My first scratchbuilt wagon

By Phil Parker

There is a oft propagated myth that anyone who is a half way decent modeller was born this way while everyone else has to struggle to cut a piece of card without cutting their fingers off. Not so. When I was about ten, I built a wagon.

My first wagon came about because I wanted to transport cattle on my train set. I didn’t have any money but I did have a bag of balsa wood, a knife, some glue and a Trix wagon chassis.Early scratchbuild – real wagons don’t look like this !

I set to and built a balsa box. It had a door on the side and thanks to a clever bit of work, I made it hinge down using a dressmaking pin cut in half and pushed into the bottom of the door each side to act as a pivot. There was strapping on it made from card although it was based on barn door rather than wagon door strapping ! My little cows could breath thanks to the ventilation in the ends. I even chamfered the otherwise flat roof. After painting it with poster colours it went into service doing numerous circuits behind a Tri-ang 3F and some Grafar wagons.

Actually, I don’t suppose it did many circuits, the couplings were incompatible with the rest of the stock so it would have kept uncoupling. I would have given my plastic cows a few runs though and let them out onto the station platform (can’t remember if I made a cattle dock) and felt quite pleased with myself.

LSWR 10 ton wagon20 years later, and with a good deal more experience, I built another wagon. This time it was to be an LSWR 10-ton van. No ready made chassis for me this time, plasticard all the way. W-irons are whitemetal and the brake gear is leftover from Parkside kits. The buffers are whitemetal.

The body is a plastic box with overlaid plastic detail and wire handrails. The doors don’t work but the roof is curved this time.

I’m proud of both these wagons. My first lives wrapped in tissue paper in a box to remind how far I have come. I had forgotten I still had it until a few weeks ago and will now make every effort to preserve it. The later vehicle is also a model to be proud of. It is accurate and runs well on my Hospital layout. In 20 years I managed to learn quite a lot. Needless to say there is still more to learn and my modelling journey continues. So to all those I would say keep trying. I won’t take you twenty years or even a quarter of that. You have the benefit of better tools and materials plus the assistance of all your friends in DOGA. Have fun!

This article was first published in the Spring2004 Double O Gauge Association Journal
All Material copyright the Double O Gauge Association 2004.