an overview of 009 kits for the L&B

Keith Vingoe No. 1280 - March 1998
updated by John de Frayssinet 2007

As the 009 Society celebrates its 25th anniversary and the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway celebrates it’s centenary this year, it seems an appropriate time to look at how 009 kits for the L&B have evolved over the years.  Fortunately for modellers of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, not only is there a 009 kit available for nearly every item of rolling stock but in some cases, there are several manufacturers producing kits of the same item of rolling stock, albeit of different materials.  

The first L&B kits were of the 4-ton wagons and vans.  Produced in white metal by Gem in the 1960’s as sales items for the Festiniog Railway, they were fair representations of the prototypes.  Being on the heavy side and likely to put couplings under pressure, they serve a useful purpose as static “siding furniture”.  I am not sure if these kits are still available as I did hear that the moulds for them are worn out. 

The next kit, released around 1974/5 was for L&B coach No. 1/2.  Produced by Chris Leigh and marketed by Mopok it was intended to bring the joys (?) of etched brass to narrow gauge modellers.  A difficult kit to make to a reasonable standard it is also back heavy as the duckets are made of white metal.  The model is of the coach as new, a condition that only existed for a short time.  Modifications to the kit to make it more “Southern” in appearance are not easy to achieve and to date no manufacturer has produced a kit of parts to modify the existing kit nor a complete kit for the coach in it’s later form (with windows in the observation compartment).  These kits are no longer available but sometimes turn up on EBay.  

Around 1976/7 Rodney Stenning produced a white metal superstructure kit based on the original Manning Wardle design, but with the later modified cabs.   Designed to fit on to a Minitrix 2-6-2 N gauge chassis you were guaranteed smooth, powerful running as long as you accepted inside frames and the wrong valve gear. This kit can look good from a distance and for the time was a very acceptable representation of the prototype and I believe it is still available. 

By the end of 1970’s, and into the early 1980’s, the kits were coming thick and fast.  Chris Leigh produced a brass etched kit for the seven compartment all third much to the same specification as his earlier kit though no longer available and Chivers Finelines produced a kit for Lew similar to the Stenning kit and the comments above apply equally to these kits.  Chivers also produced a useful cast white metal kit for the water crane at Lynton station.

Langley also started to produce kits for L&B rolling stock at this time.  My first purchase was a kit for van No. 23.  In etched brass with good underframe detail, it made up into a very good model.  The only obvious deviation in the kit from the prototype was the sliding door rail, but a suitable piece of L shaped brass solves this problem.    

In the late 70’s I had started to scratchbuild Lyn, a sure-fire guarantee that someone would then produce a kit, and soon after Langley proved me right! Designed to fit on a Grafar 4-4-0 chassis, with an etched brass cab, white metal boiler and tank, I was never very happy with this kit.  The cab was reasonable but required a lot of fettling and hole filling.  As I had already started to scratchbuild the tanks and boiler from nickel silver, I dispensed with the white metal cast boiler and tank assembly.  I could never produce an outside framed chassis with which I was happy, so Lyn has never run, but the superstructure looks good! 

The next Langley releases were kits for coach No’s 5/6, 7/10 and 15/16. Constructed from etched brass, these make up into reasonable representations of stock as seen during the Southern Railway period with good underframe detail, but look out for inaccuracies.  For example, on the open centre thirds, the lamp tops should be in line with the doors and not as shown in the Langley instructions.    

Langley also produced etched brass kits for the Bristol built 4-ton opens, 4-ton vans, 8-ton bogie flats, 8-ton bogie open No. 22 and the later Howard 8-ton bogie vans.  These all make up into a reasonable representation of the prototype with the added advantage of having a bit of weight that helps with good running and keeping the stock on the track.  They also produced etched brass kits for Manning Wardle and Lyn type cowcatchers to help the scratchbuilder as well as an etched brass kit for making third class seats.  The latter are a real test piece for the soldering iron enthusiast with burnt fingers a likely possibility.   I am not sure of the current availability of these Langley kits, but another Langley L&B accessory, now discontinued, was a pack of cast white metal lamp tops and bungs.  It is a pity that these are no longer available, because, having all the lamp tops the same, when running a train using coaches constructed from different manufacturers kits, tends to draw the eye away from any other discrepancies.  

