Ffestiniog Brandbright Brake by David Rhodes

Regular readers of my scribblings will know of my fascination of all things Wales Narrow Gauge, especially the Welsh Highland Railway. This time we are move slightly south to the Festiniog railway (or Ffestiniog in modern parlance), a line I became acquainted with shortly after it reopened. Later I joined the Deviation team spending many weekends servicing the compressors.  A Brandbright PS2 FR No10 (alternatively No2), passenger brake van is my latest build. I received this kit as a birthday present in 2011, however a Lego Volkswagen Camper (2,000+ parts) and a  Revel 1/24th scale AEC Route Master arrived as Christmas 2012 presents from my daughters. These, of course took preference over my railway modelling. 

The kit: Brandbright have updated a number of their coach kits and the PS2 falls into the updated category. The wooden parts are now laser cut and therefore more precise in their shape. The sides and the guards end panel are made up of several layers, each layer having a specific role. An example of this layering being each coach side which consist of 18 individual wood sections. Perspex windows bring the total of parts per side to 24.  The kit comes with an instruction sheet which indicates where and how most of the parts fit and the  order of assembly. There are no wheels or bogies in the kit. These are available from Brandbright to suit your chosen gauge. Anyone considering building a PS2 should take note that a lot of the painting needs to be done prior to assembly. 

The build process: For once I sat and studied the instruction sheet prior to making a start. This is something I know you all do automatically – yes? The majority of the components come as part of a fret, several frets to be precise. I chose to remove the majority of parts from the frets before commencing the build process. The individual parts are numbered on the fret, therefore I found it advantageous to repeat the numbers on the rear of each part. This allows for easy cross referencing with the instruction sheet once the parts have been removed from the fret and eliminates confusion at a later stage. 

Painting: Depending on your chosen livery will impact on just how much painting will be required. As you can see from the photographs I opted for FR green with red oxide ends and sole bars. To make life a little simpler I used red oxide undercoat throughout. This is particularly poignant when it comes to the ends of the coach sides, the end panels are recessed into the sides hence the need for them to remain in red oxide. The fourth layer of the passenger compartment and also the third layer of the guards end (there are only three layers) were spray painted in antique white. All the drop lights were painted in Humbrol (No70)  matt brown. The third layer in the passenger compartment had the droplights picked out and the window frame uprights pained in antique white. The reason behind this is that these uprights can be seen through the glazing. A similar exercise was carried out with the guards end panel assembly, there being five layers to this. The passenger end panel needed to be in red oxide on the outside and antique white on the inside. 

The chassis was assembled first, sole bars, inner drag boxes and the floor section. With the exception of the drag boxes the whole assembly was given several coats of red oxide. Once the paint had cured the sole bars and drag boxes were masked off, the floor area was given a couple of coats of satin black. The reason for not painting the drag boxes is that they are a key anchorage point for the buffer beam (guards end) and the passenger compartment end panel. Wood to wood makes a far stronger bond than wood to paint. The sole bars and the guards platform area were treated to several coats of varnish and the whole assembly put on one side to fully cure. 

Creating the box: Next on the agenda was to make up the two coach sides which, at this stage, consist of layers one and two at the passenger end. The outer layer (layer 1) was pained prior to being married up with layer 2 so as not to get any stray paint on the outward facing droplight areas. Using PVA wood glue layers one and two were clamped to the table of a workmate to ensure they were flat.  While the glue was setting the four ducket sides were painted on their inner surfaces. Antique white was used around the inner sides of the ducket windows as this area is viewable when the assembly is completed. Similarly the four fillet plates, which fit between the ducket sides above and below window level, where painted antique white. When dry the inner sides of the duckets were masked off and the outer sides and edges painted FR green. This is necessary as the fitting of the ducket assembly to the coach side includes glazing. When the painted ducket  parts had dried the duckets were glued in place on layer 2.

