Monday, December 10, 2012

WBR Fibreglass Reefer Van

This project started several months ago after discussing decals that Westland Models were preparing.  I casually mentioned that I had started building a WBR quite a while ago, it was still unfinished and surely wouldn't be too difficult to complete it now that decals were being produced. 

The 3 WBR's were introduced by WAGR in 1967 and built on the standard 42” under-frame with the mechanical refrigeration unit and fuel tank at one end.  
WBR 23431 new at Midland Workshops - J Gaspari collection
WAGR Outline Drawing
Article from "Railway Transportation" May 1968 - J Gaspari collection
By the late 1980's they were no longer in use but Westrail reclassified 2 of them as SB class to act as spacer vehicles for tanker trains; the refrigeration equipment had been removed and a through air brake pipe was added for compatibility with air braked wagons. They ended up covered in graffiti and generally in very bad condition.
SB 23432-G at Forrestfield 10 Nov 1991
When the model had been started over twenty years ago it was planned to represent an SB complete with one of the side doors missing & the graffiti.

Model of SB prior to back dating to WBR

Model Construction

To make the model of the WBR meant filling in the door, building the refrigeration unit, fuel tank etc. and of course applying the newly available decals.  

The body had been scratch built from sheet styrene & the under frame was cast in fibreglass resin from my own pattern. The commercial parts were Kadee couplers, North Yard wheels & American Models bogies re-gauged to 16.5mm. The fuel tank, end frames, temperature gauges on the side & "fridge" were made from Evergreen styrene tube & shapes. 

The radiator on the fridge was cut down from a copy of a 1:20 Formula 1 model kit part, that I had made a rubber mould from & the two red refrigerant containers were turned on a lathe from PVC rod. The vacuum brake pipes were made from guitar wire and soldered to brass wire uprights. The handrails were formed from Tichy 0.4mm phosphor bronze wire with the help of a Keiran Ryan Models handrail bending jig (purchased from Railwest) and Detail Associates flat brass strip was used to form the side steps and lamp brackets at the ends.

The model was airbrushed using Vallejo acrylic primer as a base and Tamiya acrylic for the top coat, each thinned with their respective thinners. The black for the under-fame and bogies was lightened with about 10% white, so that it is not too dark. I used a gloss white for the body as the decals adhere better to a glossy surface and Microscale Decal Set was used to settle them down to the paint.
To simulate the stainless steel rubbing strips to the right of the doors, I airbrushed silver enamel paint on blank decal paper and cut into strips; the thin coat was very fragile and the paint broke apart along the edges. The second attempt by brush painting the decal paper was more robust.

To make it easier to paint the different colours on the fuel tank, fridge, radiator etc. the parts were kept separate and attached using strategically placed 2 & 3 mm diameter rare earth magnets bought on eBay. After numerous test fittings during construction they were snapped into place after painting.  

Finally a coat of Vallejo flat varnish was applied to seal & protect the model.

Whilst my current modelling era is modern image it has been good fun to finish this model after it having sat idle for so long, it all got kicked off again with those new decals, thanks Rob!


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