7mm:1ft - 0 Gauge Railway Modelling.

Gladiator Kits, Railway City Trains Ltd., 10 Merion Grove, Littleover, DERBY, DE23 4YR .
Tel: 01332510346. E-mail: railwaycitytrains@btinternet.com.  Web: http://www.gladiatormodels.com/
I rate this kit as: 3-3-4


Back from Ian Rathbones paint shop, wonderful job as usual.



I decided to get back into some serious modelling (September 2016) by starting on a new kit instead of working on one of the long delayed projects, the temptation was too great.  This is a Gladiator kit but the etches are marked "Northstar Design".  I forgot to take photographs of the kit before I started but it consists of several sheets of etch, some wire (not very straight), bags containing buffers, pipes etc., and four A4 sheets, one of which is prototype information the remainder rather terse and sketchy instructions.  The kit comes in a box that will not hold the finished model and quite right, good models deserve better.


The standard of etching is generally quite good but a good deal of the surface etching for things like springs and brake shoe surface detail had failed to materialize.  The parts fit together well and the kit has been, so far, well thought out.  I had intended to use a Slater's 6-wheel underframe kit for this project, they are in my opinion peerless for six-wheeled stock but it proved unusable due to the spring formation so I was forced to use the six-wheel system in the kit.  It seems to work OK but is not as elegant as the Slater's unit and there is no provision for the centre wheels to slide laterally, no doubt its efficacy will be tested when it eventually goes into service or I take it to my local club for a test run.  I did take it for a test run on Horton Regis and it performed well.


The vehicle was designed with five compartments walled off from one another with separate double doors and each door has a ventilator bonnet.  Unfortunately, the kit has only 13 bonnets instead of the necessary twenty.  The new owner of Gladiator kits is to provide replacements as soon as practicable, which tends to indicate he will be providing excellent customer service.

sides and ends

Here the door hinges are all fitted and holes opened out for door handles; one side has the ventilator bonnets  while the ends have the steps and handrails fitted.  I may not assemble to body until I have the missing ventilator bonnets.


The solebars consist of two layers sweated together after the bolt detail has been pressed out and then the central support for the axle boxes are soldered on followed by the tensioning bars.  Accurate and simple however, one can see where the etching for the spring leaves has failed to come through.

chassis 1

The solebars fit into slots on the underside of the floor, which is over length as the ends later fold up to provide a mount for the body ends.  They fit well and were easy to solder in place at 90° using magnets and the RSU.  The two holes are the mounting points for the wheel trucks.

chassis bearings

I soldered the spacing washers in place at the same time as the securing nuts were soldered on the other side having measured the distance necessary to determine the thickness of plates to use; they were all held tight for soldering with a bolt that had been chemically blackened.  The arched wires are bearing surfaces about 0.5mm thinner than the central bearing plates.

wheel unit modifications

As is evident in the photograph, the holes for the wheel bearing are somewhat large at 6.5mm across and so the nice, turned inside wheel bearings supplied are not going to fit.  I turned up a set of custom-made bearings in the lathe and fitted them; later the outsides were thinned with the Proxxon using an emery disk to give a little side play to the outside wheels and a rather more generous clearance for the centre wheels.


The tabs left after folding up the sides hold the brake shoe units nice and close to the wheel, well designed and simple to do.  I did consider using some stiffening rods along the length of the base units but decided that they would probably ride better if the units could flex a little.





chassis and wheels

The basic chassis assembled with brakes on the outer wheel sets, the blocks are provided with thickening plates that should be etched with block detail but much of it was not etched in.  The wheels operate as a 2-4 set with a steel spring between them.  I put the fulcrum of the spring well back from the guide.  The other guide on the left is a slot so it is important that the spring sits down well or it comes adrift in use.  Later I soldered a cap on the slot to prevent the spring moving out of the slot in service


Work continued on the chassis, the buffer planks were cleaned up and the hook and plate soldered in place then the buffers were attached but only after considerable work cleaning them up and drilling out the centres to 2.1 mm.  Not an easy proposition in hard brass as it is difficult to hold the parts for drilling.  In addition, the mould lines are prominent and the bases are not square to the shank.  Once the buffer plank was tack soldered in place at its corners, two substantial pieces of nickel silver bar were soldered behind either side of the hook to ensure a strong joint.  The gas tank and vacuum cylinder were also fixed to the wheel units though their positioning is really guesswork and I have yet to fabricate a representation of the various rodding runs needed.  I have yet to decide how to spring the buffers, which are turned brass and provided with split pins to fit into recesses in the shank.  There is not much room between the buffer plank and the moving wheel units.

