Saturday, August 20, 2011

How I converted a ToyTrain balcony van into a closed van

LGB Toytrain balcony vans quite often come up on eBay for quite reasonable prices. With a little effort I decided it can be converted into a passable UK based closed van.

The first thing I did was to disassemble the wagon into its component parts.

Many of the fittings such as the balcony railings, the brake pipes and the grab rails were push-fit.

The steps were held by small screws.....

and the body was attached to the chassis with four larger screws

 Filling-in the windows
Firstly I filed off the window frames .....

..... and extended the planking gaps with the side of a small file.

I then removed the window bar with a razor saw.

A piece of 2mm thick plasticard was cut (2cm x 3cm) to fit into the space.

The positions of the planks were carefully marked...........

...... and then scribed.

 .... and the insert was distressed (to add woodgrain effects) by scraping a razor saw blade up and down the sheet.

Finally, the window blanks were glued in place with a hard plastics adhesive (the plastic from which LGB models is constructed does not appear to be soluble with styrene solvent).

Filling-in the balcony end
Although the end would not be visible when the doors of the van were shut, I decided to remove it. The end piece was carefully cut from the sides with a razor saw.

After both sides had been cut through, the bottom was cut using several strokes with a craft knife.

Once it had been scored through sufficiently it was flexed until the remaining plastic snapped.

The cuts were then tidied up with a file and sanding block.

The existing end was then used as a template for the new end by being placed on a piece of 2mm thick plasticard and drawn around.

A craft knife was used to cut out the end piece, including the curve of the roof.

This was then shaped on a piece of emery paper......

.... checking ot against the profile of the roof until it was a snug fit.

The planking was then marked on to the new end, using the existing end panel as a guide.

The planks were then scribed on and distressed in the same way as the window inserts.


 The framing for the end was then marked and cut out from 1mm thick plasticard. A border of 2mm was made around the sides and the curved top of the end piece, to match the existing end panel.


Two side pieces (27.5mm x 94mm) were cut from 2mm plasticard and scribed and distressed as before.

2mm wide framing from 1mm thick plasticard was added to the upper edges and trimmed off ....

Before the sides were glued to the end, leaving the end protruding 1mm to represent the framing for the side pieces.

The air cylinder, tank, brake gear hangers and all but one of the brake shoes were removed from the chassis with a razor saw ......

.... before the chassis was reassembled and screwed back on to the body.

Then the new end structure was then glued to the end of the old body with hard plastics adhesive.

and a strengthening piece of plasticard was glued in at the top of the new piece of bodywork.

 The chassis and roof were masked before the body was given a coat of Halfords grey primer.

Once this was dry, filler was applied to the evident gaps around the window inserts. This was then sanded smooth (and the planking re-scribed)

 The body was then given another two coats of Halfords grey primer and left for the paint to harden off.

 A brake lever 135 mm long and tapering from 4mm to 2mm was cut from 2mm thick plasticard.

A 35mm long lever guide was constructed from 2mm wide pieces of 1mm and 2mm thick plasticard. The end was rounded with emery paper and ......

..... 1mm holes were drilled in the 1mm thick front edge at 3mm intervals........

 ..... before the lever and guide were glued to the chassis. Rather than fashioning brake gear I glued the lower end of the brake handle to the W iron nearest to the remaining brake shoe. One day I will improve the appearance of this mechanism, but for now it is 'representative' of the mechanism.

 The brake lever and hanger were then given a couple of coats of black acrylic paint and the body was weathered with mucky brown and black acrylics daubed on and wiped off with a paper towel while still wet. The iron work was rusted slightly with a mix of light brown and red acrylics before the van was deployed for duty.

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