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Tales from the carriage shops

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Stevie B is partially right, one of the ironies of better quality rtr Irish models is that more people are prepared to wait for an eternity for a new rtr model than attempt to modify a rtr model, assemble a kit or let alone a scratchbuild.


Alas, this "fear" exists everywhere. How many have felt comfortable to weather the pristine MM Cravens, to show them in the finish they ran always in, let alone get the surgeons saw to something...


While there is probably greater demand for a rtr model of one of these coaches than a kit or scratch aid, there is unlikely to be enough demand to justify commissioning a manufacture to produce a brass or plastic injection moulded model.


Part of the underlying problem is the sheer variety of Pre-1964 CIE coaching stock and relatively few liveries, collectors are likely to buy a maximum of 1-2 models of a particular type and few active modellers are able to relate to the pre Supertrain era.


Technically, it would be possible to create slides for each coach side, but you have so many roof variants, that only underframe and corridor ends would be similar. Until you get into GSR stock.... Even for a resin manufacturer, or brass kit manufacturer, the enormity of the challenge wouldn't be repaid in orders, and only passionate folk like your goodself are willing to lay the shilling on the line to provide a "as close as" solution with donor sides.


I have to say, they do look superb, but somehow a touch too clean! Are these sides still available?



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Great work on the carriages.

On the BGSV are there three white windows on both sides?


According to John, there is a large water tank in that single compartment and only three passenger compartments behind, so I'm guessing yes.


... Are these sides still available?




Not exactly, Rich. John has to special order them with minimum numbers for particular ones. I was interested (and still am) in some of these sides but no one else wanted any at that time, so didn't really have enough for a minimum order. That being said as my interest in CIE produced stock has expanded backward in time to pre BnT (and seeing John's examples now and Kirley's before), I would be interested in some for each era now.

Was also interested in full width/length coaches but I suspect these may be some time away as John has so many projects on the go (Well done, John)


Edited by DiveController
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Technically, it would be possible to create slides for each coach side, but you have so many roof variants, that only underframe and corridor ends would be similar. Until you get into GSR stock.... Even for a resin manufacturer, or brass kit manufacturer, the enormity of the challenge wouldn't be repaid in orders, and only passionate folk like your goodself are willing to lay the shilling on the line to provide a "as close as" solution with donor sides.


I have to say, they do look superb, but somehow a touch too clean! Are these sides still available?




The original idea was to produce a plastic coach that could be economic to produce as a kit or rtr form in small batches by a firm in Auckland using rapid prototyping technology as an alternative to injection moulded plastic and eventually evolved into a brass and whitemetal kit.




While resin casting from a 3D model was the preferred option tooling cost and the short life of the mould was one of the deciding factors in favour of etched brass and whitemetal.

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Just picking up on your post now John. Delighted to see you finish them and showing how they should be done. Without your enthusiasm, knowledge and hard work I doubt if these brilliant coaches would have ever seen the light of day by anyone else. Thank you again for making these kits available.

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Fabulous work. Though my knowledge of Irish coaches is decidedly limited, having built many model coaches in various scales & gauges over the years I can certainly vouch for the fact they are labour intensive. Indeed, a coach can take as many hours to complete as a loco. The basic shell goes together quite quickly, but interior details, bogies, under frames, grab handles etc etc take a lot of effort, while painting & lining adds further layers. Well done John.

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The assembly of the vans seems to be a lot quicker than modifying the Dapol coaches, ties in with the view that its quicker to assemble a brass kit than modify a plastic rtr model.


Paint prep is basically neutralising flux residue by dipping overnight in a mildly alkaline solution followed by a wash in warm water, breaking up any salts & verdigrass around soldered joints with a tootpick and scrubbing with a old tooth brush. The model is dried and the surface of the brass lightly burnished with fine wet & dry paper or a fibre glass brush.


I try to avoid getting solder on the surface of a model, but it is relatively easy to remove with the blade of a screwdriver, scraper and clean up with a fibre glass wet and dry.



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Into the booth!


During the cooler months I keep the workshop warm overnight with an electric heater and use a cheap Chinese spray booth which vents through the window. This basically eliminates any problems with paint smells and overspray in the work room. I hope to get a metal booth big enough for my large scale stuff, either through Mirco-Mark or have one made up in one of the local sheet metal shops.


