Jump to content

UTA 'suburban' MPD set

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Recently I re-started work on a 2-car MPD set, begun back about 1994. The immediate inspiration for this, back in the early nineties, was a Colin Boocock pic in 'Irish Railway Album', reproduced in typically 'muddy' Ian Allan 1960s fashion, showing a set at York Road in 1963; and some pics of a set Steve Rafferty had converted from a pair of Tri-ang suburban coaches. The latter came my way in part-exchange for an AEC set I built for Steve and formed the basis for this project, with a coach that went AWOL in the intervening twenty years being replaced by a recent eBay acquisition.


The deeper inspiration for the model was my interest in the trains of my childhood. I was never much interested in steam, if only because of regularly getting an eyeful of soot when leaning out the carriage windows, as one was wont to do in those days, on a Portrush excursion. I didn't know the correct titles of the railcars I travelled on back in the 1960s and early 1970s on the Bangor and NCC lines but they WERE 'the train' to me. MPD unreliability may have come later because I don't recall them ever letting us down. Back in the early 1990s, a resurgence of interest revealed it was too late to experience them again, apart from snapping MPD trailer 532 on an ex-GNRI underframe at Whitehead.


MPD 532 RPSI 92 - 6.jpg


However, thanks to Mark Kennedy at the UFTM, I was able to acquire copies of a good many works drawings (many of which I have posted in my gallery at http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/gallery/member/15566-33lima/) and gradually followed up various leads and got a lot of help from many individuals and other sources, including articles in the IRRS journal and managing to arrange to meet and chat with both CME WAG MacAfee and designer Leslie Stafford (whose signature appears on many of the works drawings). Some mysteries remained - like the 'turquoise train' I recalled we used to see on the Bangor Line from Carnalea for a time in the early 1960s (was it a 'eau de nil' MPD on trial, or was it an unrecorded livery for an MED set, not just the one car recorded in cream and pale blue-green in 'Diesel Dawn'?) but many other details of the pioneering UTA railcars were revealed.


First effort at an MPD set consisted of a very limited re-work of a trio of Hornby Staniers, as described in issue 1 of the newsletter 'Irish Lines' in December 1992 (archive available here:http://newirishlines.org/archive-2/ ).


This NIR maroon set was soon afterwards re-worked to resemble something closer to real MPD vehicles and was then followed by another 3-car set, from similar base coaches but with rather more attention to detail.




...which brings my MPD projects up to the point of the current one, which I'll describe next.


Edited by 33lima
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having renewed my interest about a year back I dug out all my old models and re-started work on the 'suburban' MPD set. Unlike my first two 'intercity' sets, this was going to represent a non-corridor compartment set, of which there were several varieties including power cars and 'mules' (as the unpowered MPD trailers were known). In the interval, my sources had expanded, having been joined by Colm Flanagan's excellent 'Diesel Dawn' (essential reading for anyone remotely interested in the subject) and other excellent sources such as Derek Young's superb 'UTA in Colour', Sam Somerville's 'NIR Runabout' (an excellent source fro UTA railcars in NIR days) and most recently, Derek Huntriss's 'Irish Traction in Colour', which includes a superb study of 'suburban' MPD sets at York Road.


To be honest I'd intended to run Steve Rafferty's set as it was but he'd paint-stripped it before the swap. It was a basic conversion with a trio of windows in the brake end of two Tri-ang suburban coaches (as produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s), some side windows filled in, and sliding doors scribed on. Having acquired it unpainted I decided to do a more dramatic rebuild. The brake compartments on real MPDs were quite small and took up the space of at most a couple of former passenger compartments. Also the compartment spacing was much tighter than on the Tri-ang models.


Triang suburban.JPG


MPD 46, 47, 48.jpg


So I decided to do a 'cut and shut' job, removing the sides from the floor and razor-sawing the sides into sections which I re-assembled to give something approximating the correct compartment spacing. This was the point I picked up the work again, having to acquire a second coach - a non-brake version this time - as one of the originals could not be located.


The rebuilt sides were assembled onto a lengthened roof, and a new cab front was built from plastic card on the old coach end, with the upper half cut away for the windows. Plasticard brake compartment sides completed the picture and I thus ended up with a coach nearer the correct length than the rather short Tri-ang suburban coaches.




