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In 2008 thirteen members of the Guild one of whom was resident in the USA, constructed an 1/8th scale model of our Patron, HRH Prince Philip's, competition "Bennington" Phaeton, on behalf of the Guild as a whole.

This was the first time that a group of members had combined their skills to produce a composite model. For this reason the project was approached with a degree of apprehension

The vehicle is highly sophisticated with specially spoked aluminium wheels, disk, foot and hand brakes and shock absorbers. For this reason the construction was very complicated but, after considerable experimentation, each of the challenges was overcome.

We were helped, in the course of construction by the Royal Mews, where the vehicle was photographed and measured extensively, who provided a quantitiy of the special Royal Maroon paint

A glove-making firm in Warminster also helped with the provision of 0.5 mm black leather for the seat cushions.

The model was finally completed in January and was presented to His Royal Highness in Buckingham Palace on 26th February 2009.

A photograph of the finished 1/8th scale model is shown to the right, and the full story of its construction and completion is described below.



Introduction - By John Elwood

At the 2007 Annual General Meeting of the Guild of Model Wheelwrights it was suggested and agreed that Guild members would construct a 1/8th inch model of the Duke of Edinburgh’s competition Phaeton which, on completion would be presented to His Royal Highness our Patron. The proposer agreed to co-ordinate the project on behalf of the Guild while the constructors were asked to submit their nominations later when the complexity of the plan had sunk in.

This Project was unique to the Guild for it was the first time that members had been invited to co-operate in the joint construction of a model. All were experienced in manufacturing their own carriages, commercial and utility vehicles and agricultural wagons and carts at various scales but this was to be a new venture.

The selected vehicle was identified on page 161 of Sallie Waldron’s book “Looking at Carriages”. Investigation revealed that “The Artistic Iron Company” in Long Bennington near Newark had constructed the original vehicle to the HRH Prince Philip’s design. It was later discovered that the vehicle was called the “Bennington”.


Having agreed the general plan at the AGM it was clearly necessary for the Guild to locate the vehicle and obtain the necessary permission for detailed photographs to be taken and measurements to be made.

Buckingham Palace was, therefore, contacted and permission graciously given for the vehicle to be surveyed in the Royal Mews. At the same time, HRH Prince Philip personally corrected some of the detail contained in Sallie Waldron’s book.

We therefore went ahead. Some 200 photographs and many detailed sketches were produced as a result of the visits and the Head Coachman, Jack Hargreaves and his staff proved to be highly co-operative and supportive of our project.

While the photography was underway seven members volunteered to help and were allotted tasks by the co-ordinator. Those who volunteered were widely distributed across this country and even the USA. To ensure that the constructors were kept abreast of progress a “Monthly Update” was inaugurated and both e-mail and the telephone were in constant use answering questions and, where possible, giving advice.

At this stage it should be noted that the vehicle is quiet sophisticated. Chassis construction is 1” square iron tube (photo 1)

The body panels are light weight. There are shock absorbers, disk bakes (photo 2); and a hand-brake and foot pedal (photos 3 and 4) that operate the disk brakes (photos 6 and 7)

Wheels that are constructed from aluminium in order to accept the strain of braking. (photo 8)
(Wooden-spoked wheels are unsatisfactory since they lack the necessary strength).

In this particular vehicle also, the spokes are unusual. The hub and rim ends are square while the centre of the spoke is turned through 90° (photo above), the axles and brakes are of a design new to the Guild and finally the wheels are tyred with composite-rubber. (photo 8 above).

In the original the hubs were turned from aluminium castings around the circumference of which the arrangement of spokes were marked. The hubs were then drilled and tapped to take a short, turned aluminium stud, one end of which was left square for the introduction of the spokes.

The spokes consisted of 1” square aluminium tubing the outer end of which was flattened where it met the rim.

The hub ends were painted black secured with steel bolts and the stub-axle and securing nut in brass

Next: Model Wheel Construction - By John Elwood

It was immediately clear that the model wheels could not be constructed along the conventional lines used by Guild members. Therefore a visit was arranged to the original constructors at Long Bennington, near Newark, in order to resolve the method of construction used in the original vehicle.

The spokes would have to be made from square-sectioned brass tube and formed to the correct profile. The method of fixing these to the rim had also to be resolved.

