Derby Lightweight DMU

The Derby Lightweight DMU's, designed by R. A. Riddles, preceded the modernisation plan and were introduced in 1954. These unusual DMU's, with their cathedral like six pane cab windows and bright green paintwork make a refreshing change to what I prefer to call a 'heritage' layout or especially a late steam layout, since they were built and in service six years before Evening Star!

I picked up one of the two car DC Kits plastic versions. The kits are quite cheap, but you only get the basic body. Other detailing packs are required to complete the model. These include interior seating, transfers, motorising unit and underframe detail. Two useful extras I found invaluble were Alan Butcher's Heyday of the DMU book by Ian Allan and Brian Golding's A Pictorial Record of British Railways Diesel Multiple Units book from Cheona Publications. The former has a few good colour photographs of the units whereas the latter has detailed plans. Inspection of the kit revealed fairly cleanly moulded parts with extra thin rebates around the inside of the windows. This useful feature allows an almost flush glazed appearance. The body sides come in two parts, the main passenger compartments and either  the brake end or an extra passenger section depending whether you are building the DMBSO or DTCL. These are fixed together along with the cab and corridor ends. DC Kits recommend that you fix the body sides and ends to the underframe and have the roof as a removeable item. However, I prefer to have the body and roof as one unit and fix this to the underframe. To my mind, it makes a neater finished joint at the cantrail and avoids any slight bowing with age.

My model has MJT compensated bogies with the exception of the motor bogie. For traction, I decided to try Branchlines Black Beetle unit. This unit fits neatly under the brake end floor and has turned out to be a good smooth slow runner. The leading bogie has extra electrical pick-ups fitted and is wired through to the motor. I decided to have sprung buffers and used the MJT Oleo version. Next I fitted the DC Kits underframe detail pack. This includes the engine, radiators, heater and some other bits. It did not include the rather obvious exhaust pipes and silencer. The pipe was fashioned from some brass wire with some plastic tube slipped over the wire to represent the silencer. The parts bin was raided to supply parts for the fuel tank, brake system, gearbox and other items. The trailer car has the heater, brake system including an air tank and some electrical switchgear boxes fitted.

The interior detail kit consists of a number of internal partitions, seats and cab detail. The internal partitions were fitted to the bodies, whereas the seats are fixed to the underframe. These are laid out according to the plan supplied. The cab detail has a drivers console and seat. These were fitted along with a Craftsman column handbrake from a steam locomotive to represent the rather large handbrake visible through the large windows. The destination indicator in not included either, so I fashioned my own from plasticard and after painting fitted some Railmatch DMU destination blinds. I used some MJT working corridor connectors and after fitting, fixed the white metal exhaust pipes either side of them. Coupling between units is achieved by the Brassmasters screw coupling. The multiple unit connections and various hoses at the front of the cars came from Craftsman whilst the working screw coupling in an Exactoscale item. The various door handles, handrails, door stops and destination board brackets were fitted.

The units were then cleaned up and painted. My unit is in the original 1954 livery which is a lighter green than used later. Railmatch supply the correct paint. Although transfers were supplied as an extra, I decided to use the Fox Transfers pack as they have a neater carrier film. Although very time consuming, I decided to paint the aluminium window frames onto the carriage sides. These are quite noticeable on the prototype. When complete, the cars were varnished in satin varnish and the glazing fitted, cut out from acetate sheet. The windows have various stickers applied to them, such as the First Class blue sausage and red triangular No Smoking signs. Fox Transfers do these along with some various MU coupling symbols. The unique Derby Lightweights used a yellow diamond.

The kit was fairly straightforward to build and has resulted in a nice looking smooth running unit, equally at home on a late period steam or modern image layout.