A couple of years ago, I was having a coffee with Steve Rowe, a very good friend of mine and he showed me six boxes containing EasyBuild 7mm scale Mk1 coach kits which he had purchased.
I had taken one of my Lima Mk1 rebuilds with me as I was interested in comparing the models. It was interesting to note that when compared with the EasyBuild kit, the Lima model isn't as bad as I thought it was: it is about 2cm too short in length and the arc of the roof isn't high enough.
The EasyBuild kits seemed to me to be the 'Rosebud KitMaster' Mk1 coaches of 7mm scale, however, the quality is immediately noticeable as being a lot better. They really are straightforward kits to build.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I volunteered to build one of Steve's kits for him and this article documents that process - building an SK coach.
You really cannot do any modelling of Mark 1 coaches without the Keith Parkin book 'British Railways Mark 1 Coaches' ISBN 0-906899-49-4.
This book is generally recognised as the 'authority' on Mark 1 coaches. I find it a particularly useful reference for finding original region allocations and the numbering ranges allocated to each region.
EasyBuild also provide a comprehensive instruction booklet which can be obtained from their website. I printed it out and kept it to hand as it contains many hints and tips which are well worth using during construction, particularly around the order of doing things.
The EasyBuild Mk1 kits are supplied in a sturdy box which is of sufficient size to store the completed model in. There are multiple packets for different parts, for example, brass window frames, chassis parts, seats, white metal parts etc
The basic kit is just that: it doesn't have seats and you have to purchase these as extras. By the time you add all the necessary parts, the cost of the model isn't as attractive as it was at the start, but it is very reasonable for what you get. I never really understood why anyone would want to build a 7mm coach and not fit seats. Whay aren't these supplied as standard with the kit ?
Anyway, first steps were to decide where to start. I chose the bogies:
The bogies are moulded in black plastic, I believe ABS. They go together easily, but I found that the main plate on both of these was slightly twisted, so I had to apply some light twisting to revert them to be flat.
Note the card spacers in the photo. These are a temporary arrangement to ensure that the wheels don't rub on the backs of the bogie frames. This is necessary because of the way the bearings fit into the axle boxes: this is the first kit I have seen where they are actually adjustable. Every other kit I have seen has had a preset hole for bearings and you simply push a brass bearing in as far as it will go - the kit is designed around this such that all fits together squarely. On the EasyBuild bogies, the bearing can be pushed in as far/little as you wish (see the holes in the ends of the axle boxes in the photo, prior to fitting the axle box covers) but you have to get them at the right setting so that the bogie fits together squarely. Personally, I find this to be rather unnecessary fiddling about - every other kit manufacturer seems to have this sorted without a problem.
Note also thay the bogies have a large hole in the top surface. This accomodates a swivling mechanism (second picture) which also enables the bogies to rock end-to end for uneven track. It works well and is easy to put together. Just make sure you secure it with enough glue otherwise the bogie will fall off easily.
I had to get into contact with EasyBuild regarding the wheels as I had two sets which were not running very true. Service was very prompt and within a week, two replacements arrived.
Preparing the body is a fairly time consuming part of building these kits as the sides do have a fair amount of detail fitted. It is a lot easier to fit the detail with the sides laid flat on the bench than it is to fit them later to the model. The following pictures show the progress of preparing the body sides, starting with fitting the window frames, door hinges and door stopper 'rubbers':
The window frames must be curved to the shape of the body sides. I fixed them with Superglue because you really don't want these things coming detached later. It is important to take care in handling the larger window frames so that the top-light frames are not bent. This is tricky because the sliding windows have an edge which needs to be bent outwards, I made up a tool out of brass to do these to ensure squareness and non-bending.
The door hinges are implemented as T pieces where the bottom of the T fits through the body and the top part of the T sits vertically. It is important to line the axis of the hinges up with each other and not to the shape of the body otherwise the doors wouldn't open in practice!
Once fitted, I applied an undercoat to the window frames so that when the body sides were air-brush-painted, they would cover evenly and not require extra paint. I didn't actually undercoat this coach, but in hindsight, it would probably have been a good idea. I used Railmach BR coach maroon, hand-painted for undercoat and air-brushed for the main body.
The ends of the coach are a single-piece moulding which need the gangway connection, steps and pipework fitted.
The instructions quite rightly point out that when building the ends, you need to think about the period which the model will represent. Since I was building for the early to mid 1960's period, end steps were fitted. These are a fold-up arrangement and come on one of the brass sprews.
The pipework relates to the emergency braking valve system. It is only fitted to one end.
I really like the way the electrical couplings are modelled. They give a nice level of detail.
The buffers are white metal and glue into the shanks on the end. I fitted them in a retracted position since this coach would mostly be running with other Mk1 coaches. Apart from cost reasons, I'm not sure why the buffers are not turned brass and/or sprung.
At this point, one of my few disappointments came into play: the gangway connections. They look fabulous when fitted, but are incredibly fiddly to get right. There is a backing plate to which the rubber gangway surround fits and then a buffering plate over the top of that. The problem is that the rubber surround is moulded too small and needs to be stretched to make it fit the correct outline. This has the effect of causing the buffering plate to curve and it also means that the glue attaching the rubber is under tension. I had to have many goes at glueing this as several of my glues would not hold the rubber and ABS together. I ended up having to use SuperGlue. I would suggest that the rubber really isn't necessary. I 'get' that rubber is used because that is what the real things are, but it really should be moulded in a solid plastic or even a semi-solid plastic with the correct size so as not to require stretching. As it stands, it is too strong to be flexible, so why bother ?
