I thought I'd start this thread to see if there was a discussion to be had about modifying Parkside Dundas kits. Having seen a rather pointed remark recently (hopefully tongue in cheek!) about 7mm scale modellers being unable to see anything beyond the rear of tender I realised that I was guilty of that. In the midst of bending what seemed like a never ending set of handrails for my 2mmFS brake vans I thought I'd dig a couple of wagon kits out of the cupboard with a view to increase my freight stock. This has also been prompted about another thread about the Parkside instructions seemingly being updated by Peco. So here goes - the first kit out of the cupboard was a GWR 12T van. (PS26 covering diag V23, V24, V26). On opening the box I remembered what really good kits they are. Everything just fits fine and if you wanted to it is possible to build a very good model straight out of the box following the instructions. So no complaint at all about the kit but I don't think I've ever built anything straight out of the box. I've always tweaked something hence this thread. So if you want a great model just follow the instructions and build it as it comes you can't go far wrong. However if you're an inveterate fiddler like me then please feel free to add your comments or tweaks. So first mod - springing. I do like some form of springing on my rolling stock (note not compensation but actually springing). Now the Parkside Dundas design does allow movement of the axle-boxes if you desire but they don't offer any solution for springing. Previous I have tried using the little Slaters springs between the axle-box and the plastic spring but they were difficult to fit. There are still a few in the depths of the workshop somewhere as they pinged of and ricocheted into oblivion. Plus the fact it's not a cheap solution. I decided there had to be a simple cheap solution. This is my first experiment - inspired by the Bill Bedford / Ambis / Exactoscale W irons form of springing using a spring wire. Rather than replace the entire W iron on the kit I decided to try just drilling a couple of holes in the plastic where the W iron crossed the moulding spring. I then cut a bit of spare sprue from the kit and glued it to the top of the axle box to rest on the spring wire. The wire is a guitar spring (NP14) which at £1 for an approx 4ft length meets the cheap and cheerful requirement. So it remains hidden - doesn't ping off into ablivion and is adjustable. The height can be adjusted by filing the length of the sprue on axle box and the springing by changing the thickness of the spring wire. As was pointed out by someone else on the forum the wire is constrained at both ends so first impressions might be that it won't deflect. However it does and I suppose it provides a rising rate suspension in that the springing gets stiffer with greater deflection which I believe is similar response from a leaf spring setup. To test the differences the second kit will be built with a single constrained spring. but I haven't built this kit yet and will report on the differences in a later post. Back to the kit in hand. Fitting of the brakes, again you can fit as per the instructions but I wanted the brakes inline with the wheels which meant that it was going to help by drilling through the V iron and brakes to fit a brass bar rather than the bit of plastic supplied. This raised a slight problem that if you follow the instructions then you will have already glued the V iron to the chassis. If they aren't perfectly central then the brakes may be slightly offset and rubbing on one wheel. In this case I had to cut them away and make a small adjustment. So for the next kit I'll drill and set up the brakes before fixing the V iron. Other tweaks not covered in the kit - a small rain strip on the roof above the doors added with a little microstrip. Although look at prototype photos for you model. It seems that the roof felt wasn't securely attached so many vans had battens along the length of the roof to retain the felt. The kit supplied a little plastic moulding for the instanter coupling. It had plenty of flash on and it was plastic so I decided to bend up my own using a bit of nickel silver wire instead. The vac pipes supplied are of the vertical stanchion type in a white metal casting - which seem to be fitted as originally built but most of the BR versions it just seems to hang from the buffer beam. So again for low cost out of the scrap draw I used a bit of guitar wire (NP52) which had a spring steel core but then a wire wrapped around it - much like a vacuum pipe. However it wasn't quite large enough so a little bit of copper tube and some heat shrink tubing around it results in the following. Rather than trying to wrap it around the buffer beam a little bit more heat shrink tube and some plastic bar sets up the vacuum pipe from one end to the other. Now I'm sure that there must be a joint and connecting pipe to the vacuum cylinder so rather than guess and get it wrong I thought some kind soul on WT would provide the relevant information to connect the two together. Also note I've added a couple of scrap bits of plastic to the bottom to the side stanchions to the sole bar. So the only other modification was replacing the brake lever guard with an etching I had in my bits draw. There is a plastic one supplied in the kits and with a bit of filing would easily pass muster - it was just having these etchings in stock made it easier. Other than than this is basically the P-D kit straight out of the box. In my opinion a damn good accurate and value for money kit. I just need to get it through the paint shop now and onto the next one.