By Nigel Town
The Christmas holiday usually presents the opportunity for a bit of modelling. Last year I managed to make some progress with a Glyn Valley Tramway brakevan.
This van has been modelled by others previously so there’s nothing especially novel about the prototype. This model has been built plank for plank like the original though. There are few photographs of the brake van that make good modelling sources, the best photograph I’m aware of is in the book The Glyn Valley Tramway by W J Milner (ISBN 0860932869). This shows the brake van in the later years of its life. At this point additional bracing and strapping has started to materialise to combat some of the general wear and tear. If you mentally remove this bracing then you can start to picture the “as delivered” vehicle.
This model was built bottom up. Starting with a base made up of cut basswood planks. The use of planks for the floor does compromise the strength of the floor when compared to the plywood bases that are more usually seen in the flooring of rolling stock models. The model is naturally strengthened by the inclusion of 3 pairs of parallel solebars running the length of the vehicle. That said from the outset one of the goals for this model would be built closer to the techniques of the prototype and avoid the use of sheets of material. The vertical sides, doors and ends were all built up as individually framed panels, each panel being painted internally before being assembled. One aspect of making the panels from planks and painting them at the outset is that the interior painting is simpler, but the matt white paint did leak out in a number of places. This was where I deliberately spaced the planks slightly apart. Another trick I used to show that these were individual planks was to utilise separate pieces of wood to cut the planks from. On one of my earlier planked models I cut all the planks from one piece of wood. Consequentially all the grain runs in the same direction and it is hard to make out the individual planks.
Having assembled all of the panels these were fitted to the base working from the non balcony end toward the balcony. This gave me the opportunity to make sure all was square and true on an individual panel basis. Once reaching the sliding doors I incorporated a pair of internal roof spars. These were shaped from some 1/8” plywood to give some strength. The reason for making these a little on the stout side is that like most others I tend to pick up rolling stock by spanning the roof and picking it up by the sides. With this accurately planked model there was no strength in the base and the longitudinal planks tended to roll inwards when a modest pressure was applied to the side doors to pick the model up. Having fitted the spars the internal balcony end completed the basic box. However a door frame and two half height windows didn’t do much to give the brake van much strength. The van and balcony doors were again made as standalone panels and glued in place.
With the basic van complete it’s time to add some of the details. The model uses a Cambrian brake standard internally, this is held in place with an M3 bolt fastened into the main pillar and then bolted through the floor. This stud can then be used at some point in the future as part of the braking mechanism. Whilst on the brakes the V-hanger and cross shaft are represented on the model but there are no brake shoes or arms on this model as they can be a mixed blessing when running with 12”:1ft of trackside growth. The wheelsets are from Slaters, being the closest I could identify, and the couplings from IP Engineering, which are close to the prototype but offer the obligatory hook for 3 link chain.
Back on top the final detailing uses Cambrian plastic rivets on the two ends, these are simply superglued in place. The strapping and corner braces were a little fiddly I admit. These being made from 1/8” brass boiler band (Blackgates) for the strapping, and the corners being cut and shaped specifically for the job. The pins used to hold these parts in place are a mixture of Billings model boat pins and Peco rail pins. The door handles, Brandbright, where else!
The last aspect of the external detailing is the steps and I’m rather proud of these. The steps are made from pieces of brass angle, one trick I do use is to chamfer the edges of the brass angle where it is overscale. For example the underside of the step is solid, to give the protruding step some strength. However the edge of this has been chamfered to half to reduce the observed thickness. The deck of the steps are left as varnished hardwood.
The roof is also planked , no surprises there. The planks are then covered and finished with a covering of cloth, but it is applied in a manner so that the planks can still be distinguished. The stove inside the van takes advantage of the “one at a time” fitting of the planking for the roof to easily ensure the stove chimney lines up with the hole in the roof. The stove itself is a lockshield cap from a radiator, the stove flue is a 4mm diameter plant support. The roof mounting for the flue, simply a 4mm plain washer. The white interior makes the detailing stand out all the more, although I stopped short of interior lighting on this model.
Final painting then, all the metal parts are etch primed (Precision Paints 2 part etch primer), then it’s a Humbrol black for the underside, a mid green for the van body and a grey roof. The livery description of “mid green” isn’t particularly helpful, but it does leave the door open to interpretation. I did consider spray painting the body but the method of construction would make masking the windows a nightmare, and I was also a little worried about getting spray paint through those “cracks” in the planking that I’d so carefully engineered.
So a cracking little model that’s pretty close to the real thing built using individual planks throughout. Down sides, well this isn’t as robust as some other rolling stock. I have thought about adding weights to the model too as the thinner wood used throughout clearly doesn’t have the mass of its plywood equivalent.