Friday, 5 June 2020


If you been modelling for some time you will most likely recall the good old days when rollingstock came with plastic wheelsets and your wagons didn’t roll all that well. Metal wheels mounted in delrin/acetal plastic side frames came along and improved things dramatically including highlighting where your layout was not level. It didn’t take long before most modellers changed out their plastic wheels for metal.

Modelling a 12 mm system, any wheelset was worth a pot gold and one took every opportunity to purchase them when they became available for future projects. After exchanging all my plastic wheelsets for metal, plus what I had for future projects and what I had been given, left me with a box of wheels no longer required. From time to time I would look at the box and ask myself “what are you going to do with them”. I know what Kerrie would say, “toss them” and few other kind words. The box would go back on the shelf until next time I was looking for something.

Some time back I added a wagon maintenance depot to the layout, to set the scene this gave me an opportunity to use a few on the wheelset.  

This is the back side of the scene, the detail of the workers etc. are out of view in this photo.

Recently I was researching a project and looking through various photos when the penny dropped what I could do with the plastic wheelsets. With the introduction of a wheel lathe at Redbank Workshops, the life of wheelset could be extended. This called for special wagons to carry wheels between workshops and maintenance depots. Over the years that followed lathes were installed in other workshops which lead to wagons being allocated to carry wheels around in their division. Over time older wagons were replaced with newer wagons, drawhook wagons were replaced with auto coupler wagons, all were converted from wagons no longer require for the purpose they were built for.    

The first wagons to be converted for this traffic were FJS, 4 wheeled open wagon to FJW and HS 8 wheeled open wagon to HSW. Plan P 94 gives a bit of information on the FJW wagons. Tare 5 T 9 Cwt and carry 11 T 11 Cwt. The wagon could carry 13 wheelsets with 33½” wheels, 9 on the floor and 4 on top. Wooden blocks were required for smaller wheelsets. The first FJW entered service in 1970 and the first FJWT (auto couplings) in 1971. I guess the FJWT were for the coal areas as most wagons had auto couples without buffers. 

FJWT Rockhampton

I cannot find much information on the HSW wagons. They were converted from HS wagons with a carrying capacity of 22 tons. The wagons had hook drawgear and were goods wagons restricted to 35 MPH or 60 KM/h. The HS class was unpopular with traffic staff due to the single door on each end. This limited there use as everything had to be man handled into the centre of the wagon or be lifted over the fixed sides. Shunters did not like the bogie, it was located right on the end of the wagon and had a guard around the leading end just a few inches above the rail. It was very easy to catch your feet under the guard, which earnt them the nick name as “toecutters”. Looking at the history of the wagon they entered service with a hopper type floor to discharge coke and concentrates for Mt Isa mines as the HVS class. The hoppers floors were replaced with a standard flat steel floor in the mid to late 1950’s and reclasses HS class. The guard may have acted as a plough to clear obstructions in front of the wheel to reduce the chance of derailments. The HSW lasted until the 1990’s. Some photos around this time show cover wagons on each end as the green light had been given to remover buffer of most wagons fitted with auto couplings. HSW would have been an interesting model to make with their fish belly underframes and outside brake gear. What put me off was their uneek bogie, I guess I could have used something similar, the object of the excise was to use up what I had in the draw.

HS Wagon in general traffic.

 HSW Wagon.

As I often put loads in wagons, I find the information on the carrying capacity of the FJW interesting. 13 wheelsets on a wagon that can carry 11½ tons, that makes a wheelset just under a ton, or around 18 Cwt an axle. I understood cast bogies were around 4 tons with the wheelsets being about 1 ton each. I had an H wagon looking for a load, the wagon didn’t have inside detail. I would think wheelsets were moved around the network before the introduction of the wheel wagons. An “H” wagon would be suitable for the job. H wagons can carry 12 tons plus an allowable 1½ ton overload, 13 wheelsets as above would give a full load within the carrying capacity. The wheelset would have been chocked with old sleepers making the loading process a bit messy and time consuming, with extra wheelsets moving over the network as a result of the lathes would be a good reason for a special wagon.  The “H” wagon would better suit my era. The black plastic wheelset were given a coat of burnt umber to give a more realistic used look. 

