GER Brake

A 20T Great Eastern brake van to diagram 56, two hundred of which were built between 1908 and 1924. The last ones were in normal revenue in the early 60s with some being taken over as departmental stock.


The kit is sold by Laurie Griffin, and was a part of the Shedmaster range, but its provenance goes back as far as old Jidenco range. Dick Bollen of Shedmaster added a couple of nice castings, and Laurie has added a few more, but to be honest if you’re after a decent representation of the prototype it really needs to be treated as a scratchbuilder’s aid.

Many of the parts aren’t a particularly good fit, and I had to chop up the overlays, add bits here and take bits from there to get it to all line up properly. I discarded the fold-down axleguards and replaced them with Exactoscale sprung units, fitting disc wheels rather than spoked as per the 30 vans built by BC&W in 1921, and I suppose some of the other vans received these over time too. I fitted self-contained buffers as again some were fitted with them from new, others gained them later.


There was quite a lot of piercing saw work to get the lamp irons correct, particularly the cluster on the verandah ends, and there was also some fun with those prominent T-stanchion castings which were way too short. Then there was the palaver of getting the lower stanchion castings to sit in the solebars. The castings were OK, but I discovered the solebars weren’t tall enough…by several scale inches…

Brake gear; well, the unique twin-shoe castings were a delight, and there were some nice cast yokes and V hangers too, but that was it. Fortunately there is a scrap of a drawing in Tatlow Vol.1, between that and the shadowy photos of the running gear I worked out the cranks and rods and made some up from scrap brass strip and wire. of course after the event I got hold of a copy of the General Arrangement drawing…


There are two lovely cast brake wheels which fit on the outside wall at each end of the cabin under the windows. The operating rod passes through the van at waist height to a standard just off-centre. An odd arrangement which seems to have been in use on the GE for some years prior to these vans. Again, a scrap drawing in Tatlow albeit from the earlier six wheel version of the van was very useful.

The side lamps were solid brass castings – I hate painted lenses with a vengeance (so did my client) so I filed the representation of the lenses off, drilled through and countersunk before butchering some Springside guard’s lamps for the jewels. This was my plan B as I really wanted to put some 2mm Greif lenses in, but everywhere I tried was out of stock.

Finally, the brief was to finish the van in late LNER livery, but faded, worn and rather down at heel as it’s to run on an early post-nationalisation layout c1949-51. So here she is, looking pretty tired and ready for the pyre.

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