The Scratch Building Continues

O9 Open WagonI’ve built another O9 wagon, this time an open wagon. The approach was the same as for the flat wagons: a Peco chassis, and plasticard for the floor, sole bars and buffer beams. This time I added an additional four pieces of plasticard to create the side walls of the wagon.

Open Wagon Components

The basic structure is a simple box.

Basic Open Wagon StructureI’ve added some details: 1.5mm ‘L’ shaped angle on each end, and some 2mm wide hinges on the sides of the wagon.

Starting Detailing

To give the impression of bolts I added short pieces of 1mm diameter rod on the hinges and sole bars, and 0.5mm diameter rod to the angle iron on the ends of the wagon. Adding the 1mm diameter rod is quite easy, but adding the 0.5mm rod is much more fiddly.

On the Painting StickWhen I spray paint my wagons I attach them to a short piece of wooden dowel with blu-tack. I hold the dowel while I spray the wagon.

A piece of lead adds weight to the underside of the wagon. The couplings are held in place with epoxy glue. You can see the lead is visible where the blu-tack masked the primer.

Laed and CouplingsI started this wagon at the end of December and it has taken me to the end of January to finish it and apply the primer. I haven’t decided what colour to paint it yet. It will not be grey. All of my 009 wagons are grey and I fancy something different!

Lots to Like: The 7mm Narrow Gauge Association

7mm Narrow Gauge Association Publications

There’s a lot to like about the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association.

They publish a bi-monthly magazine, Narrow Lines. There’s always a diverse range of interesting articles. The topics include layouts, prototype image galleries, modelling articles, ‘how to articles’, product reviews, book reviews and exhibition reports. The writing is great and the images of a high standard. This is topped off with a quality magazine finish. Great if you are thinking of modelling in 7mm scale (or you’ve already started!). Congrats to Peter Page the editor.

Two other things have really impressed me about the association: their publications and modelling goods sales.

The publications are super and over time I’ve accumulated quite a number (some of them are in the above image). They range from the inspirational (for example ‘The Right Track’), to the very practical (for example ‘Buildings Handbook’). One of my favourites is ‘Going Minimum Gauge’ which manages to be both inspirational and practical. It has articles on great layouts, images of prototypes and “how to” modelling guides.

The 7mm NGA offer an extensive range of new modelling goods, all available by mail order. The list is very comprehensive and includes items that would be difficult to obtain from other sources. Customer service is great and orders are processed quickly and arrive within a few days. They are very customer focussed and, in my opinion, they beat a lot of the big name online retailers.

Finally, the association has a nice, personal feel about it. I’ve been a member for just over a year and when my membership fell for renewal I got a personal letter from the chairman who knew what publications and modelling goods I’d brought and he encouraged me to renew. Naturally, he was knocking at an open door.

The 7mm NGA has been an inspiration for me and has encouraged me to dip my toe into O9 modelling. If you are even remotely interested in 7mm Narrow Gauge I’d encourage you to join.

Creating a Cab Interior

Cab DetailI’m adding more details to the O9 Hunslet loco I’m building. I’ve been focusing on the inside of the cab.

I made a small control board from scraps in my ‘bits box’. On the right, a brake lever (an old Fleischmann N gauge buffer and a piece of wire),  and on the left a throttle (part of a Peco N gauge coupling and a pin). I used a leather punch to cut two discs to represent gauges (in the middle). They are probably a bit too big but this is the smallest size on my leather punch.

Control Panel

To cover the Kato chassis I added part of a plastic medicine bottle. This wasn’t quite wide enough to cover the whole chassis so I added a small piece of plasticard to cover the part that was still visible. The other side will be at the rear of the cab and the gap wont be visible.

I created a gear lever from a scrap of plasticard and a pin. I’m finding that pins are surprisingly useful!


The seat is a little wonky, but the driver will mask this. Overall, I’m pleased with the result.

Now, where’s the primer?

With Driver

The Devil’s in the Detailing

Detailed ChassisThe Hunslet loco I’m building is the first thing I’ve tried to build in O9. When I looked at it I was struck by it’s size. It’s much bigger than a 009 locomotive. You can get away with minimal detailing on small 009 locos but I quickly realised a 7mm scale loco cries out for extra detail. So I set to work…

First I made some axle boxes with suspension springs. The springs were made from a 2mm diameter bolt. I filed one side of the bolt flat so that when I stuck it to the chassis it would look like part of the spring is underneath the loco. I created each axle box from three small pieces of plasticard.

Axel Boxes

To give the impression of bolts on the sole bars I added short pieces of 1mm diameter rod. I found it tricky to cut the pieces of rod to exactly the same length, but this can be fixed by filing the pieces of rod to a consistent height after they are in place on the chassis.

