It all began with a One12 Models kit for preserved Van Number 99. I started building, and just like with ‘Red Damsel’, I couldn’t help but find things I could improve or super detail with a little 3D printing. The kit’s details were already mostly 3D prints, but I strive for greater accuracy and functionality than most sane people! So it began – first up I didn’t like the plastic brake lever. Too brittle and positioned too close to the body – how was anyone supposed to operate that? I thought – and promptly drew up a replacement in Fusion 360. The replacement was to be in Bronze, and was to have a functioning ratchet mechanism.

The there were numberplates – those supplied had sunken characters, the real thing should be raised. Also, 99 is a post preservation number, in service it was 116. I found some photos and dimensions of surviving plates, and redrew these. Then there was new axlebox covers – as I broke one trying to straighten it. I incorporated new square nut detail whilst I had the chance, but it was only after ordering I found that they should have square tops not rounded, but c’est la vie. Speaking of square nuts, I made up several hundred to replace the hex ones supplied – which are wrong all round. As built they were square nuts on the outside, as preserved it has had the bolts turned around so the nuts are inside leaving only the domed heads visible outside.

Buffers were not supplied – so new ones were drawn up to work with Slater’s sprung heads from the ‘Prince’ loco kit. They are a little undersized in the head and over long in the shank but they will do the job. Once the brake handle was built and tested, I turned my attention to the door side, a similar situation there – a scale inch and a half thick door glued to the side! All new hardware was drawn up to position it correctly, and the door thickened up a bit. I have yet to fit the parts – they will be in the next instalment! Then I lturned my attention back to the brakes – more accurately, since my lever works – why not have actual working brakes? Again, more in the next instalment!

Whilst the prints were on the way, I indulged in a Slater’s 2-Ton slate wagon kit to pass the time. It is a rather good kit, but a bit fiddly and time consuming to construct. Could a 3D print help? Maybe. I drew up a Slate Wagon in full, to accept Slater’s wheels and couplings. The body in one piece with axleboxes separate, attached in a similar way to the Slater’s kit. I ordered it in a polished SLS nylon material, which I’d used before on my de Winton ‘Gelli’ project. Sadly the polishing doesn’t get in all the corners, which has left the body rougher than I’d have liked, but it does capture very well an aged, pitted and worn wagon.

Of course no sooner had I ordered it, I’d thought of an improvement! A better way to fit the axleboxes, one that would guarantee accuracy. I decided rather than simply butt up behind the solebars, they should plug into sockets – the pint with square nuts then being used to retain them in the sockets. I have waited till the original order arrived before going ahead with the test of them – and as I write still have not ordered, but I expect it to make a really simple wagon kit even simpler!

I also waited for something else – a test of Interlocking Bronze components in the form of a coupling hook and shackle. It worked brilliantly, so I have now devised a replacement buffer/coupling casting with the links and hook integral. I will have to try some of these too!

With all this work on FR wagons going on, I dug out my old notes fro many years ago and drew yet another – a Gunpowder van. I had initially thought to buy the Swift Sixteen one, which I have seen made into some very lovely models – but it falls short of my demands. What demands? Well opening doors for a start! And that’s where we are at design wise. ALl that remains is to sort out a brake mechanism, naturally it will be operable is all goes well with that on van 116 of course!