chassis five

Here is a side on view showing the axles boxes, which I physically and chemically cleaned up and super glued in place.  The uprights at the ends fit, after some careful fettling of the side edges, inside the body.  Clearly, the kit has been designed for the body to be soldered to the underframe but I shall modify it to be removable to make the painter's job a little easier and fitting of door handles after painting. 

chassis six

I decided to put the body together and fit the missing ventilators when they arrive.  One end was soldered to each side and then the two resulting units were clamped together on the RSU table and soldered up square.  Two pieces of nickel silver sheet were cut to shape and soldered inside the body to keep the sides from bowing in, which will allow the roof to be soldered on square and straight.

body 1

Here the body is temporarily fitted to the underframe, it is a close fit.  The ends of the buffer beams need thickening to represent the wooden beams that were used on these vehicles.  Some cast nickel silver parts are supplied but they looked a little small to fit and I thought I may have to scratch some up from plasticard and glue them in place.  However, when I came to add the steps I found that the pieces fitted the space, see later.

body 2

The buffers were fixed using split pins with eyelets squeezed small enough to pass through the buffer shank and then some spring wire held in an offcut of nickel silver bar with a slot cut in it and a small piece of brass tack soldered in the slot to hold the wire steady.  They could be removed if necessary.  Notice that one of the stretcher bars between the axles boxes is missing.  They are fragile and keep being knocked off because there is so little area to solder them in place.  I have since modified them by crushing each end of the wire in the vice to give a flat surface and therefore, a greater area for soldering.  So far, it seems to have worked.

buffers fixing

I considered that the body really needed to be removable and so fitted some nickel silver bar across the base of the body at each end, fitted the body to the underframe and drilled through, tapped the bars 10BA and used some countersunk headed bolts to hold it in place.  Both parts were then cleaned up in the sonic cleaning bath before continuing.

bolt fixing holes

vac pipe 1vac pipe 2The vacuum pipe comes as these three pieces and took some time to fettle the small end so that it would fit when being soldered to the stem.  The whole unit then needed some care and a heat sink to solder the base to another piece of brass that had been soldered on top of the buffer plank strengthening piece.  It should be fixed also to the end of the body but that would prevent the body being removed.  The steam heat pipe was easier.


pipe fixingsHere is a clearer picture of the fittings for the pipes and buffers, it all looks somewhat Heath Robinson but should survive the vicissitudes of life on a working railway.




The lower step boards proved rather tedious.  One set clearly had some indications of half etching to indicate where to bend the support brackets but the slots to fit over the axle boxes all had to be opened out to fit.   The second picture shews one unit ready for fixing.  Unfortunately, I did not look at the second unit before fixing the first in place and found that it had not even partially etched marks for the bends at all and the instructions are silent on the subject.  Some careful measurement was necessary to match both footboards up but eventually they were completed. 

steps 1

steps 2

So, here is the underframe with the steps fitted.  Once soldered they seem quite strong but I was wary of what seemed to be a weak set of hangers for the step board.  In the event I hedged my bet and ran solder in the joint lines against the step board before fixing the unit to the underframe.  The nickel silver ends for the buffer plank are clearly visible to.

steps 3

The etches have no provision for brake gear, including the lack of Vee hangers and the white metal gas lamps proved to be too poor to use so I am awaiting replacements gas lamps along with the missing door vents.  In the meantime, I need to source parts for some sort of representation of the brake gear so I shall start on a Lanky horsebox while I wait.

Part completed

Almost finished.

end finished.Gladiator came up trumps with the replacement parts and so the whole vehicle is completed at last and now all it needs is the painter's magic to be applied.


I would say that any competent builder could put this together with ease but it would probably defeat a beginner.  One hopes the new owners will sort out the oversize holes for the bearings and the under etching of things like brake gear.  I enjoyed the build but were I to build another I would replace the buffers with a self-contained set.