Last one for this year then, and one that ties in two themes: unfinished projects (not in short supply around these parts…), and the Hornby Dublo ‘Super Detail’ range of freight and NPCC- stock from the 1960s and later passing to Wrenn.
Though often talked of in hallowed tones, the range was to be honest a bit patchy in terms of authenticity (although it was in a rather different class to what Triang were producing at the time)! The High Goods opens (a generic 5-planker and its more recognisable steel equivalent) were very much out of proportion, the cattle van was also too tall and the 20T grain hopper was cut short to fit the same chassis. I have a soft spot for the BR 12T van though, which manages to catch the general look quite well despite having a roof profile much more akin to the GW Minks. The Fruit D, Presflo and Prestwin are decent body mouldings but suffer from poor chassis, although things did get much better with the plastic underframes on the SR CCT and the Blue Spot fish van featured in a recent post.
This one here though, the BR banana van, is in my opinion the best item in the range as regards its ‘finescale’ potential (although that observation only applies to the body). The detail is relatively restrained and it’s dimensionally spot on apart from about 1mm overwidth, and it matches up well with the Dapol and Parkside renditions of vans based on the BR standard 12T design.
Detail wise, it’s rather marred by the raised ‘pad’ on which HD printed the code and running number – that’s been shaved down on this one, but it’s not yet had the smaller details restored, which will be done with microstrip and 10 thou ‘cube rivets’. Hacking something about to this degree may seem daunting, but as long as you have some skill with the knife and file and take it a bit at a time, constantly checking levels, it repays the effort. It’s also an idea to cut in the edge of the corner plate before you start, following the line set by the higher part of the moulding, as it will help to prevent the knife wandering too far. This particular model is another that was originally weathered contemporaneously with that Blue Spot and again, is a good enough basis for a bit more work.
Most of all the model is let down by the standard crude diecast chassis, but an easy upgrade is possible with the Red Panda mouldings for the BR standard 8-shoe clasp gear. As these vans didn’t appear until quite late on, it was what they were all built with (other than a solo prototype converted from a plywood Vanfit, B769635, which may or may not have kept its 4-shoe gear).
This was done back in my methodical period, having the patience to think ahead and planning the chassis build so it could make use of the way the Wrenn van was constructed. The steel weight was retrieved from a RTR wagon and is one of those with a hole in the middle, chosen so it accommodates the screw post that is actually part of the separate roof moulding. The weight itself is just glued at each end to the lips on the body moulding, and the main chassis members similarly just sit on the partial floor.
For those new to kitbashing or teetering on the edge, this sort of procedure is actually very little different to building up the chassis in a bespoke, prepackaged kit; you still have to dress the top edges and make sure things sit straight, you just don’t have anything pre-set to determine the distance between the solebars. I tend to fit the headstocks first, which naturally gives some idea where the solebars should sit, and then just fiddle about with a light tack joint of solvent and eying things up until I’m happy the wheelsets aren’t going to drop out. It also still needs catch bars from brass wire adding to the representational yokes, which I expect I’ll have to bend in such a way as to be secured inside that body lip. All that will happen once I’ve made progress on one or two others to run with it.
So there you have an interesting project, one that could be relatively quick (unlike mine…) and that provides something as yet untouched by the wishlists. The Wrenn vans can be picked up relatively cheaply around the swapmeets and I think it’s also one of the unpainted bodies that Dapol are knocking out for a quid, and the Red Panda chassis is still in the Parkside Dundas catalogue. Prototype wise, these vans were in service from the late 1950s until sometime in the mid-’70s; I think one or two survived to wear the TOPS code VNV although by then, most survivors were in use as barriers. For earlier years (steam and early diesel), they could be regularly seen in combination with the LMS-inspired design represented by Ratio kit 541 .