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Freshly primed TPO


I use VHT automotive etch and surfacing primers on models 1st warning the can on the heater and store the model in a warm place.


Although round 15C black aerosol was drying with a greyish tinge this morning.


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Flotilla of vans primed stored overnight before painting


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1st coat 12 hours later!


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The vans have been painted with a combination of Tamiya spray enamels and Humbrol enamel using the trust airbrush.


The silver van is basically ready for a clear finish and decals, the others at the 1st stage of painting, though the UTA painted a few coaches in an eau de nil colour in the early 60s.


After a lot of trials and tribulations I now use Tamiya AS12 "Bare Metal Silver" for silver and aluminium coaches, as it avoids the surface finish problems with metallic paints.


I will leave these coaches for 3-4 days to allow the paint to harden before masking and applying further coats.

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  • 1 month later...

Last few weeks have mainly been maintenance and repairs on the large scale, fitting a new RCS power controller/receiver to the K27 now capable of contiuously hauling 12 very heavy Accucraft freight cars around the garden railway, transferring the old controller receiver to RGS Motor No4 & machining a new bogie pivot bolt for the C16 after the existing bolt dropped out in the dark and I could not find it and making a start bonding the rail joints on a section of track re-laid two years ago!


I made a start on fitting an interior to the CIE buffet car, which did not work out as planned as the re-skinned Dapol coach is narrower than a scale width model and has thick plastic sides.


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The small flotilla of Tin Vans have just about finished their trip through the paint shops, next stage is to fit couplings, fuel tanks and final finishing and fix down the roofs.


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The green and golden brown are laquers mixed at the local paint shop very hard wearing and resistant to solvent.


Next job is to finish a batch of MGWR vans I started nearly 3 years ago

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally finished work on the Buffet car. I originally planned to fabricate the interior seating and tables from metal before chickening out and using Evergreen square tube and sheet. Few figures were intended to bring the car to life but difficult to see from outside the coach.


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I spray painted the glazing of obscured windows which has resulted in a much more realistic effect than paper.


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Buffet car galley side.

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Bar side.

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NIiiiicccee, John. That interior is fantastic. No change of you doing a resin mould of that interior to go with your coaches, I suppose? Superb job!


Few figures were intended to bring the car to life but difficult to see from outside the coach.



Bar side.

You should try lighting the coach with an LED strip, would really show off the detail

Edited by DiveController
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  • 2 months later...

Glovers Pettigo got me thinking about my own wagon fleet some of which seem to have been around from Jurassic times.


Model Wagon GNR Cattle.jpg

Model Wagon Company GNR cattle wagons


Dating from the early 1980 one of the first Irish wagon kits on the market. Model Irish Railways later took over distribution and sale of the kit, which no longer had the distinctive Irish brake gear.


I have 4 of these wagons which run in pairs with an outer Kadee coupler and 3 links internally. The main reason for this is that is that a single wagon is too short to use with Kadee automatic couplers


Rake of H Vans.jpg

A cut of H Vans

These were converted from the Parkside plyside BR van. The conversion was based on an article by David Malone in one of the British Magazines. The vans ends are from plasticard, whitemetal strapping and riveted brass angle was available at the time from Kenline Models a British kit supplier.


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These were from the early Parkside wagons most need new roofs. Lettering was from Blackham models.


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Ratio LNWR 5p open posing as a GSWR wagon and SSM IRCH 5 plank open

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About 20 year ago I made a start on batch building a rake of KN (CIE long cattle) wagons & standard IRCH (Irish Railway Clearing House) standard covered van using plasticard & NE stripwood. I never finished the project Geremy Suter bought out an excellent whitemetal kit for the standard van & I started thinking in terms of a resin cast KN & IRCH open to avoid the repetitive stuff


Scratch KNs.jpg

Scratch built KNs brake gear & strapping bolthead detail still to be added


Resin KN.jpg

Prototype resin KN

The master was prepared in basswood with etched brass overlays, the slatted construction lead to resin flowing into un-wanted places, and problems gluing the strapping to the basswood destroyed the appearance of the wagon.


Still on the two do list, I will probably prepare a new plasticard master and custom design the strapping

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John, those H vans were a fine piece of work.

