Ex-Midland Railway brake vans hit the shelves. 

A quick visit to SMTF model shop near Poynton saw me come away with one of these lovely new Bachmann MR brake vans. Available with or without the side duckets and in LMS or BR liveries, I believe that they have been selling fast - no surprises there, as it's a cracking model. Although based on a Midland Rly design, the LMS built huge numbers of these vans during the late 1920s/early '30s. Indeed, this depiction of M357914 is an LMS version, one of 950 such vans built to Diagram D1657.

The planking and various bracket details are very well defined and it captures the look of the real thing well. As the unused mounting holes in the floor reveal, further versions of this design are forthcoming, some of which will feature vacuum brake gear.

Surprisingly, there's not much weight to the wagon, and I'm wondering about adding a few extra grams of lead shot. However, I'll test how it runs on my layouts first. Detail wise, it has some nice touches such as handbrake actuating gear underneath and separate handrails. The moulded lamp brackets are a little disappointing and these would look better replaced with folded brass strip. The stove chimney would also benefit from replacing with some fine metal tube (such as offered by Albion Alloys), while another minor detraction is the visible screw mounting 'towers' inside the guard's compartment. Located immediately behind the doors, the grey plastic is visible through the glazing. A spot of black paint will disguise these to a degree, but they'll still be visible.

Maybe it sounds like I'm nit-picking a bit here, but I don't mean to do the wagon down, especially as it's offered at a reasonable price. Rather, I'm just looking at how I can work a little extra realism into it - after all, I'm always looking for something to do to keep me out of mischief. Overall, it's jolly nice and I can't wait to see it after a weathering job...


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