' close-coupled stock

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:43 am

The coach has been turned purple at the second attempt. The first go was trashed at the varnishing stage by a busted airbrush-nozzle and only turned the air blue. Pictures when I get back to base.

Meanwhile, from exile, brakes:
Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 10.16.59.png

The etches in the kit have blocks and hangers (in silhouette only) but no brake bows or other rigging. This assembly, to be printed when I have the other details drawn, is as close as I can get working from a poor copy of the GA. I've altered the angle of one brake-bow from horizontal, as on the GA, to 10 degree inclination; it simply wouldn't work as drawn and must be one of those details where the GA is overruled by the workshops.

The SER, and the SECR following SER conventions, rigged the operating rods for both sets of brakes on the same side of the centre crank. This means that one set is pulled on by the rod and one set is pushed on. This means that the rigging is almost identical at each end; only the angle of entry of the push/pull rods changes.

To fits these, I will cut a gap for the axle in the above-solebar support and then glue the assembly in place after fitting the wheels. The rod from the centre crank on the brake shaft sockets into the central hangers. If I use the right glue, the brakes could be carefully cut pried out for maintenance if required.

The brake assemblies mount onto the bridges joining the axleguards for one axle. The kit has a rocking axleguard at one end, so the brakes for this end needs supports that are 1mm shorter.


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