Review of Ian Kirk / Colin Ashby 4mm Maunsell Coaches

The Ian Kirk Maunsell coach kits first appeared in the early to mid 1980s and represent the Restriction 4, 9ft wide vehicles. Ian Kirk subsequently sold the manufacturing rights for the kit range to Colin Ashby.
The injection-moulded plastic kits are on the whole dimensionally correct and allow for reasonably near flush glazing. They are complete with interior partitioning, seats, under frame detail and components to make up plastic SR standard 8ft steam bogies (but with metal wheels and brass bearing cups). Some may prefer to change these for etched brass / white metal bogies from, for example, the Southern Railways Group (SRG) - Phoenix range or Roxey Mouldings. Alternatively the Bachmann SR 8ft Steam bogie used on their Bulleid coaches could be used. I have used the bogies supplied with the kits and with the addition of some lead weight added to each coach above the bogie mounting point they have given smooth running. Turned brass oval buffers are also included.

The kits are relatively simple and quick to assemble and although I have heard some comments about poorly fitting parts, I personally have not experienced this.
The representations of the Pullman gangways fitted to these coaches are via a basic single moulding in the fully retracted position, which therefore leaves a gap when two coaches are coupled together. I have therefore fitted paper corridor connectors from Modellers Mecca Limited.
Rainwater strips were represented on the roof using the fine lining tape available from the SRG - Phoenix range.
The water pipes to the roof mounted tanks were shaped from 0.3mm wire on a simple jig to aid batch production. These are push fitted into holes in the tank top and coach ends. Hand rails where applicable were also fashioned from wire.

I have fitted Kadee® No. 5 buckeye couplings screwed to the underside of the floor behind the buffer beams (rather than to the bogies as I feel this is to un-prototypical) with hooks for screw couplings fitted to the outer ends of each set.

I aerosol spray-painted using a malachite green topcoat from Precision Paints. Very light weathering was airbrushed mainly to the bogies and underframe allowing a slight amount of spray to creep up from the bottom of the sides.

It is worth pointing out that Colin Ashby has retired from the exhibition circuit, although as far as I am aware he is still producing the kits, however they are becoming increasingly harder to find.
Other kits, in 4mm scale, for Maunsell coaches are available from Roxey Mouldings (etched brass) and from the SRG - Phoenix range (aluminium and with metal)
Hornby has subsequently been producing ready to run versions of Maunsell coaches.

Prototype Notes

Stock ordered between 1925 and 1929 were recognisable by the corridor side windows as these had a deep cantrail above them and were therefore known as low window stock. It should be noted that some 1929 ordered stock did not enter service until late 1930.

On stock ordered after 1929 the corridor side windows, possibly due to complaints from passengers as they were forced to stoop down to look out of the windows, were extended higher resulting in a much shallower cantrail.
The windows at each end however remained in the original low style to allow the placing of the destination board brackets above the window on the cantrail. On post 1931 built stock each lavatory ventilator was given two narrow bonnets, one above the other, instead of the single one previously provided (this can easily be modelled by carefully removing with a sharp knife the single ventilator and adding two shallower vents cut from 20 thou plasticard.

It should be noted that the SR Diagram numbers refer to the internal layout of the coach and not detail differences on the coach body itself. I would fully recommend reading the two books listed in the bibliography below for further information.

Livery notes

It should be noted that when in original Maunsell green livery these coaches were partially lined out with dimensions (according to the HMRS livery register) as below;
A central three quarters of an inch of the moulding as green, a one eighth of an inch yellow line on each side, and then black edging around the curve into the corner. On flat panels painted to resemble mouldings, black is half an inch, but central green section is one inch.

The droplight window frames were either varnished teak or scumbled to give a varnished teak appearance.
From 1937 onwards stock was slowly painted in malachite green which included the droplight frames (which were subsequently always painted in the body side colour).
Under British Railways some were repainted into the plum and split milk, the later crimson and cream and also Southern Region Green, which was a slightly darker shade of green than malachite.

For pictures of Maunsell Coaches click here.

High Window Kits

Kits originally produced by Ian Kirk, were of the 9ft wide bodied, high window style and are as follows:

Kit 8870
Corridor Composite (CK) 7 Compartment. SR Diagram 2301 or 2308*
Nos 5171-2. 5634-91, 5692-5701*

Kit 8871
Brake Third (BTK) 6 Compartment. SR Diagram 2102, 2110* or 2113**
Nos 2754-71, 2793-2805, 3732-58, 4048-51, 4083-6, 3771-3800*, 2776-2792**

Kit 8872
Brake Composite (BCK) 6 Compartment. SR Diagram 2403
Nos 6675-6699

Kit 8873
Open Third (TO). SR Diagram 2005 (Loose)
Nos 1312-1361, 1369-1400

Kit 8874
Corridor third (TK) 8 Compartment. SR Diagram 2001
Nos 1113/4, 1121-1280, 1801-1840

Kit 8875
Restaurant Car, SR Diagrams 2650, 2651*, 2655** & 2656*** (dependant on type of stove / range)
Nos 7870/1, 7931/2, 7858-63*, 7939-58*, 7878/80**, 7933/4/69**, 7995/7/9**, 7864-9***, 7999***, 8000***

The High Window kits 8870, 8871, 8872 and 8874 were discontinued and replaced by the Low window versions 8880, 8882, 8883 and 8881 respectively.