Around 1980, BSW wagons fitted with automatic and transition couplings started entering service. These wagons were red circle vehicles allowing them to travel at 80 km/h on express freight services. These wagons were converted from BLC box wagons. The plans show some wagons were built to carry 18 wheelsets with 915 mm diameter wheels and others to carry 19 wheelset with 850 mm diameter wheels. Early wagon for 850mm wheels converted retained their original number (31035, 31105), wagons converted in 1988 for 915mm wheels were allocated new numbers (36293, 36299, and 36300). All up eight wagons were converted over a number of years, the last be done in 1994.  Carrying capacity of the wagons were just 22 tons. The wagons remained in service until 2013.   

BSW 31035 Clapham. February 2000.

1991 the WHW wagons were introduced to the traffic converted from WHE grain wagons. Between 1991 and 1994, 11 wagons entered service. Two were scrapped in 2013. All retained their original numbers. In later years, the loading configuration was alerted on the wagons working out of Redbank. Wheelset were loaded across the wagon, I guess this was to allowing loading/unloading using forklifts.

 There were other wagons for wheelset/bogies including the PW for electric loco bogies, 6 were converted and one WHED class to carry bogies frames without wheels.  All were converted from WHE wagons.

To put my box of wheels to good use and to use other bits (bogies) in the cupboard, WHW wagons were built. The wagon were scratch built from styrene similar to other platform wagons on the layout. The plastic wheels are black and would not look right if placed on a wagon.

The wheelset were sprayed with a grey etch primer. The tyres were hand painted with “Model Color” gunmetal. Some weathering was added using earth colours and rust. Wheelsets are secured with web straps on the prototype, my straps are cut from a yellow plastic shopping bag, the bag was cut into 1 mm strips, and the strips were glued into place over the axles with super glue.  I use wheelsets of a different size and a mix of disc and spoked for most of my loads. Looking at later periods and certain areas, wheels going and coming from the coal fields etc., the wheelsets would all be the same type and diameter.                

Buffers were added to the models, plans for the wagon show buffers fitted. I would think given the period that WHW wagons entered service these wagon may of entered service without buffers.

I still have quite a few wheelsets in the box, HSW may find their way to the layout down the track.

Trust the article has inspired you to do something “out of the box” for your railway.

QR Plan books.
Aurizon Wagon data information.

Arthur H.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Dream Operations.

A railway that runs well is a joy to operate. There will always be a few derailments due to operator error, pulling the wrong points etc. From time to time wagons will derail at one set location on the layout or another wagon will keep derailing on a set of points. All of this can be fixed to give trouble free operation of your layout.

 Another point to consider is if you run operations to a time table, derailments will cause all sorts of havoc across the operations session to the point where the session is out of control and may not be all that much fun.   
To have a railway that run well, their need to be a good interface between the wheel and the rail. Good track is a must, ask they say in the prototype you require a good top and line. In other words, the top of the track most be in line, no dips, no kinks, twists or holes. I can hearing many of you saying, branch lines are far from it. That’s true, speed is low, often low axle loads, and a big plus is the rollingstock has spring. Our models don’t have springs to ride out the up and downs, thus good track is a must. Time taken to make sure your track is good and in gauge will repay you many times over with good operations.
Modelling H0n3½ there are many issues that impact on that good wheel rail interface.
Over years they has been various track systems used along with endless wheelset manufactures.
 At first, Tri-ang TT3 equipment was used. The manufacture made both set track and rollingstock. Gem produced flex track and points, Peco had their Wonderful Wagon series, all British manufactures for 12 mm gauge.

In Europe there was Bemo (Fine and course systems) and Pilz, in later years we have Tillig and Peco pitching at the meter gauge modelling. (Approx. 11.9 mm gauge), Shinohara is H0n3½ track for the Japanese market (approx. 12.3 mm gauge), this track system is no longer available. Some track systems are code 83 rail, PECO is code 75 and Shinohara was code 70. In Europe there has been a number of manufactures of rollingstock, Berliner Bahnen, Roco to make a couple. On top of this some TT models were produced in the US for local modellers.

