Over the holidays I had a week to myself and was looking for something constructive to do. I decided I would tackle some projects that have been sitting (marinating?) around the workshop. This is one… or, rather, three.
The gubbins for three Great Western Railway passenger cars, coming together on my workbench
No – those aren’t for Port Rowan. Here’s the story:
My friend Brian Dickey is building “Roweham” – a lovely exhibition layout in British O scale (7mm – 1:43.5). I have helped him exhibit this layout at a number of area shows – I even have the proper attire for this, in the form of a replica GWR waistcoat:
For the past couple of years, I’ve also owned a lovely little Victorian-era GWR locomotive – a 517 Class 0-4-2T from the Lee Marsh Model Company:
I decided that my little 517 Class needed some appropriately Victorian passenger cars to haul – and that I needed to explore building some UK rolling stock, to discover for myself how that’s different from building North American equipment. So a couple of years ago I ended up with three kits from Slater’s Plastikard for Great Western Railway four-wheel passenger cars. I have two Brake-3rd cars – like this…
… which will bracket a single all-3rd – like this:
The whole train – three passenger cars plus a locomotive – will still be less than three feet long, despite being in O scale. Talk about economy of space! (I’ve since learned that I should have a 1st/2nd Composite car instead of the all-3rd – so I may have to order another kit at some point.) Admittedly, these cars (and my locomotive) are far too old for the era Brian models – but I’ll sneak them onto the layout when he’s not looking, and I’ll enjoy displaying them behind glass at home between shows.
The kits have been a very enjoyable build, so far. I’ve had to learn new terminology – and new techniques. I’m particularly impressed by many thoughtful components – including plenty of photo-etch material, crisp plastic parts and brass castings, full interiors including seats and partitions, working compensation to ensure that these cars track well, and an impressive amount of prototype information in the instruction manual.
What’s especially impressive about these kits, to me, is that the photo-etch fret says “©1988” on it. Yes – these kits, with components that we’ve come to expect from top-tier North American models – are more than 30 years old. While North American manufacturers do some things better than what’s found in these kits, the fact that they stand up so well, after so long, suggests we can still learn a lot from our cousins across The Pond.
I hit a roadblock with these kits: the paint and lettering. The cars have five colours on them: cream over chocolate, with red window frames, black borders, and gold lining. But even that challenge pales in comparison to the lettering. Holy moly – Methsfix Transfers completely defeated me. Ugh.
I thought these would end up as abandoned projects because I would not be able to finish them to the quality that my 517 Class engine deserves. But while discussing this with friends I learned from Simon Dunkley that Slater’s recently started offering these cars pre-painted. What’s more, Simon noted that Slater’s has a reputation for excellent aftermarket service, including replacement parts.
I contacted Slater’s and the company will indeed sell sets of sides and ends for these cars, pre-painted and lettered. (If you have untouched sides and ends you can ship them back, or you can buy the sides and ends in addition to the painting service – which is what I did.) I’ve ordered new sides/ends for all three cars and will continue to work on bits and pieces of the frame while I wait for these to arrive.
But I’m sure impressed by the models, and by the company. I can’t wait to find more reasons to buy from them!