The lack of a kit for a Corridor First (FK) reduces the number of prototypical set formations possible. Generally leaving the Corridor Third kit and the Open Third only of use as 'loose' coaches. A typical formation including Corridor Firsts would have been made up, for example: BTK + TK + FK + BTK or BTK + CK + FK + FK + CT + BTK.

NB. The asterisks against certain SR Diagram numbers refer to the corresponding Set numbers on the subsequent line.

Low Window Kits

Ian Kirk and latterly Colin Ashby amended the moulds to produce the 9ft wide bodied, 1925 to 1929 low window versions. They are as follows:

Kit 8880
Corridor Composite (CK) 7 Compartment (4 first), SR Diagram 2301
Nos 5138-5150

Kit 8881
Corridor Third (TK) 8 Compartment, SR Diagram 2001
Nos 769-778, 837-844, 2349-2355

Kit 8882
Brake Third (BTK) 6 Compartment, SR Diagram 2102 or 2110
Nos 4048-51,

Kit 8883
Brake Composite (BCK) 6 Compartment, SR Diagram 2401
Nos 6565-6604, 6643-6672

Kit 8884
Brake Third (BTK) 4 Compartment. SR Diagram 2101
Nos 3214-3233, 4055-4062

The 6 compartment Brake Third kit 8882 was discontinued quite early on leaving only the 4 compartment Brake Third available therefore limiting the number of prototypical set formations possible.

Converting low window kits to high window versions

It is in fact, if required, a relatively simple conversion to convert a low window side to a high window side (remembering the windows at each end of the side remained as low windows). Simply cut away the moulding running across the top of the window opening leaving a 'U' shaped hole. Extend the glazing recess, using a needle file, on the inside face of the side to the top to allow the glazing material to sit in the recess. Affix the glazing material in the window opening so that it is flush with the top of the side. A thinner top window bar, from micro-strip approx 1.5mm thick, can now be carefully glued to the top edge of the glazing material. I suggest that this takes place after the sides have been painted and then the replacement window top rail carefully painted to match the rest of the body.

Prototypical sets possible from the high window kits (kit numbers in brackets)

6695 from Set 168

Above: BTK 6695 from Set 168. Below: BCK 2776 from Set 168.

2776 from Set 168

2 Coach sets, BTK (8871) + BCK (8872)
These 8 sets were ordered in 1935 to order number 800 for Waterloo, Swanage, Lymington and west of England services.

16817178179 180196197198
BTK2776277728363732 3733277827792780
BCK6695669666906673 6674669766986699

These had large radius window corners and frameless droplights on the doors so not strictly as per the Kirk kits but they can be modified to suit or modellers' licence applied as they make nice two coach sets.
All above sets were withdrawn in 1962.

3 Coach sets, BTK (8871) + CK (8870) + BTK (8871)

The 12 sets numbered 221 to 232 were ordered March 1931 and completed in April 1932 as part of order 633 for London, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and West of England services.
Set number 456 was ordered in 1929 on order 361 for London Bognor and Chichester services.

221222223224225 226227228229230231 232
BTK37503752375437563758 275527572759276127632765 2767
CK56645665566656675668 566956705671567256735674 5675
BTK37513753375537572754 275627582760276227642766 2768

Withdrawals started in 1961 with sets 222/4//6-8 and sets 229/30/32 in 1962

4 Coach sets, BTK (8871) + CK (8870) + CK (8870) + BTK (8871)

Six sets were ordered 1929 and completed in September 1930 as order Nº491 for London, Bognor and Portsmouth Services (set 193 worked the Brighton to Bournemouth service from 1931). Sets 426/9 in 1931 had one of the Corridor Composites removed and replaced with an older type restaurant car for use on the Brighton to Plymouth service. Each had two rainstrips on each side of the roof and the destination board brackets were located above the lower rainstrip.

193194195464426 429
BTK37383740374237443746 3748
CK56405642564456465648 5650
CK56415643564556475649 5651
BTK37393741374337453747 3749

Set 193 was reduced to 3 coaches by the removal of 5640 pre-1935
Set 194 was strengthened to 8 coach set in 1947 which included a corridor first so cannot be modelled from Kirk kits.
By 1935 Sets 464, 426 & 429 were reduced to 3 coach sets by the removal of 5646, 5648 & 5650 respectively.
Sets 426 & 429 were strengthened up to 5 coach sets in 1947 with the addition of a corridor composite and a corridor third (which was in fact an 8'6" Restriction 1 coach and therefore cannot be made from a Kirk / Ashby kit). Both sets were withdrawn in 1961.

A further eight 4 coach sets were ordered March 1931 and completed in April 1932 as part of order 633 for London, Bognor, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and West of England services.