By this time of course I had been forcibly reminded of the stationmaster's advice to John Wayne at the start of 'The Quiet Man' about this not being the best place to start if you wanted to get to Inishfree (or build an MPD conversion) but I'd started and this time, twenty years later, I was going to finish!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyhow, I had opted to make a composite from the 46-48 series and an all third from the series 50-53.


MPD 50, 51, 52, 53.jpg


Power was going to be a venerable Tri-ang power bogie from the equally venerable Tri-ang R157 DMU. Soon I had the basic bodyshells of both cars built. I had only one interior seating unit and had to cut and shut this too, adding some extra compartment partitions and seats from plasticard. The seating was essentially rebuilt onto the former coach floor, originally moulded with the sides but now separate.


I next returned to detailing the compo. I used (MJT?) cast ventilators for the roof, supplemented by cross-straps cut from parcel tape, a circular vent common to MPDs above the brake compartment from two discs cut from plasticard, and a plastic exhaust pipe down near the gutters on the RH side. More plasticard provided lights and other fittings. I fitted turned brass buffers in home-made plastic housings and added an etched brass screw coupling to the cab buffer beam. The tension-lock coupling at that end has had its hook removed and the bar cut back a bit and I may replace this with a wire loop or remove it altogether at some point. Florists wire was used to replicate various visible pieces of pipework. Door handles and hinges were originally raised detail which was lost when rebuilding; the door lines were scribed on and hinges and handles cut from plastic strip and fitted.




Underframe trussing was from thicker plastic strip, and mechanical details were added from strip, wire and some pieces of wooden dowel. The UTA works drawings only show major components and I have had to rely on photo interpretation to sort out the rest of what's visible from the sides. Since I started, 'Diesel Dawn' appeared and features a hand-drawn layout scheme for MPD underfloor components but I am fairly certain that this is reproduced mirror image from the standard layout.




Well, that's as far as I've got to date, except that having in the interim finished (barring any final detailing) my first NCC 'brown van', I have started the process of adding detail to the second MPD bodyshell, the one that will have the motor bogie. I'll post an update when there's something to report.


As far as liveries are concerned, I plan on finishing them both in UTA brunswick green with wasp-stripes, which is how I recall these types. I was tempted to go with Eau de Nil/'Catherwood Blue' but will save that for a trailer or two for my UTA green set. Tho Derek Young in 'UTA in Colour' says that only one 'suburban' MPD was repainted in grey and maroon before they were rebuilt by NIR to open configuration, there is a pic online showing two suburban sets in maroon & grey (complete with MED-style white 'wedge' on the cab front) but I'll stick to the common dark green livery, with the wasp stripes which I believe were added after MPD 58 was written off after that argument with a car on the accommodation crossing near Bellarena in '59. Apparently the MPD - which photos show was in 'eau de nil' - ended up on its side, nearly upside-down, but more-or-less intact; but was burnt out when sparks from cutting gear during recovery fell onto upholstery and started a blaze the crew had to fight using water bucketed in from a nearby house...a losing battle as it turned out. Exit MPD 58, enter wasp stripes...!



Edited by 33lima
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent modelling very much in the spirit of the suburban MDs kit bashed from LMS suburban coaches. Amazing that you got to meet the CME & Designers. The UTA engineers basically invented the 1st generation DMU with the MEDs and the modern family of diesel hydraulic railcars like the Sprinters, CAFs & 22000 with the MPDs. Unfortunately engine and transmission technology was not up to it at the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Latest progress below. The power car has now had roof ventilators, door fittings and some other detail added to the bare bodyshell. I ran out of MJT cast torpedo vents and ended up using some Branchlines (not Bachmann Branchlines) plastic ones from an old coach fittings sprue. Underframe trussing has also been fitted.




The attachment has also been fitted for the Tri-ang DMU motor bogie, using pop fasteners - a method I learned from Steve Johnson of 'Gazeteer' and 'modelling Irish Railways' fame. The female fastener was superglued to the roof underside, the other to a plastic rod screwed into the bogie's mounting block, which gave some height adjustment. I also took the opportunity to remove both cars' front buffer beams and re-fit them, as there was originally not enough overhang to the cab front.