Your cattle wagons,KNs, were a very credible attempt to model one of the signature items of rolling stock for Irish railways.

I've had a go myself, using the Parkside LMS cattle wagon kit ( ref PC87). It needs shortening but the outcome I would describe as 'not bad' and certainly worth further work.

I'll put up some photos on my work bench.



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If Carlsberg made whitemetal wagon kits ........"Geremy Suter Irish Kits" as short lived range of Irish wagon kits including the standard covered wagon, a GNR bread container wagon, a MGWR coal wagon and a GNR/UTA Bread van


IRH Covered wagon 2.jpg

IRCH standard Irish covered wagon


I bought a pair of these at Warley 17-18 years ago. The GNR(I), MGWR and some off the smaller railway companies bought/built similar wagons. I built this kit as an ex MGW wagon with large self contained buffers rather than the GNR style spindle buffers supplied with the kit. The wagon seems to have lost an axlebox cover somewhere along the way.


IRH Covered wagon.jpg.



GNR Bread container wagon


A bit out of place on a Southern layout the only one left and basically a very nice model.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Most effort since Christmas has been spent on finishing projects and repairs on American Stock. Not sure if its the size but it seems to take about the same time as to overhaul/repair a full size loco or coach.


One of my RGS short cabooses lost a balcony rail/ladder at one end so I soldered up a replacement using KS round bar.


I marked up the profile of the end on a block of wood as a jig and pinned the bar to the wood using drawing pins, and soldered using a 25watt Antex iron 145 solder and my own 'homebrew" phosphoric flux diluted 50% from Killrust rust convertor (24% phosphoric)



Finished article awaiting priming.



I used the railings/ladder from the other end as a pattern.


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I spray painted both rails with a Tayima white spray enamel and a semi gloss clear.


One end of the caboose got a bump so I have to repair the roof walkway before it returns to service.


The RGS was about as broke as you could get but the FRA & the Railroad Brotherhoods (Unions)seems to have been strict around the painting of caboose steps and grab irons

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  • 1 month later...

More large scale stuff, working in the larger scales seems to take almost as long as working on a 12" -1' railway or maybe I am slowing down. :(


Despite the garden railway operating reliably for nearly 10 years some major issues cropped up as I converted from LGB/Bachmann Big-Haulier to more accurate 1:20.3 American 3' gauge locos and rolling stock.


This arose mainly as a result of a combination of longer larger freight cars and locos with body mounted couplers and finer profile wheels on some older Accucraft freight cars bought on e-bay.


Basically freight cars and loco tenders turning over & de-railed while running through crossovers laid with LGB 3rd radius points in the storage yard in the garden shed, while the finer profile wheels tended to split the points if the blade was not tight up against the stock rails. Luckily stock ran smoothly through the Sunset Valley No4 and No6 points and crossovers used on the main line.


Once I understood the problem I replaced part of the point ladder in the storage yard with No4 points while leaving a pair of LGB points in place as a temporary connection to a loco spur pending the arrival of more points from the States.


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Before LGB points used in crossover between No 3 & 4 Roads

temporary infilling piece between No 2 & 3 Road. Trains could run through this at low speed, but tended to de-rail on the frogs and split the points.

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After crossover re-laid with Sunset Valley No 4 points

The yard is laid with heavier rail than the points transition clamps are used to join the tow rail profiles. The spur on the right leads to a function turntable and loco yard at right angles to the main yard. I may convert these points to remote pneumatic operation at some stage.


The problem with locos and cars splitting the points on the main line was due to the older Sunset Valley switch-stands having insufficient throw to ensure that the point blades were pushed tight up against the switch stands. More recent switch stands are fitted with a grub screw to adjust the throw.


I modified 8 switch stands over a weekend using a Unimat SL set up as a milling and boring machine. Before fitting the adjusting screw it was necessary to mill the end off the switch stand throw bar, then bore out and tap the remaining stub. Sunset valley supplied an imperial tap and enough adjusting screws to complete the converstion.


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Before mixture of unmodified and modified switch stands


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Switch stand set up in milling machine


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Converted switch stand with adjusting screw


I installed and tested the modified switch-stands over the Easter Weekend so hopefully this should open up more time to concentrate on Irish small scale stuff.