Here’s the body perched on the detailed chassis. Eagle eye readers will notice I have reduced the length of the chassis so that it matches the length of the loco body. I think it looks much more realistic like this.

Hunslet on ChassisNext, the cab interior… gulp!


The Joy of Scratch Building

O9 Flat WagonsI am building a Hunslet locomotive in O9 (7mm per foot, 1:43.5 scale, running on 9mm gauge track) and I decided it would be nice to have a couple of wagons to run with it.  Rather than buying kits I thought I would try to scratch build the wagons from plasticard.

I got a couple of Peco N scale wagon chassis, cut off the brake details and removed the coupling pockets. Then, I guesstimated the sizes and cut out pieces of 1.5mm thick plasticard. The wagons are really simple, consisting of only five pieces.

The Pieces

To make the surface of the wagons less like smooth plasticard and more like rough wood I abraded the surface using a wire brush.

A Touch of Wirebrushing

This created a very fine scratches over the surface. I wonder whether they are deep enough, or whether the paint will mask them. We shall see.

Roughened Woodwork

I glued the floor to the chassis, and added buffer beams and fake sole bars. Then I added short lengths of 1mm diameter plastic rod to give the impression of bolt heads.

Solebar Details

Finally, I added some lead weights to the underside of the wagons. I’ve given them a quick “finger push” test on some track and they seem to run quite well.

Lead Weights

This is the first time I’ve scratch built rolling stock from plasticard, and I’m quite pleased with the result. Yes, I need to improve the accuracy of my marking and cutting and learn to stick the pieces together at 90 degree angles, but it’s an encouraging start.

Scratch building takes longer that building a kit, but it’s a very interesting challenge and you get something unique at the end. I’ve enjoyed it and I think I will be building more wagons… watch this space.

Merry Christmas


Wiesener Viadukt Rhätische Bahn Switzerland

Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and productive new year to everyone reading this blog. Thank you for your interest, helpful suggestions and encouragement during 2016.

The lovely snowy image at the beginning of this blog is the single-track Wiesen Viaduct in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It carries the metre gauge Rhätische Bahn from Wiesen to Filisur over the Landwasser river.

The viaduct is 88.9 metres (292 ft) high and 210 metres (690 ft) long. In 4mm scale that’s roughly 116 cm (14 inches) high and 276 cm (110 inches) long.

It would make a nice new year modelling project for someone. Any volunteers… 🙂


Image by David Gubler used under Creative Commons License: Image source

Narrow Gauge at Royston

Johannesdorf by John SmithThe Royston and District Model Railway Club held their 30th Anniversary Exhibition in mid November. I’m pleased to say narrow gauge was well represented.

Johannesdorf by John Smith is a great model of a fictional Austrian 760 mm narrow gauge station in the Austrian Tirol. It has a real Austrian atmosphere (look at the engine shed, above), and the combination of 0 scale 16.5mm gauge is a great way to represent 760mm narrow gauge.

Johannesdorf by John Smith

The layout has many very well modelled scenes.

Johannesdorf by John Smith

Next, Tansey Bank Bob Vaughan’s 009 model of a preserved ex-industrial line. The rolling stock was lovely and very well weathered. Bob told me the technique was very simple: dry brushing with grey, then dry brush with brown followed by a wash of diluted black ink. Very effective.

Tansey Bank Bob Vaughan

Ashurst Brickworks by Peter Rednall features an imaginary village and an 009 line transporting handmade clay bricks to a harbour. There was always something moving and the ‘figure of eight’ track created a good run for the locos. It was very popular with the visitors.

Ashurst Brickworks Peter Rednall

I particularly liked these weather boarded cottages…

Ashurst Brickworks Peter Rednall

…and the layout was full of detailed scenes. Amazingly, Peter has fitted all of this onto a 4 feet by 2 feet board!

Ashurst Brickworks Peter Rednall

Finally, let’s go to Switzerland. Baerenthal, originally built by Ray Williams, was exhibited by Mike Ausden. This was a real slice of the Swiss alps, with alpine meadows, chalets, a rocky mountain stream and up to six different train running at any time. It was really nice to see a modern outline narrow gauge layout. Plus, it’s unusual to see an HOm layout which is HO (1:87) scale running on 12 mm track, representing a metre gauge line.

Baerenthal Mike Ausden

With such lovely scenery, and many colourful trains, this layout was incredibly popular. There was always a crowd of people around it and my photos don’t do the layout justice!

Baerenthal Mike Ausden

With plenty of interesting layouts and a good selection of traders, the Royston exhibitions are always good. I will be there next year!