Sunday, September 5, 2010

Austrains IA wagon - opinions

With the arrival of the over speculated about Austrains “mystery” wagon – the VR I wagon and derivatives, a new era for the VR Enthusiast has arrived. Following on from the I, IA and B from Austrains are Auscuision’s U. T. KMQ as well as a GY and SDS models is promising another GY and a KQ wagon. Can a Z guards van be arriving in the not to distant future?

For the sum of between $25 and $35 per wagon a VR modeller will be able to build up a train of classic VR four wheelers to run behind their diesels. Previously this could only be achieved by assembling the excellent BGM/SEM kits which are about half the price (when you include painting, detailing and couplers but not costing assembly time).

Many modellers have expressed difficulties with the kits, although in comparison with injection moulded kits of AFV’s and Warships, the BGM/SEM kits are uncomplicated and easy to assemble requiring only basic modelling skills. However the RTR manufacturers must sense there is a market for VR four wheelers as there is allot of Chinese moulded plastic en route to Australia (some of which is heading to Concord).

I bought a "combo pack" which had I 15868, IA 14438 and B 69 at the "Our Town Show" on the 4th September 2010. Having some spare time on a Sunday morning, I ran the callipers over IA 14438 and had a detailed look at my purchase.

The sources I used are the usual culprits – the Peter Vincent website, Rob O’Regan’s website and Mark Bau’s website. From these several official diagrams of the IA were obtained which gave wagon dimensions. I converted these to HO scale and then went measuring with my trusty digital callipers.

At this point you need to consider possible sources of error – the conversions (feet to metrics, real to scale) being one obvious one. Then there is the difficulty of measuring. Variations on how you hold the callipers can result in errors. You also need to make sure you are measuring to the same points on the model as on the diagram. for example length over couplers – where on the couplers and don't forget Kadees are over scale so this measurement is inherently inaccurate. In contrast distance between axle boxes is likely to be more accurate as the location of the axles is readily found on both the model and the prototype.

The results are:

Length over couplers: should be 8.7cm my measurements are consistent with this allowing for errors

Interior width: should be 2.97cm is 2.86 cm – probably the sides are over sized  as they are thicker than the SEM ones.

Wheel centres: should be 4.02cm and is  3.91cm

Doors are ok but difficult to measure precisely.

Side height: 1.28cm and is 1.34cm

So the model is possibly slightly larger than 100% to scale but this is less than 1mm so could also be a measuring fault. Comparing the model to one of my SEM IA wagons the Austrains model looks ever so slightly larger which confirms my feeling (assuming David got the SEM model correct).

The model is in some form of shiny plastic (POM?) and the underframe and wheels pop out leaving the wagon sides and a metal wagon floor.

Austrains IA wagon 001

The brake rigging is simplified and will need some beefing up – this is my preference. The brake cylinder is at a very odd angle, again it could be left or fixed. The grab irons, coupler pin lifter and tarp supports are all fine details. both the tarp supports and the coupler pin lifter move.

The interior has timber detailing on the floor but no side detail. I think the doors should be thinner than the sides according to the diagram. This challenge as been avoided by Austrains and SEM no doubt due to cost.  

The wagon weights 20g which is a bit light for both NRMA and NEM standards. The bulk of the weight is the floor which is metal.

The model is finished in a representation of VR wagon red with white steps and white squares in corners. Basically it looks far too clean for a wagon constructed in 1915 and will need to be detailed to fit in with the owners preferences. The photos of the wagons in the 1970’s show them to be fairly bashed and battered (reflecting over 50 years of work) and the Austrains model from the box looks far too neat and kempt whereas it should be IMHO unkempt.

So if you want a model you can plonk on the tracks and run, this will do the trick – it looks good and although it is slightly larger than it should be this is not really going to be noticed I think (unless you are wondering around with callipers and a VR diagram).

Austrains IA wagon 006

(above Austrains and SEM IA wagons

In contrast my SEM IA wagons are still not finished after intermittent progress since 2002 (or possibly earlier) and some of the handrail details are much finer than my attempts at wire bending, it’s back to the work bench for me to improve these details.

Also on the workbench at some stage will be the RTR  IA’s for weathering and minor detailing. My preference is for rolling stock that look like they have been used and the Austrains finish is too slick for my preference. I am also wondering whether it might be possible to scribe representations of the doors on the inside of the wagon.

To conclude; I am happy that I have got these wagons and that I have ordered more. They will complement my existing completed and to be completed SEM models. If I just want to run a train, then these wagons are ready to go. They will need some work to finish them to my personal preferences which to some degree negates the RTR aspect but consider the lack of progress I have made on the SEM kits. Therefore the Austrains wagons suit the time poor. 

Austrains IA wagon 005

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