How to build S Scale carriages the easy way
The articles below were written at different times and show how my construction methods evolved slightly in the light of experience.
Page updated 22nd April 2005 with latest entries at the end of page.
the March 2000 S Scale Society Newsletter)
a year ago I joined the S Scale MRS,
you will now realise, I have wide
things happened to propel me to take
came my Midland carriage drawings
of the above is in anyway original
First, I soaked a piece of cartridge paper in
For the chassis I decided to use 40 thou
The whole of the body was then painted
Well was it worth it? Yes, without a doubt,
(From the November 2003 S Scale Society Newsletter)
my last contribution to the newsletter (how to motorise a M.R. 4F with a
converted Airfix tender drive unit) I’ve been pursuing my S Scale
ideas further. As a modeller with no particular engineering skills and
few tools beyond the normal 4mm scale necessities (my mini-drill is my
own machine tool), I find many of the admirable ideas in the handbook
and newsletter beyond my level of competence. I prefer to adapt wherever
possible, with methods that may make some people wince. I’m sure I
could learn how to drill a chassis accurately if I had to but, somehow,
at the end of a long day teaching recalcitrant primary school children,
it’s too much!! So here are a few more of my “bodger’s” S Scale
Midland Railway Coach
Members may recall my short article about building a M.R. Clayton bogie parcel van, principally from card. Well it now forms part of a four-coach rake of similarly built passenger carriages. I wasn’t sure whether the idea of using card for the much more intricate sides of compartment stock would work; all those holes for windows must surely weaken the sides significantly. I wasn’t too enamoured, either, about the thought of all the marking out necessary to produce the sides. Then the idea of using my photocopier, which can adjust the size of the printout, occurred to me. A photocopy of a side from Jenkinson’s “Illustrated History of Midland Railway Carriages” was made and copied on to thin white card to produce a side of the required size. Pricking holes at each corner with a sharp compass point, followed by cutting out the resultant holes quickly produced a plain side.
next stage was even easier. The panelling was already marked out on the
photocopy, so it was simply a matter of cement micro strip to the card
sides with liquid polystyrene cement. I applied the long horizontal runs
of micro strip first, followed by the short vertical ones, ensuring that
these all ended up vertical and in line! From then on the construction
followed the concept of sticking the complete side to the inner body
shell as described in my first article, as well as in the Society
handbook. I took the precaution this time of allowing enough space to
have a much thicker strip of glazing material; I used 30 thou Cobex,
thus giving more support to the outer body sides. “Ah!” I can hear
you say, “But he’s only produced one side.”
at first I though this would be a problem. Initially I scanned the
original drawing on my computer, and converted it to a mirror image.
However, I felt that the distortions produced in the process and the
slight lack of clarity would be a problem, so I adopted a much simpler
solution. Take a second photocopy, prick the holes, then turn the sheet
over and cut out the holes from the opposite side. Then trim the side to
the finished side and using the window holes as a guide it is
surprisingly easy to apply the micro strip in the correct place. Be
warned, however, on one of my coaches I have a guard’s compartment
window in the wrong double door, because I didn’t check the window
openings for the double doors on the vertical plan! However, I didn’t
notice this until the model was finished so I’m afraid the fault will
just be ignored.
coach was then fitted with an interior, made of card naturally. The
compartment partitions contribute considerably to the rigidity of the
final model . Before proceeding to add the roof the interior has to be
painted . I choose to paint the 1st class in blue and the 3rd
class a dark red. The roof was then added using exactly the same
techniques as described in my first article; moulding layers of wetted
and glued cartridge paper over a Comet aluminium coach roof , and then
cutting to size so as to
make the correct clerestorey roof.
coaches built using this method have now been in existence for over a
year, and show no sign of warping. Since they’ve been stored in a
variety of locations, ranging from over 80 degrees, down to the low 30s,
I’m reasonably optimistic that they will stay in this condition.
three carriage models were now ready for painting and
I used exactly the same method as for the parcels van; an oxide
brown spray primer, followed by several coats of Railmatch BR Maroon –
it’s close enough to Midland Crimson Lake as far as I’m concerned.
