Construction: Scratch-building in styrene

TIM SHACKLETON demonstrates the basics of wagon building using plastic sheet and strip – what’s involved, what to use, how to go about it. Using ordinary hand tools and equally simple techniques, it may be easier than you might think.

Above: The three different types of Palbrick – on the far track are my three scratchbuilt Palbrick Cs, in the foreground are two Palbrick As and on the left the wide-bodied Palbrick B built from an Ian Macdonald kit.

GOODS WAGONS are surprisingly easy to build from scratch using nothing more sophisticated than styrene sheet and strip – especially if you take advantage of the many different types of plastic underframe kit which are available. Most freight stock is basically a box on wheels, sometimes with a roof, sometimes without. Making the bodyshell generally involves cutting out a series of matching rectangular shapes using a sharp blade and a straight edge and then joining them together. Vehicles with plain (plywood or steel) sides and ends are fairly simple, while scribing plank lines isn’t exactly hi-tech modelling. Many of the details – strapping, reinforcements, operating gear – can be made from pre-cut styrene strip or rod of the required thickness.

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