Iron Mink Stuart Brasier 1704
The N Gauge Society's kit number 13, the Iron Mink,includes parts and instructions to enable a GWR V6 goods van or a GWR Z1 gunpowder van to be easily built. So easy, in fact, that in next to no time, your layout can be swarming with these wagons that were operationally widely travelled; two were recorded at Inverness in 1927.
The following has been compiled to show that vehicles used by the South Wales independents; the Private Owner cement companies; GWR passenger vans; and gunpowder vans of GWR, Cambrian, NB, GN, LSWR, LT&SR and LNWR origins which can also be built with this kit.
The basic kit
The kit is dimensionally and visually accurate, apart from the width. It has been made about 0.035'' too wide for an easy fit over the Peco chassis. I decided to narrow mine to the correct 7'10'' (0.635'') width over the side T stanchions. This is achieved by cutting back the top edge of the chassis solebar channel and by trimming back the bodyside stanchion extensions. This modification still allows it to fit the chassis. The narrowing was achieved by filing 0.015'' (yes, you do need a micrometer or vernier caliper!) from each side of each end piece, and the few extra thou's are removed by scraping the bodyside end recess.
The roof also needs to be narrowed by filing equal amounts from each side down to 8'2'' (0.662''), measured across an arc, not around the circumference. The roof edges can also be chamfered to look thinner. The floor was narrowed by cutting it lengthwise straight down the middle. Too much plastic was filed away, then the correct width was obtained by gluing a 1.5mm x 4mm strip of styrene across the gap. Any small gaps were filled with car body filler.
The 'rivet counter' may be interested to know that the kit should not be used for the first 1000 V6 Minks built in 1889 (37608-38000 and 47001-47607) as the lower bodyside had six rivets between stanchions, whereas the kit has seven, as per the lots built between 1891 and 1901.
Cordite Paste and Passenger Vans
Iron Minks were unfitted except for the Cordite Paste conversions and the passenger rated vans. The passenger vans had 10 foot wheelbase chassis with a short lever brake handle. Step boards and vertical and horizontal grab rails were fitted to the left hand door. I used Slater's 0.010'' microrod, but these soon broke off, so will be replaced with metal handrail wire.
Like the passenger vans all Cordite Paste vans had upright vacuum pipes (mine came from the Society's Mink C kit) and were as V6 except W22563 (condemned 1949). This came from lot 398 (100 built in 1887) which were 16'6'' over headstocks (OHS) with 9'6'' wheelbase, the last, W3294, was condemned in 1954. These older vans can be built from the kit using the Brecon and Merthyr described below.
The South Wales vans can be built with varying degrees of difficulty. The Rhondda and Swansea Bay wagons differed only in having a 9'3'' wheelbase - best built using a shortened Peco steel 10 foot chassis.
The roof radius of all Iron Minks was 7'3'' apart from the Barry Railway version, which had an 8 foot radius, which made the sides almost 2 inches taller. This feature did not effect any other dimension. The sides can be easily increased in height using 0.010'' microstrip, but it is difficult to re-profile the roof radius on the end sections.
Brecon and Merthyr
Brecon and Merthyr vans were 16'6'' and 16'9'' OHS and 5 inches (0.035'') and 3 inches (0.020'') lower. These can be made by sawing vertically through the door recess. Flush fit 0.020'' or 0.030'' microstrip to each side of the recess, fitting the door will reunite the sides. Reduce the height by removing an equal amount from the top and bottom of the sides. To shorten the ends, make a horizontal cut just above the headstock rivets, file to size, then rejoin the upper and lower parts. Shorten Peco's 10 foot chassis to 9 foot. Two roofs are required to produce the required length with a single join.
Rymney Railway wagons were 16'6 OHS and 4 1/2 inches (0.030'') higher than the standard Iron Mink. To extend the length, use a craft knife to cut off the rounded corner ends of the sides outside the T stanchions. Then fit 0.020'' microstrip between the corner and the main body side section. Increase the height fit lengths of microstrip to the sides, 0.010'' to the bottom and 0.020'' to the top. For the ends make a horizontal cut just above the headstock rivets and insert 0.030'' microstrip and rebuild the T stanchions. Cut two roofs to create the correct length with one join. This conversion is not perfect, but when placed next to an ordinary V6 it will be noticed.
The Taff Vale vans were 17'4'' OHS and were 4 inches narrower than the standard van, so narrow the kit by 9 inches (0.060). Lengthen the sides by cutting through the door recess and fitting 0.010'' microstrip to each side of the recess. Also cut through the body side, outside of the T stanchion and insert a length of 0.040'' microstrip. The roof can be made using offcuts from previous conversions. The best chassis to use is Peco's 9 foot wheelbase extended by inserting a 0.050'' section of solebar channel between the headstock and solebar ends. This can be taken from another chassis - the remains can be used to produce either a 7 foot or 8 foot wheelbase single bolster.