While the glue was curing both ducket front panels were firstly dunked in boiling hot water and roughly shaped to the contours of the ducket sides. They were then under coated and glued in place on the top flat section. The bottom are, which is the curved section, was glued later being held in place with two plastic clips. This is necessary to achieve the curve of the ducket front panel. Finally, for this section, part 5 (guards side window section) was glued in place completing the outer shell of the sides. Both coach sides were worked on at the same time, a kind of mini production line. 

The next task was to start and create the box (two sides and two ends). The passenger compartment end panel was glued to one coach side ensuring the the lower end of the curved top was in line with the top of the coach side. Two long reach clamps were deployed to keep the parts firmly joined and a small engineers square was used to ensure a 90° joint.

While this joint was setting some of the internal surfaces were under coated (as mentioned above). Fitting the above assembly to the floor was reasonably straightforward. Layer 2 is not as deep as layer 1 (the outer face of the coach). The bottom of layer 2 sits on the edge of the coach floor while layer 1 extends down over the top of the sole bar. The joint between layer 1 and the sole bar was held in place using several plastic clips as was the joint between the end panel and the drag box. Care must be taken to ensure that the coach side sits square on to the floor. The second side was added, again ensuring it sat at 90° to the floor.

Once the three sections were securely glued in place the divider betwixt the guards area and the seated area was installed. This is designed to clip into a cut out in layer 2 giving it a precise location. All that is necessary is to ensure it sits square to the floor. All that remained, at this stage, to square off the box was the guards end panel. Construction of this item pretty well follows that of the sides, in this case there are five layers plus a door architrave. Layers one and two (No's 24 & 25 on the instruction sheet) and the architrave were glued together and painted in red oxide. The drop light frames on layer three were painted matt brown (on both sides). Layer four (part No 27) the door planking was painted in antique white (this faces the inside of the guards compartment), layer five was similarly treated. Layers three and four were then glued together, the window glazing inserted on the inner surface of layer four followed by layer five, which holds the glazing in place. This sub assembly was then added to layers one and two to for the guards compartment end panel. This in turn was inserted between the coach sides squaring off the box section. 

Fitting the inner layers:  Starting with the easiest and fewest layers, the brake interior, the glazing was fitted into the side window frames. This, unlike the other precut glazing I found to be over size by approximately 0.5mm. Once this had been corrected the inner layer (6L & R) were glued into place. These were a nice snug fit, however, weights had to be deployed to ensure the slight twist in the timber was corrected while the PVA set. Several plastic clips were deployed along the top edge to ensure a good fix. Fitting the inner layers within the passenger compartment required a different approach. The fixed window glazing (three per side) was slotted in at which stage layer three was glued in place, holding the fixed glazing. As with the inner layers in the guards compartment those of the passenger compartment had to be weighted down while being clipped along the top edge. The drop light glazing was fitted into layer three and then the final layer (No4) was glued in place. Again, all the layers in the passenger compartment were a nice snug fit. 

At this juncture I changed tack by fitting the bogie mounting stretchers (No20). The bogie pivot centre is represented by a 1/8th hole cut during production. These need opening out to take the brass wood screws provided with the kit for retaining the bogies. In my case I discarded the screws and drilled a 7/64th hole through the stretcher and the floor. I chose to do this at this stage as once the passenger compartment seating is fitted there would have been restricted access pivot at that  end . The wood screws were replaced by a pair of M3x30mm hex headed steel bolts, the excess being trimmed off later. A M3 bolt will self tap into a 7/64th hole making a secure pivot. The bogie mounting spacers (No21) were drilled out to 7/64th  and threaded onto the steel bolt. A touch of super glue was added to the thread of the M3's and the underside of the spacers. 

