Rolling Stock


The presence of many details on a model can be convincingly implied without physically being added. Cut a piece of masking tape the shape of any area cleaned by a diesel windshield wiper and apply it to the model. Spray the model lightly with Dullcote or weathering colours. Remove the masking tape. The result is most convincing.


The imitation coal in steam engine tenders is usually very unrealistic. This can be improved by spreading adhesive over the existing moulded coal and sprinkling on unused tea leaves. Make sure that they are pressed down onto the adhesive and cover well. Any surplus can be dusted off when the adhesive is really dry.


Put a small lump of coal between several layers of newspaper and tap it with a hammer until the required size is obtained. For wagon loads, shape a piece of Balsa wood to form a heap, coat it with glue and push it into the coal, making sure the surface in entirely covered. When it is dry and placed in a wagon, it looks perfect. Coke loads can be produced in a similar manner.


Common staples can be used to produce uniform grab handles on locomotives, wagons and other rolling stock. Different sizes are available to suit your scale. A little heat will help them go into plastic, or put a drop of superglue in the holes to hold them in place.


Hold the metal handrail, grabiron or other detailing item with a pair of tweezers or pliers and place it in the position you want it to go. Touch it with your electric soldering iron and the resultant heating will be sufficient to allow the part to be gently pushed into the plastic. Tweezers holding staple in flame


There are many materials about the home which can be used to make wagon covers. Masking tape is one. Choose a width of tape to suit the scale of your wagon, cut the tape to size and drape it over the wagon. Press the tape to the wagon sides, folding in the corners. Now all you have to do is paint the cover the colour of your choice. The texture of the tape makes the cover look like a bought one.


Most plastic locomotives and rolling stock will probably need some extra weight added at some time. Lead is the most common metal to use but there are a variety of other sources of weights which could be considered. Materials at hand such as bolts can be wrapped in kitchen foil, moulded to fit the space so they won’t roll or move about. Additional foil can be packed into any spare spaces. Look around your workshop and you are bound to find other items which can be given the same treatment.


The trick in weighting rolling stock is to keep the weights as low as possible so that the vehicle will track well. Ideally, metal bogies and wheels are the best but you can also add a sheet metal floor on top of the original, metal seats and figures in carriages as well as adding small metal weights to areas where thWEIGHTING ey won’t be seen such as toilets or luggage compartments.


Modelling steel coils in HO gauge is easy. Take three large bath tap washers and glue them together then wrap a layer of half inch wide masking tape around the circumference to conceal the joins. To finish off, spray with ‘oily steel’ paint and fit as many as you need to your steel coil wagons with double sided tape. The effect is quite convincing.


Adding some weights to wagons is always advantageous in helping the wagons run better. But why not make the weights a little more realistic by including cattle, sheep and so on that are actually made of metal. Cover the floor of the wagon with a thin layer of dark yellow plaster mixed with fine straw-like material and set the animals in it. You will then have a realistic load and added weight all in one.


The British one plank wagons do not lend themselves to many types of loads because of their very low sides but try these: motor vehicles and farm machinery, small boats, crates, marble slabs, stone blocks and steel ingots. Make sure that these are tied down with rope or chains to prevent movement.


Locomotives with windscreen wipers moulded on in some way should have appropriately detailed glass. The swaths kept clean by the wipers are easily simulated by masking these areas with carefully cut out pieces of tape and then spraying on a light coat of some transparent finish to represent road film. Peel off the tape and the windscreen is properly weathered.


When making up a model that has rivets as part of the detail, it is sometimes unavoidable to sand some of them off. An easy way to replace these rivets is to use a small puddle of PVA glue and a toothpick. All you have to do is to is to dip the toothpick in the glue and dab a drop on where the rivet head should be. Use a straightedge to keep them in line and when they are dry, paint them over in the colour of the model.


This problem can be largely eliminated by packing the inside with foam plastic or soft tissue paper. Don’t over tighten the body mounting screws either.