Gem Track and Points.
Shinohara Track and Points.
Bottom – Peco Code 75, Middle – Shinohara Code 70, Top – Gem Code 83 Track
 Various manufactures have made wheelsets over the years, some plastic and other were metal of various types. Jackson, Wren, Peco TT, P.M.H, K&M made wheels for 12 mm and H0n3½ gauges, AR Kits, Steam Era Models. Now we have CGL, Caintode Flats Models, Southern Rail and Wuiske Models all producing wheelsets. Some wheelsets made for Shinohara track do not run through H0m points. Steam Era wheelset ran on most track systems I used over the years. The cost of them increased and troops stopped buying them. Production of 12 mm wheels no longer takes place, 9.5 mm disc wheels are still available. To add to this you will find the axle length will vary considerably between the manufactures. This prevents exchanging wheelsets between the various bogies.
When you look at the standards there is MOROP (European), NMRA, AMRA and British TT/TT3 or 3 mm. All are difference in various ways. I understand there was an H0n3½ standard developed in the 1960’s with AMRA and NMRA, but I was never aware of it. I started QR modelling in H0n3½ in 1973. At the time it was mainly British equipment used, some being Tri-ang. By today standards I fell the standard would not be that great anyhow. A paper written by Peter Knife “Modelling Australian HOn3½” for the Second Australian Narrow Gauge Convention held at Blackheath in 1998 cover standards and the industry at that time.
Today, in short we have track manufactures who do not make rollingstock and rollingstock manufactures who don’t make track.
I feel I cannot change track standards or any other standard for that natter, the most accessible track system today is the PECO H0m track which is the cheapest and most workable for the modeller. In recent year most manufactures producing rollingstock have adopted RP 25 contoured wheels. The theory is that the wheel is less likely to pick points and go around curves better. The standard states the wheels are best on track conforming to the limits of NMRA Standard S-3.2 and consistent with RP-10, RP-11 and RP-12.  At first we had RP 25/110 wheels, the tyre was wider than the prototype. To get a better looking wheel RP25/88 wheel was used.  The table below will give a overview of the difference between the two.
Tyre Width
Flange Width
Tread Width
Flange Depth
RP 25/110 wheel
(2.794 mm)
(.762 mm)
(2.032 mm)
(.635 mm)
RP 25/88 wheel
(2.235 mm)
(.635 mm)
(1.6 mm)
(.5842 mm)
 Yes, the RP25/88 wheel looks good, but you need a track system to the same standard. If the track is not the same standard, the wheels leave the rail and trend to fall into a hole at the vee on points. Some manufactures have back pedal a little and now use RP 25/99 wheels. Wider the wheel type, longer the axle, wider the bogie becomes. Wider bogies can take the true porotype look from the model.
This raises two questions, Question 1. Does my PECO H0m track conform to NMRA standards?. Track manufactures give you a gauge and not much more. The biggest issue is the clearances in the points around check rails. I’m aware some Peco track in other scales don’t meet these standards, my HO code 100 track has modifications to stop derailments. Question 2. How do RP25/88 wheelsets behave on the layout? Some run like a dream, faultless, can be pulled and pushed within in a string without any issues. Others turn into kangaroos at points, jumping up and down. Once a flange arrives on top of the rail, it’s any ones guess where the wheel will go, but mostly it finds the ballast. If the wagon is in a train being pulled, with a bit of luck at the next set of points the wheel will bounce back onto the rail. If you are pushing a wagon, once a flange arrives on top of the rail it all over. On closer inspection to find the cause, I observed there are differences in the flange shape on some wheelset said to be manufactured to the same standard. The back to back measurement could also very between different manufactures.
I have a test track, all wheelsets are tested before they hit the layout. The back to back is adjusted so the wheel run freely through the vee. Sitting on a chair, I place the board on the top of my legs, this allows me to alter the angle of the board and adjust the speed the wheels/bogies rolling through the points. Allowing the wheels to roll at a slow speed will show where the wheels meet resistance or climb onto the top of the rail head. 
Wheelsets that don’t run smoothly through the points have the back to back adjusted. I use two pullers to adjust the wheels on the axle.   
