Build a laser-cut kit

Ge­orge Dent as­sem­bles an im­pres­sive wagon body kit, ren­dered in card and MDF.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

Ge­orge Dent as­sem­bles a wagon body kit, ren­dered in card and MDF.

While it’s more com­mon to see rolling stock kits of­fered in moulded plas­tic or etched metal, there are a num­ber of other ma­te­rial op­tions. Cast resin has been a pop­u­lar medium for ‘short run’ kits for some time, while 3D-printed com­po­nents can be read­ily pro­duced to or­der. Ad­vanced com­puter-based de­sign­ing and laser-cut­ting tech­nol­ogy has also opened up other ma­te­rial op­tions, with plas­tics, wood and card now be­ing of­fered. Although die-cut and em­bossed card wagon kits have been around for decades (and have a dis­tinctly ‘retro’ vibe), laser-cut kits of­fer a greater de­gree of re­fine­ment.

This ex­cel­lent 4mm scale kit, from Di­a­gram 3D, rep­re­sents a North British Rail­way Per­ish­able Goods van, the pro­to­types be­ing pre­dom­i­nantly em­ployed

for the tran­sit of Scot­tish fish or milk. The kit is ren­dered in a com­bi­na­tion of laser-cut Medium Den­sity Fi­bre­board (MDF) and card, along with clear plas­tic glaz­ing.

The kit con­sists of a bodyshell and floor only, with mod­ellers left to source de­tails for the six-wheel un­der­frame sep­a­rately, along with buf­fers, roof vents, handrail wire and cou­plings. It will be im­por­tant to in­clude some form of lateral com­pen­sa­tion in the cen­tre axle to al­low the ve­hi­cle to ne­go­ti­ate curves more read­ily.

Fur­ther­more, I’d rec­om­mend ob­tain­ing the nec­es­sary chas­sis com­po­nents be­fore the body kit is as­sem­bled, as I found the clear­ance be­tween the sole­bars rather tight, although this could be eas­ily mod­i­fied with a lit­tle fet­tling of the MDF parts be­fore build­ing com­mences.


I opted to build the kit with­out a chas­sis, as I needed a dis­tinc­tive grounded van body for a cor­ner of a lo­co­mo­tive shed dio­rama. Per­fectly sized to of­fer an au­then­tic mess and stores fa­cil­ity for the lo­cal per­ma­nent way team, all it re­quired was a set of tim­ber bol­sters, foot­steps and a chim­ney for a stove.

The de­sign of the kit is im­pres­sive, with the parts slot­ting to­gether eas­ily to form a sturdy yet re­fined ve­hi­cle. There’s an im­pres­sive amount of de­tail re­lief in the card over­lays,

with the tim­ber plank­ing and iron brack­ets de­picted, along with ven­ti­la­tion grilles and door seams. As the sides are built up from twin lay­ers, there’s a pleas­ing amount of depth around the door/win­dow pan­elling and the model re­ally comes to life dur­ing the paint­ing and weath­er­ing stages.

In­deed, the card pro­vides a wel­come sur­face tex­ture, avoid­ing the overly flat and uni­form ap­pear­ance of many plas­tic and metal rolling stock kits.

Adding a work­ing chas­sis would, nat­u­rally, in­crease the com­plex­ity of this kit, but the bodyshell pro­vided an easy and en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence and has pro­duced an at­trac­tive and con­vinc­ing scenic ad­di­tion. The Di­a­gram 3D range in­cludes an in­trigu­ing ar­ray of car­riage and van kits of var­i­ous pre‑group­ing pro­to­types, and is well worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Look­ing at home in the cor­ner of a rail­way yard, the for­mer North British Rail­way van makes for an ideal mess and stores for the lo­cal per­ma­nent way team.

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