In the early 80s, Brian Clarke released a whitemetal kit of the contractors Bagnall loco Slave.  As I have not seen this kit advertised for a long time I can only assume it is no longer available. 

The first all plastic kits for the L&B started to arrive in the 80’s.  Ninelines produced the 1927 8-ton Howard bogie vans, and these were quickly followed by kits for the Howard 8-ton bogie open wagons and the 1897 Bristol 8-ton-bogie open wagons No’s 12/13.  These kits are easy to assemble and are reasonably accurate although they are a bit light and ride higher than the prototype.  If this bothers you, either use smaller wheels or on the van modify the floor.  Ninelines have also released a plastic kit for brake van No’s 5/14 as originally built with the open veranda and this is to the same high standard as the previous kits. 

Dundas produces plastic kits for the 4-ton open and 4-ton van.  They have some inaccuracies (probably as a result of using the Tustin drawings).  In the model both van and wagon are the same length and width, whilst in the prototype the wagon was shorter than the van and the van was narrower than the wagon.  Also the brake assembly moulding needs to be reversed on one side I.e. mirrored, so as to be prototypically correct.  Despite my comments, these are very good kits, easy to assemble and make for a good representation of the prototype. 

Golden Arrow’s first release was for coach No 17, closely followed by a kit for coach No. 3/4.  They now produce kits for all the coaches apart from No’s 1/2.  These etched brass kits have good detail and can be made up either as independent L&B or Southern period L&B.  Later kits are easier to assemble having a plastic floor to construct the etched brass sides around.  These are my preferred coach kits, although I do use wire for the grab rails and door handles, in preference to the etched brass fittings supplied, but that’s just me being fussy. These are no longer available. 

Golden Arrow also produced kits for the 6-ton bogie open No 19 and the eight-ton bogie flats.  Manufactured from cast resin, an interesting departure from the usual methods of kit construction, they make up into good, if fragile, models.

These are no longer available.  

A new age dawned in the 90’s with the introduction by Backwoods Miniatures of their Manning Wardle kits.  A combination of etched brass and nickel silver featuring exquisite rivet detail together with lost wax brass castings for the boiler fittings, correct outside frames and working Joy valve gear (if you’ve got the patience).  These kits are unreservedly recommended because they are superb in every way  

The next Backwoods kit was for the ex WD cranes and these too are excellent.  These kits, although very detailed, require little work or fettling to get them assembled.  However, with all Backwoods kits, I do take the time to read the comprehensive instructions through a few times before lifting the soldering iron. 

The latest L&B release from Backwoods is a kit for Lyn.  Featuring outside frames, with equalisation to guarantee the four-coupled chassis, will run without problems, side tanks with riveted overlays and a cab which can be modelled with the doors open to show off the fully fitted interior.  It is, in my view, the best L&B kit yet.  All this detail in a 009 kit would have been unheard of a few years ago.  We have come a long way from the “lumps of lead” of the 1960’s and this kit certainly shows the measure of quality and accuracy by which 009 has advanced over the years.  

What’s left 

8-ton bogie open wagon No. 24 is the only item of L&B rolling stock for which there is so far no kit available and I can only assume that this is because it is very similar to wagons No. 12/13.  Other L&B items so far not available in kit form are the remaining contractors loco’s, the coal hoist, yard crane and weighbridge at Pilton, and the station buildings, signal boxes, engine sheds, viaducts Etc. So if any manufacturer is still looking for L&B items to produce, there’s a few suggestions. 

This overview would not be complete without a vote of thanks to all the manufacturers mentioned above for their contributions to the development of 009 over the years.  For me they have certainly made modelling the L&B a lot easier than it might have been.




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