The Chassis

Having a separate chassis is a good idea. Glueing the white metal sole bars direct to the bodywork is a bit final and there's always a risk of damaging the bodywork, while messing around underneath!

chassisThe first thing to do is sort out the sole bars. Those in the chassis kit are both too long and too deep but they are the correct wheelbase and general configuration. Reduce the length of the solebars to 91.5mm, making sure that they remain symetrical. Modify the cast on W-irons to make them slightly narrower and to reduce the height. They don't want to disappear too far up behind the bodywork. This is a very fiddly job with scalpel, needle files and emery paper. Now file or scrape the tops and backs of the solebars until they are true and square and 6mm deep. I also reduced the depth of the bearing mounts as I felt they placed the solebars too far apart. Next comes the fiddly bit as, unfortunately, the cast in pockets for the wheelbearings were not symetrical in a verical plane. There are two options, fill the pockets and redrill them or hack the existing pockets on one side and pack them on the other. The centre of the bearing should be 8mm from the top of the solebar. Had I realised from the outset how bad the problem was, I would definately have taken the first option. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Which ever option you choose there will be less material to remove if you use waisted bearings instead of those supplied. Whatever, don't fix the bearings just yet.

Locate the main chassis deck you made earlier. The bottom layer, which sits between the solebars will be the same length but narrower. I made mine 21mm wide by trial and error. The exact width will be determined by how much you have 'tidied up' the solebars and how much endplay you want on your axles. Pop the bearings into the solebars keeping them in place with a tiny bit of blu-tack and check the distance between the bearings (it should be the same on both sole bars) and the distance from the top of the sole bar (they should all be the same). Then temporarily secure the solebars to the upper layer with more blu- tack. Pop in the wheel sets and adjust the sole bars until they run smoothly to your satifaction. The distance between the solebars will give you the width of your lower layer.Now look along the chassis at eye level to check that the axles are parallel. If everything is OK, fix the bearings permanently to the solebars and cut out the lower chassis layer and secure the two layers together. I use a smear of epoxy around the shoulder of the bearings, that way I can remove them in the future should that prove necessary. Check all those dimensions again before the epoxy sets! Drill through the mounting holes in the chassis and open them out a little to provide some fitting tolerance. The solebars can now be fixed to the chassis with epoxy, ensuring that they are lined up accurately, the wheel sets popped in and checked again for alignment before the epoxy sets. The underfloor bracing shown in Fig.4 will add some stiffness but, more importantly, it gives additional support to the solebars. Epoxy and plastic are not the best bed mates, so the more fixing points the better. It's also worth roughing up the surface of any plastic to give a key for the epoxy. You can now check fit the chassis to the van body. It shouldn't be too tight a fit as, once the footboards are on, there's not much to get a good grip on! Hopefully, your bolt holes should also line up! You can now also check that the van runs smoothly. At this point make cut outs in the ends of the chassis to clear the rear of the coupling hooks if they are not going to be removeable.

Make up the footboards as follows. Cut two strips of 20 thou 5.25mm wide x 90mm long. Draw a line 2mm from the edge of your sheet of 20 thou for the upstand and mark up and remove the cut-outs for the axle boxes. Place a straight edge, such as a steel rule, on your drawn line and secure the footboards to the sheet with solvent, with their bottom edge butting up against the straight edge. Check that they are vertical and leave to cure. Leave for at least a couple of hours before carefully cutting the footboard assemblies from the sheet. You should now have two footboards complete with cut-outs in the upstands. I used some 1 x .25mm brass strip for the brackets but you could also file them up from scrap etch. I have a box full of scrap from all the etched kits I have built over the years, it always comes in useful. These can be fixed in the same way as the door catch by using 0.6mm brass wire as both fixing and to represent the bolt head. You only need one per bracket as the second bolt is concealed by the upstand on the footboard. Remove the chassis from the body, drill the solebars ensuring that all the mountings are level, and secure the brackets with epoxy. Before fixing the boards in place, roughen up the plastic to give the epoxy someting to grip.

Fit the coupling hooks to the buffer beams, not forgetting to make up the cover plates from 5 thou card, and re-unite body and chassis. They will need separating again for painting. I haven't mentioned brake gear. Boyd's drawing shows the operating gear mounted externally on the end of the van but I can't see it in any photographs but if any further information comes to light, I can always retro-fit it. Update - Shortly after putting this on the web, and after priming the wagon, I found the photo I was looking for!

I am having some difficulty establishing exactly what colour the van would have been in the mid thirties. I suspect it was a rather faded crimson lake and, as I have that colour in stock (don't ask me why, I'm not an LMS man!), I will probably go with that. In the mean time you will have to make do with photographs of the unpainted article (see next page).


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