Chris Cooper

Building Resurgam Ffestiniog Railway Carriages

David Williams, owner/designer at Resurgam Rolling Stock has recently collaborated with renowned FR modeller Will Curry to produce an ever expanding range of super detailed kits of Ffestiniog heritage carriages, all in laser cut ply with 3d printed details.

First releases were the Gloucester built Bowsiders 19 & 20, closely followed by the earlier Brown Marshall built Bowsider 17.  (18 is still in the pipeline )

Having old Pearse/Brandbright versons of 19 & 20 I decided to start with 17, which was missing from my collection.  However, as you will read further on, the quality of detail in the new Resurgam kits persuaded me that I would have to build 19 & 20 as well, as replacements for the earlier versions.

The kit comes with a daunting number of parts and an instruction booklet running to nearly 75 pages, but once I started familiarising myself with the instructions and accompanying diagrams, I found they were very well written and easy to follow step by step.

The carriage is constructed in two main parts, body and chassis, just like the prototype. Here is the floor, seating and compartment partitions in the process of being constructed.  I found that it is very important to carefully decide when to paint things throughout the process, and this usually means painting most parts before they are put together, saving a lot of difficult finishing later on. I use quick drying pva wood glue for almost all main construction. For small details superglue is used, and for glazing and beading overlays I use canopy glue.

Now the interior can be completed to the level of detail you want, and here I decided to upholster seats and stain in the first class, and paint the third class cream as per the carriage as it is today, running in ‘1960’s’ guise, Garraway green and cream.The construction always uses layers to hide construction tabs and create strength.  The interior sides are now pre- painted and then glued around the interior seating and partitions, along with the roof support beams, to create a strong unit around which the exterior is built.  At this point the thin side layers easily take the tumbleholme shape of

the bowsides.


Now comes the middle layer of the body exterior in a thicker ply to create the depth of the sides of the carriage.  This comes in two parts, an upper and a lower section.  The upper section has cut outs for the windows, and the lower section has to be curved to create the lower tumbleholme side.  At this point I decided to score, soak and pre bend the lower section to make it easier to build.


Once dry the tumbleholme was pre-curved it fitted neatly onto the side of the


This was glued on at the same time as the upper section and held with elastic bands.  (I have since started to use masking tape instead of elastic bands, much kinder to the carriage and easier to remove).

I decided not to pre prime/paint the curved section of the side before application as the introduction of moisture to the wood often distorts the ply and I was afraid it would straighten out.

So once the glue was dry, the sides were masked, sprayed with Halfords grey primer, the lower green painted by hand (Phoenix Precision Paints code P100, Pre 1954 BR Loco green) and after masking off the green, the upper sprayed with Halfords Rover Arum White.

The final layer of the sides is the beading overlay.  This was also pre painted, along with the ends.  These are Phoenix Red Oxide, and once given a gloss varnish, come up close to the FR red of the actual carriage.

The beading layer was then glued to the now two tone side of the carriage to complete the effect, along with fitting the ends.

The chassis was then constructed as a separate part.

And the headstocks built on the ends with the characteristic ‘balcony’ step



The chassis was then be painted and attached to the underside of the body assembly. Now the carriage was taking shape the work on the interior could be seen to be worthwhile when viewed through the windows openings.

Fabrics from Carriage and Wagon Works

The next slightly daunting task was the glazing, window beading and droplights.  These all have to be pre painted before application, and there are a lot of them! Droplights and window beading are Indian Red (Railmatch) and droplight beading is sprayed Arum white to match the sides.

I applied the glazing (once the blue protective film was removed!) with the tiniest scrape of canopy glue run around the window sockets using a cocktail stick.  The same with the beading that follows over the top.  This ensured minimum glue on the glazing, with the added bonus that canopy glue is strong, flexible and dries clear.

Once I’d hoovered out the interior (very important no bits floating inside!) the roof was glued on and secured with masking tape to dry, remembering to drill and glue in the bolts for the bogies before doing so.  All the door furniture was then applied, door handles, buffers and lock cover plates (from Nicki SLR Models) along with decals (Endon Valley) to finish the model.  The bogies and couplings were then added and the main body given a gloss


So what next? Glutton for punishment I started another one!

This time FR 19 in Victorian all over purple brown livery with gold lining. Gulp!

All construction was the same starting with the interior of the body.  First class is stained to represent the oak panelling and third class is wood grained using scumble glaze, as per the prototype.  First class is upholstered blue, and the third class has red cushions on the benches. Wood graining was a technique widely employed in order to give the illusion of a more expensive wood being used than was there in actuality.  This is done by first painting the surface cream, followed by brushing on the scumble glaze and striking out with a stiff brush, or comb.  I’m no expert, but with a bit of experimentation I achieved a passable finish including some wiggles to represent knots.

The middle layer sides were applied in the same way, pre curved then painted, but with this livery there was no need for the two tone colour scheme.  I use Phoenix LNWR Carriage Plum to represent the FR purple brown colour.

The next challenge was the lining.  I asked David to produce for me some templates that fitted in the negative spaces of the beading layer to make the job easier.  These proved invaluable and I think it only took two evenings work to line out the sides.  Once the lines were on I painted in the edge of the beading within the gold line by hand to complete the effect.  This took considerably longer!

The pre lined beading overlays and ends were then applied to the sides of the carriage body to complete the effect, along with glazing, decals and all the door furniture. The chassis was built and lined and then attached to the body then the whole vehicle gloss varnished. 


Since finishing 19 (and having a lie down in a darkened room!) the Resurgam odyssey has continued with 11 & 12 and replica Ashbury carriage 21, shown in the pictures below. All are built using the same method, interior then exterior, but with one blessed difference…..no bowsides!

11 and 12 were originally built as bogie brake vans, converted to have passenger compartments and matchboard sides in the 1930’s and then changed again in the early preservation era.  11 was made into the FR’s first, first class observation carriage and 12 was lengthened by the addition of an extra compartment.  They are often run together brake ends joined by the FR’s first corridor connection.  Groundbreaking!

12 interior:

Completed 12

21 interior

Completed 21

Bowsider 20

11 interior

So next is Bowsider 18, when David brings it out; fingers crossed.

These kits set a new standard in laser cut ply kits in 16mm, in every way, from design, fit, detail, and quality of materials.

The resulting models are testament to the skill of David and Will.

An invaluable resource for all things FR is Festpedia, and also the F&WHR photographic archive on iBase, links below – https://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/Main_Pagehttp:// 

Suppliers section

Resurgam Rolling Stock - kits and lining templates

Coach and Wagon Works - fast drying paints and upholstery fabrics

Phoenix Precision Paints - exterior colours and varnish

Halfords - spray primers and colours

Parkwood Models - brass door handles

IP Engineering- wheels and buffers

SLR - 3D printed details

Endon Valley Custom Decals

February 2022








































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