an overview of 009 kits for the L&B
Keith Vingoe No. 1280 -
updated by John de Frayssinet
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
are no longer available.
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
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
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.
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.
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.