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Wagons roll



It’s great when the modelling Muse strikes when you least expect it and leads you down tracks you had forgotten, or were unaware of…


Very early on a rainy Bank Holiday morning, the weather having put paid to my carefully-crafted plans for the day, I sit down at the workbench with a strong coffee and start idly browsing through my project boxes. My hand falls on the box containing my “cripple siding” - failures and abandoned projects.


The Iron Ore tippler wagon catches my eye.


It’s one of the first kits I built when getting into 3mm, I was quite pleased with the finish, but overall it was a disaster; it wobbled and wallowed down the track like a three-legged dog and derailed on every turnout it ever encountered. At the time I put it down to my inexperience and assumed I must have bodged the chassis in some way, so it has spent at least 10 years relegated to the cripple siding. Maybe now I can get it running better? I turn it over to look at the chassis and notice that I had fitted it with Kean Maygib 9mm diameter wheels – and I remember that there was a kerfuffle in 3mm circles a good many years ago over a batch of dodgy KM wheels that didn’t run true. Hmm. Worth a try…


I had bought a stock of 9mm dia metal wheelsets from 3SMR at the 3mm Society AGM just last weekend, so I gently prise out the old wheelsets and drop in the new. Voila! A perfectly free-running and steady wagon!


Rolling the old KMs across the bench shows they are badly distorted, so they are definitely ones from that dodgy batch. Next thought is: hmm, I wonder what other wagons also have KMs and would benefit with replacement?


A pair of LMS pattern steel mineral wagons.


I had totally forgotten ever building these! Again, quite pleased with the finish, but both wonky runners. Out with the KMs, in with the new; two perfect runners and it’s not even 9 AM yet.


Flushed with success and on a roll, I have a look at what else is in the cripple box.


A 24 ½ ton steel mineral wagon.


Finished and complete, a good runner, but for some reason I never got around to actually fitting couplings to it. A quick dive into the bits box and a couple of dabs of Araldite later - another wagon to add to the quickly-developing rake.


An LNER pattern 20t coal hopper.


Er, a little embarrassing, this one. Again, a complete wagon but running like a dog as the wheels don’t turn freely and there’s a rasping noise. Well yes, as there would be if you put 10.5mm dia coach wheelsets into a chassis designed for 9mm wagon wheelsets. (D’oh!)


LMS pattern brake van.


If I ever build one of these kits again I will remove the moulded handrails and use wire instead. Painting the handrails went well enough on one side, but the other had turned to an unsightly splodgy mess. But today however I am in the Zone and can do no wrong and in a mere matter of minutes it’s all sorted.



There. A nice little rake of wagons to trundle around the layout, that when I woke up I had no idea even existed, that has cost me nothing and has enjoyably whiled away a rainy day. Result!


(But the lawn remains unmowed, the bushes uncut, the car unclean and the BBQ unlit…)

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