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To stimulate discussion, post photos and exchange ideas, and (being an open public forum) help encourage others to try S scale modelling.

ScottW

Scratchbuilding Wagons From Plasticard

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Super work Scott. I'd like to endorse what you say about scratch-building. Taking the first step is sometimes a bit daunting so build something relatively simple. Like Scott I'd never scratch-built rolling stock until I needed something for my old 4mm Hellifield layout. I chose some anhydrite hoppers and simplified construction as far as possible by making the hopper almost like a box with a Parkside chassis. After building one I built another 10 or so to make a rake. They weren't brilliant but nobody else had one like mine! After these relatively crude beginnings I then gained confidence to do better next time and eventually you'll feel able to tackle much more complex models and in S Scale the chances are nobody else anywhere in the world will have another one.

 

 

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I shall be looking forward to your masterclasses Scott.

 

If I can get anywhere close to the end result you produce I will be a very happy bunny.

 

I've currently got a couple of scratch builds on the go but in 2mm.

These are shortly destined for the bin, but the effort is not wasted as lessons have been learnt.

 

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Having been scratch building for 40 years or more I still look forward to learning something new. I have built from kits but I tend to make more mistakes than when I scratch build. I don't get everything right now but the cost of scrapping a few bits of plastic are a lot less than an expensive kit.

Another huge advantage of scratch building has got to be that there are some prototypes that never get modelled and will never attract the manufacturer's eye. Yet another advantage is it keeps the old grey matter working which is important when you get to my age.

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1456385622_Tools1(2).JPG.f83461bf8736e310d6dc0df8c9a3621b.JPG

 

This picture shows the small collection of tools and materials that I predominantly use when building a wagon.  The tools, I’m sure, are all pretty much self-explanatory but I will go through them anyway. Starting from the left:

 

1. 12” steel rule, mainly used as a straight edge when cutting Plasticard.

2. 6” steel rule, used for marking out. It is handy to have one with both imperial and metric divisions, especially as S Scale is an imperial scale. Most imperial rules have divisions as small as 1/64”, in S scale this equates to 1”. One of the bonuses of the scale is you can model within half an inch reasonably accurately.

3.  A large file, for cleaning up edges and ensuring they are true. Not too rough, I can't remember but I think this one may have been a second cut.

4. Needle files.

5. Engineers square. I have a number of these in various sizes but I suppose a single 6” engineers square would cover you for most jobs.

 

Moving upwards.

 

6. Paint brush, for applying liquid solvent.  My preference is to use a relatively small brush (007) with a fine point, that way I can either load it up to glue the main components together or sparingly when adding the iron work.

7. Sharp pencil.

8. Swann-Morton #3 scalpel and #11 blade. The choice of knife is entirely your own, I fined the #11 Swann-Morton blade to be really sharp and great for cutting Plasticard. Once the blade starts to go off I just throw it away and replace it with a new one.

9. Olfa P Cutter, used for scribing planks.

10. Pin vice and a selection of drills.

11. Liquid cement. I use two types of liquid cement when building wagons; MEK for gluing the main components together and DL-Limonene for the iron work and bolt heads. DL-Limonene is less aggressive than MEK so there is less chance of melting the very thin (5 thou) Plasticard strips used for the iron work. It also takes a little longer to go off which allows you more time to place components before they set solid.

 

Two items which I forgot to include in the picture are:

 

12. 600 grit Wet & Dry, for cleaning up the surface of the Plasticard.

13. 2 part epoxy, to glue any metal components e.g. buffers and drawbar hooks.

 

One other item of equipment which I believe to be essential is a magnifying head band, or some other sort of magnifying device. I wear mine every time I’m at the bench regardless of what I am doing. If you don’t already own one I would recommend getting yourself one, despite your age or how good your eye’s are. I have been using one for years. The headband allows you to get up really close and see exactly what you are doing, which is imperative when modelling in the smaller scales.  My philosophy is “if it looks good under a magnifier then it will look great with the naked eye”.

 

Headband.JPG.4e07012e9b780d19cce0c20dc4b1ca8f.JPG

 

I bought this one from Maplin a good few years ago but you can buy variations from other sources. It comes with a small light on top which I find to be pretty useless, especially as I also use an angle poise desk lamp. 

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Can I add one further item to that list?

 

I use a sewing needle, held in the pine vice, when marking out. It will scribe a very fine line, and I find that if I rub my fingers over it, it shows up nicely and is less likely to disappear under my hand.

I also use it to mark, via little pin-pricks, end points for plank and other scribe-lines.

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If any one has little pearls of wisdom, use different techniques or procedures then feel free to share them. After all, there is more than one way to skin a cat and just because these techniques work for me they may not necessarily work for others.

