16mm Projects

Alan Poxon : Penrhyn Early Brake Vans

The Penrhyn brake van that had been built on the frames of the steam locomotive Sanford was frequently photographed and well documented in its final form. Less well known is the original version of this brake van or its predecessor that had been built on the frames of an unknown diesel locomotive. I came across a single photograph of each of these earlier brake vans in a recent copy of the Penrhyn Railway & Quarry Journal that provided the inspiration for this project.

The article also referenced scale drawings in a 2012 edition of Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling Review, that is still available from the publisher. Scaling these drawings from 1:32 to 1:19 was the first step in scratch building the very first Penrhyn brake van. The frames were fabricated from plasticard of various thicknesses with running gear, buffers and rear steps liberated from my bits box.

Water tank and frames complete

A water tank was built from plasticard and, like the frames, was reinforced with wood at the ends and centre so as to withstand any rough handling when placing the model on the track. The water tank on the prototype had a central hatch with a filler pipe but no internal baffles, resulting a rather exciting ride. The handle to operate the original brakes on the donor diesel running gear passed through the water tank, so an opening in the cab front was required for the guard to reach through.

Wooden cab primed.

The cab was fabricated from balsa wood with the window surrounds tidied up with plasticard angle. Planks were scored into the wood with a pencil and NailArt 2mm half-moons added to represent the coach bolts. Seats on either side of the door were built so that the brakeman was at the correct height to see through the window. Halfords grey primer was then used to seal and harden the wooden cab before adding a plasticard roof.

Frames, water tank and cab undercoated.

Grey undercoat was applied to the three parts of the brake van using a Hycote spray can. The frames were painted black and the water tank and cab were painted with the correct shade of Penrhyn grey. The three elements were then glued together and light weathering was achieved with black powder. Weights were added between the frames to produce a good ride behind a long rake of Penrhyn slate wagons.

Penrhyn first brake van front.

Penrhyn first brake van rear.

The first version of the Sanford brake van used the same water tank. This was mounted directly onto the frames of the steam locomotive and the cab was modified to fit. The draughty cab was soon enclosed on one side and, later, the backsheet was extended to the cab roof. The same water tank, without baffles, mounted on frames with a very similar wheelbase produced the same interesting ride. Sanford was later modified with a longer wheelbase and iron ballast.

Sanford frames and front buffer beam.

For my model of the early version of Sanford, I turned to the 3d design and print skills of fellow 16mm modeller Roy Plum. The 1:32 drawings were again scaled to 1:19 and cab dimensions checked against the Wood Valley Works model of the later version of Sanford, that is the subject of an earlier project report. The model duly arrived partly assembled for testing. Buffers were added to match the height of other Penrhyn couplings and a 170g load was found to produce a good ride.

Water tank and cab.

The cab roof frame was covered with thin plasticard sheet to produce a smooth finish, rather than filling and sanding a 3d printed roof. Self-adhesive weights were added to the inside of the water tank. These were fixed towards the rear of the tank so  that the weights were directly above the short wheelbase. Final touches were the addition of 3d printed brake blocks and plasticard tube for the filler pipe on the water tank hatch.

Cab and water tank complete with first undercoat.

The main components of the brake van were designed to clip together to allow easy disassembly for painting and maintenance. After applying a grey undercoat using a Hycote spray can, the frames were painted matt black with the water tank and cab finished in Penrhyn grey. Wheels and chain couplings were treated with RailMatch light rust paint. To complete the model, a brakeman was fixed within the cab along with

the all important tea can.

Penrhyn early Sanford brake van front.

Penrhyn early Sanford brake van rear.

Penrhyn early brake vans.

January 2024



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