Kit-bashed W1 Parcels Van

by Mikkel Kjartan

GWR Parcels Van diagram W1

Parcels Van No 501 to Diagram W1

Apart from being good kits in their own right, the Ratio 4-wheelers also provide good potential for kit-bashing. The panels and compartment arrangements of the Ratio diagrams were widely used on many of the GWR 4-wheelers, and with a bit of research and some ruthless hacking about, there are a number of possibilities.

The parcels van to Diagram W1 modelled here is one such possibility. I orginally got the idea from J. Russell's "Great Western Coaches" (Vol. 1), and so claim no originality for the idea. Indeed it should be pointed out that Shirescenes now do etched sides for the W1, also for use with a Ratio 4-wheeler. This is an obvious alternative to the current project, although a little more fiddly.


GWR W1 Parcels Van

The W1 during construction

Items used

  • 4 Ratio Brake 3rd sides (diagram T47)
  • Roof, ends and underframe from 1 Ratio 4-wheeler (any diagram)
  • Maunsell wheels, brass bearings and short coach buffers from Alan Gibson
  • ABS low roof ventilators
  • Slaters Plastikard (sheet)
  • Alan Gibson handrail wire (used as brake rodding)

The roof, ends and underframe can be from any of the Ratio 4-wheelers, as they need to be shortened anyway.

Main steps

  • Prepairing the coach body

    Two of the Ratio sides were cut with a razor saw just after the seventh panel from the brake end (not counting the doors for the guards compartment). The remaining two sides were cut just after the sixth panel. The sides were then joined and smoothed out with filler. The position of the cuts and the arrangement of the joined sides is seen here:

    joining Ratio 4-wheeler sides

  • Building the Ratio underframe

    The Ratio underframe was then built up as per the instructions. Following this, I immediately cut the chassis in half to allow for shortening of the chassis to the correct length by removing a section from the center of the underframe (diagonally). The exact length to be removed depends on whether one is using the long or short version of the chassis. The two halves of the underframe were then rejoined and reinforced with Plastikard. Final chassis details, wheels and buffers were then fitted, and the flimsy plastic brake rodding was replaced with handrail wire. The latter is certainly worth the trouble, giving a much more realistic appearance.

  • Assembling the parts

    I then added the coach ends from the Ratio kits to the chassis, and fitted the sides. The Ratio roof was cut diagonally in two halves and shortened in the same manner as the chassis. Inside the coach I added a simple dividing wall made from Plastikard sheet, in order to darken down the interior of the coach.

That's about it. The end result is an unusual little van (only two of these were built) which provides a nice difference from the normal Ratio 4-wheelers. Mind you, parcels vans rarely saw service on branches, so if that's what you are modelling you'll either need to come up with some excuse, or run it anyway behind closed doors!