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Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Friday, 8 October 2021

Presflo Cement Wagons - 4mm scale

This is a lesson on the benefits of never throwing away spares or scrap.

I decided to tidy up the railway room and the first drawer I opened contained about six broken wagons including the Airfix Presflo Cement Wagon. The task of tidying up the room quickly evaporated as I thought to myself - maybe I can repair this wagon.

It is a lovely model because of its detail and unusual style. Unfortunately the roof, couplings, buffer heads, one step, vacuum pipes and decals were missing. Whilst the chassis was (untidily) painted gloss black the yellow body of the virgin kit was retained. This model must be over 60 years old and probably built by my late father. I noticed that the body had been assembled back to front relative to the chassis. I knew this because more recently I bought another kit, rebadged Dapol, and assembled it correctly to instructions and prototype.

Having a 3D printer to hand it did not take long to design and print a new roof using the Dapol model as a style guide, except the very small roof hatch cover latches and hinges had to be cut and fitted from scrap plastic since it was beyond the capability of my printers resolution, being the filament laying type.

Buffer heads were fashioned from nails having the right size heads and fitted into holes drilled in the buffer shanks.

Vacuum pipes came from other wagon left overs and the step was fashioned from plastic scrap.

Couplings were purchased.

What to do about the reversed body? Carefully break away the ladder and vacuum cylinders and swap their positions. There is still a bit of detail molded in (barely noticeable) that are at the wrong ends.

Airfix Blue Circle Presflo
Whilst researching the prototype I came across a modeler who had fabricated and fitted the pipework that is missing from the model design. I did the same and it really adds to the character of the model.

My research revealed that the Yellow paint scheme of the Blue Circle 1950s wagon was short lived, being repainted grey because the yellow was quickly stained by cement powder spills. I opted for the grey. I know the grey was prevalent in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. I do not know the years it was introduced and later scrapped.

Halfords grey primer was applied all over and the chassis and wheels hand painted Humbrol satin black. Light weathering was applied using white and brown pastel scrapes and then sprayed with 'firm hold' hair spray. 

Dapol BR Presflo
When I made the Dapol kit I decided to finish it in BR bauxite with BR decals, which meant I did not need the Blue Circle decals that came with the kit. These were retained and now applied to the Airfix kit.

This photo below is of a train comprising a presflo cement wagon. The makeup of the train with its West Country Bulleid engine replicates that shown in a John Day photograph of the prototype train from 1962. Note the Invalid Car on the second wagon.




Friday, 20 August 2021

3 Link Coupling Operation with Ease

I am a subscriber to Gormo's You Tube channel 'Great Chesterford Junction Model Railway'. He invented a highly innovative method of 3 link coupling operation for 00 gauge rolling stock based on magnetics. I thought about adopting it for my 0 gauge rolling stock but came up with a simpler method that was implemented in seconds without the need to modify stock and gave remarkable results. I doubt it is suitable for smaller scales though.

I had available a range of neodymium magnets and found that a 4mm diameter by 1 mm thick magnet fitted snugly into a loop of a 3 link chain. Now, for this to work your chain needs to be ferrous metal.


With two wagons modified I brought them together by hand and they joined up instantly. pull them apart and they decoupled. What a delight, as anyone who uses a shunting pole will appreciate!

There was a tendency for the magnet of one chain to release from the link to snap to the magnet in the other chain. This was easily fixed by super-gluing the magnets in place. You would think that the distance between wagons would double normality as the chains do not couple to the hook. However, what happened was the links concertinaed due to the magnetic force, thus restoring the prototypical gap. Of course that effect on the chains is not prototypical but it is a small price to pay for ease of coupling up the rolling stock.

This method has potential for further development. Maybe soldering the three links together for rigidity or having two links non-ferrous and the magnetic link ferrous or indeed all links non ferrous. Something else to bear in mind is the chassis. If this is ferrous or parts there on near the links are then this will attract the local magnet in preference to coupling up.



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