Bringing Up the Rear


This post has come about for 2 reasons. The main reason is the brake van pictured above and the other I’ll get to later.
Now the brake van pictured above is a SECR 20t 6 wheeled goods brake van diagram 1558. 40 were built in 1898 that had one open and one enclosed balcony. These were later rebuilt and had different framing on each end compared to the 50 later 1910 design that had two enclosed ends from new. Most passed into BR ownership but were withdrawn between 1949 and 1960. One has survived and is based at the KESR.
The model I have was picked up cheap at the Manchester show in December and I originally thought it was a Falcon Brassworks kit going by the weight of it. It wasn’t until I got it home and was trying to take the EM gauge wheels out to replace that I found out otherwise! As the second set of wheels came out the body came off in my hand. To my surprise the body was made of plasticard with the underframe made of brass with each axle sprung and sprung buffers. Who ever scratchbuilt it did a cracking job and going by the box it came in its pretty old. All I have done to it is put it back together with a set of OO wheels and repainted the ends. It runs real well and that’s probably down to the amount of weight in it and sprung axles.


The other reason for this entry was a post I picked up on during the usual frothfest before the Bachmann announcement at the begin of the month. The poster was hoping for a SECR Dance hall brake van to be produced RTR. What is this new trend of people waiting around for RTR stuff??
And if people really really wanted one of these brake vans then there are already options. For starters you have the Cambrian plastic kit which isn’t hard to build. If you really want to push the boat out you can go for the London Road Models brass kit. I have built 3 Dance hall brake vans, 2 are Cambrian kits built as different examples and the other is old 51L brass kit (the one on the left below). IMG_4102

I haven’t got anything against people wanting stuff produced RTR, most of my other brake vans are modified RTR but without the kit built vans there would be less variety on my layout and I would of built more kits if the RTR models weren’t available. Some of the other brake vans I have include 3 SR25t Pill-box vans. 1 is a Cambrian kit and the other 2 are Bachmann.IMG_4108IMG_4109

There is also a detailed Hornby LBSCR 20t brake van which I am hoping to do another of soon.IMG_4111

I have a Queen Mary brake van as well but don’t tend to use it much at shows and I must get round to building a Marc models SECR 20t Ballast plough brake van to the engineers rake. There are also a couple of BR and a LMS brake van just to mix it up a little.
So back to the guy wanting a RTR Dance Hall brake van. The usual retort on forums from those wanting everything RTR when asked why they don’t try a kit is they can’t, don’t have the skills, don’t have the time etc. Well I would argue that the 10-15 minutes spent frothing and wishing on forums could be spent trying to build a kit and gaining the skills needed. That brings the argument down to can’t and as my Nan always said “there is no such word as can’t”. I usually stop reading after that because its all been said before. The name calling starts with words like elitist, rivet counter and finescale being thrown around. Once the word finescale is said the media experts start mocking from afar although they are only too happy for everyone to buy what ever magazine they might be in this month when it suits. Its all rather tiresome and usual ends up with someone saying they were “only  joking” to try and save face. IMG_4040

Anyway I think I’ll stick to building kits instead of waiting around. Its usually quicker and adds more variety. Variety is important to me and with Herstmonceux I’ve tried to model a area and era with the stock to match and part of it is to be different to make it interesting, not only for me but for people that see the layout at shows. I could fill the layout with all the latest RTR items, but the layout wouldn’t be the same and in my opinion it would lose its character and essence.


7 thoughts on “Bringing Up the Rear

  1. I can totally understand the thinking “oh I don’t have the skill”, I do it all the time. But it’s usually not because I can’t, it’s because I’m afraid to start or wreck something I spent a bunch of money on. But the thing is every time I push myself to do a project outside of my comfort zone I get a lot more satisfaction, and sometimes important lessons on how not to do things and how to fix mistakes.

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    1. Everyone makes mistakes the first time. I only started building locos 5 years ago. Now most of my locos are kit built and one of the first locos I built is going to get a rebuild to make it run better. And like you say Matt, when you push yourself a bit more you get more satisfaction from the end result. Even if its not quite right the first time..

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  2. I totally agree with your views on scratch building. I’ve just finished building a model of Cheddleton station in N gauge and thoroughly enjoyed it . I made a few mistakes along the way but that’s how you learn. I love going to exhibitions but am disappointed that so many layouts have the same buildings on them. Especially N gauge and usually Metcalfe kits which I think are very good but not all the time.

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  3. Good stuff Andy. The whole point (to me anyway) about the likes of Bachmann’s wagon ranges is that it’s an easy (and until recently, cost effective) way to build up the things you need multiples of, with the more esoteric items naturally falling to kits or conversions. Some of the things in the wishlists I just think ‘never in a month of Sundays matey’ – and don’t even ask about Trans-Pennines 😉

    Like you say though, it should be about balance, in every way. For a while now I’ve noticed there’s a movement to ‘do stuff’ almost for the sake of it, to take a product that’s currently in the spotlight and hack at it, stick bits on or paint it using other products that are seen as hip and trending. Sometimes I’m left thinking ‘hmm, nice enough; but what was the point’. As an end product, I just want something that looks as convincing as I can make it, what its origins were is to some degree irrelevant.

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    1. Funny you should mention that Ian. Tim Shackleton’s work really got me into weathering, his first Right Track DVD being most informative. However, in recent years his articles have all been about using the latest new offering from x or y, which for me became a bit of a turn off.


      1. Yep, and it’s all too easy for the tyro to assume that these products are the things one ‘must’ use, or that they will guarantee the desired result. Same with techniques, you know well enough my thoughts on there being too much emphasis on technique in this hobby. Bottom line is that skill is still needed, and if you want to acquire it, you probably will. Oo er, I’m sounding all elitist now…

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