Build a laser-cut kit
George Dent assembles an impressive wagon body kit, rendered in card and MDF.
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.
WHO NEEDS WHEELS?
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.