Edited by ScottW

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I use vernier -  not digital - callipers sometimes for marking out. The thumbscrew+vernier scale means it is easy to set precisely. I use digital callipers for measuring small things.

Sometimes use a single edged razor blade: very good when chopping a 10 thou strip cut from 10 thou sheet into cubes for use as bolt heads.

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Having covered tools I’ll now list the materials required to build a typical wooden-bodied wagon.

 

The main body of my wagons is made from Plasticard sheet, the rest of the woodwork is produced using Evergreen styrene strips. Evergreen styrene strips comes in a multitude of convenient sizes which saves you cutting endless stripes from larger sheet material. Over the years I have gathered a good number of different sizes, this always comes in handy when building something a little less standard. The one departure from using Evergreen styrene stripes comes when producing the iron work. I use 5thou thick styrene strips for my iron work. Unfortunately, Evergreen don’t produce 5thou stripes so these must be cut from sheet material which, fortunately, Evergreen does produce. So that I get consistency when cutting the 5thou stripes I make use of a simple cutting jig which I will explain later. Remembering that my wagons are S Scale, a typical wagon consists of:

 

1. Sides, ends & floor, nominally 2-1/2”, scale 40thou Plasticard sheet.

2. Solebars & headstock, nominally 4-1/2 x 12”, scale 80thou x 188thou. 80thou is a little thick for S Scale. The scale size is closer to 70thou but Evergreen doesn’t do stripes this size, the choice is either 60thou or 80thou. Personally, I feel 60thou looks too thin. Also, for reasons that will become apparent later, the solebars on my wagons are produced using two layers of 40thou thick styrene strips.

3. Iron work, nominally 2-1/2” wide, scale 5thou x 40thou styrene stripes. As previously mentioned, these are cut from Evergreen 5thou styrene sheet.

4. Hinges, 40thou styrene rod.

5. Bolt heads, 20thou styrene rod. These are represented by slicing slithers off the end of the rod. I have found that Plastruct styrene rod is best for producing bolt heads this way as it is more pliable than other makes. Slaters 20thou rod, for instance, is quite brittle and has a tendency to fracture when sliced. Alternatively, square bolt heads can be produced from 10thou x 20thou styrene strips suitably cut to size.

 

The running gear is predominantly made up of components purchased from the S Scale Society; wheels, w irons, breakgear, axleboxes and springs. Other items like buffers and drawbar hooks can also be purchased from the society. With items like buffers and axleboxes, it might be possible to use 4mm components. In the past I have found that some 4mm scale whitemetal components to be a little over scale and looked okay when fitted to an S Scale wagon.

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For buffers, I am willing to scale up any of the 4mm-scale buffers in my Shapeways shop to 1:64 and have already done so for two items. They can then be used with rams and springs intended for 4mm scale. Buffer heads that scale to 15" or 16" in 4mm scale are close to 12" and 13" in S.

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25 minutes ago, Guy Rixon said:

For buffers, I am willing to scale up any of the 4mm-scale buffers in my Shapeways shop to 1:64 and have already done so for two items. They can then be used with rams and springs intended for 4mm scale. Buffer heads that scale to 15" or 16" in 4mm scale are close to 12" and 13" in S.

 

Thats great, Guy. Thank you kindly.

 

Items like these are invaluable to scratchbuilders, particularly in S Scale. Due to the various prototypes modelled by S Scale society members, the society parts department also tends to concentrate on basic key components rather than complete kits. Obviously not every prototype can be covered so outside sources, like yourself, are always welcome.

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For this particular project I’m going to be building a Great North of Scotland 3 Plank Open wagon. Prototype information was gained from Peter Tatlow’s excellent book “LNER Wagons Vol. 3”. Inside are a few photographs and a General Arrangement drawing. The drawing is small but, fortunately, quite clear; using a magnifier I was able to read off all the major dimensions. I was also fortunate in being able to purchase, from the National Railway Museum, a copy of a GA drawing showing the same wagon but running with a steel underframe.

 

757665962_GNSR3Plank.JPG.b72adf145ac05d65148e6e9efeca1427.JPG

 

This particular wagon had a couple of design peculiarities not normally seen on your average 3 plank open. First of all it ran on 3’-7” wheels, although reading Peter Tatlow’s book this would appear to have been quite common with GNSR wagons. The other peculiarity is that one side of the wagon was fixed whilst the other side had a center door. Effectively giving you two wagons for the price of one, depending on which way you want to run it.

You can’t beat a good drawing and, if possible, a number of photographs. Books like Peter's are an invaluable source of prototype information. My preference is to work from a GA drawing if available, from this I take all the major dimensions and convert them to S Scale. A handy set of tables is available to download from the society’s website which simplifies this task.