233234235236237 238239240
BTK27692771279427962798 280028022804
CK56765678568056825684 568656885690
CK56775679568156835685 568756895691
BTK27702793279527972799 280128032805

By 1935 Set 238 was transferred to the central section. Sets 238,9,40 were reduced to three coach sets by removal of corridor composites 5686, 5888 & 5691 respectively.
Sets 233-235 strengthened to 5 coach sets circa 1941 with corridor thirds 1175, 1183 & 1159 respectively.
Set 233 & 234 further strengthened in 1942 & 1945 to 7 coaches with the addition of corridor thirds 1157/8 and 1180/1
Sets 236 & 237 strengthened in 1941 to 7 coaches with the addition of corridor thirds 1170/1/2 & 1161/2/3 and to 8 coaches in 1945/4 with corridor composites 5688 & 5686.
Sets 233-6/8 were withdrawn in 1961

5 Coach sets, BCK (8872) + TK (8874) + CK (8870) + TK (8874) + BCK (8872

Additional corridor sets were formed in 1945 from previously loose stock and were allocated to mainly west of England. Six sets were in fact formed however the final set no 273 was formed of low window stock with the exception of the middle corridor composite which was of the high window type I have therefore listed the set in the section below on low window sets.


2 Coach sets, BTK (8871) + BCK (8872)

In 1948 sets 265, 266. 267 and 400 were disbanded and the Brake Thirds used to make up 2 coach sets with previously 'loose' Brake Composites.

222324252627 2829
BTK27902792283237802831 377527872788
BCK66916575660266656586 660365696567

3 Coach sets, BTK (8871) + CK (8870) + BTK (8871)

In 1951 sets 241-50 and 327-30 were reduced to 3 coach sets by the removal of the corridor first and corridor third and the substitution of a corridor composite.

241242243244245 246247248249250327 328329330
BTK37993790377837863785 377137772779278327853773 379737923782
CK56395663566256595658 565456915661568856555652 563756865634
BTK38003791377937873789 378837942781278427863774 379837933783

They were allocated to local workings on the western section by 1960 set 241 and by 1962 set 327 were working on the Oxted and Redhill lines.
Withdrawals started in 1958 with set 330 whilst some of the other sets had the composites replaced by Bulleid Composites shortly before withdrawals up to 1962

Prototypical sets possible from the low window kits (kit numbers in brackets)

The Brake Composites as per kit 8883 were ordered in 1929 and built in March / April 1930 and were used as 'loose' coaches to make up West of England trains.

3 Coach sets BTK (8884) + CK (8880) + BTK (8884)

The only Maunsell low-window 3-coach sets built as such were for the western section, and all brakes were 4-compartment giving a large luggage provision compared to seats, as follows:

Ten sets were ordered 1925, built Eastleigh, completed July and August 1926. For London, Plymouth, Torrington and Ilfracombe services:

390391392393394 395396397398399
BTK32143216321832203222 32243226322832303232
CK51385139514151375143 51465140514251445145
BTK32153217321932213223 32253227322932313233

These had a heavy cornice rail at cant-rail level (i.e. top of body-side), and a single rain-strip each side of the roof. Destination board brackets were initially immediately above the cantrail, and were "later" moved higher.

Further four sets Ordered 1926, Built Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon & Finance Co, completed Aug-Sept 1928. These had a lighter weight cornice rail and two rain-strips per side, with the destination board brackets immediately above the lower strip. Otherwise the same as above. Also built for London, Plymouth, Torrington and Ilfracombe services.


All fourteen sets were designated "3P Corridor sets", the "P" indicating Pullman gangwayed. They were used on Weymouth trains in conjunction with Ironclad dining sets (which having "standard" gangways had therefore to be adaptor-fitted).
In 1953 they were:
3-Sets "M" (390,396-9,445-8) used for Waterloo-Bournemouth-Weymouth, Waterloo-Basingstoke-Salisbury, and Waterloo-West of England;
3-sets "N" (391-5) used Bournemouth West - Bath
In 1960, 3-sets "SD" (390,394-9, 446) were allocated to Bournemouth West - Bath

Sets 392 and 447 were withdrawn in 1959
Sets 390/4-9 & 446 were withdrawn in 1961

5 Coach set, BCK (8883) + TK (8881) + CK (8870) + TK (8881) + BCK (8883)

Additional corridor sets were formed in 1945 from previously loose stock and were allocated to mainly west of England. As stated above six sets were in fact formed mainly from high window however the final set Nº273 was formed of low window stock with the exception of the middle corridor composite which was of the high window type.

CK6536 NB. High window version

Loose TO 1345

"Loose" TO Nº1345.

Text supplied by: Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt.
Maunsell's Steam Passenger Stock 1923-1939; Gould, David; The Oakwood Press; 1978.
Illustrated History of Southern Coaches, An; King, Mike; Oxford Publishing Co; 2003; 0-86093-570-1

Useful links Roxey Mouldings, Southern Railways Group, Phoenix range, Modellers Mecca Limited

All photographs are copyright Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt

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This page was created 22 August 2004

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