Sunday, October 4, 2009

Brake Van Modifications Begin

With the era I'm modelling, brake vans were a must at the tail end of any goods train, so I will need quite few on the roster.

Now Trainorama have (or had) some beautiful brake vans that suit my era perfectly, however I was too late getting back into things to buy them before they sold out, grey OHG's in particular.

However as luck would have it, they have some MHG and PHG brake vans coming in 2010 which will fit the bill nicely. Highly detailed, very well painted, and basically need just a little weathering and they are right to go. As much as that's easy, it doesn't really give you that sense of satisfaction you get from doing something yourself.

About twenty odd years ago, Trax (now Powerline) brought out a model of the NSWGR MHG brake van. In its day, being made to suit the toy market and modeller alike, it was not a bad model at all. Drop the height, add some decent bogies, Kadee's and a bit of weathering and if you were keen some metal handrails and it made up into not a bad model at all.

They pop up on E-bay occasionally, and if you are lucky you can score one for around $15.00-$20.00, although I have also seen people get keen and bid up to $50.00+ for a standard one and $60.00+++ for a modified one. To me $15-$20 is top dollar for one, and I was lucky enough to pick up three in this price range over the past few months.

Today, armed with a little enthusiasm after visiting the AMRA Liverpool exhibition yesterday I thought I might make a start on doing the necessary modifications to bring them up to (or as close as I can manage) today's RTR standards.

The main body of the MHG is pretty good, however the door and louvred panel on one side is transposed. So armed with a very sharp and fine scalpel blade set I bought at Bunnings after seeing Ray Pilgrim advocate the use of them ( ), ironically for exactly the same job!

Cutting out the door and louvred panel took only a few minutes, with the very fine blade removing literally only the space between door, louvred panel and body without any of the actual panel or door material which is very handy.

I have also removed the sliding door section, as a feature of these vans was sometimes running with the doors open. Of course this will mean adding some degree of interior detail, but that just gives me something else to do to test out my modelling skills.

Apart from removing the doors, and doing a bit of removing some of the moulded glass sections of the one piece moulded insert, I didn't get much more done today. So still to go is refitting the single door and louvred section, installing the sliding door in an open position, and then drilling the body for metal handrails, lowering the bogie bolsters, fitting some underfloor details, Kadee's, and possibly fitting full height better detailed roof vents.

In any case it's just another project to undertake for the simple enjoyment of it, and depending on how well this first one comes up will depend on whether I undertake the same mods on the other two. If my skills mean that my modified MHG falls way short of the coming RTR version, I may just admit defeat, E-bay the other two and happily purchase some RTR ones, although I think as long as my modified ones look ok, I'd get more enjoyment out of watching them running around than something that I simply purchased.

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