The power car is not as posted earlier a 50-53 series but 49, which has one compartment less. My guard's compartment ended up a bit short - I over-allowed for plastic lost in cutting and shutting all the original compartment sides - but he's not complaining :)


MPD 49.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pop fasteners - what a novel idea, I take it this fastening stands up to the rigors of track running and keeps stability over curves and points?

Do you run DC or DCC (wondering about converting the Tri-ang motor to take a decoder)? Sorry about all the questions but I’m just building up a knowledge base for when I get around to making one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kirley


Not having had a layout to test it on, I don't know how well the pop-fastener method works, but Steve J had it fitted to an A Class and a C Class he'd built from resin kits and fitted with Hornby pancake motors, with the fastener stuck on top.




So I assume they run at least adequately, tho like the original Tri-ang top bogie mount they may be vulnerable to the bogie pitching or the body wobbling a bit. The MPD model is approaching the point where a test run will be needed so I'll report back.


My emerging layout is so far powered by a Hornby R965 (reportedly a good trainset controller with good slow-speed feedback control) and an ancient Dublo Marshall III controller which has a pulse power setting for slow running.


Corax67 posted a short guide to fitting a DCC decoder to a tri-ang motor bogie here:




If I was starting again, I'd standardise on the Hornby SWB motor bogie as fitted to their Class 110 DMU and their HST. Power cars for the latter are widely available 2nd hand and the DMU's bogie frames are a clip-in replacement for the HST's. The powered and trailing/pick-up bogies can then be snap-fitted to the Class 110 DMU's power or centre-car chassis. I used this for my UTA green MED set. Hornby ringfield motors have their detractors but this setup gives me much less inaccurate bogie frames plus better pick-ups.




I have to confess, tho, that I'm looking forward to hearing again soon, after all those years, the distinctive and purposeful sound on the track of the knurled wheels of the Triang DMU motor bogie!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 11 months later...

OK, spurred into re-starting the stalled work on this MPD set by seeing Kirley's splendid efforts, which would have done Duncrue Street Works proud for output, I've been working again at this project, alongside the MED set in the other post. The results to date are pictured below.






In the foreground are the two bodyshells, the second one now having caught up with the first one with the addition of some minor details. Both have been painted in Rover Brooklands Green which is, I'm fairly sure - and despite the effect of the artificial light in the pics - the same colour I used on my original UTA models. British Racing Green is slightly darker and might have been a better match but (i) Halfords currently seems to have only metallic BR Green and (ii) the lighter shade arguably allows for 'scale effect', whereby a given colour looks lighter on bigger areas. It looks fine to me and I'm not keen to have my UTA stock in 'forty shades of Green'. Although I will get around to a set in 'eau de nil', at some point.


Yellow warning panels are Railmatch faded BR yellow but will probably want varnished before the black inverted V stripes are applied (I'll be using using waterslide decals I think and varnish will help them 'take'). Roofs are hand-painted with a left-over tin of Humbrol 102 which produced a nice grimy, greasy gunge-tinted grey shade. Both models have Roxey screw link couplings fitted to the cab-end buffer beams. I was unable to get air horns to fit under the RH buffer beam without fouling the front bogie so I think I'll leave them off, rather than fit them to the (later?) location above the LH cab window. This suits the Colin Boocock 1963 photo (from 'Irish Railway Album') that was my main inspiration for the set, which showed horns in the lower, buffer beam position.


Also finished, more or less, and sitting behind the bodyshells are the floor/chassis/seating units, one partial, to allow for the Tri-ang DMU motor bogie to fit ahead. The full-length unit uses much of the original Tri-ang suburban coach seating, whereas the other is entirely hand-built, as are both underframes, complete with rather more underframe detail than is really needed, given most is out of sight.


Both units now need glazing fitted and after that, the buffers and the wasp-stripes, that'll be about it, apart from some UTA coats of arms, which will be painted onto some decal film offcuts, as before. Another set I started back in the mid-1990s is finally about to see the end of the line!


PS I commented wrongly in an earlier post in this thread which I can no longer edit, that I thought the 'Diesel Dawn' MPD underframe detail sketch was mirror-image; but have since realised I was wrong, as I was looking at as if from below, when it's clearly captioned as a plan view, ie looking down from above! Sorry, Colm!

