Saturday, August 25, 2018

How I converted a Newqida box car into a closed van

After recently converting an LGB US style box car into a UK style closed van (see How I converted an LGB box car into a UK closed van), I happened to come across an advert for a Newqida boxcar. Having no previous experience of Newqida rolling stock, I thought this might make an interesting project and so forked out the princely sum of £18.99 to investigate its potential.

When it arrived, I was surprised at its length.

This was compounded by the addition of a balcony on one end.

After looking closely at the model, I figured there was a fairly straightforward way of shortening the van body and so set about the task.

First of all, the roof was removed. This was simply clipped into place.

Next, I tackled the underframe. The four screws which held this to the body were unscrewed .....

.... as were those holding the steps in place.

The buffer on the non balcony end was then removed - a clip-fit.

The underframe was then separated from the body.

I turned my attention to the body, as this would dictate how the underframe would eventually be structured. I had decided that the easiest way to shorten the body would be to saw off the end panels. This would allow the doors to continue to be slid up to their stops unimpeded.

A razor-saw was used to cut the end panel from the rest of the body.

This process was repeated on the other side, and then the two cuts were joined across the base of the body.

The end section was then separated from the main body.

The end of the van was then cut off, again using the razor-saw.

The saw cuts were tidied up with a file.

The same process was followed for the other end of the van.

The ends were then glued back on to the main part of the body, using thick superglue. NOTE: I had experimented with plastic solvent adhesives and found that, whilst the solvents did bond the plastic parts to some extent, superglue seemed to be the most effective. 

After carefully positioning the ends and applying the glue, weights were balanced on one end to ensure the bonds were tight.

Whilst the superglue was setting, I turned my attention to the underframe. The wheels were removed allowing the pivoting wheel trucks to be dropped out.

The balcony rails were removed by unscrewing the two screws which held it in place.

The balcony steps were also removed.

The end of the underframe was then cut using bracket at the end of the support for the sliding door as a guide.  NOTE - the support for the sliding door was not cut.

The cosmetic axle brackets were removed - another push-fit.

The sliding door supports were then cut longitudinally from the end of the support to the cross cut ........

..... so that the section of underframe for the wheel mounts could be removed without affecting the door support.

The ends of the cradle for the pivoting wheel trucks  ........

..... were removed ........

.... as were the sides of the cradle.

The pivots for the wheel brackets were removed from the base of the body ......

... as was the air tank, because goods stock on my railway does not have continuous braking.

And then the three remaining components of the underframe were test-fitted to the base of the body.

The coupling supports were shortened and three of the brake hangers were removed from the wheel pivots.

 The wheel pivots were slotted back into their brackets and the three underframe components were then glued to the base of the body. I also glued the wheel pivots into place as I find that the swivelling action is unnecessary on my railway even though I do have some R1 points in the storage sidings.

The axle brackets were slotted back into place ........

..... and the wheels re-fitted.

The roof was shortened to match the length of the body (a cut 14mm from one of the cross braces).

A buffer beam made from a 110mm x 15mm piece of 2mm thick plasticard was cut to fill the gap at the end of the body where the balcony used to be, using the dimensions of the buffer beam at the other end as a guide.

For the continuation of the metal brackets over the beam, two 15mm pieces were cut from one of the offcuts of the body.

These were glued to to the newly fitted buffer beam, and then trimmed to length.

The van was now almost ready for painting. Squadron White Putty filler was applied to any gaps between the body and the ends, ......

....... and 1mm half-round nail-art dots were glued to the new buffer beam, to match the rivet heads on the buffer beam at the other end.

The underframe was covered with masking tape .....

..... and the body given three coats of Halford's grey primer.

The ironwork was then re-instated and a few other bits of ironwork touched-up with black acrylics.

The roof was given a coat of black acrylic to which a dash of silver had been added .......

.... and the interior painted dark brown.

I attached slightly modified Binnie Engineering Medium Carmarthen buffers and my own less obtrusive adaptations of LGB hook and loop couplings.

She still needs weathering and some running-in to make sure she will happily negotiate all the tight curves on my railway, but I am pleased I now have another van to help handle the fruit traffic on the Peckforton Light Railway.

Update (28/8/18)
 She has now been lightly weathered and some cosmetic brake gear added (made from thin brass sheet).

I am impressed with this example of Newqida rolling stock. The plastic feels slightly more brittle than that used on LGB models but is more willing to accept solvent adhesives. The level of detailing is exceptional. The wood grain on the planking is very clear and the metalwork components are plentiful and finely modelled, albeit in 'shiny' plastic. The range of freight stock is less extensive than LGB, but I will certainly keep my eyes open for any future releases which might be suitable for bashing into PLR stock. For a sub-£20 price, they might be worth the investment.

I will probably replace the wheels with metal wheel-sets. The flanges look deeper than those on LGB stock and the added low gravity weight will be welcome. I have also experimented with fitting Accucraft 32mm gauge wheelsets.

This looks feasible, though plastic or brass tube spacers will probably need to be fitted to keep the wheels central and prevent them rubbing against the longitudinal beams of the underframe - though these could be reduced in height to obviate this.