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Phoenix Coach Kits

Phoenix Coach Kits - Review 4mm Scale Bulleid Coaches
(with a hint of Bachmann, Southern Pride and Ian Kirk/Colin Ashby)
Text and pictures by Graham 'Muz'.

The first corridor sets to be constructed to Bulleid's new wide-bodied design was an order placed in 1940 and which was delayed by the war, but a start on them was allowed in late 1944. The body length at 59ft was the same as Maunsell stock and employed some surplus Maunsell underframes and the body sides were the similar continuous curve profile as used on the new 4SUBs with each compartment still retaining individual doors. Introduced in 1946 were 64ft length coaches, which after the initial batch of four 3-caoch sets saw a new design layout with compartments no longer having individual doors, access being via the corridors.
Sets built specifically for the Bournemouth services in 1947 were unusual in having the body sides extended below the solebars. A number of sets were built in 1947 by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Co. at Smethwick and are noticeable by their shallow windows with distinctive riveted frames and the lack of window ventilators on the corridor side.
The depth of the window ventilations was increased from 10in to 15in on the British Railways built versions. Further details on the Bulleid prototypes can be found here.

 
6700
BCK 6700 from Set 63
 
The Phoenix range of Southern coach kits available from the Southern Railways Group covers examples of the SR built Bulleid coaches. The products also include Ironclad, Maunsell, Post Office, SECR and Multiple Units.

So far, from Phoenix kits, I have built the following (Phoenix reference number in brackets) I model the period from 1946 to 1949 so all are finished in malachite green livery.
Set 63
Semi open brake 3rd No. 4371 (SC50), Brake Composite No. 6700 (SC51)
Set 771
Semi open brake 3rd No. 4303 (SC50), Corridor Composite No. 5752 (SC52), Semi open brake 3rd No. 4304 (SC50)
Loose
Corridor 3rd No. s1932 (SC53)

Also currently on the workbench is a complete Bournemouth 6 Coach Set No 290, pictures of which will follow once complete.
I have also included below a brief section on some of the other Bulleid 4mm coaches available either as ready to run or kits that I have had some experience of.

 
4371
SOB 4371 from Set 63
 
The kits:

Each coach body kit contains:
Pre-punched aluminium sides, floor pan, sole bars, roof, roof tanks, cast white metal ends, vents, turned brass buffers, plastic truss rods, brake hangers, vacuum cylinder, dynamo, battery boxes, partitioning, glazing, clear instructions including scale plans, historical data plus other detailing parts as applicable.

Bogies / wheels are not included with the kits and I choose to use the Phoenix "Adjustaride" Southern 8ft (SAB1) bogies which are easy to assemble, have adjustable sprung bolster, and come complete with side plates, rubbing plates and bearings etc. I have found these to give great running qualities (I also have fitted them to one of my Southern Pride rake of Bulleids as well). Rigid bogies are also available from Phoenix or Roxey Mouldings and the Bachmann Southern 8ft Bogies as fitted to their Bulleid coaches could also be used.

Assembly:

I deviated from the supplied instructions which recommends making sides ends and roof as one assembly and the floor and under frame as another, instead I fixed the ends, followed by the sides to the under frame leaving the roof to be fitted later. This is purely a matter of personal preference. I chose to use either two-part epoxy resin for the main assembly and Cyanoacrylate (superglue) for some of the smaller items, other than for fixing the roof where I use a very small amount of contact adhesive, such as Evostick®, at each end as this enables the roof to be reasonably easily removed at a later date if required.

Body / under frame:

The pre-punched aluminium side are pre-formed with the correct tumblehome - as mine were older versions of the kits the door outlines needed to be scribed before assembly. The current Phoenix range is supplied with pre-scribed sides. Extreme care needs to be taken when doing this as it very easy for the scriber to slip. The depth of the scribed lines needs to be judged so that it will still be visible once the paint has been applied. It is worthwhile making a simple stencil from a small sheet of brass to make this job easier. It is recommended to lightly finish the aluminium sides with fine emery or wire wool to provide a key for the paint and adhesive.

The white metal castings supplied were very crisp and required little or no cleaning up. I fitted the sole bars to the floor pan and then as stated above fitted ends followed by sides to form the main box of the body. Once the under frame detail was fitted I degreased and aerosol spray-painted throughout, using primer from HalfordsTM and malachite green topcoat from Precision Paints. Very light weathering was airbrushed mainly to the bogies and under frame allowing a slight amount of spray to creep up from the bottom of the sides.

HMRS Pressfix decals were used including the tiny seat number information positioned above the windows and then the sides were satin varnished prior to glazing. I used the plastic glazing material supplied with the kit and carefully fixed this from the rear. With the aluminium sides being quite thin, although not flush the effect is more than acceptable.

Soft plastic corridor connectors were fitted, I have a stock of these made, I think, a few years ago by Cavendish that I picked up from an exhibition somewhere. I will one day perhaps get round to fitting the door handles from a Southern Pride etched fret.

I have fitted Kadee® Nº5 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), hooks and screw couplings are fitted in place of the Kadees® to the outer ends of each set.

Very light weathering was airbrushed mainly to the under frame allowing a slight amount of spray to creep up from the bottom of the sides.

 
s1932
Loose TK s1932
 
Interiors:

Supplied with the kits are, where applicable, pre-punched plasticard partitions. I assembled the interiors on a false plasticard floor using the supplied scale plans as a guide, and used seating from either Ratio or Southern Pride. These were then suitably painted matt brown for the partitions, pinkish red for the third class seats and a dark green for the first class seats.

Roof:

The scale plans included with the kits easily enable the roof ventilator positions to be correctly located, holes drilled and the supplied castings glued into the aluminium roof section. Water tanks were added using the injection moulded tanks supplied by Southern Pride rather then the aluminium ones supplied by Phoenix. Rainwater strips were represented using the fine lining tape also available from Phoenix. Following priming with aerosol primer I then brush painted the topcoat grey to give the effect of the stretched canvas.
Once the interiors were inserted in to the body and under frame assembly I lightly glued the roof using Evostick® contact adhesive applied to the top of the coach ends only, as this makes removing the roof easier at later stage if needed.
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.

Bogies:

The Phoenix "Adjustaride" bogies comprise of etched brass truck with white metal side frames and fittings. The bolster is sprung and adjustable to gain the correct ride height for the body once fitted. Assembly is simple following the clear instructions supplied. I fitted Romford wheels.

All photographs are copyright Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt

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This page was last updated 28 June 2004

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