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Schull and Skibbereen Passenger brake van

by Doc

If only I had known about the Irish 3 foot narrow gauge, I might well have chosen to go for 45mm gauge track. For some reason beyond my imagination, whenever i look at 45mm track, it just looks wrong to me. If you think of the inherent increase in stability that ciomes with those 13mm more, in sheer enginering terms it seems now to be almost a 'no-brainer'. Ah well!
Two years into this fabulous hobby of ours, I am beginning to wise up in so many ways. I hardly dare tell about the mish-mash of locos and stock I bought when I knew so much less than I do now. I may dump loads of it at the AGM member to member stall.
The first glimmer of light came when I realised that my greatest enjoyment comes from building stock from kits. The first step was a cluster of Brandbright four plank coal wagons, followed by 6 pretty but more or less useless Binnie plastic GVR open wagons. Useless? Well, they are to run. No gravitas,. even with a load, and three linkers, every one. All they do now is act as a fetching cast of extras, parked in a siding, their axles rusting like Billy-oh!
Next came rake of 5 Brandbright Premier Panelled, coaches, bought in one fell swoop at last year's AGM. They were a treat to make, they run like a dream and I still love them even though I made them. Now, that was a breakthrough, I can tell you. Here they sit, gladdening my eyes,all liveried to my taste, all fitted with John Campbell's chopper couplings (No more bath chain for me. What never? Well.....hardly ever!)
Building a Lady Anne that worked was followed by building a coal fired Robert which didn't (until I found why, ionly last week). For a while, I plunged myself more into what I felt I could do; making buildings and stuff.
I had met the redoubtable John Campbell at the AGM and at Llanfair and admired his open cattle wagons but I thought they were only good for 45mm gauge. It was blessed Neil Ramsey who encouraged me to ring John and talk to him about the potential for conversion. 'Not a problem', says John and told me how to go about it. I made a pair and like them a lot. I even found a way of creating a false load of beast for them and managed to offend the hippie tendency in the group.


The 'problem' is these splendid cattle wagons stick out from the rest of my goods tat like a sore thumb. Now I 'had' to look at ways of increasing my goods stock to be compatible. That led me to Atropos, and I have become a firm fan.
I never quite grasped why Atropos kits were so much more expensive than....well IP, for example. Three words. Chalk and cheese. The quality of the materials, the fabulous, copious instruction sheets with full scale drawings  and best of all, the oddity and difference of the subject matter. I mean to say, how many of you have a semi-covered wagon?  The whole catalogue is oddball.
What a fine beast it is! The doors open and are secured with a swinging bar. The tarp is tied on with ropes. I chose to roof the ends with corrugated iron as so many of the prototypes used to be. Now, here's a thing.  I'm starting to model prototypes. That's new for me; before these wagons, I was modelling other peoples' models.
Now, I start to think that it would be a travesty to put these fine characters cheek by jowl with a rotten, bog standard guard's van when it really ought to be bog-Irish. Thankfully, Atropos do a Schull and Skibbereen No 54 passenger guard's van with sliding doors. You can even hinge the end doors if you like to. Better still, as an extra, Atropos will supply the highly characteristic gas generators for the roof, if a pair of oil lamps are not enough. I was totally unable to resist those.
I used the original livery which, as it happens, matches the crimson lake of my Directors' saloon. It could do with a touch more weight so I will load it with crates and put a dollop of lead between the wheels underneath.
So, does it come up to snuff as a model of a prototype?  Well, I posed mine more or less exactly as the one in the illustration, just to see. Despite it being a passenger brake van, it is obvious that it did service with goods stock or mixed, so I'm happy as Larry.

Atropos version, the effect only spoiled by conversion to 32mm and using 24mm wheelsets to unify the couplings
In addition, to my eye, the beading is too fat and the gas generators on the roof too big. The scribing of the planking could be deeper too.  I shall put some lettering on but haven't decided yet whether to call it No 54 or number it as for the DLR.
Now, for a go at building that curved roof corrugated engine shed I think to stand as a carriage shed