The inevitable fate of the kit builder – Buy it and they will make it

So, this is something that I have heard other modellers complain about happening to them for years, but which till now, has never really happened to me.  The refrain of “I’ve just built X” or “I am in the middle of building Y” when a manufacturer announces that they are going to be making a Ready to Run (RTR) of whatever they are building.  Back in May 2016 after the 2016 Great British Train Show, I decided I wanted to model the British Railways Mk1 First Open Coach that we rode in when we took the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig in Scotland a couple of years ago.  The “First Open” or FO coach in the right body style (window and door patterns) wasn’t available from Bachmann or Hornby, at least not in any modern and accurate version, but a small company called Southern Pride Models in the UK which produces plastic/brass kits of British Rail coaches made one, so I decided to order it and add it to my project list.  The kit arrived in the middle of the summer, I took a good look at it then, and put it aside behind other projects.

15512317868_a80818644d_oSteam enelopes ex-British Railways Mk1 First Open coach “Florence” on the platform at Fort William on a chilly October morning.  The coach is now owned by the West Coast Railway Company and used in excursion service.

For historical background for those not familiar with British Railways parlance.  A “Mk1” is the first design of new coach under British Railways following the nationalization of the railways in 1948 and their move from four large private companies to one massive government company.  There were numerous different types of Mk1 coaches.  The First Open or FO that I am modelling means it is a First Class (F) coach.  Open (O) means, that instead of individual compartments, there are doors at the ends of the car, and the seats are all accessed via the aisle.  It means you can move about inside the coach, and because it had corridor connections at the ends, between cars in a train.  What is referred to as “Compartment” stock are coaches where you access each section by a door to the platform.  Often you can only sit in your compartment (particularly in older pre Mk1 coaches), though many (most?/all?) Mk1 compartment coaches also had a corridor on one side to allow access through the train.  Mk1 coaches were introduced starting in 1951, and were built until 1964 when the Mk2 designs superseded them.  Many Mk1’s are preserved and in use on heritage railways throughout the UK, and on mainline charters.  The above is meant as a Coles Notes intro to BR coaches, if you want to learn more, there is tons out there in books and on the internet.

I didn’t notice it back in October when Hornby announced it, but they are preparing new RTR Mk1 FO coaches for their 2017 line.  I noticed it last week while in the UK in a modelling magazine.  So, now I have the quandary of do I build the kit I’ve bought, or wait on the RTR that only needs renumbering/naming.  I say quandary, but for me, it’s not really, there is only one option for proceeding.  While I’ve never built a coach kit like this before, there is nothing in it that I haven’t done or can’t do.  There may be things I haven’t done in a specific combination, but that challenge is part of what makes the hobby fun!!  Whatever challenges this kit build brings me, I look forward to them, as at the end of the day, I will have a model that has meaning to me, and which I’ve built and detailed myself, as opposed to taking something out of the box and making little changes.  There is nothing wrong with that, I do it all the time, but in this case, I’m sticking with the project.  It will be more rewarding and mean more at the end of the day.

So, with that all said, I started on the Mk1 FO kit tonight.  The kit looks like it will be reasonably straightforward to build.  The instructions are taking me a few reads to make sure I am correctly translating English English to Canadian English for where to drill holes, cut material away and similar, but I’m going to take a slow and steady approach to starting this project, not going to do anything I can’t undo immediately, at least not till I’ve got a good sense of things.  The pictures below show most of the parts from the kit, and the bag with the interior details kit, and the major components (underframe, ends, sides and roof) pieced together to get a sense of how the pieces go together and what I am doing.  Next step is to start drilling holes in the roof for ventilators and details.

imgp5891rawconvSouthern Pride Mk1 FO kit laid out on the spare bed.  The major components were already on the workbench when I decided to take the picture.

The kit so far appears to be well thought out.  It is what we would describe as a “core” kit.  The basic bits of the body are all the same as other kits the manufacturer sells, which allows the same injection molded parts to be used to build many different cars, just by applying different sides.  In this case, the sides are etched brass parts, which get laminated onto the large clear plastic moldings which form the sides of the car and give it its profie.

imgp5893rawconvFishbowl Coach.  The styrene ends, underbody and roof along with the clear sides put together to get a sense of the car and how it goes together.  Without the etched brass car sides, it looks more like a fish tank car than a first class coach!

Not bad for the first night on a project.  Simple goal for my Saturday.  Get all the roof holes drilled and the various parts installed.  If I get that done, I may even move on to the next step (or I’ll get distracted by the Leafs-Habs game, whatever comes first!).


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