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Building 4mm scale Stroudley Coaches from Roxey Moulding kits


Created 9 February 1999

Stroudley 4 wheel coaches

Notes, construction details and photographs by Michael Druiett.


Brief historical notes and background

The following notes are based on the construction of four of William Stroudley's 4 wheel coaches as made to 4mm scale (P4 standards) from the kits offered by Roxey Mouldings.

These coaches represent the first examples of Stroudley's coach design upon his arrival from the Highland Railway. These coaches 26' long by 8' wide were built upon an underframe of teak. Nine designs were built in large numbers from 1872 until 1891: one first, two seconds, two thirds, two third brakes and two composites. They were intended for suburban use and were close coupled with only the outer ends of the brake thirds benefiting from buffers, the brake thirds also had the added advantage of being the only coaches equipped with brakes! Withdrawal began around the turn of the century, survivors hiding as departmental stock, on the Isle of Wight and in the Lancing works train. Changes were made to these vehicles through their life, later second's being reduced from five compartments to four. Later thirds and brake thirds had compartments fitted compared to the early versions where they had long sidelights and the compartments were separated only by the wooden bench seats.

Originally finished in their polished mahogany with teak framing, later painted mahogany or more of a dark red, the majority would have ended their days like this. When new they were oil lit as were all of Stroudley's coaches. Most were later converted to gas and by the end of the 19th century most would have been fitted with the newly approved Westinghouse brake system.

The kits

Roxey provide kits to represent the majority of the designs in this class in both 4 and 7mm and a very good rake of coaches can be made. My aim was to produce coaches in their original condition and running circa 1880. Much effort was put into trying to get it right. Some small elements I have discovered after the event (as it were) but I hope these notes will in some small way help and give confidence to those, like myself, who are fumbling in the dark as this was a first attempt at modelling the LBSCR, especially of this period. Much help was sought and thankfully given by Dave Searle, Eric Gates and other members of the Brighton Circle - thank you. My main interest is in the LBSCR now, especially of this period but to 7mm scale.

Brake Third

Construction

Two brake thirds have been made, one first and one second. It would be nice to complete a train as a standard suburban set. A typical suburban formation of the period would have been of eight vehicles comprising brake 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, comp, comp, 3rd, 3rd, brake 3rd. So a few more to go! The basic construction was the same for each vehicle, nothing more being added than using the items provided in the kits and refering to photos as much as possible. I found it easier to add the droplights handles, etc. when the sides were flat.

The underframes use the Roxey suspension system with one fixed axle in its cradle while the other rocks on a central pivot. Much packing out and use of washers was found to be necessary as I found the distance in the supplied W-irons was somewhat narrow for P4 use. Next time around I think I would look for an alternative here, possibly springing. Wheels used are from Alan Gibson, spoked wheels for the brakes and disc for the others as favoured by the original carriage works. I felt the kit components could have been better with regard to the brakes supplied, something I only found out late on in construction and something I would definitely change next time. The correct brakes for this period would have been large wooden brake blocks but only on the brake coaches, the kit or at least the etches I worked from only included the standard later type brake more commonly used throughout the rest of railway history. The kit presumes the Westinghouse system is to be modelled. Brake pull rods were fashioned from thin wire and give a good representation of the rather dangerous looking arrangement!

I added the even more necessary safety chains on the end of the brake thirds from a domestically borrowed necklace of suitable diameter with the end hooks coming from an old PC models coupling fret.

Close coupling

The prototypical arrangement of the close coupling isn't really tackled in the kit, small diameter close coupled buffers are supplied but I don't think looking at photographic evidence buffers were actually used mid rake, they were coupled by a central rod. I can understand the reasons why these short buffers are provided, but it would be an advantage for the kit to provide an alterative.The dilemma when making a rake of these coaches is: "are they to be permanently coupled or not". To try and represent this arrangement, I took the easy route I fitted a standard coupling hook on one end of the vehicle and attached a split pin with one single ring from a standard 3 link coupling to it on the other. The close coupled distance is achieved, the coaches can be separated easily and they pull along perfectly well and perhaps more importantly tackle curves and turnouts successfully.

Interiors

I wanted to fit out interiors to these vehicles, but I think the truth in this scale is that a representation is sufficient, the original Stroudley interiors must have looked quite magnificent, firsts in blue plush, smoking compartments in buffalo hide, paintwork and rugs also blue. Second class benefited from brown leather and stone paintwork. Good old third had the privilege of seating on wooden benches painted to represent grained oak. Seats were made from bits of balsa and plastikard to represent the different classes of travel and painted accordingly. Behind the glazing the effect is achieved. Unfortuntately I don't think commercial seating mouldings correspond to the design used in these vehicles and when I tried the Ratio ones they didn't look correct. I squeezed as much weight as I could in these vehicles from car wheel balance weights under the vehicle and in the roof section which does help. I know its less than recommended, but around 40 grams seems to do the trick.

Painting & Lining

After a good clean up red oxide primer was applied with the air brush, undercoat of a dark red was added and then the final top coat. After much thought I wanted a gloss paint for these vehicles to make them look that little bit special. Phoenix Precision paints were contacted for a mahogany to complement the rest of the excellent range they produce for the LBSCR modeler. Unfortunately they do not produce a mahogany and all their other paints are in a "dull" finish. They recommended Cherry Paints North Staffordshire Railway Madder lake, a deep mahogany red much as the original colour is described as.

Second Class

Gilt lining was applied by a method I had suggested to me and I was pleased by the results. A Pentel Hybrid roller simply drawn on with patience and a ruler. These pens are readily available from good art shops and also available from Roxey who also stock a white version ideal for those chalk markings found on wagons. They dry clean and firm and no I have experienced no smudging. The ends of the brake thirds were painted vermilion from Phoenix Precision, below the solebar was painted black, and the footboards I painted an acrylic tan colour to give the different texture I thought required for these items. After glazing and Woodham Wagon Works' (alias Eric Gates) beautiful coach transfers, a quick spray of varnish and, minus the roofs, the coaches were starting to look pleasing. The roofs are the Roxey plastic offerings, (there must be an art to cutting these to the exact shape) and finally the appropriate oil roof lamp tops were added.

Conclusion

The end result is something I'm quite pleased with and can recommend these kits as a good basis to make some very pleasing models.

The fun was really in the research, with what I discovered on the way I know the rest I would like to make can only get better.

© 1999 by Michael Druiett.

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