Wagon & Carriage‎ > ‎

Cheddar Coach Kits

by Chris Bird


Some years ago, Cheddar Models produced bolt-together coach kits which were laser cut from thick steel plate and were provided with substantial, sprung bogies. There was no interior provided so this was up to the builder to scratch build. When completed, the coaches weighed over 3kg (close to 7lbs) each. They did not pretend to be scale representations of any real coach, and some might think them a bit toy-like. I, on the other hand, just love them. They are strong and heavy to make a loco chuff necely ;-)

Since the demise of Cheddar Models, these coach kits appear on the market from time to time, ranging from the complete kit down to just sets of laser cut panels. This article is aimed at the purchaser who buys one and wonders what is missing. Perhaps more important, it might just help somebody make a fine model from a pile of rusting steel!

I was very lucky in that I started with a full kit for my first coach, but then I acquired a part kit and two sets of panels. With a little ingenuity, I now have four completed coaches (well complete except for transfers!).

The Factory Instructions

The instructions provided were minimal as you will see from these scans (apologies for all the rust stains!). What is really important though, is the list of parts, which somehow ignored the important detail parts.

The Roof Details

The kit was also supplied with five white metal lamp housings which are very like the Lynton & Barnstaple coach housings, and ten small ventialtors. As I was lucky enough to have some in the first kit, I was able to make patterns, and with the help of Roy Wood we had some cast. Here are the patterns (though Roy subsequently made the lamp housing as a two part casting).

These white metal castings are available from Roy Wood at www.roywoodmodels.co.uk . You will find that some builders mount the ventilators with the pointed centres facing fore and aft - and I did this for two coaches. i was then informed by Roy that they should face from side to side! Both options are shown below.

The Door Details

The kits were originally supplied with T handles for the doors and loop type grab rails.

I had enough for two kits and for the other two I used ones from Brandbright. The handles are a bit small for the holes, but look OK. The grab rails were a different pattern, but were fine (though the casting quality was poor). Since then, Swift Sixteen have produced very nice T handles which I would use in future. You could make grab rails from brass rod or perhaps drill new holes for longer ones.

The Bogies

These are often missing, but I have found that the bigies from Swift Sixteen work very well using their steel wheels. It is necessary to make a mounting plate to fit the bogie to and this then screws to the coach floor. As I had a mixture of Cheddar and Swift bogies and had bought a job lot of wheels that were too big, I had to modify the Swift bogies and the mounting to get a consistent height for all the coaches.

Building & Painting

I made a single coach first and then made three together. It is essential to rub the steel down well to remove all traces of rust. On one of my kits, the lasered lines for the doors has created surface bubbling in the metal, so I had to carefully remove this. The problem then was that the lines were very shallow and would hardly show when painted - but I will come back to that.

After rubbing down and degreasing, I primed all of the panels. With hindsight, I think an etch primer would have been better. Here the panels are primed and you can see that there is one brake end coach. Also I had just one set of bogies for the three.

Next I sprayed the coach interiors brown and the undersides of the roof cream with acrylic car spray. The bogis and chassis were satin black.

When that was fully dry, with a little help from the domestic oven, I allowed them to cool and masked all the windows and holes in the side panels.

I was then able to spray the outside ivory. All over maroon coaches would have been a lot easier! Here you can see how I helped the drying, but note that the
masking tape has been removed as any heat bonds it to the paint and ruins the finish.

I sprayed the ends maroon - though Cheddar recommended black. The outside of the roof was sprayed with charcoal satin paint intended for car bumpers. Dark grey primer or matt black would be fine.

I then masked the lines for the maroon lower panels with Tamiya masking tape. Ordinary masking tape is not good enough I find.


Construction is pretty straightforward as the structure is all bolted together with M2 cheese head screws. The holes are tapped so no nuts are needed for most of it.

For the windows I used 1mm clear acrylic sheet, glued in with a little clear silicone.

Here is a finished coach with the Cheddar grab rails and T handles.

And here is one with Brandbright grab rails and T handles. It is waiting for its roof castings.

And finally the brake end coach:

You will see that the doors have been outlined using a fine tipped indelible marker pen. I bought three good ones and used one for each coach as the lasered grooves are not kind to the tips.

Coach Interiors

The following describes what I did, though there are many ways to fit out the interior.

Once the coach is assembled, it is important to decide how you are going to construct the seats. If, as I did, you want to install them as pre-built units, then it is essential to work out the maximum width that will fit in between the roof flanges and can then be eased into position.

I made my seats from hockey stick moulding and batten. You will see that the batten was not quite thick enough so it needed a bit extra.

The end seats were a bit different:

I wanted the upholstery to look like dusty, mottled fabric, a bit like the "uncut moquette" they used to use. I sprayed the seats maroon acrylic and then dusted on a coat of grey primer - sprayed from a distance to give the mottle. It's a bit of an odd approach, but it does for me!

For the brake coach I needed a partition - cut from thin MDF, though ply or card would have done.

When I fitted this and the seats into the brake coach, I realised that this was designed to be a compartment coach and not open.

The trouble was that I had glued the seats in with silicone before I realised. I had to improvise and made partitions to fit above the seats and added 'headrests' to disguise it. These became first class compartments!

And the guard got a brake wheel from my parts bin.

As the partitions looked a bit plain, I found some thumbnails of carriage prints on the internet and managed to print them about the right size. With a black line round to simulate the frame, I just stuck them on with Blutac and they look OK through the windows. It might be better to mount them on plastic card to stop curling.

Cheddar Coaches in Action

Here is a video of my Roundhouse Katie hauling three of the coaches at Roy Wood's Holtwood Light Railway. The addition of 500gms of lead under the tank (since this film was made) means that she can now manage all four.

And here is a video of my Roundhouse Argyll with all four on at the Summerlands Light Railway: