accommodate a further four passengers. If so, I calculate they would need an average bottom width of about 10in to be able to sit down!
Michael Hamilton remembers the inside of this bench was regularly used for smuggling white bread from the North into the Republic – a hiding place still undiscovered by customs at the closure of the line. Perhaps it was also used for the News of the World newspaper – banned in Eire and one of the many items regularly smuggled via the SLNCR!
Suitably MetallicLook As with Number 7, I used 0.8mm ply for the construction of the main body – this time I was more careful, so managed with a bit less brass reinforcement. The roof is even more complex on this railbus, but the construction method is basically the same, relying on a lot of sanding to achieve the final shape. The outward flare of the body panels at the base was achieved by bending the thin ply over a stronger interior shell incorporating formers to distort the outer surface to shape. Flooded with PVA and held with a row of Bulldog clips, I eventually managed to secure it all in place. With umpteen layers of primer applied followed by much sanding with fine Wet and Dry, it was possible to achieve a suitably metallic look to the wooden sides.
The 3ft diameter bus-type wheels are made from plain 45mm diameter disc wheels (Gauge 1 profile) from Walsall Engineering fitted on 3/16in steel axles. I tried to find suitable 1:24 scale model lorry or bus model tyres to glue onto these
Top left: The broad gauge Sligo Leitrim and Northern Counties railbus in primer. The radiator is propped up for these pictures, and won’t be fitted until painting is complete.
Top right: Rear platform and corridor.
Above left: Interior before final painting – note the slots in the bodywork for the glazing, and that tiny rear bench.
Above right: Finished bus with its luggage van.
Right: The polished nickel silver radiator pleased me.
Left: Underside showing the battery packs, motor and gearing.
as an overlay, but they all looked too modern. I finally achieved a reasonably convincing appearance by making my own low relief tyres in plastic – supergluing a thick sheet onto a brass mandrel and turning the radial pattern using my tiny Unimat lathe. The spokes were added from plastic strip, and the whole assembly super glued on to the front of the disc.
The axles run in solebars of 12x5mm hardwood strip, strengthened along the whole length with 1.5mm thick brass. The radiator is again fabricated from polished nickel silver, and the working headlamp and seats are more of John’s castings. Two little red LEDs represent the built-in tail lamps. A 12v Canon motor powers the rear wheels using a 40:1 Branchlines gearbox, which unfortunately protrudes a little into the interior. The AA batteries are suspended under the floor.
The little luggage van proved trickier than I expected. The upper part was easily assembled using my usual technique of overlaying a plain ply box with hardwood strip to represent planking. The problems arose when I went to fit the wheels. The body of the van is just a scale 6ft wide – so that with a gauge of 5ft 3in there is very little room to fit everything in. In the end, I fabricated the underframe in thin brass, and gently kinked it outwards to avoid fouling the wheels Despite my best efforts, the wheels still rub occasionally on the inside. The totally non-standard gauge is not such a problem as you might think – it is just a case of fitting new longer 3.2mm axles to the Slater’s wheels, with a 74mm length of brass tube slid over this steel rod to help maintain the gauge.
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Above: Number 7 braving the icy weather in my garden this winter.
Right: A closer look at the rear entry platform of the completed broad gauge railbus, sitting on the 79mm gauge track. Note that the little fourwheeled luggage van is just wide enough for its wheels!
ARCHETYPAL IRISH RAILWAY VEHICLES The model is finished in the attractive two-tone green used by the SLNCR with satin finish car sprays and 4mm shaded gold transfers from Garden Railway Services. The 2mm thick glazing material fits into slots in the lower body, the top secured by square brass section glued inside the roof assembly. Once in place, the fragile uprights are finally safe from damage. I took this opportunity to make a batch of white tailboards from scraps of brass – as used on lots of Irish lines instead of tail lamps. As my line doesn’t usually run in the dark, these can be used for just about all my trains – broad and narrow.
As I currently only have a very short length of 79mm track, Railbus 2A will have to wait until later this year to get a decent run, although with those large and widely spaced wheels, she does go nice and straight along the carpet – much to the amusement of my teenage children!
These two railbuses provide quite a contrast when side by side – one tall and narrow, the other short and wide, and yet despite the superficial differences in appearance, they represent a similar brave effort in the fight for survival of two fascinating railway companies. Although neither Number 7 or 2A have survived, several Donegal railbuses made it into preservation, and even one of the GNR(I) modified buses. Best of all, it is still possible to travel in Donegal Number 18 on three miles of 3ft gauge track at An Mhuc Dubh – part of the Donegal Railway at Fintown on the old Glenties branch.
I have really enjoyed building them both – they were quite cheap to build, certainly less than £100 each, but I hope they are accurate and convincing models of archetypal Irish railway vehicles. It is unlikely that I will ever be able to run live steam on my little broad gauge section – but there are three more SLNCR railbuses, a diesel railcar and many more narrow gauge CDR vehicles still to build, so I think I will be busy!
The County Donegal Railways Companion – a Handbook for Railway Modellers and Historians, Roger Cromblehome (2005) Midland Publishing ISBN 1 85780 205 5 The Sligo,Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway, Neil Sprinks (1970) Irish Railway Record Society Sligo Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway – An Irish Railway Pictorial, Neil Sprinks (2001) Midland Publishing ISBN 1 85780 112 1 Down Memory Line –The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway, Michael Hamilton (1997) Drumlin Publications ISBN 1 873437 18 8 Modelling the Irish Narrow Gauge - A Railway Modeller Special, David Lloyd (1989) PECO Publications ISBN 0 900586 15 X An Mhuc Dhubh – Historic Railway, Fintown, County Donegal www.antraen.com/ Donegal Railway Heritage Centre - Old Station, Donegal Town, www.cdrrl.com/CDRRLHome.htm
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