The blog’s been neglected of late so when Peter Ross sent me photos of his completed Fell van based on the New Zealand Finescale kit it seemed like a good excuse to refresh it.
The Greymouth Fell vans are, in my humble opinion, very attractive vehicles to model, being packed with character in a small overall package – very handy for your typical model railway. The kit is currently out of production, but follows my typical construction (leaf sprung under frame, etched brass, glazing slots etc). While the design allows many otherwise difficult tasks to be achieved with ease, it is nevertheless a fairly tricky build if one wishes to capture all the underframe details.
The sleeper eye view of the underframe above shows the complexity. Not only are there the Fell brakes to do, but there are also the wheel brake linkages to hook up. These need to be flexible as the brake shoes move with the suspension. All the parts are in the kit, but Peter provided the skill and patience. He has also substituted scale wheels, which contribute significantly to the realism.
Right side up, the effectiveness of this detail from a more typical viewing angle can be appreciated.
One of the secrets to achieving realism is to assemble and finish models so that the methods and materials of construction are not apparent, and an illusion of the real thing is maintained. Despite this being an all metal model, Peter has finished it convincingly so that it looks like the predominantly timber structure of the prototype.
Pete has finished the roof in tissue paper to simulate the canvas cover of the real thing. The windows are real glass (microscope coverslips), inserted into the kits glazing slots. This creates a tight, flat glazing that is very convincing.
Personally, the asymmetry of these vehicles is rather attractive and an unusual feature for railway rolling stock. Both the ends and sides differ significantly from one another.
Thanks to Peter Ross for permission to showcase the van and for the excellent photos.