Edited by 33lima
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

OK, here's the final model, barring numbering. Should have dusted her before taking the pics but never mind! I have fitted etched brass 'fold-up' screw link couplings to the outer ends and plasticard double steps to the cab-end bogie frame sides. I had run out of wasp-stripe paint (!!!) for the lower cab fronts so used lining transfers blacked over with a marker.


suburban MPD 8.jpg

suburban MPD 7.jpg

suburban MPD 6.jpg

suburban MPD 5.jpg

suburban MPD 4.jpg

suburban MPD 3.jpg

suburban MPD 2.jpg


I have some Mabex UTA 'red hand' roundels but for the 1960s I needed the later UTA crest, like this:


UTA crest (2).jpg


Decals for these are now available commercially I gather, but for now I'm using the same home-made waterslide decals I made for my previous models. I still had some left-over lining transfers with a few mils of transparent decal material around the edges. So I dipped the end of a bit of thin but stiff wire in grass green paint and carefully marked in a roughly shield-shaped oblong, then another green oblong running left to right below this. After doing four and waiting for these to dry, I used the same wire to mark out lines to simulate the red lion on the left of the shield and the brown Irish elk on the right. A dark metallic blob above the green shield simulated the helmet and three tiny spots of yellow formed the crests or feathers above it. Finally a white diagonal band was applied to the green shield and three ting strips of white to the grass below it. At some point I'll likely get some of the commercial transfers but for now I'm happy enough with the home-made version.


suburban MPD 1.jpg


I think I preferred the British Racing Green that I believe I used on previous UTA railcar models, which is very close to the colour I used this time (Rover Brooklands Green) but fractionally more blue-ish. Not much in it tho and I'm fine with the result. Another 'train from Memory Lane' joins the stud, which for me, is what it's all about.

Edited by 33lima
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

PS in case anyone with an eye for detail is wondering why I modeled the sliding doors in the brake compartment to sit flush with the sides, instead of recessed...many pictures confirm that these doors were built that way. I'm not sure when they were adapted to sit flush when closed (as seen in NIR days) but (i) all the pics I've ever seen of MPDs in UTA green (Brunswick or 'eau de nil') show flush doors, the few that appear recessed actually being open, I'm fairly sure and (ii) conversely, all the pics I've seen in late UTA/NIR maroon & grey show the doors sitting recessed when closed.


The only exception that comes to mind is a pic of one of these 'suburban' units captioned as taken in 1970, which shows the car in maroon & grey with MED-style 'wedge' on lower cab front. This car still has the sliding door sitting flush. It seems likely that the 'suburban' MPDs were converted to recessed doors when between 1968 & 1972 they were rebuilt to open seating, losing most of their slam doors and gaining a corridor connection. It seems reasonable to surmise that recessed doors were fitted to the other MPDs with sliding brake compartment doors, at or soon after this time.


So as a general rule, MPDs in any UTA green livery should have flush doors; in maroon & grey, recessed. Naturally this excludes MPDs with no brake compartment and those built with slam doors for the guard's accommodation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Kieran! Managed to find a drawing of 90/549, which I just emailed, tho it looks like you'll need to make some assumptions about the UTA's increase in seating, which was possibly at the expense...sharp intake of breath...of the bar!


If it is any use to you, I have three drawings of 90/549 all showing different interiors, the last one from 1957 after conversion to an MPD trailer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it is any use to you, I have three drawings of 90/549 all showing different interiors, the last one from 1957 after conversion to an MPD trailer.



Hi and thanks, the MPD converision drawing would be very useful, both for Kieran/Kirley, who's building a model, and for me, as I may do some day and tho awash with drawings of GNRI catering vehicles, for some reason never got any NCC/UTA diner drawings from UFTM.


Are you able to scan them, if I pm you with my email address? Or better still, can you attach them here?


Thanks again!



Edited by 33lima
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it is any use to you, I have three drawings of 90/549 all showing different interiors, the last one from 1957 after conversion to an MPD trailer.


Yes please, would be very interested in seeing these. As Ivor says, can you put them up on Site or do you want an email address?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use