Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Modifying a Southern Rail Signal Box

At the recent Epping Model Railway Club 'Brickpit' Exhibition I picked up a Southern Rail Signal Box as it looked quite nice.

Now, before I got it I knew about the incorrect style of door and had some thoughts about changing that if it was possible. Of course the signal box may have been modelled after one with a different door to the standard one so perhaps it may not actually be incorrect.

I also knew that the barge boards under the gable ends of the roof were incorrect as they should be one the very end of the roof and this was definitely a mistake (see photos below).

Unfortunately, what I discovered once I had a chance to sit down and examine it closely was that the model walls were made up of  16 'concrete' panels but the original concrete signal boxes of this type had only 12 panels. Nothing can be done about this so it will be what it is.

Southern Rail photo - Lamps shown are not the production ones - Red text by RP
Here are three photos from Branchline Modeller No.3 to show what the signal box should look like.

Berrima Signal Box showing door and 12 x 10" panels in wall - R. Taaffe 1981
Mindaribba Signal Box showing door and panels
Coolamon Signal Box with 15" panels and the correct style door.
Overall though, I felt that it can still make up into a nice signal box.

I began by cutting the glue holding the small platform to the signal box to give me access to the door. I did the same to the glue holding the bottom of the platform legs, stairs and handrail posts to the base. I found that the handrail posts at the stair end were too long and were tipping the platform away from level so I trimmed the bottoms of the posts with a pair of transistor nippers.

I then proceeded to cut the barge boards away by scribing at the intersection/corner against the underside of the roof with an XACTO blade but using the back edge of the blade tip, I hope that this makes sense.

Once the barge boards were removed I was able to see that I could use the XACTO blade to carefully slice away the glue holding the roof on. The glue appears to be a water based contact cement type and will come away with a bit of work.

Once I could see inside the building I found that the door was part of the wall moulding. I used a fine circular saw blade in a motor tool running slowly to cut through each side of the door and then finished off the remaining corners scribing with the XACTO blade. It was a very nerve wracking job. It would be possible to do this just by scribing with the XACTO blade but it will be slow.

Signal Box waiting for the correct door, LEDs and paint
Now for the door which has four glass panes in the top section and a bit of panelling below. I did a search of available suitable doors such as those produced by Grandt Line and Tichy Train Group but came up empty.

Nothing for it but to design one and 3D print it so I spent an hour or so and came up with the one in the picture below.

Door with handle and bolt as per photos - The long tab on left side is to locate the door in the wall
I have yet to order the door but it will be printed at Shapeways in Frosted Ultra Detail as the frosted material will go clear if coated with some clear lacquer (window panes).

I intend to repaint the signal box in the stone colours and to add some small SMD LEDs to the lamps and inside the box. The lamps need to have the underside and each edge/corner painted black (see the lamp on the wall of the Mindaribba Signal Box in the photo above).

Well that's where it sits for now, I will report back when it is further down the track.

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