Hobby Tools Australia. This unit pulls the wheels out towards end of axle.
This gear puller can move the wheel in or out with adjustment of the centre screw. The centre screw was drilled out and a brass wheel bearing was inserted. I mainly use this tool for moving the wheel along the axle. I use the two to save adjusting the setting each time. (Lazy ??)
A good set of Vernier Callipers can be very helpful when adjusting wheelsets. The newer digital type make it much easier to read if you a bushie like me.  
Some wheels are gauged a recessed flange in the axle which prevents the wheels being pulled inwards. I’m very lucky I have a lathe, a small amount is taken off the back of the flange helps to achieve a wider back to back. I also do this with wheels with thicker flanges. Spinning a wheel in the lathe will also highlight if the wheel is square on the axle, I’m finding some insulated wheels have a wobble in them, thus they don’t run true and can pick the vee in the points at various times. Rolling the wheelset on a sheet of glass or a flat surface can achieve similar results. This could be the result of how you pull the wheelset out of the bogie, check before and pull on the non-insulated wheel. So be careful how you put the wheelset back into the bogie.  
 If you have plastic wheels there is nothing you can do to alter the back to back other than replacing the wheelset. Over a number of years, all my plastic wheels have been replaced with metal wheels. Don’t toss them in the bin, more on that down the track.  
The freer the wheels, the better with less friction. I have a modified H0 bearing tool to ream out the axle boxes on Delrin/Acetal plastic side frames.
The wheels need to turn freely will little to no side play in the axle.
The key point I try to achieve with wheelsets is reducing the resistance within the bogie and it interface with the track. Free rolling vehicles that run well on the track will give you less derailment and smoother operations overall. It will also show up how level your layout is.   
I try to have 30 foot wagons around 50 grams. Four wheeled wagons 25/30 grams appear to work OK, four wheeled wagons are trouble at the best of time if you want to push long strings. Some of the early carriage kits have a block of poxy for the roof, some are more than 3 times heavier than the rest of the kit, making the vehicle top heavy. I ream most of the poxy out using a dermal milling tool in a drill press.
Centre of gravity is very important to any railway, the lower the better. When adding weight to a vehicle I like to add plumber’s sheet lead to under the floor.
Coupled to this is the mounting position of the coupler. Most scratch build wagons I make my own coupler box reducing the side throw in the coupler. The back of the coupler socket is set level with the buffers heads. All wagons travel through cross overs without issues.
 Coupler heights can also differ, in the early days most kits were manufactured using the standard H0 Kadee coupler heights. This is higher than the QR  2’ 8” coupler height. To keep everything in prospective I mount couplers at 9.3 mm to the centre casting on the Kadee. Wuiske Models adopted a similar height for their RTR rollingstock. Southern Rail Models producing a dual position coupler box to cater for both by moving a spacer above or below the coupler shaft within the coupler box. For my money, wagons with standard H0 coupler height sit up much higher and makes the model look top heavy. As much as possible I try to keep the wagon/carriage floor and roof line at the correct height. The trip pin can hang low and catch on points etc., I bent them up a fraction. Australian Model Railway Magazine published an article “Coupling up in H0n3½” (April 2001). Stephen J. Colclough shares some hard earned lessons with coupling Queensland Railway HOn3½ models.
Building you own couple box into the wagon has some advantages, many older timber framed wagons have the bogie mounted on the end of the wagon. Standard Kadee coupler boxes fit between the wheels, but don’t allow them to swivel on small radius curves. Kadee makes a narrower # 262 box which can be purchased separate and are much better for the narrow gauge modeller. Building your own coupler box you can alter the shape of the yoke protruding out from the headstock. This can give extra support under the coupler shaft to prevent couples from sagging. It also allows you to reduce the cross movement within the box stopping couplings pushing outwards when pushing back.  