Before painting I pushed strips of card through the glazing slots so as
not to spoil the already painted interior. Lining was done in two parts;
first the gold marker pen that WH Smith’s sell was used to represent
the straw colour and then a black line was drawn down the middle using
an very fine overhead projector pen. For lettering and numbering I have
used 4mm scale transfers. After spraying with satin varnish the glazing
strips were then pushed into place and the removable end secured in
One last problem remained that defeated me for some time, and that was how to affix the distinctive end steps. These obviously had to be metal for strength, but how was I to attache them to my card bodies particularly as, by now, the models were fully painted? In the end the solution was simple; I cut some small squares of nickel silver from a valve gear fret, and soldered on a length of brass wire with about 5mm of wire extending beyond the square. Next I drilled a small hole through both the outer and inner end of the card body. A little epoxy was smeared on the wire and the wire was push through the holes and allowed to set. Likewise the step handrail was made from wire with about 6mm bends at each end. The wire was pressed through holes drilled in the card and secured with a smear of epoxy. The only disadvantage of this method is that if I ever need to replace the glazing I shall have to remove one of the coach ends, as it is no longer simple a loose fit.
Click on the photos for a larger image
Midland Railway 10 foot
for my parcel van, I used the Ratio 4mm scale Midland Railway bogies
attached to MJT etched brass bogies, widened for the S Scale gauge but
without altering the wheelbase from the 4mm scale 10’ of
40mm. However, with
the slightly longer passenger stock they looked far too short so I bit
the bullet and altered their length to the S Scale equivalent of 47mm.
The method I used will probably make some member’s hair stand on end
but it works, takes about an hour to do for each coach, and allowed me
to make progress which I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
the original bogie frets (there are two of them) and snip off the ends
of the frame-sides which
have the wheel bearing holes in. These now have to be soldered to
extension strips of brass attached to the bogie frets ensuring that the
holes are the correct distance apart and everything is still in a
straight line. I made a simple jig of a piece of wood and some panel
pins set at a distance of 47mm to do this. The bogie halves and pivot
are then assembled exactly as MJT intended. To finish the brasswork, I
solder some more brass strips to the top of the bogie-halves but behind
the wheels. Next I soldered on U shaped pieces of wire to hold the ends
of the bogie side frames in line and make it impossible for the wheels
to inadvertently drop out.
Ratio bogie sides are then cut into three parts, so that the section
with the axleboxes also has the diagonal and vertical struts attached. I
discard the middle section. The two outer parts are then secured to the
brass using two-part epoxy, ensuring that the top of the bogie sides
line up. When set, the gap in the middle can be filled with pieces of
plasticard cut to size. To complete, I cut a strip of 40 thou
plastic 63mm long and attach to the underside of the axleboxes ,
The bogies can then be spray painted and attached to the press stud
pivot point which has already been glued to the coach base.
So my Midland stock now stands at a fully finished Alan Gibson 4F and a few open wagons, and a four vehicle passenger train with an Alan Gibson 2P 4-4-0, the later about to be painted. I really must build a layout as a small test track with curves and a point don’t provide much interest…………
Midland Railway 6 wheel Full Brake D530
The latest addition to Halifax Midland's rolling stock is this Full Brake. The chassis utilises the S Scale Society's etching for a Cleminson type 6 wheel underframe. I found this amazingly simple to construct; the vehicle runs smoothly on Alan Gibson Mansell wheels. This underframe unit is attached to a very thick piece of Plasticard which is the glued to the base of the vehicle's body. The footsteps are made from N scale copper clad sleeper strip supported on brass wire brackets. The couplings are Bachmann mounted rigidly onto the chassis and work well even on my tight curves.
The body is built entirely out of card and Slater's Microstrip in the same way as my Clayton bogie coaches. Still to be added are the end steps and handrails.
The van ready to take its place on the layout as part of a parcels trains