Coach Modifications - Fitting Gangway Connections

Most modellers will be familiar with the gangway connections which manufacturers typically fit to their models. In this article, we show how gangway connections can be enhanced for greater realism.


Many refer to the passageway fitted to the ends of coaches which allows people to walk from one coach to the next as a 'corridor'. This is in fact, incorrect terminology. The correct term is 'gangway'.
A 'corridor' is an internal passageway which runs along the length of one side of a coach, typically passing the compartments.


Most modellers will have come across the situation where the gangways on their coaches do not touch and there is a large gap between them.
Over the decades, numerous solutions have been used which typically involve the use of foam rubber or paper folded into a concertina. In this article, we show how the latter can be used.

Before we do, let's take a brief look at some gangways used on the British prototype.

Britain's railways essentially adopted two types of gangway pattern: the 'concertina' or 'bellows' and the 'Pullman' type.

The 'concertina' or 'bellows' pattern

This pattern was used by the LMS, LNWR, the GWR and BR DMU's. It typically took the form of a telescopic arrangement, supported from brackets above. The gangway was expanded outwards as required and clipped to the gangway of the neighbouring coach.
The gangway itself was entirely suspended and took no part in the end buffering arrangements which were carried out by the buffers. Stock with this type of gangway connection was normally 'loose coupled' using a screw link coupling, not an automatic 'buckeye'.
For the pedantic modeller, it is not prototypically correct to have buckeye couplings (eg Kadee) between coaches fitted with concertina-type gangways.

The 'Pullman' pattern

This type of gangway was used by the LNER, SR and Pullman company and was later standardised on by BR. It is widely used to this day in various forms.
The 'Pullman' pattern is an altogether much more sophisticated type of gangway. The footplate of the gangway forms part of the drawgear and handles end-on forces when coupled to a vehicle with the same type of gangway. In this instance, the buffer heads are retracted and do not participate in end-on forces. When coupled to a loco, the buffers participate while the gangway footplate does not.
Vehicles fitted with the 'Pullman' type of gangway are normally fitted with automatic 'buckeye' couplings, however, the buckeye is usually of a drop-head type such that when dropped, a hook is revealed to which a conventional screw of chain coupling can be coupled.
For the pedantic modeller, it is not prototypically correct to have chain couplings between coaches fitted with Pullman gangways. Many modellers make the mistake of fitting a concertina/bellows to coaches (eg BR MK1 and MK2 coaches) with the Pullman-type gangway. This is incorrect because the prototypes did not have them.

Modelling Gangways

From a modelling perspective, when deciding to fit gangways in addition to that provided by the model manufacturer, we need to look at the prototype of our model to see what arrangements it had.
Usually, our decision to fit gangways to our models is driven by the observation that there is a large gap between our coach gangways.
I usually take the following decision approach:

  • If there is a large gap between coaches, my first thought is to look at the coupling system with a view to modifying it to bring the coaches closer together, within the bounds of the radii of the curves I use. With RTR MKI coaches these days, this is pretty much all you need because they all come with close coupling mechanisms and all you have to do it fit the coupling supplied in the box instead of the 'Hornby' type coupling which is pre-fitted. Other times, fitting Kadee-type couplings brings coaches closer together.
  • If this doesn't resolve the issue, it is typically because the buffers protrude a long way. And this typically happens on coaches which prototypically had 'concertina' gangways, for example, LMS and GWR coaches.
  • In the past when I have had Pullman gangway vehicles with protruding buffers, I have replaced the buffers and/or fitted a new Pullman connection. An example of this can be found in my article on Restoring Triang Mark 1 Coaches.

In this article, I will be fitting gangways to the Bachmann Collett coaches.
When these models first appeared under the 'Mainline' and 'Replica' brands in the late 1980's, these were very good models. While not perfect, they still stand up pretty well today. Bachmann produced these models during the 1990's and re-released them again around 2010/11 with modified couplings and wheels. Be careful if buying these coaches second hand as the Mainline and Replica versions all had a significant bow upwards along the length of the coaches. The first Bachmann release fixed this, but some of those from the second Bachmann release do seem to be afflicted with the bow problem, most likely having been removed from moulds before properly cooled.

Here we prepare our concertina and we use a piece of thick card as a locator within the rubber gangway housing on the model. I used whit epaper which was later painted, but you could use black paper or even black 'sugar paper'.
The card locator is a tad under 11mm x 22mm. Thickness isn't important, but in this instance, it is 1mm thick card. You probably don't want anything thinner. The 'concertinas' are 13.5mm x 27mm, but are later shaped (curved) at the top to match the profile of the fitted rubber gangway. These pictures show 7 'concertinas' (flat faces). In practice, I found this slightly too tight and removed one, reducing them to 6. For tighter radius curves, more 'concertinas' may be necessary, depending on the size of the gap between the gangways - this is something which needs to be gauged on a per-layout and vehicle basis.
At this stage, it is worth testing the fitted concertinas on your tightest curves, preferably an S curve as this presents the worst case scenario likely to be encountered. You are looking for the connections remaining 'connected' and able to swing sideways without cause the coach to wobble - this is where less concertinas may be required.

We then press the card locator into the rubber housings and then couple our coaches together:

Gangways were painted with Railmatch 412 Weathered Black and then fitted:

Note the importance of neighbouring coach gangways being the same height and profile.
And apologies for disobeying my own rule about not fitting buckeye coupling to stock with non-Pullman gangways!

Related Articles

Restoring Triang Mark 1 Coaches
Index of Articles

Graham Plowman (Created 16/12/2020, updated: 27/12/2020 12:20:47 PM +11:00)

Reader Comments