Fitting the seats: All the timber associated with the seating was given a coat of light oak stainer. For the life of me I could not remember what colour the seating is in the full size coach and nowhere on the internet could I find this information. The six seat supports were glued in place as per the instruction sheet.When it came to fitting the seat bases I discovered that all three were 1.5mm too long. This amount was cut off one end of the seat bases, the centre seat had to be shortened equally at both ends as the seat back has a key-way into the base. Similarly the seat backs required trimming, equal amounts from each end as these are planked horizontally and vertically on the outer edges. 

The roof: There are two sections of 1mm ply forming the roof section. One has planking cut longitudinal this being the inner (or ceiling) section. This was spay painted brilliant white, the outer edges being painted in matt grey. The outer edges can be seen externally, hence painting them grey would match the outer section of the roof. The time honoured system of elastic bands and two stiff section of 1/4x1/4” timber were used to hold the inner section of the roof in place while the PVA dried. The outer section of the roof was installed in exactly the same way, being painted grey at a later stage. The instructions call for two rain strips to be fitted the full length of the coach (No40). As previously stated nearly all the parts are numbered on their fret, however, only one No40 could be found. The second strip was in fact the edge of the fret for door architrave (part No29) and not marked. This just goes to show that nothing should be thrown away until such time as the kit is completed. The two rain strip were duly fitted along with the third one which sits above the guards balcony door. 

Miscellaneous tasks: Door handles and grab rails were treated to a couple of coats of satin black, as this was the colour for the livery I had chosen. The headstock, which is located on the end of the guards balcony was drilled to take the guard rail. This was then installed using super glue. The whole assembly was then treated to several coats of satin black before being glued to the drag box. The kit comes with two lengths of 1/16” round brass bar. These are used to form the truss rods below each sole bar. The rods were bent to the required shape, spay painted satin black and when dry duly installed.  At the passenger compartment end of the coach are two steps (one per side). As part of the kit four step brackets are supplied ready formed. These simply push through pre drilled holes in the steps, extending under the step to give additional support. A drop of super glue is all that is required to hold the brackets in place under the steps. The step assemblies were treated to several coats of satin black. The pre drilled holes for the door handles, grab rails, vacuum pipes and step brackets were opened out to 1/16th using a hand drill. These items were then installed. One deviation from the parts supplied with the kit was to fit 3/32nd dia brass door handles to the guards balcony door (the inside handle being fitted prior to the roof being installed). Sufficient pictorial evidence exist showing this type of door handle in use in pre and post preservation days. These handles are from a dolls house range of products. 

I have already mentioned the vacuum pipes, however, the guards end pipe requires bending to shape as it snakes up from the right hand side of the drag box to terminate on the left of centre of the guard rail. Initially I was somewhat reluctant to bend the pipe, however, little by little using on light pressure the necessary shape can be achieved. Depending on your choice of couplings it would be prudent to fit these prior to fitting the vacuum pipe. Once the pipe is fitted access to the centre of the headstock is somewhat restricted. Provided in the kit are two sections of brass tube, these forming the drainpipes at the guards end of the coach. The bottom of the tube requires filing at an angle of 45° while the top of the pipe has to be trimmed to the shape of the roof. Checking photographs of the 12”/1' coach shows there are three brackets on each of the drainpipes, these are not provided in the kit. Using short sections of self-adhesive tape (make unknown) I wound three sections around both drainpipes. To ensure the tape did not come undone the ends were treated to a spot of super glue prior to fitting the pipes in place. Added detail:  When I first started construction of No10 I came a small packet of door stops. I have no idea who made them or where they came from. They are rather poor white metal castings which took some considerable effort to make them fit for use. That said, fitting the door stops required twelve 1/16th holes hand drilled. When painted (satin black for the body and matt black for the rubber stop) and fitted they add that little extra to the finish of the coach. The final decorative touch was to pick out all the door hinges in satin black using a very fine paint brush. 

