The Tralee & Dingle Coach Saga

Most of the T&D passenger stock was transferred to the West Clare after closure of T&D passenger service in 1939, so when I got the hankering to build some bogie coaching stock I had many prototypes from which to choose.  (The West Clare's coaches were all six-wheelers).  7T, which became 45C, was one of a batch of "standard" Bristol all-thirds built in 1890.  I use the word "standard" somewhat lightly because some of the details (beading, roof vents, and such) differed from one coach to the next.  11T was built in the T&D shops in Tralee in 1896 to the same dimensions and general design as the Bristol coaches.

Drawings for the standard all-third coach and many photos to help the aspiring modeler can be found in "The Dingle Train" by Dave Rowlands, Walter McGrath, and Tom Francis, ISBN 1 871980 275 published 1996 by The Plateway Press.  Photos of these vehicles on the West Clare can also be seen on the County Clare Web site.  Click here for a link to their West Clare Railway images.

This is a first for me--going public with a description of my slow and not-always steady progress on a building project.  This was (still is!) my first attempt to build coaches, and I approached it with some trepidation.  As I contemplated everything that would go into it, the process seemed much more involved and finicky than building goods wagons--not really my sort of project, really.  I get easily dismayed and distracted, and the longer and more involved a project is, the more likely I am to put it down, walk away from it, and never get back to it again.  I've managed to avoid this, but at the same time, I started working on these in January 2005 and they're not done yet!  A couple of general notes before getting to the nuts and bolts of the building process (worth every penny of what you've paid for them... :-) ):

I freely admit that I'm lazy by nature and I spend a lot of time trying to devise clever ways to do things the easy way.  If I can see a way to use a power tool instead of manual effort, I'm all over it.  That being said, I'm learning that it's often the case that doing things the slow, tedious way can end up being quicker and easier than trying to take a shortcut and having to spend lots of effort tyring to make it come out right.  Coach building takes time (at least in my world) and surrendering to this simple truth has been a major victory for me and allowed me to enjoy the process more. 

By and large it's worth taking the effort to make a piece correctly and glue it down accurately.  Errors compound; corners that aren't square don't magically fix themselves over the course of time; your eye immediately notices if bits that should be parallel aren't.

Cut pieces to the actual size needed to fit on your vehicle rather than the size it should be according to the drawing.  The two are rarely the same.

Another note: practically none of what you read in the following pages is the fruit of my own cleverness.  I'd have gotten nowhere without the generous guidance and advice from others more skilled than I.  Thanks to Neil, Ken, Simon, and to everyone else from the Yahoo 16mmngm group, the oneto20point3IrishNG group, and the Irish Three Foot group for their contributions, without which my "Irish" railway roster would still consist of LGB stock.

I'm going to describe the sequence of steps taken and techniques used but not refer specifically to the actual dimensions of the Tralee & Dingle coaches.  The techniques are universally applicable and therefore likely to be of more general interest.

Enough of my carrying on.  It's time to cut some plywood!

I've divided this saga into several pages to minimze the download time for each page for those of you on dialup.  Each page will probably have roughly 300Kb to 500Kb of images.
Part 1: The beginning--construction and assembly of the sides and ends

Part 2: The interior and roof