IMR Saloon Carriages

Scratchbuild by PT

Having built a Half Brake last year (details of which are elsewhere on this website), I decided to build a pair of saloons. There were two reasons for this: (i) I like the originals, and (ii) they aren’t commercially available, either as a kit or ready to run.

The first stage is to enlarge drawings of the originals on a photocopier. Dimensions are taken and CAD drawings of each component are produced.

The carriage sides were a sandwich construction: two layers of 2mm MDF with a skin of 0.8mm ply glued to them using PVA. Beading is cut from 0.8mm ply which was glued on before painting. Next time I would paint the carriage sides first as I think it would make masking up easier.

The carcase –sides, floor and bulkheads- was then assembled using CA glue. Interior panelling was cut and engraved from mounting card which got a coat of varnish before fixing in place.

The Third Class seats were cut from MDF and painted with a suitable emulsion and matching enamel, whilst the 1st Class seats were made from MDF and card. The windows are 2mm acrylic sheet, cut to be an exact fit in each opening and held in place with CA glue.

I bought a couple of sets of pound shop battery-powered Christmas lights. This brought another problem: I would not be able to glue the roofs in place as previously, due to the need to replace the bulbs. The roof is 0.9mm aluminium sheet, rolled to the correct radius. 3mm diameter magnets were glue-gunned to the underside of the roof, picking up on steel rods that were in turn held in the roof ribs.

Whilst I could have used the excellent DJB IOM diamond frame bogies, it was suggested that I look at Bachmann bogies which were a fraction of the price; and when I found a supplier offering heavily discounted bogie flats the decision was made. But the bogies had a scale wheelbase of about 2’6”, whilst the IOM ones were 4’6”, and they are very visible! A spell of thinking resulted in a radical decision: each bogie was cut in two and two 5mm bolsters were added, along with a piece of 15mm square tube. The whole lot was epoxied and bolted together. Laser cut dummy springs were added along with plating made from styrene and more Cambrian rivets, and horizontal bars were fitted across the outer ends of the bogies to keep the sides apart and the wheels turning freely.

A plain brass bearing, and drawbar a la Accucraft, with Accucraft chopper couplings, was also fitted, along with horizontal bars across the outer ends of the bogies to keep the sides apart and the wheels turning freely.

Brandbright door handles, torpedo roof vents and vac pipes were fitted. Step hangers were out of production, and I couldn’t source any alternatives, so I cut my own from 3mm acrylic. It is fair to say that they do the job, but are very brittle; they rarely survive a derailment. Battery boxes and brake duckets were made from MDF, while the truss rods were salvaged from the remains of the bogie flats. Lamp irons were cut from acrylic, and grab handles fabricated from brass wire.

Was it all worth it? The build took six months, which is a long time to maintain enthusiasm for a project, and prototyping means that every step needs thinking about. It wasn’t exactly relaxing, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I wished it was a kit-build! That said, the carriages look the part, and run well. Tipping the scales at 1.9 kg apiece they aren’t exactly light, and the bogie mountings permit a fair amount of body roll, but these things combine to accommodate imperfections in the permanent way.