The bogies: I chose to use Brandbright RSA33 bogies and RSA 30 wheels for 32mm gauge. Each bogie consists of a pair of side frames, a stretcher, four brass bearings and four axle boxes. Once the bearings have been inserted to the side frames (with a tiny drop of super glue, the axle boxes have to be fitted over the tail of the bearing on the outside of the side frame. Again, super glue was used as the fixing agent. All the component parts were given several coats of satin black. The side frames are held to the  stretchers by a single 6BA cheese head screw. The side frames can either be mounted as a solid assembly or one of the pair on each bogie can be left free to rotate. I chose the latter thus giving the bogies a degree of compensation. The bogies were placed over the previously installed M3 bolt, followed by a M3 washer and two M3 nuts. The second nut acting as a locking nut. Approximately 5mm excess was removed from the bottom of the M3 bolt, this being surplus to requirements. 

Decals: The kit comes complete with two sets of alternative decals. F R in either white of gold, however, the only numbers supplied are 1 & 0 in white. These are water slide transfers which require close cutting of the letters or number to ensure that there is not excessive carrier film around the decal when fitted. Additional decals (supplied by David Bailey) were added to the passenger doors. These took the form of “THIRD CLASS” in red on a white background. These are rub down decals. 

Pro's & Con's: 

Pro's – This latest PS2 kit is a development on the previous kits, much improved by the use of CNC cutting technology (window perspex included) plus a radical rethink on providing a detailed interior. The vast majority of the parts go together without any modification. 

Con's – Only one area, the instruction sheet would benefit from a little more detail in some areas.

Suppliers:Available from Brandbright (excluding wheel sets and couplings) at £65.50 plus p&p.  Wheels (RSA30/0) £7.20, bogies (RSA33/0) £10.45 www.brandbright.co.uk  

Door class decals from David Bailey www.davidbaileydesign.co.uk  

Tools etc. used:PVA external grade wood glue. Fine sand and wet and dry paper. Long reach clamps and plastic crocodile clips. Engineers small square. Auto motive spray paints. 

Pic 01 –  One side of the coach, including the second layer at the passenger compartment end, assembled and painted. The ducket guides (top, bottom and sides) have been fitted. The ducket front panel is laying on the bench 

Pic 02 – This photo shows the side after the ducket assembly had been completed. At this stage it proved prudent to check the recesses above each door to ensure the white metal ventilators would fit. Some trimming of the wood was necessary. 

Pic 03 –  A view of all the coach inner layers once they had been painted. Across the top are three of the five layers which go to make up the guards end panel. The side inner layers are handed. 

Pic 04 – The guards outer end panel, three sections in total. 

Pic 05 – Creating the proverbial box. The coach end panel and the two sides clamped in place while the glue set. The guards and panel has not been glued at this stage, being in place to ensure the sides sit square to the floor. 

Pic 06 – Trial fit of the glazing and the two inner layers of the passenger compartment. The glazing strip adjacent to the dividing panel (far right) slides behind the divider and the inner layer, being a very tight fit. 

Pic 07 – The finished interior. One of the M3 bolt heads is visible in the guards compartment, the other being hidden under the left-hand central seat base. Note the round brass door handle on the inside of the guards door. 

Pic 08 – The inner roof section painted and ready to fit. In this instance the white is brilliant as I seem to recall that the ceilings in FR coaches were always brighter than the white side and end panels. The outer edges of the roof were painted grey to match the roof colour. The edges protrude beyond the coach sides hence are visible when the roof is fitted. It is much easier to paint the edges at this stage. 

Pic 09 – Bogies assembled and ready for fitting. One side frame on each bogie is fixed, the other is allowed vertical movement to cope with rough track or obstacles on the track. This is demonstrated in the view of the left hand bogie which has ridden up on an apple stork. Three of the four wheels remain on the track. 

Pic 10 – F.R. No10 freshly out shopped and ready for the road. As usual the local vicar has shown up to see what is new. I think a word in the ear of the C&W foreman may be necessary looking at the angle of one of the door class plates?






























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