Most QR RTR rollingstock on the market today will run on PECO H0m track, radius of curves can be biggest issue, some locos may have issues on the points. If it is any comfort, the 6 wheeled DEL bogie caused many issues at first on the QR. I find PECO points can lose their gauge in the switch blades, I hold the toe of the switch hard up on the stock rail and with the other hand apply a small amount of pressure to the middle of the switch (curved closure rail), care is need not to apply to much pressure so that it pulls the rail out of the heel block.
Trust this helps you enjoy your railway more.





Thursday, 9 April 2020

SBC Cement Wagon Kit

The SBC Cement Wagon Kit is available from Queensland Railway Miniatures via Facebook and at exhibitions.

Information on the prototype is on the header of the kit package.  The cement bins on the wagon were used on other QR wagons. FJC – 2 bins, HJC, WBC – 4 bins, WCC – 6 bins, QFQ – 8 bins. The bins are available from the manufacture as a separate item.

The clear plastic packet contains over 80 parts, each bin is made up of 18 parts. Opening of the packet is recommended on a clean clear work area as many of the parts are small and could be easily be lost. Some spares are in the kit.


More detailing parts were added after this photo.

Instructions for the bins is just under 5 pages, each step highlights preparation and assembly with a 3 D drawings. Prototype photos are included. 

The kit being reviewed was being developed at that time, the following additional items were required to the complete the kit. Bogies, couplers, trust rods, queen posts, screws for couplings, bogies and paint. Trust rods and queen post have now been included in the kit.  

The bins castings are crisp, some parts are sprue using flash which is used to support the part during preparation. Some small air bubbles were detected in the castings, once the kit was painted there present was less noticeable and didn’t distract the models. A small smear of super glue did fill most and provided an added weather appearance of spilled cement. All areas to be glued were lightly sanded with wet & dry. Following the steps in the instructions will give you a smart model of the prototype. I painted the bins with “Yellow Oxide” from a rattle can that was purchased from Auto Barn. The paint was sprayed into a plastic cup and applied to the model with an air brush. The paint is very thin and was applied in a number of coats to avoid the paint from running.     

The wagon consists of a moulded floor, underframe and a number of detailing parts. For the review kit there was no instructions at the time of assembly. The underframe is glued to the floor to form a platform wagon. The underframe is very well detailed, and reflects the 26 foot underframe drawing. The underside floor boards are shown.  Having the two parts separate is good, it allows you to drill and tap the coupling and bogies mounting holes without fear of drilling threw the top of the floor. The QR plan I have for the wagon is misleading and is different to the photo I have of the wagon. The plan shows a 1½ inch floor, the correct height of the sole bar on the plan is questionable. Most timber frame wagons have a 10 inch sole bar making the floor and sole bar around 12 inches.  The kit floor has individual boards which have a well-used weathered appearance. The top of the floor is a little uneven in parts and in some places the combined height of the floor when glued to the underframe is 4.5 mm.   

 Full brake gear is provided in the kit including brake pipe hoses and buffers for the headstock. I attached the bogies and couplings using 2 mm nylon screws. The coupler height was compatible with my other rollingstock (9.5 mm). I used Caintode Flats CFB3S 5’ diamond frame bogies. After a few days, the wagon did develop that unique timber frame wagon appearance of being push, pull and bashed around a shunting yard for several years.

The review wagon frame was painted “Engine Black”. Decals supplied in the kit are for the pre 1970 era (white), included were a wagon number, tare, carry and wagon length in imperial measure, all correct in fact and size. The floor was weathered by applying a couple of coats of light grey. The bins were glued to the floor and a spray coat of mud/dust was applied to all the completed model.  

 On the weight bridge the completed model comes in at 54 grams.   

This is the first kit for this manufacture and I’m sure it was a steep learning curve for a modeller new to the hobby. The wagon is packed with detail, looks like the prototype and is a very good representation of the prototype and will make a good addition to your wagon fleet.   

Congratulations Steve for having a go and for producing an awesome model, I look forward to other unique quirky wagons that make QR trains somewhat special that we come to love and like to see.    

SBC nd FJC on Westgate.  
Ipswich. The wagon has metric markings, mid 1970’s.  

 Arthur Hayes MMR.

 Since the review, the kit has been further refined and instructions have been finalised. Don’t look to hard at the underfloor detail on my model, I stuff it up (senior moment!!).  The wagon has been on the layout for a couple of weeks and has replaced my scratched build SBC wagon which form part of Shunt Train 656 featured in Operation for a Small Layout, Australian Model Railway Magazine Issue 322 February 2017

Page 1 of the 3 page instructions for the wagon is attached below.