Wooden model rail - Basic questions

Hi,
I want to make small models (wholly by myself) of trains (passenger cars, cabooses, tanks etc.) from wood. I am very new in this and would
like to know the following basic questions:
- How the scaling/measurement would be done - What type of wood would be needed for this - What type of hand tools/other tools would be required - What type of paint shall be used
I would be grateful if anyone could help me on this.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Regards,
Riz Abbasi
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You have a huge task ahead of you! For the making of all parts, fine grained hardwoods are recommended as they will hold their shape and not need a lot of filling to get rid of the grain in the wood. Tools would include a good router in a table so you can use it as a shaper for the various special shapes needed, including the rails. A small table saw and a regular one will also be very desirable to cut the wood to size. You'd also want a metal working lathe (as opposed to a wood working one) as the metal working lathe will work to much smaller tolerances for making the round things like wheels and so forth.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
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Riz: My answers are after each question.

The scale is what ever you make it when you reduce the object from life. For instance, If you have an 87 foot car, and you reduce it 87 times, you will have a model that is one foot long. This is HO scale (approximately) As long as you keep the parts at the same scale there will not be any problems with looks.
If this is for a child, look at Brio and the wooden Thomas the Tank Engine and make it to the same dimensions as them so the child can combine the sets and include your trains.

The type of wood probably depends on what the purpose of the trains will be. If it is for display, you might choose a 'rare wood'. If it is for play, then a hardwood should be used.

I can't answer that.

Again, it depends on the use. If for children, I would use a 'childproof' enamel.

Good luck and hopefully we can be directed to a website that has the pictures of what you built.

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- How the scaling/measurement would be done - What type of wood would be needed for this - What type of hand tools/other tools would be required - What type of paint shall be used
There are to many unknowns here. It would be easier to give useful answers if you could explain the purpose of the models. Are they childrens toys or display models? How big do you want them to be? What is your previous experience of modelling in wood? If you let us know what your final aims are, hopefully group members can offer suggestions. My father used to say. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How? Answer some of the first and it leads you to How!
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Hi Les,
Thanks for your reply. I want to make them for the display purpose. I beleive N scale would be feasible for that. I have absolutely no experience in making models. I want to make bit older passenger cars, cabooses etc. I would also like to paint them with close-to-reality colors.
Looking forward for responses.
Riz
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Cabooses have overhanging end roofs, these could be difficult to make in timber. Also, some early U.S. pattern passenger cars are the same. If intending to make steam loco models, small scale (N) spoked wheels would be quite a task, these would be better made solid with spokes painted thereon. Do you intend to make the passenger cars with cutout windows, or just with the whole body as a solid block, with windows painted on? Regards, Bill.

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Hi William,
Thanks for the response. You are right, making wheels and spikes would be big task. I intend to make passenger cars with cutout windows. No solid blocks, but pieces with cutouts, carvings, paints glued/stick together. Its a difficult task, I have never done that but I have a picture in mind what to do and hopefully I will get to 'how' to do. I am really unaware how the small wood pieces are curved to make the roofs etc. Have any idea on that.
Take care and nice day!
Riz
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Seems like a major task for someone with lots of woodworking skills, tools and experience! It would be best to learn basic woodworking skills by taking a course at a local community college or some other place, then acquiring the tools once you know what you need. You'll have to learn to crawl before you can hand make scale models, especially in N scale. Do you realise that an N scale boxcar would be 2 inches or less long?
Good luck! You are certainly going to need it.
PS: Be sure to have a supply of bandages on hand for your introduction to very sharp tools!
Bob B
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Hi Railfan,
Very helpful post. I really didn't realise that in N scale the box car would be 2 inches or even less. Can you please advise the scale that could stretch 2 inches to 6-7 inches. That would be great help.
Certainly I am not be going for N scale.
Regards,
Riz
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Riz,

That's looking like S scale which is 3/16" to the foot and would make a 40 foot boxcar scale at 7.5" long.
For your building in wood, you might want to look at the fine grain, thin plywoods you can get which are so much better for doing a lot of construction - like making thin edges where required, or allowing contour work by building up detail in layers.
Jim.
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Riz wrote:

Hi Riz, I'm sure Railfan will provide useful information, here's some suggestions and information from a different angle.
Approximate length of a 40ft (12m) boxcar in various scales. The so-called "40ft boxcar" actually varied in length.
N (1:160): 3" HO (1:87): 5.5" S (1:64): 7.5" O (N. American, 1:48): 10" O (European, 1:43): 11"
You can of course choose your own scale, since your plan is for display only, not for operation. If you're working in metric, 1:50 would be an easy scale to work with. A 40ft boxcar would be 24cm (9.6") long.
I would strongly suggest that you go about this in stages, since you have no model-making experience.
a) build a two or three plastic kits in a couple of different scales, to get a feel for the sizes
b) try one of those wooden toy train projects as described in wood craft magazines. Plans are available on line, just google on "wood toy train plan". ** Not to scale, but will give you some sense of the woodworking involved in your proposed project.
c) build a wood kit in a larger scale (S or O)
d) build a model from scratch in a larger scale (S or O)
e) same for a smaller scale (HO, N)
Then choose the scale for your project.
Wood kits and preshaped wood parts in various scales are available by mailorder or online. If there is good hobby shop near you, go visit, and discuss your project with sales staff. Google on "wood model railroad kits" and "model railroad craft kits", you'll get plenty of links. The cost is high, as these kits are made in small numbers, and even when many of the parts are cut by machine, they are packaged by hand.
**PS: I've found that you should also google on plural words, in this case "wood toy train plans." Google takes your spelling very literally. Sure, it sometimes picks up a misspelling and suggests a corrected one, but it's surprisingly obtuse about singular/plural words.
HTH&GL
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I suggest you buy a kit for wooden model of a RR car as a start. After putting a kit togther, you can copy the aspects you like on the models you build from scratch, and improve the aspects you find lacking. I highly recommend the HO (1:87) and O (1:48) basswood kits made by the LaBelle Woodworking Co. They have been around for a long time and use proven methods to make very nice models. LaBelle's web site is at: http://www.labellemodels.com / Good luck, Gary Q

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Curved pieces can be laminated out of thin veneers. Shape a former out of a block. a small plane and sandpaper should suffice for this job. The former should be curved to match the inside of the car roof and slighly wider and longer than the actual dimensions of the roof. Then layer up with glue 2 or 3 layers of the thinnest veneer you can find. It should be available at you local craft shop. Pull the veneers "sandwich" over your former and secure it with plenty of Scotch tape. With a little care you should be able to pull it down into the "compound curve" at the ends of the roof. After 24 hours take the tape off and the veneer should hold the shape of the former. Top Tip: Cover the former with Saran kitchen wrap to stop the lamination sticking to it. Then trim off the excess on the lamination to the size you need.
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Les Pickstock wrote:

That technique is easier to do with card, and even with paper, actually. Use diluted PVA (white) glue, so that it soaks into the material. Card, like wood, has grain, so lay it down so that the grain runs lengthwise, ie, you don't try to curve the card (or veneer) across the grain.
HTH
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There are some rather nice wood laser cut kits in both N and Z scales made by Robert Ray. Can't remember his site right now but his products are sold through a mail order hobby shop world wide.
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Take a look at http://www.bscandm.com/trains/ for starters. He has information about making your own version of Brio/Tommy Tank style wooden trains and track. A Google search will turn up a few other useful sites.
Birch and poplar are the two woods I have seen listed. Others would work, the tradeoffs are between durability and ease of working them.
Bob McConnell N2SPP
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