 

298049283_ConvertingScale.JPG.63ce150f76792660d6bf5853cf5bea85.JPG

 

By studying the drawing and taking dimensions I get a good mental picture of how all the different parts of the wagon slot together. All I have to do then is recreate this in miniature using various styrene strips.

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One last post before cutting plastic. So that we are all singing off the same hymn sheet I thought it best to clarify the major components that go to make up a completed wagon. That way, if I reference a part of the wagon during construction everyone will know what I am talking about. :good:

 

2076590128_WagonParts.JPG.4178d92b639a253e1c9c307b4b096313.JPG

 

1. Sheeting                                   8. End Door Fastener                         15. Brake Block

2. Side Rail/Curb Rail                  9. Headstock                                        16. Axleguard

3. Corner Plate                           10. Axleguard Wingbolt Plate             17. Strap Bolt

4. Washer Plate                          11. Brake Guard                                   18. Solebar

5. Door Band & Hinge               12. Side Door Catch                             19. End Stanchion

6. End Door Hinge                     13. Brake Hand Lever

7. End Door                                 14. Brake Hanger

Edited by ScottW
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Looking at the last post on my Ipad, I see the numbering didn’t turn out as I had planned. But I’m sure you get the gist.:mocking_mini:

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Really good stuff Scott. Great advice, techniques and superb end results! Looking forward to seeing more, cheers, Paul

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Looking forward to following someone doing this properly, like Mike @airnimal does - at least S is slightly closer to 4 mm than his 7 mm!

 

Terminology: I think I've come across side rails termed curb rails, possibly different companies using different terms? And I tend to think of end stanchions as being iron or steel, with the wooden version being end pillars - possibly only because they've got "ion" in the name! 

 

But what's in a name.

Edited by Compound2632

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1 hour ago, Compound2632 said:

Looking forward to following someone doing this properly, like Mike @airnimal does - at least S is slightly closer to 4 mm than his 7 mm!

 

Terminology: I think I've come across side rails termed curb rails, possibly different companies using different terms? And I tend to think of end stanchions as being iron or steel, with the wooden version being end pillars - possibly only because they've got "ion" in the name! 

 

But what's in a name.

 

I also have known them to be called curb rails. Also, somewhere in the back of mind I might have heard them being called side knee’s but this might just be the old age setting in. :laugh_mini:

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Unfortunately work is getting in the way of modelling time so please bear with me.

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28 minutes ago, ScottW said:

 

I also have known them to be called curb rails. Also, somewhere in the back of mind I might have heard them being called side knee’s but this might just be the old age setting in. :laugh_mini:

 

Side knees are the iron brackets on the inside - bolts go through to your washer plates A - with the bottom part bolted to the middle bearers. 

 

All the terminology - and understanding of how a wooden wagon goes together -I know comes from the articles by Chris Crofts in Model Railway Journal many years ago.

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11 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

 

Side knees are the iron brackets on the inside - bolts go through to your washer plates A - with the bottom part bolted to the middle bearers. 

 

All the terminology - and understanding of how a wooden wagon goes together -I know comes from the articles by Chris Crofts in Model Railway Journal many years ago.


Ah, yes. That’s right. I told you old age was setting in.

 

I have copies of said MRJ’s but currently not at home to check. His article’s are well worth a read, filled with lots of good tips and prototype information.

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Always wondered why those articles weren’t issued as a single booklet.

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37 minutes ago, Regularity said:

Always wondered why those articles weren’t issued as a single booklet.

 

Wild Swan did go on to publish 4 mm scale wagon modelling books by Geoff Kent (3 vols.) and John Hayes (coal wagons). I don't have any of those as although I'm sure techniques would be relevant, the wagons they were looking at were "not my period". But I suppose they go over similar ground to Chris Crofts' articles.

 

See https://www.titfield.co.uk/Wild-Swan/Model-Wagons.htm - other bookshops are available.

 

I hope I wasn't coming over as too much of a pedant on side knees and side rails - my excuse is twofold: I'm snuffling away with a half-term cold and in a previous existence I was chair of an international committee that had a branch of scientific nomenclature within its remit.

Edited by Compound2632

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20 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

Wild Swan did go on to publish 4 mm scale wagon modelling books by Geoff Kent (3 vols.) and John Hayes (coal wagons). I don't have any of those as although I'm sure techniques would be relevant, the wagons they were looking at were "not my period". But I suppose they go over similar ground to Chris Crofts' articles.

They are very good, very good indeed, but Chris Crofts' 4 part article was, IMO, a model of concision.

 

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