Reviews of 51L wagon and van models

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51 tonne pressure discharge wagon
Highland Railway Diagram 36 twin wagon
North British Railway Diagram 67 cattle wagon
North Eastern Railway G1
North Eastern Railway G2a

51L Wagon Kits
Excerpt from Scalefour News, No.126, February 2002, P10, Don Rowland

Don Rowland writes: "At the recent Blackburn Show I picked up a couple of 51L wagon kits. Apart from the North Stafford van, which he brought out shortly after taking over the range, these were the first I had bought since our member Peter Heald acquired the business. I was delighted at a number of quiet, small changes which together produce a much improved kit, but moreover for the P4 modeller cut out quite a bit of work. So far as I can see the changes have not involved any price increase either.

Basically, the white metal body castings, already well detailed, remain the same, but there are a number of minor changes. For horse hooks, for example, instead of a small cast ridge there are two dimples which one drills with a 0.35mm drill (I cheated and used 0.4mm) and fits horse hooks made from 0.33mm wire supplied. Similarly, on the brake gear there are no socking great chunkiness of white metal for the safety straps: instead there is flat brass strip which one forms into the proper safety straps with a consequent much improved appearance. The kits retain cast buffers with full detail in the shanks, but with turned and blackened heads and spindles embedded. For the finescale modeller, the great advance here is that, once the buffers are fitted, with a bit of gentle persuasion the heads can be removed. It is then a very simple job to drill the castings using a 0.5mm drill and fit sprung buffer heads.

But the biggest improvement is in the suspension. No longer do we have solid axleguard and w-iron assemblies to saw off from the solebars. Instead , the springs are cast integral with the solebars, while correct -pattern axleboxes are supplied to fit on to the etched w-irons, also supplied. The result of all these , in themselves fairly small changes, is that the P4 modeller can get a more detailed wagon in a fraction of the time."

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51 tonne powder discharge wagon
See:
"51L Models French-built PCA est tres bien"
Rail Express Modeller Supplement number 2, P9, Rail Express Issue 96

"Solid cement Wagon"
Model Rail, Number 68, P40-41, June 2004

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Highland Railway Diagram 36 twin wagon

A Brace of Single Bolsters
A Highland Railway prototype, tackled by Dave Carter
Scalefour News No 129 P 8

David says: "I recently acquired a twin pack of the Highland Railway single bolster timber wagon kit, produced by the Wizard Models range. The kit is very simple to construct.

Readers of the last issue will remember my propensity for modelling out of a travelling case. In fact, I made up both these wagons in a hotel room.
The main parts consist of the solebars/wagon side, headstocks and floor. These parts I assembled with low melt solder. Other parts, such as brakes, buffers and the bolster, were secured with Loctite adhesive. The springs are cast with the solebars. Etched brass w-irons are provided, and the cast axleboxes are fixed to the pin-point bearings in these. This fine arrangement saves the work of separating the spring /axle box for compensation.

The etched brass w-irons do need packing between them and the cast metal floor to obtain the correct buffer centre height of 14mm, for which I used a piece of 0.040" Plasticard. The un-sprung buffers are white metal castings with turned metal buffer heads. The brakes are of the 'Scottish' type with its long handle and single brake block. The cast bolster has to be drilled to take two 1/32" wire rods to represent the bolster pins. Two wire loops have to be made and fitted to the bolster for the load securing chains.

Draw hooks are not supplied in the kits, and I used Ambis nickel silver etched ones.

Being cast white metal, these wagons have a reasonable;e mass, and don't need any ballast weight. The body was painted Indian Red with black running gear, while the floor, being cast metal, needed to be painted "natural wood" always a difficult match. HMRS transfers (Scottish pre-group) were used to finish the wagons.

I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of building these wagons: they took less time than two plastic wagon kits! If you have timber from the Scottish Highlands on your railway, these kits are ideal. Suitable twigs can be cut to length to represent a load of timber. Of course for safety reasons, the load should be chained down before the wagons run in a train."

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North British Railway Diagram 67 cattle wagon
Email to 51L from Tony McSean,

"What a smashing kit. Yesterday afternoon I really felt like a quick fix of model making, after struggling to get my old HD 8F into shape for hours, so I took the kit out of the drawer and a couple of very satisfying hours later it was structurally complete (apart from the roof) including Masokits springing and looking very presentable. Congratulations on a nice a wagon kit as I can remember building. The separate axleguard/springs were an excellent bonus. Thanks."

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North Eastern wagon kits, G1 and G2a covered goods wagons
Excerpt from HMRS News September 2000 P15 Model Review, D C Barrett

"I have just built two van kits from 51L, which for a change (compared with other manufacturer's offerings which I have reviewed recently), I can find little to fault. The two concerned are for the North Eastern diagram G1 covered goods and G2a 12 ton goods wagons.

The notes supplied give the G1 as being built between 1886 and 1902 for perishable loads, some being allocated as 'Road' or 'Yeast' vans. They were in use up to the 1930's. The kit represents one with grease axleboxes and either Morton duplex or Cam brake attachments. The G2a was first introduced in 1903 and examples lasted until nationalisation. The kit represents those built after `908 but details are given of other variants. There is, what appears to me, a Southerner, to be a preserved example of the pre-1908 type at Beamish. Reasonably detailed notes, including numbers and liveries are supplied. The kits come packed in the now ubiquitous quick-sea plastic bag, well padded to safeguard the white metal castings. They are cleanly cast with only a nominal need to remove moulding lines, etc. The metal has a slippery feel to it, which I understand is as a result of the casting process, and will benefit from a good rub down with glass fibre brush before assembly. The only other preparation needed is to open out the back of the axleboxes to receive the bearings of your choice.

Basic Assembly
The body mouldings fit together well with the joints being located where there would be a joint in the structure. The careful design enables the body to be accurately assembled first time, something that is not always possible with some kits. I assemble these kits with fixed underframes as, even in P4, providing the axle alignments are square to the track and parallel, I find no problems with the running. The kit instructions suggest fixing the axleboxes to the solebars before assembling to the body. I find I often need to adjust their positions so I ignored the instructions. In the case of the G2a this was necessary as there is a small error in the detailing on the solebar which, when used to locate the w-irons, gives an unsquare chassis. It is probably less than 0.5mm; potentially a problem for running on finescale track but not particularly noticeable on the finished model. A floor is supplied with the kit which, if used, would enable etched w irons to be used, but the alignment is still a potential pitfall. Having satisfactorily soldered them, a test run found the vehicles square and even running the first time, a tribute to the engineering of the moulds and, possibly, my soldering.

Details
The rest of the details such as buffers, brake levers etc, are then fixed. The brake cross shaft is supplied in the form of a piece of brass wire, as are the various handles and foot step. I do have a particular complaint here in that insufficient information is supplied. The hand rails across the ends are clear enough, but the G2A has an unusual handle. I think located to the right of the side door, and a footstep suspended under the solebar. By studying the small diagram and the location marks on the castings, a guess can be made as to the correct shape but I am not confident. I also had two casting left over, always a worrying situation but I understand that some vehicles without a roof door had these on the ends and they may have been fixing brackets for a central roof beam. Some advice in the notes might have helped with these items. Other than some clarification to the instructions, which I understand are in hand, these models are almost too easy to build and would make an excellent starting point for a newcomer to whitemetal kits and the 'black art' of their assembly."

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