This week, Graeme Chase looks at the new Coal Merchants Office & Weighbridge Kit from Model Railway Scenery.
Recently I upgraded my printer and to help me celebrate, those kind folks at Model Railway Scenery invited me to build and review the latest addition to their range, the Coal Merchants and Weighbridge kit.
The weighbridge was a common feature of most railway goods yards and facilities associated with bulk materials handling, such as coal, iron and grain, and as such, the majority of us have a spot for at least one, if not more on our layouts.
The first practical machines were invented by John Wyatt of Birmingham in the 1740s. The weighbridge itself is a large set of balance scales used for weighing large vehicles, including horse drawn carts, lorries and railway wagons and consists of a large metal plate set into the road surface with a small hut beside it containing the scale.
The kit is based on the prototype NER weighbridge and building at Levisham Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and, as such represents a typical installation that remained in use until the 1960’s.
The kit is available in two forms – a stone or brick finish. In fitting with my layout, I selected the brick finish. You download a five page pdf file (the kit) and a separate instruction file.
The instructions are the best I’ve come accross to date for this type of product; comprehensive, clear, well laid out, easy to follow and logical. They identify up front the minimum useful tools to have handy; the type of card to use, and supplemented by helpful hints including what tools to use when.
Following the thoughtful and comprehensive instructions makes construction straightforward. What makes this kit a pleasure to work with are the quality of the downloadable images; edges are crisp, clear; prototypical colouring is precisely reproduced and dimensions accurate. Light weathering has even been added to wall and roofing surfaces.
To me, and this kit was no different, the kit is a starting point, a framework around which I will create a picture. Things that detract from my overall satisfaction of any kit are poor definition; poor mouldings, fragile or poorly thought through kit components and weak detail.
This kit exceeded my expectations and even suprised me on all levels. Two components really stood out. The roof on any kit is vital to me. I will often make my own roofs of wood and handmade cardboard slates or tiles. However, in this instance, for me the roof was good enough to use as printed.
Another key element for me is building interiors – even if they are never seen by those of us in 1 to 1. Again, the inclusion of a wooden floor, interior wall coverings, period artwork and a fireplace added to the finished impact.
Common issues associated with cardboard kits are creating depth around windows and doors and structural rigidity. Killing both birds with one stone, the kit provides precise templates that you use to assemble the structure from the obligatory “Blue Peter” Cornflakes packet.
Separate templates for windows are included, and although requiring a steady hand, when combined with plastic from a wagon box created prototypical see through windows.
After attaching the inner and outer wrap to each template along with lintels, the window is then sandwiched between the two, creating a solid strutural wall with prototypical recessing of windows and, on one end wall the door. The constructed walls assembled precisely and easily with no gaps. Once interior cameo’s and additional detailing had been added, the roof and chimney breast were added (fiddly) but well worth the patience to complete the scene.
Overall, assembly took about 4 hours over two days and the result; for GBP 1.99 is pleasing. In short, this in my opinion is the best offering to date from Model Railway Scenery; it’s difficult to fault and will fit comfortably into the vast majority of pre 1960’s layout.