Building brass etch Coaches



I am aware that many folks still baulk at making etched brass models and doing soldering. Three types of coaches are available from Langley. I am told there are no plans to expand the line. There are some errors in these coaches, and they sit too high to be scale. This is due to the use of scale length bogies which will not give sufficient movement for 12" radii if place inside the frames. It is for this reason we are bringing out our full range of coaches under the 3dPerfect banner.
I certainly do not claim to have all the answers, but we find the following methods do work for us. Firstly, the three kits do not all include seats and handles so it is necessary to buy another pack from Langley. The pack can be found at the bottom of the page we have linked to.


I know there are all sorts of fancy fluxes and solders, but I just use ordinary thin multicore solder from the local hardware shop and Baker's soldering fluid, bought from the local plumbers. The flux is rather nasty and care must be taken not to get it into your eyes. It also eats away the soldering iron tips quite quickly, so I always have a stock of those! However, the flux really works well, provided all traces are washed off at the end of the job. I use an Antex XS25 soldering iron and favour wedge tips. These are obtained from Expo Tools.
It takes a bit of practice, but actually the process of soldering is quite easy. It is important to work from the back of etchings where possible, as it is very hard to remove the solder from detail. Make sure that the soldering iron has reached temperature, tin the tip with solder, brush on some flux, collect a small blob of solder on the iron and apply to the work. The flux will hiss in a satisfying manner and then suddenly the solder will flow and stick the parts together.
I use a hand held Dremel type took with a small sanding disc to remove excess solder and polish up the finished product with a small wire wheel attachment.


I use a good pair of scissors (better your wife's) to cut components from the fret. The small sprues are removed by  sanding with the Dremel.
The door windows are removed from the fret and soldered into position from the rear. I use modelling clamps to hold them in place while soldering. The windows can be fixed in various positions from fully open to closed. Remove excess solder with the sander. The etch includes folding tabs at the ends of the coaches. I find these fold in a way to prevent a clean solder, so I simply remove them. One of the coach kits does not have the door handles and grab handles holes etched right through. Make sure that you do drill them before proceeding.
The sides are folded using a metal folder such as shown in the photo.
Make sure that the folds are sharp and the sides vertical.
Solder on the chassis strips.
 The top tabs are then folded down to right angles.
Now solder in the partitions, ensuring that the model sits flat on a sheet of glass and that the sides are dead straight, (check with a metal rule).
The coach ends can then be soldered in and the buffer beams which are made by double folding the etches. The footrail is also soldered on. This is a cow to fold, and I now just place the etching accurately in a vice and press hard with a steel tool and gradually get the thing to fold over.
The four small pins are then soldered to the floor. Usually, you will have to drill in the correct position as the etches do not include the holes. You can then solder on the bracing bars.
Now solder on the end steps and the grab rail which is made from the thin wire supplied.
If you are building the brake coach, fold up and solder the duckouts. It is worth taking the time to get these right. Make sure they fit correctly and solder into place.

The other job is to solder up the etched bench seats. These are a tad wide considering one also has to add glazing. I therefore cut .5mm from each side with scissors.

the seats after cleaning, priming and painting

The buffer beams are drilled for fitting the vacuum and heating pipes. I make the steam heating connectors using brass wire, wrapped with 3 amp fuse wire. The ends of the fuse wire are soldered and the brass wire bent to shape. These and the white metal vacuum pipes are soldered to the buffer beams. It is perfectly easy to solder the white metal in this case. Just pre-tin the back of the buffer beam, add flux, insert the vacuum pipe and touch with the soldering iron. The coaches are now ready to clean. I use hot water, detergent and the kitchen sink. Using a stiffish paint brush, all deposits, swarf and dust can easily be removed. Leave to dry on paper towels.
Once dry, I glue on more details. These include the acetylene generators, feed pipe, and I make the water reservoir from a small piece of carved Plastistrut.
After a final check for fluff, cat hairs etc, the coaches are now ready to spray paint. I use a self etching primer spray can available from car part stores. Make sure that the coat is a light one. Once dry, spray the colour coat. I use acrylic spray paint called NATO green. Some coaches I have painted in slightly different hues to give the stock a varied appearance due to age and fading.
self etch primed
Once dry, I paint the chassis and ends with Humbrol matt black. When nearly dry, I treat with weathering powder to taste.

Once this is all dry, (next day), the inside of the coach is carefully painted in the required colour. If any of this paint gets onto the green around the windows, you can touch up with the spray paint. Just spray into the lid and use fine brush. The next job is glazing. I use 'Clearfix' to glue in the acrylic transparent plastic. Clearfix is also used to glaze the windows in the duckouts. The edges of the windows are wetted with Clearfix, and with a bit more of the material, you can 'weave' the window. Once the duckout windows are dry, you have to touch up the paint around the frames. After letting the Clearfix glue dry thoroughly, the holes for handles and grab handles have to be re-drilled through the clear plastic. The handles and grab handles can then be glued in place: a fiddly job to say the least.
Seats are then glued in followed by the passengers (to taste). First class seats are made using OO gauge coach seats cut down in height.
We are then ready to fit the roof. I find the Langley brass roof useless as I do not have a metal roller. In any case I prefer to keep the weight low down. I use thin Plasticrd which I keep rolled up. This is leaves the material with the right curve. After cutting to size, I drill 1.6mm holes in the correct places to take the roof lamps. I glue one side with 5 minute epoxy. Once the glue has gone off, I introduce glue into the other side and bring the roof down by wrapping the coach with half a mile of 3 amp fuse wire (I buy this from Maplins in large reels and use huge quantities of the stuff).
The roof fittings are glued into place and a thin wire (not included in kit) is added to represent the gas feed. The roof is then painted grey with Humbrol matt. When nearly dry, weather to taste.
The Langley bogies are then assembled and painted, couplings fitted and attached to the bolsters which are glued into place under the coach.
The characteristic door vents are a bit of a Langley problem. On one kit, they are etched in and look wrong, on another the vents are separate and are just as wrong. Finally, on the last kit there are no vents whatsoever! I think it is far better to make them in Plasticard to the correct profile and retrofit.
There you have it. To give you some idea of time, I find I can make two coaches in 1.5 long days, albeit boring ones.
                       goods brake
          third special coach    

building 3Dperfect coaches