Spillers and Baker
The Spillers and Baker Iron Mink is best built using the 2mm Association kit. This needs to be narrowed to 7'6'' over T stanchions. It is possible to cut the vertically planked doors form this kit and interchange them with the N Gauge Society wood framed doors for variety.
The cement vans have standard dimensions, but differ due to the colourful liveries which were carried during the BR period.
Standard size service vehicles might have such additional fittings as windows, chimneys, roof doors etc.. These would not be too difficult to model. I have not looked into the possibility of converting two Iron Minks into one of the various longer tool or stores vans, but I am sure someone out there is mad enough to have a go. If so, let the editors to know all about it.
Now to the gunpowder vans. Once the flush sided doors are fitted, that's it! The gunpowder van can represent GWR, Cambrian Railways, NB, GN, LSWR, LT&SR or LNWR vehicles. The square cornered versions can be built using a combination of plasticard and kit parts. Paint the wagon brown/black for the BR period and finish with the correct lettering from Woodhead.
Most of the information here comes from The HMRS book 'All about GWR Iron Minks'. For more information on brake gear variations, the position of solebar chain holes and the grab handles fitted to the ends of some Iron Minks, you need this book or photographs from some other source.
NB = denotes withdrawal date of last know example $ denoted renumbered
GWR V6 (3756 built 1891 to 1901 * bar 6 rivet, cordite, stores and passenger)
Random + 58641-58790 59001-59450 69001-69850 * W11307 = 1953
37608-38000 47001-47607 * 47546 = internal use mid 1960s and 47305 preserved
W59119 = 1961 $ 079041 = 1969 preserved
GWR Cordite Paste (11 converted 1915)
Random including W58246 and W58301 = 1953 * W58632 and W58723 = 1955
GWR Passenger rated (10 built 1892)
57571-57576 57581-57584 * W57572 and DW57575 and W57581 = mid 1960s
Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway (164 built 1888 to 1897)
101298-101307 101348-101495 101497-101502 * W101436 and W101500 = 1950
Barry Railway (730 built 1904 to 1914)
Random + 93840-94000 100500-100662 * W100523 = 1954 * W37449 = 1958 preserved
Brecon and Merthyr Railway (10 x 16'6''  built 1895 6 x 16'9''  built 1903)
 101652-101655+  101658-101663 *  W101649 = 1955 $ W204925
Rhymney Railway> (50 built 1912)
100954-100999 101000-101552 * W100977 sawdust van = 1961
Taff Vale Railway (203 built 1903 to 1915)
Random + 5237-5276 22638-22640 85831-85855 * W22642 = 1956 * ? = 1977
Spillers and Baker (300 built 1906)
85336-85635 with 30 gaps due to 1923 renumbering as 100924-100953
* W100937 = 1954 * W85416 and W100927 and W100946 = mid 1960s
Private Owner Cement Vans (?)
Rugby 13 * Blue Circle 167 173 174 177 262 = length of BR service unknown
GWR Service Stock (7 built 1892 to 1899)(standard dimensions)
Random + W43953-W43955 and W43965 = mid 1960s
GWR Tool Vans CC1 CC2 CC3 CC4 CC7 (58 built 1892 to 1915)(18' to 24' OHS)
Random numbers = only 7 condemned prior to 1960s
GWR Gunpowder Van Z1 (49 built 1897 to 1909)
Random + 16991-17000 58791-58800 79901-79913 * W16995 and W58792 = 1955
Improvised GPVs W11346 = 1957 and W58745 = preserved
Cambrian Railway (2 built 1905)
W101633=W101634 = 1957
North British (48 built 1904)
Random + 65400-65427 * ? = ? (BR survivors [if any] prefixed E7xxxxx)
Great Northern (?)
Random + 1898 1899 2623 4911 13207 15366 * ? = ? (BR survivors [if any] prefixed E40xxxx)
London South Western Railway (12 built 1904 to 1912)
61201-61212 * DS61209 = 1956 Dept Scotland * S61206 = 1954 $ 080407 = 1979
London North Western Railway (?)
Random + 13591 240251 * ? = ?
London Tilbury and Southend (25 built 1904 - with central end stanchions)
Random + M109985-M110000 M117501-M117501 * ? = ?
A few of the withdrawn Iron Minks served in departmental use until the mid 1960s. Some of these had body work modifications, received specific use lettering and many were renumbered: W164 Workshops, DW241 Sawdust Van, 404 Sand Van, MP1009 Motive Power Sand, W482 Locomotive Department.