Tuesday, 6 July 2021

A bogie wagon coupling challenge

I've struggled to get into the modelling vibe recently, and a good way to get going again is to pick a simple short project - like a wagon kit. I had in the pile of unbuilt kits a Hudson Steel Dropside Bogie Open Wagon by Dundas; these were ex RAF wagons that have ended up being used on preserved railways for ballast duties, so this would be a good addition to a permanent-way train for Hexworthy.

Now there's a reason the kit has stayed in the pile - couplings. Sometimes my choice of Microtrains couplings poses a challenge when fitting them to stock, and stock with small bogies where the couplings cannot be fitted to the body (as with this wagon) are particularly difficult as there is nowhere to accommodate the relatively large draft box.

However, when I looked closely at the kit I found these bogies have a raised outer end giving more depth, and it already had a recess for a Bemo coupling. The recess needed to be widened, carefully as only about 0.5mm of plastic was left either side of the coupling. It was also too shallow and low, so I had to cut away the upper layer forming the raised end. This meant adding a new "top" layer to the raised end covering the couplings, from 20 thou black plasticard, shaped to match I think this will be barely noticeable once painted. Another piece of plasticard across the bottom of the recess formed a box into which the couplings would slide, and a hole drilled through top and bottom allowed a shortened Microtrains screw to self-tap through for a secure and relatively neat mounting. 

This only worked because a search of the modelling cupboard turned up some "underslung" couplers (type 2004). These have a slightly slimmer draft-box which is offset lower relative to the coupling (seen right) compared to a standard 1015/1016 coupling (seen left); this allows the coupling to be mounted lower than a standard coupling while matching the knuckle height. 

I had remembered to check the back-to-back measurements of the wheelsets before assembly, which you would think isn't necessary but all the kits I have had with Dundas wheels have the back-to-backs too tight to run reliably through Peco points. The rest of the wagon fell together in the way that excellent Dundas kits generally do, the wagon floor is a fraction of a mm too short (which I ignored) but otherwise fit is faultless I've attached a piece of lead under the floor for improved running, and the bogie retaining nuts will be fixed with a spot of glue after painting.

The completed wagon, shown here after a coat of primer (I struggle to get paint to cover plastic evenly without primer) being tested on Loctern Quay. I was worried about the slightly raised ends of the bogies fouling the body on tight corners, but with them filed to the profile of the bogie ends there seems to be plenty of space for the bogies to swing over 12" radius points. The coupling fitment was worked out rather neatly, although I will admit working out how to fit them and modifying the bogies took longer than assembling the rest of the kit! 

While it looks OK in primer grey I will have to paint it properly, I just need to decide on a colour scheme for my PW train. I had thought of grey with yellow ends - as applied to the digger wagons (below) - but I am wondering about something more interesting. Blue, perhaps? 

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