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Simple Carriage Build





As a diversion from the problems I am experiencing in completing my Waverley-class 4-4-0, I have put together a Broad Gauge carriage body, using photo-printed sides.


I have previously described making various standard-gauge coaches by using my Silhouette cutter to cut out several layers, some of which I pre-printed from photographs of actual coaches. I gradually refined and simplified my methods, resulting in the construction of an early Passenger Brake Van (PBV), which I built back in 2015.








To re-cap, my method was to use my Silhouette cutter to mark out the sides and ends of the main body shell on 20 thou (0.5 mm) plastic card. I then assembled the sides and ends around a rectangular floor plate, cut from 40 thou (1 mm) plastic card, using polystyrene cement, to create a firm, rigid structure. Next, I attached the ‘cosmetic’ side layers using book-binders' adhesive. These layers were pre-printed on photographic paper and used the registration marks, printed by the Silhouette Studio software, to ensure that the window apertures aligned with the openings cut into the inner sides.


The problem is that the Silhouette cutter can only cut through 10 thou plasticard whereas, for rigidity, the body sides need to be much thicker than this. For a PBV, with only one rectangular window aperture in each side, it was easy enough to cut these out by hand but, for a more complex passenger coach, much of the advantage of using a computer-controlled cutter would be lost.


Some time ago, I had the idea of using 40 thou (1 mm) clear (transparent) plastic card for the sides of the main body shell, so that windows only need to be cut in the thin ‘cosmetic’ outer layers. I decided to try out this method in practice, to construct a simple Broad Gauge carriage body.


My chosen prototype was one of the 6-wheel ‘Revised Standard’ composite carriages, built for the GWR between 1854 and 1857. I started by creating a scale image from the dimensioned sketch on the Broad Gauge Society Data Sheet No.154. I then copied my image, as a background layer, into my Autosketch CAD software and traced over the main outlines and the window openings, to create a DXF file for transferring to my Silhouette Studio software. Alongside this cutting diagram, I also produced a coloured image of the carriage sides, using Photoshop Elements software, to create a JPEG image that I also transferred to the Studio software.




The next step, using the Studio software, was to align the photo image with the cut lines from the DXF file and then to save the composite image in Studio format. After selecting to add registration marks, I printed the file on photo-quality paper, using my HP Deskjet ink-jet printer. After printing, I sprayed a protective coat of matt varnish (I use 'Liquitex') over the photo image. Once the image had dried, I inserted the paper into my Silhouette cutter, which found the printed registration marks and cut out the sides, in alignment with the photo image.


I actually built each side from two photo layers – an inner layer with smaller window apertures, representing the droplights and wooden window frames, and an outer layer, with larger apertures, to allow these window frames to show through, as three-dimensional structures. After gluing the layers together, with book-binders' adhesive, I did some re-touching with Venetian red paint to cover the exposed edges of the cut-outs and so complete the window apertures.




Now, I constructed the main body shell by cutting rectangular pieces of transparent plastic card for the two sides and ordinary white plastic card for the ends (all 40 thou thickness). I assembled these into a box structure, exactly as I described previously for the PBV. Once the polystyrene cement had cured, all that remained was to glue the coloured sides in place, with the ‘windows’ showing through the transparent body structure.




My final photo shows this carriage body mounted on a broad gauge chassis, built from a Broad Gauge Society kit. Of course there is a lot of detailing that needs to be added, to represent door handles, hinges, etc. but the basic form of the body proved very simple to construct.




To return to my ‘Waverley’ 4-4-0 locomotive, I had the idea of using some filter conversion rings, as used by photographers to fit different sizes of filters to their lenses, as a basis for constructing the splashers.


I managed to find some rings on the web of the correct diameter and waited patiently for them to arrive from China. At first, it looked promising, and I cut off the protruding threaded portions, to leave a rim representing the brass outer edge of the close-fitting splashers on the prototype. Unfortunately, the rings were just too shallow to cover the full depth of the wheel and, being made from aluminium, I could not solder them to an inner structure.





I have paused again, for further thought, but may use these rings as templates, around which I can form some brass splashers of the correct depth.



  • Like 5
  • Craftsmanship/clever 1


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Thank you for commenting, Dave John.  This one was a trial run and I intend to do more shaping of the sides on the next one, to try and capture the slightly bowed look of the panelling on these early carriages.

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Hi Mike,


Would it be worth a "slight" compromise and use the Silhouette to make the slashers or even make a template to fret them out using brass ?   Maybe not for the purist modeller ( using plasticard ) but when all else fails !

Nice work though and very much enjoying your modelling and manner in which you've approached it.

As a BGS member too I have found many useful items available for the stores to enhance models of this era and its good to see you making use of the chassis.



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Hi Grahame,


I think my problem is that I'm dithering over all sorts of different ideas for making those splashers and can't settle on a single thought! 


I think I shall probably do as you suggest and fret out some brass sheet, marked out with the Silhouette.  After all, that's more or less how the BGS kit splashers for the Gooch Standard Goods are constructed!


I agree that the BGS list lots of useful items - and not only for BG modellers - well worth looking at their lists (4mm and 7mm)


Thank you for commenting.



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  • RMweb Gold

Creative and ingenious work, Mike.


Reading the post I first thought that the eye would register the thickness of the transparent plasticard, but the photo is very convincing.


With a simple livery like that, I was wondering why you didn't just paint the coach side (rather than using a photo image), but I assume it is to avoid modelling the mouldings/bolections. Would these be too delicate to do on the cutter?


A shame that the lens adapter solution didn't work out, it is such an original thought! 

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Thank you, Mikkel.  It is really a "quick and dirty" method but it allowed me to make some progress on my Mail Train, while pondering the difficulties of the locomotive.  The thickness of the sides may become more apparent when I fit the interior partitions.  We'll see ...


I'm hoping that I might still find a use for the filter-ring idea  Most of them are in larger sizes, so possibly of more use to 7mm modellers - but, then, they tend to be real engineers :)

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Lovely work, Mike. Were these coaches downgraded to 3rds by the end of the broad gauge?



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Hi Duncan.  I don't believe any of these survived until the end of the Broad Gauge - there were only three left in 1883 and these may have been converted to standard gauge during the 1870s.  I've not read of them being downgraded to thirds and suspect they ended their lives as 1st/2nd composites


Pleased you like them.


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Hi Mike,


I must have misread an earlier post about these composites being pictured at the BG dump at Swindon in ‘92...a shame because I was going to beg and grovel in the hope you might take pity on a fellow novice BGer and do me one in chocolate and cream for Nampara! The speed I’m building the track and goods wagons I’ll never have time to build the coaches (and there’s the problem of 3 square rigged ships for the layout too and all supposed to be ready for next May - in my dreams!!!)


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You have set me a problem!  I looked back and saw that I did post a copy of a photo I found on the web, claiming to be one of these carriages.  The information I wrote above came from the BGS information sheets.  At the moment, I don't know which is the correct version of events - more research needed......


With the various commitments that I have at present, I'm finding it difficult to keep up with my own modelling so I must dash your hopes for any additional models.



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I find a comfort-of sorts- that I’m not alone struggling to find time for modelling! But that said I’m sorry I’ve added to your research burden!


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To be honest, Duncan, the research is the bit I enjoy most!  You do learn not to accept anything at face value and, sometimes, manage to extract a more plausible story :)



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My research problem is the wagon registers or rather the fact that they are split between the London and York. London research trips are feasible and York is not. And it seems the low numbers are in York so of course they are the ones I need a look at!



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