Upgrading Tri-ang’s Southern GBL van – part 1: deconstruction

I’ve had one of Tri-ang’s old Southern Railway Gangwayed Bogie Luggage Vans for quite some time. In fact, the Roxey Moulding’s 4A250 conversion kit was bought for it nearly twenty eight years ago!

Gangwayed Bogie Luggage Van in original condition
(click any image to open the full-screen lightbox)

While the loft is converted (and the rest of the house gradually decorated By Order of the General Manager), I’ve been working out what stock I’ll need for my layout … and it turns out I need two GBLs. So, in June I bought another through eBay. This one is blue while my original one is maroon-painted-green. Then I bought more etched brass from Roxey – conversion kits, doors and gangways.

While the maroon-painted-green one is in a brake fluid bath to strip the paint, I’ve started to deconstruct the blue one.

bogies, underframe, doors, buffers and glazing removedThe roof is held on by a single screw which passes up through the underframe moulding. With the roof off, the glazing dropped out, and I unclipped the underframe. Next I pulled the buffers out of their mountings, and popped the doors out of their hinges. This was easy! Now for the bogies. Rats. The bogies are held on by large rivets. Drilling them out wouldn’t be easy as they turn freely. So I resorted to attacking them with snipe-nosed pliers, squishing them until I could pull them out.

I consulted the Roxey instructions:

“4) Cut off bogie pivot boss. Cut off corridor gangways. Cut off all door hinge blocks top and bottom. File and sand these areas until smooth.”

I reached for my Airwaves 10 thou etched stainless steel razor saws and set to work. They’re very effective, if a little bendy, and I soon had the main bits of plastic cut off. I used my Swann-Morton SM61 and 62 chisel scalpels to remove the rest of the plastic, and then started sanding. I’ve got home-made sanding sticks in the style of Iain Rice – some made from laminated ply sleeper strips, and others from old chop-sticks – with a variety of abrasives between 150 and 2000 stuck to them.

All moulded details removedAs I sanded the van ends to remove the last vestiges of the moulded corridor connections, it occurred to me that the handrail, steps and other details would need to come off. And the ‘T’ sections are far too small. After some deliberation, I sanded the ends completely smooth, and re-scored the planking. Incidentally, on close inspection of the body, I realised Tri-ang’s planking is represented by raised lines instead of grooves.

Looking at my handiwork, I noticed one last problem – where the new etched foot boards would be located under the doors, there was a large slab of plastic. Did Dave Hammersley’s instructions mean these had to be cut away too? What about the bottom lip of the solebar … how could I retain that while cutting away the rest of the block?

Solebar cleaned up to match prototypeI spent the next modelling session searching through the GBL photos online and those in my many books, to understand what the solebar actually looked like on the prototype. To my surprise, I discovered the solebars are not made of channel like many goods wagons, they’re flat sided – there is no bottom lip. I checked pictures of the coaches which gave up their underframes for the GBLs, and they too were flat sided. In some pictures of the GBL it does look like something is running the length of the vehicle at the base of the solebar, but this turns out to be the steam heating pipe, and it’s only on one side. I assume that’s what Tri-ang were trying to represent.

That means I have to trim the lip off all the way along, being careful not to damage the outside framing which extends below the wooden body side. At least I can now carve away the huge lump under each door. Compare the before and after images.

Detail showing flitching plate and bracketsWhile looking at the photos, I noticed a number of other details which will need to be added – the flitching plates where the underframes were lengthened, and the brackets holding the outside framing to the solebar.

What I thought would be an easy way back into modelling after twenty-five years, is turning out to be a major, and somewhat daunting, exercise.

In part two, I’ll start to add detail to the solebar, and ends, and contemplate the etched replacement doors.

2 Responses to Upgrading Tri-ang’s Southern GBL van – part 1: deconstruction

    • Hi Phil
      I’m appalled that it was 16 months ago that I wrote this!
      I’ve had any number of things to distract me – work, family, the house, health issues … but obviously that is no excuse. Perhaps the only ‘reasonable’ excuse is the time (and money) I’ve put into making the loft environmentally friendly to model railways (heating, cooling, light, lack of dust).
      I haven’t finished the GBL, but I have made progress. The etched doors are on, and the foot boards started. After collecting lots of photos and seeing some four-wheel vans on the IoW Railway, I’ve added to the side framing – it now has the plates which secured it to the solebar.
      I’ll try to write an update over the next week or so – thank you bringing this to my attention.
      Have a great (modelling) Christmas & New Year.

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