We had a damp humid summer followed by the tail end of two cyclones in recent weeks and a breeding ground for mosquitos, the insect repellent just about made it bearable.

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We had a damp humid summer followed by the tail end of two cyclones in recent weeks and a breeding ground for mosquitos, the insect repellent just about made it bearable.

We've just had some spring storms which is usually followed about week later by a huge resurgence in the mosquito population. The complicated Mosquito magnet I used before was a waste of time but I run a Dynatrap from early, pretty much all season long and there is nothing smaller than a hornet to be seen. Has been much better last couple of seasons. The large one will clear a good half acre or more using a UV bulb and a solid state catalyst that produces Co2. Electricity os the only consumable and I run it dusk-dawn on a sensor. Sorry for the modelling aside

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  • 1 month later...

Some small scale stuff for a change more unfinished projects.

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Ex-MGWR non-passenger stock going through the paint shop.

3L & 8T in the background waiting overhaul.

Like Inchacore after the Emergency finishing anything takes a long long time. I started painting the vans in Jan and they are still not complete. Two vans are supposed to be in GSR livery the others are now in a representation of the early CIE green


I have once again dusted off Keadue nearly 14 years after starting to build the layout as a minimum space quickie!


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I added a sleeper built buffer stop to the store road and found the ground frame I mislaid in 2012.


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Some posters of CIEs new diesel trains and luxury coach tours to tease the unfortunate passengers on the daily mixed.


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No 8L poses at the new coal stage outside the loco shed.

The stage is built from individual wooden sleepers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I recently converted a Bachmann Big Haulier 4-6-0 from track to battery RC control. I modified the engine to resemble RGS No 20 re-wired and converted the loco to DCC using a Digitrax decoder in 2010-11. I converted the loco to on board battery power to improve reliability as power pick up became erratic as the plating wore off the driving wheels after 6-7 years use.


The conversion gives me a 3rd medium sized line haul loco and the opportunity to double head heavier freights rather than use the K27.


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Battery Sled RCS "decoder", sound card and switch gear fixed to tender floor, the speaker is a standard fitting on these locos.

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Battery sled installed above electronics and speaker on tender floor

The sled is a piece of acrylic sheet

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RC system on test

I re-wired the loco with in line connectors between engine and tender and wiring loom and headlamp.

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I modified the loco to resemble No20 by fabricating a new cab in plasticard and fitting new lower running boards also in plasticard.

I reinforced the running board with KS brass box section & strip as the original Evergreen box sections had failed and broken off.

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Loco partially re-assembled showing power connectors between loco and tender


I am not happy with the paint finish, I have been unable to match the Floquil paint I used in the original re-build and tried a satin black aerosol to try and match my two DRGW locos.

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  • 1 month later...

More large scale stuff but slowly clearing the backlog and may get around to some small scale Irish modelling. But 1st some un-scheduled maintenance when I took K27 464 out of service to fit a new sound system.


The leading truck or pilot disintegrated possibly as a result of the loco riding over a nut or other obstruction on the track.




Replacement trucks are no longer available so it was a case of fabricating a new truck using KS brass bar and slab.



The rectangular side frames were cut roughly with a hacksaw taped together with double sided tape, then milled and bored to final shape with the trusty Unimat SL set up as a milling machine.


The keyhole shaped piece was cut out using a fine toothed blade in a piercing saw. The truck bolted together with 10BA bolts then soldered with a cheap 60 watt soldering iron Carrs 179 degree solder and phosphoric flux




I prepared and blackened the truck using Carrs Metal Surface Conditioner & Carrs Metal Black rinsing well between each application.

I will spray the truck black once I have burnished the metal finish, and then seal the surface with Testors Clear Coat. This should hopefully reduce the risk of seeing bare metal in areas where paint is likely to chip off.






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Hi John


Lovely stuff, that looks like a very complex loco in the previous post- a lot of electronic




The installation is pretty much the standard for large scale battery radio remote control there is no direct equivalent for the DCC mobile decoder and power chip.


On the plus side running is very reliable as there is no problem with poor pick up and the locos have good momentum because of weight.


The battery control adds another element of realism, to make sure that a loco has enough fuel (charge) to get back to the shed at the end of a days operation.

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