Thursday, January 29, 2009

A plasticard project

Above is the result of my first foray into scratchbuilding carriages using plastic.  I have to say that I started off sceptical.  How could a carriage like this be strong enough?  Isn't it just really fiddly?  I had read a couple of articles in the model railway press on this subject and I still favoured etched brass.  

So why have I started exploring this method?  Well a few things - firstly getting drawings of three FR carriages (100, 102 and 124) was really difficult - even after contact with fairly high up FR people, I was only able to get a drawing of 124 (and was explicitly banned from passing it on to a commercial kit manufacturer), 100 and 102 are elusive to this day.  So that meant etched brass was probably out unless I drew my own drawings from known dimensions and photographs.  ouch!

Then I was contacted (about another matter actually - bogies) by Rob Waller and we got chatting...he (rather splendidly as mentioned previosuly) offered to give me a masterclass on his methods for building in plasticard.  However he lives in Scotland, so a face to face meeting was going to be a problem. Over a few weeks he wrote an 'e-masterclass' for me , covering all areas of this construction method from sides to floors, roofs etc.  Armed with this I thought I would give it a go (and frankly it would be rude not to at least have a go).  

The first carriage to be tackled is FR 100, similar to the old 100 (of which I had a drawing).  Only a few changes are necessary and Rob was again very helpful here.  

So, the image above shows my first carriage side.  A drawing is taped to the underside of a piece of glass and evergreen styrene strip has been used to build up the basic structure.  Next will come the beading on top which will give it more strength and the depth of detail necessary to look believable.  

I made a few mistakes with this first side, but what I quickly learnt was that most errors can be sorted pretty quickly and painlessly.  Hardly any error is a total disaster.  You also really only need minute drops of plastic weld (or mek) to join the pieces.  Any more and it seeps underneath and bonds the side to the glass!  But even if it does, that will be the inside face anyway, so who is going to see that?!

So, a massive shout out to me man Rob, and hopefully within a short time I'll have a model of 100 to add to the collection.  After that it's 102 and 124, to be built the same way.  Then of the FR/WHR bogie carriages I only need to complete 26, 118, the new 116 and the new 2010 and 2100.  I expect to be able to get etched kits of 26 and 118.  The new 116 could be tackled either in brass or plastic...

I'm also hopeful that 2090 (in Boston Lodge at the moment) will come out looking similar enough that the kit I have in stock will still be OK and then we have the spectre of the new FR 103 (a wooden frame in the carriage works at the moment), the porthole bug box in a similar state at the moment (kit in stock) and eventually a replacement for FR 121, planned according to my sources.

All jolly good fun!

PS in the image it may not look like everything is square - that's partly the camera angle, partly shadow and partly the fact that parts aren't lying perfectly flat at the moment - with the extra details this will help flatten it out.  It's all square really!


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