If you don’t want to fix a load permanently into a particular wagon, consider using magnets to ensure the load stays where you want it, while you want it. Magnets can be bought in sheet form or you can save up the advertising fridge magnets that often come as ‘junk’ mail. Another source of magnets is the strips from the inside of old refrigerator doors although these are a bit thicker than the sheet kind. Plastic wagons may need a sheet of tinplate or similar cemented to the floor of the wagon for the magnet to adhere to but the refrigerator door strips do stick to themselves very well. Check that you have the magnets round the right way before cementing to anything. Also make sure that the wagon load is a slightly loose fit inside the gondola or wagon being used as too tight a fit makes them difficult to remove. Below are two of the many samples of magnets which appeared as “junk mail”.


Try using cake-type shoe polish to accentuate panel lines on locomotives and rolling stock. Apply just enough to small areas at a time to fill the seam, remove the excess with a paper towel and then buff the surface to a nice sheen. The panel lines will show up distinctly.


If you have a nut or screw to fit in a difficult position, put a small ball of Blu Tack on the end of a pencil (not the pointed end) and then add the nut or screw. It can then be easily fixed in position.


Detailed interiors add a great deal to the appearance of any railway wagon of carriage. When you look into the interior of such a vehicle and see nothing, all realism is lost. To eliminate this problem, try the following ideas to detail interiors of empty boxcars. First, paint the walls, doors and floor boxcar red or other suitable colour. Fade the paint by using grey chalk powder and rub it with the grain. Texture it by using other coloured chalks and add forklift tracks to the floor with black chalk. The ends of the floorboards in the door opening may be chipped and splintered with a knife. You may want to glue pieces of stripwood across one of the door openings which, on the prototype, were used to prevent loads from falling out when the doors were opened.


Bending florists wire for handrails on railway locos and rolling stock is tricky, especially to get a close fitting join. Try using Micro Kristal-Kleer to fill small gaps between railings or where they meet the body. Apply with a toothpick, pin or wire and the gap disappears. Kristal Kleer dries without bumps so you will not have to worry about any excess on the body of the model. It fills surprisingly long gaps, readily accepts paint and can be removed with a moist cotton swab if it gets in the wrong place.


If you are modelling pipes or cables on locomotives or other rolling stock, raid the sewing box for black elastic. Cut it carefully lengthways and you will get lengths of black rubber of varying diameters which make ideal pipes. They are flexible so less likely to be snapped off by clumsy fingers. They are also self-coloured which means the paint will never chip off to leave an unrealistic shiny patch.


When adding weight to rolling stock, it improves running if the vehicle’s centre of gravity is kept as low as possible. One way is to wrap wire solder around the axles as shown in the illustration. You can’t get much lower than that and the added weight will make a big difference to the running qualities of your trains.


There may be times when you want to remove the body shell, particularly from a coach to add passengers or lighting. This can sometime be tricky but many body shells are usually clip-fitted. If this is the case, start by slipping a flat blade between the body and the chassis at one clip and carefully prise them apart. Slip something in to keep the clip open while you move on to the next clip. Repeat this procedure until all clips on both sides are open and the body will be easily removed. Care should be taken that you don’t crack the body shell by opening the clips too wide.


Moulded plastic coal in locomotive tenders never looks real enough but this can be improved by using a black spirit based felt tip pen to repaint it. The coal then catches the light more realistically and, although not as good as the real stuff, is better than the painted version.


Modellers who use expanded polystyrene for scenic work often have plenty of the stuff to use for other things. One such use is for wagon loads. Take a scrap of the material and cut it to the outside dimensions of a wagon. Compress it slightly with the fingers to form a neat force fit inside an open wagon. No further fixing is necessary. Be careful though with card stock as wagons with thin card sides do not react kindly to force fits. In this case it is better to cut to the inside dimensions of the wagon. Roughen up the top surface of the polystyrene and add a couple of coats of matt paint to resemble a load of sand, minerals, whatever. Or scrap materials can be glued on top to look like a load for the iron foundry. Apart from being a very cheap material to use, polystyrene is very light, but if weight is required, it is easy to add some lead or sand soaked in Johnson’s Klear floor polish to the wagon before the polystyrene is fitted.