SPOKES To conform to scale, the spokes were made from 1/8” square brass tube into which a short length of u-shaped 1/32” hard brass wire was inserted. The spokes were then squeezed using pliers across the diagonal, to reflect the original profile. The 1/32” wire prevented the tube from collapsing. The wire also provided a means of fixing the spoke to the rim.

HUBS In the model, at scale size, the hub is only about 1” diameter making the fixing studs 14BA. Several materials were used experimentally the best of which was found to be sycamore. This is a pleasantly hard wood which turns well and maintains good detail.

A length of wood was turned to the correct profile and the end cleared up. A Forstener Bit, held in a Jacobs Chuck in the tail-stock was then used to drill into the end grain, followed by a 1/8” Brad Point Drill drilled through the hub to accept the stub axle.

Following the conventional construction of a model wheel, an Indexing Plate was set up on the lathe and a “Spoke Jig” used to drill a 2° “dish”. When completed short lengths of brass rod were inserted in the holes, with about ½” protruding, to accept the spokes.

RIMS The rim had to be simulated in wood. Small sections of wood were prepared in the manner of a conventional “felloe” wheel but thinner. Felloe sections were glued onto a paper gasket on the lathe faceplate and then turned down to the inner and outer rim diameters in the normal way. In this respect the outer diameter was turned to allow for the final tyre fitting.

At this stage 1mm ply was offered up to the face of the turned wheel rim but it was found that the width of the rim was too great, since this was a “half rim” and it became necessary to reduce the thickness to 1/16”.The 1mm ply was then glued to the outer face, allowed to dry and turned again to produce a very slight overlap. Similarly, the inner diameter was turned to provide a similar appearance to that of the finished wheel.

WHEEL ASSEMBLY To assemble the wheels, the hubs were clamped on a 1/8” spindle with the outer face upwards. A set of spokes was then slid onto their respective brass pegs after which a prepared “Felloe Ring” was centred to match the wheel rim. A 1” length of 1/32” round brass rod was inserted into the end of each spoke to determine the correct position of the “spoke fixing” on the inner face of the half-section wheel. It was then possible to accurately file a short channel in the wheel rim to provide a secure base for the spoke end.

The second “half wheel” was then placed accurately on top of the first and the “spoke fixings” transferred, the grooves filed and the two sections glued to complete the final wheel. When gluing it was necessary to overlap the felloes on the completed sections to add strength to the wheel, assisted, of course, by the 1 mm ply facing. During this gluing process as many spring clips as possible were used to clamp the sections together. The final wheel was found to be very stable due to the cross lipping of the felloes and the application of the 1 mm ply. Furthermore, the relatively short distance between the spokes also provided additional strength.

Finally, for the tyres, strip rubber was cut, slightly under the length of the wheel circumference and butt-jointed with super glue to provide a little tension when in place. The tyre, of course, was fitted to the wheel rim between the channel formed by the 1mm wheel facings.

AXLES The axles were made from square-section brass tube onto which the various fittings needed were silver soldered. A separate length of brass tube was fitted into the main axle and a length of round brass tube further inserted into the tube. All were silver soldered. Into this was soldered a section of brass rod, threaded to take a 1/8” nut to form the stub axle.

The securing 1/8” nut was made by drilling and tapping into the end of a length of 3/8” brass rod. The end was capped with a thin piece of brass sheet silver soldered to it. The nut was then profiled by filing.

The completed wheel is shown in comparison with the original in Photo 9.

DISK BRAKES AND CALLIPERS The callipers were moulded in two parts, handed for the near and off-side axles (Photo 10). Detailed drawings were made from which patterns were formed in wax before casting in white metal. Detail included location “pips” and details of the maker. The brake disks were turned in steel and the whole unit assembled on the rear axles (Photo 11-12

Next: Chassis and Bodywork - By John Elwood

CHASSIS The chassis and fifth wheel were constructed using 1/8th inch square brass, silver soldered. The profile was taken from the sketches and. confirmed by the photographs (photo 13). This ensured that there was a firm base for the body, axles and wheels. The bobbins were turned and fitted to the splinter bar. (Photos 15 and 16)

The finials for the cross members were carved in wood and inserted into the 1/8” square tube.

