Model Train Construction

This section covers the construction of vehicles for model railway trains; that is, model railway locomotives, passenger carriages, coaches and vans, and all types of freight wagons. These may be supplied either ready to run on your layout, or for static display, and I can produce your model(s) in any scale or gauge for which a suitable plastic or metal kit is available and finish it in the livery of your choice.

In addition to assembling kits, I can also start with a standard commercial ready-to-run model, and then:

  • modify it to represent a different prototype or simply add additional detail, possibly using commercial accessories
  • replace its running gear, chassis, and/or couplings, again using commercial accessories or conversion kits
  • repaint into a different livery and/or apply a weathered finish

Many railway vehicle models will be intended for use on a complete model railway layout, and will therefore be supplied 'ready to run', with no further display or mounting facilities. If, however, your model is intended for static display, I can also provide a number of options to help you to display it effectively. I can also produce a complete model railway layout for your model(s) to run on. See the Display Options page for more details.

For other types of models to complete your layout, please see the other pages in this section, such as buildings, road vehicles, or even aircraft or ships and boats.

The rest of this page gives detailed information about my model construction service with specific reference to model trains. Some of the more general aspects of my service are only summarised here, and described in detail on the Modelling Services introduction page. Also see the How To Order page for full details of how to order your model(s) from me, and if you have a specific model in mind, please enquire or request a quotation for further information about what I can do for your specific model.

Build Options

Many kits are supplied as standard with options to construct them in different ways. For example, additional parts may be supplied for fitting as alternatives in order to cover different prototypes, or parts or sub-assemblies maybe fitted in different positions. The range of options is then extended in many cases by the availabilty of accessories and/or conversion kits from other manufacturers (or sometimes the same manufacturer), either to increase the range of different prototypes covered, or to improve on the level of detail for the standard kit.

Common options applicable to many railway vehicle models include:

  • Fitting couplings of your choice, whether scale 3-link/screw-link (optionally sprung), or one of many types of proprietary tension-lock or magnetic systems.
  • Fitting replacement wheels and bearings to improve running quality and/or allow for use on a non-standard or more accurate track gauge.
  • Fitting functional sprung or other types of suspension system, or even complete replacement chassis.
  • Fitting more accurate/refined and/or sprung buffing gear.
  • Adding hidden weights to carriages and wagons to improve running quality.
  • Fitting realistic loads into freight wagons.
  • Fitting interior detail to passenger carriages, from simple representation of seating and partitions to fully detailed, and optionally complete with figures.
  • Fitting interior lighting systems to passenger carriages.
  • Fitting the motor and gearbox of your choice.
  • Fitting Digital Command Control (DCC) modules. For modules compatible with the Lenz system, I can also program them to your specification.

Beyond these 'standard' build options, if the model that you want is not covered by readily available kits and accessories, I may also be able to produce it by combining parts from two or more standard kits. Many railway companies produced their carriages and wagons, and even locomotives, from standardised sections or sub-assemblies. For example, a standardised series of carriages may have used a limited range of different compartment designs, with standardised window and door patterns, that were then put together in different combinations to produce a range of similar complete carriages. Where only a few prototypes from such a series are covered by commercial models, I may be able to produce others in the series by carefully chopping up the sides, etc., then putting the bits back together in different combinations.

In addition to starting with a kit, I can also apply many of these options to commercial ready-to-run models, including the more extensive custom modifications.

Where your model is based on commercially available models and/or accessories, you also have the option of purchasing them yourself, and supplying them to me for construction, or I can purchase them on your behalf. The latter option has the advantage that I can contact the supplier directly should there be a problem with missing or damaged components, while the former option will allow you to examine the instructions to help you select which build and finishing options you want me to implement.

You will need to specify exactly which options you wish me to use before I start working on your model. You should also give an indication of which options you are likely to require when requesting a quotation, particularly where these will have a significant effect on the amount of work I will need to put into constructing your model. In some cases I may not be able to give a firm quotation until I have the kit(s) and accessories in my possession. In these cases I will give you a provisional quotation, then firm it up (and request your approval) just before starting work.

Some of the more extensive or non-standard modification options (such as those for which a commercial conversion kit is not available) may require considerable preliminary research to find candidate commercial models and/or accessories to work with, and assess the feasibilty of modifying or combining them. If you are unable to do this, you are welcome to commission an initial research project from me; see the Modelling Services introduction page for details.

Finishing Options

Just as many kits include options for constructing them in different ways, even more provide instructions and decals or transfers for painting and finishing them to represent different specific prototypes. The range of finishing options is further expanded by the availability of alternative decal sets from other manufacturers, either for specific kits or as generic sets, for example for a specific railway company at different periods. You will therefore need to specify which colour scheme and decals you want me to apply to your model. Although I don't need precise details in order to produce a quotation, I do need an indication of the complexity of the colour scheme you are likely to choose, since highly complex schemes will take a lot more time to produce than simple ones.

In addition to the basic colour scheme, I can also apply a final finish to your model to represent the degree of use the prototype being modelled has seen. This can range from a pristine, 'straight out of the factory' finish, through to a heavily-used, extremely dirty, grimey and rusty, even damaged in some way. The degree of such 'weathering' you require for your model will significantly affect my price: the heavier the weathering, the more time it will take to produce. You should therefore specify this when requesting a quotation. A pristine or lightly weathered finish is likely to be most appropriate for a model that is intended for display on a simple base, whereas heavier weathering is likely to be necessary for a model to realistically fit into a complete diorama.