Assembling the Body
Once the sides and ends are complete, the body can be assembled and attached to the main base plate. The second picture shows the EasyBuild coach on the right, buffered up to a Lima coach on the left. The height of the Lima roof pitch is apparent and has the effect of making the coach look smaller, even though it isn't:
Given the physical size of 7mm scale and the weights involved, I felt that the way the body sides and ends attached to the baseplate were somewhat flimsey and needed strengthening, indeed, the kit is supplied with plastic strip to 'weld' into the joins. Bigger lips would be better. I once saw 7mm scale wagons in a goods train at an exhibition in full public view have their ends pulled off because they weren't sufficiently attached.
The underchassis detail is an area where this kit excels - there is plenty of detail. Firstly, the trussing must be fitted. There are a few supporting pieces which are ready moulded, but the stretchers and diagonals all have to be fabricated from plastic L strip. The Parkin book is an exellent reference for where the various parts fit as not all coaches were consistent. The underchassis was subsequently air-brushed with a 'track colour brown' which I make up using Humbrol 113 Matt Rust as a base and then mix in copious amounts of Tamiya XF1 matt black - I've given up on Humbrol Matt black as in these climes, it either never goes matt or after a period of time after painting, it looses its matt finish and goes gloss - irrespective of how well it is mixed.
Fitting the Roof
The roof is supplied as a single moulding, however, the side locating guides at each end need filing back slightly to fit around the coach ends and the vents also need fitting.
The instruction sheet provides the measurements and locations of the roof vents, however, getting those located on a curved surface isn't always easy, so I used two strips of paper which fitted across the top of the roof and touched the gutters. I then took these off and marked the measurements of the alignment lines for the vents on them and then taped them to the roof and used a long rule to draw the lines along the roof. The first picture shows this, however, the edges of the paper had curled up by this stage. Upon completion, the roof was air-brushed with Humbrol 67 Matt Tank Grey.
You cannot build a 7mm scale coach without an interior! To that end, Easybuild supplies a number of packs for interior dividers and seats. It was fairly easy to replicate the timber interior finish (which in real life was actually ply-wood) by using the strokes of the brush with brown paint to not fully cover the brass dividers and seats, but how could I represent the seating fabric ?
The Parkin book actually contains colour pictures of seating inside Mk1 coaches, so I scanned a picture and then extracted the part I wanted using Windows PaintBrush and then repeated the arrangement in tiles. I then printed a sheet of the 'material' which was then cut to fit the seats. Note that modeller's license was used here: the print is actually somewhat over-scale. When I printed it to scale, the lines were so fine that the pattern could not be distinguished and just looked like a sheet of grey. I think the finish I used is a fair compromise.
I built the compartments as self-standing modules which were then glued inside the coach.
Prior to fitting the compartment modules, the window glazing must be fitted. This is the second of my two disappointments with these kits. The perspex is moulded flat. Reference to prototype photos show that the main window is flat as are the toplights, but they are angled to each other along the bottom of the toplights. Essentially, the toplights 'lean back'. When the windows are fitted to the model, there is a gap between the toplight frames and the perspex. Personally, I think this looks awful, especially when one looks along the side of a coach. It is inconsisted with an otherwise excellent kit.
In addition, the perspex is supplied in a packet with no protection between each panel, meaning that in transit, they rub together and become scratched. Some light weathering managed to hide some of this.
The Finished Model
There now follows a number of pictures of the completed model. Please note that I did not fit couplings, although I believe that Steve is going to fit Kadee couplings. Because of this, I didn't fit vacuum or steam heating pipes to the buffer beams.
Please note that if you click on an image, it will appear in a 'light box'. Hover your mouse over the left and right of the pictures and you will see arrows which when clicked, allow you to scroll through all the pictures on this page in the order that they appear.
Due to competing family commitments, it took me quite a long duration to complete this model, however, the modelling time itself was actually quite short - these really are "Easy" to "Build" kits. The instructions are superb and support from EasyBuild is commendable. The finished model looks really good and they actually have a decent weight so no extra weight is needed. They run freely and are not 'heavy' behind a loco.
As stated above, my only real disappointments are the rubber gangways and the flat window perspex. Other than that, I would recommend these kits to anyone setting out in 7mm scale.
The only thing I would say is that at the time of writing, several RTR manufacturers are producing 7mm scale Mk1 coaches, although none of them look quite right to me, mostly because the bogies don't look right and there is something wrong with the body and roof profiles. Having said that, the soon-to-be-released Dapol RTR models look superb (except for the gangway door not being recessed) and at the price of a basic EasyBuild kit excluding interior detailing packs, the Dapol model presents a very attractive financial proposition.
Would I build another EasyBuild Mk1 ? Yes, but don't tell Steve!
Graham Plowman (6/11/2019)
Post Script - 23/01/2020
Following some use, the coach has now returned to my workbench as one of the window glazings has 'popped in'. This highlights a further problem of the perspex glazing: it is a very loose fit in the bodyside window openings and there are no retainer tabs. I used PVA to refix the perspex as any other glue would cause frosting or discolouration of the perspex. I would suggest that supplying the perspex as slightly larger and a tight fit, even if it needed slight filing to fit, would be a better option.