CENTRAL FOOT PLATES Having cut the footplate in steel to the correct size it was soldered to brass rod to provide the fitting for the vehicle. The footplate top skin was made in pewter repoussé using thin pewter shim, felt, a hard surface such as formica worktop and a knitting needle. This skin was then stuck to the steel using araldite prior to drilling the holes.

SPRINGS The spring assembly on the original vehicle was unusual since, although the rear springs appear to be elliptic, the bottom spring is, in fact semi-elliptic fitted to a solid 1” square steel compassed bracket welded to the main chassis. This was replicated in the model. The springs themselves were constructed from 1/8” mild steel strip, each leaf cut to length (allowing for the compass) and soldered to the adjacent upper and lower leaf. Each semi-elliptic spring thus formed was then shackelled either to the chassis bracket, in the case of the rear springs or the other semi-elliptic spring, in the case of the front springs to form an elliptic spring. The “bearings” at the end of each spring were cut from brass tube silver soldered to the leaves and finally the shakels were formed from brass sheet fitted to the axles and springs by small bolts.

BODY At first, the body components were cut in heavy card to check the measurements and “fit” to the chassis (photo14). Once this had been agreed, the components were cut in 3/32” ply (which conformed in scale to the original dimensions).

The Royal Mews provided us with a tin of the original “Royal” paint which was most helpful for the paint is a deep burgundy colour which it would have been impossible to replicate on our own.

Individual body panels were then painted with 8 coats (one coat every 24 hours) to obtain the base finish. Each coat was rubbed down with 1200 grit “wet and dry” which became finer with each application. The main problem with painting, either with spray or brush is dust as we all know too well!

So it was with the model but a solution was found. Each rubbing down removed the dust and improved the surface but left the surface unacceptable. The finish on the original vehicle was of “carriage-maker” standard and provided depth as well as gloss.

This was the goal which was achieved after much experimentation by accepting the finely rubbed-down surface, which was burnished with Halford’s rubbing compound to flatten and improve the surface, followed by a careful application of red “T-Cut” and, finally, a high quality car polish. It proved necessary, however, to repeat the whole process several times in order to achieve the desired results.

Once the panels were completed they were assembled on the chassis using white glue and reinforced corners but not attached permanently to the chassis. This allowed independent work on both the chassis and body to continue.

Next, the false louvres were cut, fashioned, and positioned in prepared holes cut in the body. The half-round beading which decorates the edges of the louvres was applied using pre-painted 2mm half-round plastic strip.

At this stage holes were also drilled in the body to accept the protection plates, handles and hinges and other pieces of furniture..

The front and rear seat mouldings each have a finishing strip to the sides and back. These are decorated with half-round brass leaving 1” at each end. Here was a challenge for half round brass strip is unattainable and an alternative had to be found.

Using a mini-drill and ball router cutter recesses were cut on all the strips which were then painted with 2mm dowel set into the recesses to produce an accurate edge and prevent the paint from entering the recess. The strips were then mitred to fit and assembled on the seats with locating pins and white glue, 1/16” brass rod being set in the recesses with instant glue. Clear varnish was then applied to prevent the brightly polished brass rod tarnishing.

PRINCE PHILIP’S CYPHER On the side doors of the original vehicle Prince Philip has a 1” square personal cypher. For the model, therefore, a 1/8” facsimile decal was required. A scale-sized pattern was easily generated from the original photograph using standard computer graphics and a printer. However, after
considerable, fruitless, experimentation, it was proved that it is impossible to produce a decal on either transparent or white-backed decal paper using an ink-jet or laser printer for the image disappears against a dark surface and, anyway is dissolved by water.

It was, therefore, with some relief that the solution was found on the Internet. The only solution is the ALPS/OKI printer which prints "Micro Dry", from a tape and not liquid ink. It was also fortunate that a professional company was found with such a printer who was able to produce a decal sheet of 15 cyphers at the correct scale and with a gold-metallic finish. This allowed time to experiment before applying the final decals.

The decals were floated onto the body doors and left to dry. Experiments showed, however, that it was imprudent to varnish over the dried decal, although this had been intended, since the varnish removed the metal on the decal. It was, therefore decided to leave the decals unprotected because the model would be placed in an exhibition case.

The model was presented to His Royal Highness on 26th February 2009 in Buckingham Palace.

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