Parkside for Society: £15.20 + P&P (at 15 May 2016)

Available through the 3mm Society


In 1939 the LNER built some distinctive four-wheeled CCTs with vertical body planks, toplights and three sliding doors each side. At 37ft 6in long, they were the largest British CCT and useful enough for BR to build another batch in 1950. Like Southern PMV and CCT utility vans and GWR inside-framed Siphons they carried parcels and newspapers well into the Rail Blue era.

This latest Society plastic kit is as impressive and – in the main – straightforward to build as Parkside kits always are. It consists of sides, ends, floor, roof, detailed chassis and delicate footboards. If you have built the Fruit D or the Southern utilities, you will find construction of this van familiar. As ever, precise corner joints make assembling the two sides and two ends easy, and the floor slips in as exactly as always. The solebars, complete with springs and axleboxes, to which axlebox covers are glued, butt against ribs under the floor to make a foursquare rigid chassis which runs sweetly, despite its long (23ft 6in) wheelbase. The late Dave Southam showed how to compensate the generally similar Fruit D in Mixed Traffic 164.

Basic body and chassis construction takes very little time. Before going on to the details which take a lot longer, it is time to give the body sides a coat of paint. The toplights can then be glazed: the inside of the body is neatly rebated to accept 15 x 2.5mm strips of clear plastic. It is best to fit the clipped-top buffer heads to the shanks moulded on the ends and smooth the feed pips off afterwards, when you have something larger to hold. The parts for the asymmetrical LNER vacuum brake system fit simply enough and there is enough meat on the v hangers to enable them to be drilled 0.6mm to take a wire cross shaft. I was working on a pre-production sample, without instructions; I have no doubt Paul Furner will, as usual, talk you through this and other operations.

The moulded roof is a snug fit. There are pop marks on the underside, to be drilled through to take the eight torpedo ventilators. Don’t be tempted to sand off the three moulded discs on the roof centre line: they are the covers of the oil lamps fitted to these vans.

Left to my own devices I think I might have soldered six sets of steps from staples and brass angle, but in the interest of a fair review I used the frail-looking plastic steps and supports. The supports are tiny, and a lot of care is needed in cutting them from the sprue and cleaning up their mating surfaces. You will also need a clear picture of one of these vans to see what you are supposed to be doing, good eyesight and a steady hand. Although I prefer Mek-Pak for plastic-kit construction, the longer setting time and extra grab Liquid Poly offers were essential here, allowing the parts to be aligned squarely and left to harden (as the photograph shows). I took my time, cleaned up with a fine file when the solvent had hardened and was rewarded with steps which are surprisingly robust, unlike the very vulnerable brake-lever racks (I broke one of those before the van was finished, so replaced them with bent staples). Fortunately the finished van will never have to be taken off my layout – but if your stock has to travel in boxes to and from exhibitions, you will need to be extremely careful with this one. Heavy-handed people would be well advised not to attempt the steps.

The model can be finished in LNER brown, with white lettering, BR carmine or maroon lettered yellow, or Rail Blue. In all periods CCTs were filthy except when fresh out of the shops. For the BR steam-era livery, there is a transfer panel, including all the tiny dimensional information, for E1330E on Cambridge Custom Transfers Sheet S1. Paul Furner has commissioned other transfers for this van, reviewed below.

Although there are delicate moulded handrails on and to the left of the six doors which some will want to replace with wire, those who enter their seventh decade this month will probably be content not to. The kit is rich in detail, a fine companion to the other parcels vans in the range, good value for money and yet another fine Society kit developed by Paul Furner – his last before stepping down as New Products Officer.