Tunnel Inspection – Can’t beat a bit of Bulleid… pt1

Bulleid Tunnel Inspection Coach

Always on the lookout for unusual or unique vehicles that ran on the Southern Region of British Rail in the 70s, I completed a pair of former Bulleid passenger carrying coaches in a couple of weekends.

The Tunnel Inspection Staff Coach is converted from a Bachmann Bulleid 2nd Class Open coach. In my opinion, this is still a good donor model for its age (mid 90s) , albeit lacking the finer detail of today’s stuff.

Sadly, the Bachmann models were representative of the first Bulleid stock rather than the later Birmingham-built cars that had riveted steel sides. The windows are technically incorrect for this type (too deep) but I applied modeller’s licence as I’m not willing to spend £100 to chop up a brass kit for the privelage.

The riveted steel plates were drawn as artwork in Adobe Illustrator and UV inkjet printed on teslin (a plasticised paper used for bunting and outdoor applications) using the “hi build” technique. This is where an image is overprinted again and again to build raised detail.

There wasn’t really much more to on this conversion, apart from build a new sparse interior, extend the bodysides below the solebar using 10thou Plasticard, add gas heaters and flues, blank off a few windows and add some missing detail.

The corridor connections came off really easily, as Bachmann used a really soft mallible plastic that cuts like butter. Plywood blanking sheets were added from 15thou Plasticard.

The handbrake levers were CAD-drawn and 3D printed in resin (super fragile) and end steps built from 3D printed treads and 0.38mm brass wire bent to the correct shape. I also added my own 3D printed NEM pockets and fitted Kadee couplings which is standard for all of my builds.

I used Humbrol Olive Drab from a rattle can for the base coats and then mixed gradually lightened tones from Valejo acrylics to provide fading and streaking. I decided to go to great lengths to match the missing / chipped paintwork too which was evident on all of the reference photographs I’d gathered of the prototype.

All in all this is a really inexpensive conversion and well worth a couple of days work to create something a little bit different. I love anything designed by OVS Bulleid and as my layout is set in the 1970s, I’m not overwhelmed with choice when it comes to suitable models or indeed suitable prototypes. The Bachmann Bulleid coaches are a dream for hackers like myself. The plastic is easily workable, and they can be picked up cheaply. They are also suitable for shortening and cladding to build Bulleid designed “beer can” EMUs such as the 4SUB and 2HAP.

Total cost – £16 for the donor coach, £4 Kadee magnetic couplings, £4 South Eastern Finecast flush glazing kit and a bit of resin, plasticard, time and paint.

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