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7/8ths accessories

by Doc

This article is to share some of the ways a 7/8ths garden railway line can be dressed up to reinforce the scale and help integrate the running stock with the landscape.

Considerations for 7/8ths scale

At 16mm scale, there is such a plethora of available bits and pieces to dress up a line that we can be spoiled for choice. In a sense, that can be a block to one's creativity and many lines have the same buildings as every other. I am not decrying that but, for me, the reason for owning a line is to have an environment in which my own creative juices flow. To that extent, once an item, such as a building, is bought and positioned, most of the fun is over. That led me in my 16mm days to adapting commercially available buildings. Some were crying out for guttering and downpipes and some lent themselves to major butchery. I ended up making my own buildings from scratch and that has given me enormous pleasure, particularly in the winter and when other conditions made running trains of limited pleasure. I refer, most specifically, to my famous incompetence at track laying coupled with relative absence of skill at driving locos; well, that is, until the slomo arrived.

One joy of moving to 7/8ths scale is that you are obliged to make almost everything yourself. This is softened by the fact that 1:13.7 is near enough 1:12 which is a common dollhouse scale. This allows you to use Bromley stencils and plastic sheet tiles for roofing and there is a wide range of windows and doors to choose from. Perhaps the biggest advantage of going up by 50% is that things are easier to see and more detail can be put into modelling.


The most useful accessory on a railway is a building. After all, what was the railway for? If it functioned at all, there would need to be a loco shed, water and coal and a diesel tank for the diesel vehicles. Passengers need shelter, goods need places to be moved between, and so on.

The nice thing about extruded polystyrene,other than the obvious incredible lightness, is the ability to add and subtract from it so little gets wasted. PVA sticks it to itself and to wood so you can make things like this water tank. The central circles are washers, fixed on with epoxy. I also like the idea that, if I want to, I can mess with a building so easily once it's made. I could, for instance build an extension. Indeed, my biggest project so far began as a single unit and was repeatedly extended.

 I made the tank then thought, "What the Dickens am I going to
do with you now?" I think the window at the elephant trunk end 
may be an architectural mistake!

It's a weird building but all it now needs is a sign on the door saying 
"GENTS". Now, that is some cistern!

Bang something up then tack a bit on and then another. Amazingly this all lifts up with a single hand.


I am fully aware that few readers of this august evolving magazine we call the garden railway club have road vehicles on their lines but some of us are seeking to reproduce, visually in miniature, some bygone era. Most of us want that era to be within our own lifetimes, during which road vehicles have been a vital part of life around any railway. If I have a station, I want a car park. If, as is now the case, my line is for goods transportation, I would like a van or a lorry somewhere about the yard. How lucky then to discover Kamtec ABS shells?

This is what you get for your £5.99. Her is an Austin A 60 van shell

Morris Minor van

From what I can gather, there are a bunch of crazy guys who like nothing more than to race R/C controlled model cars. They do this in a variety of scales but the one that appeals to me, obviously is 1/12th scale and what they do is dress up their generic V12 motorised chassis with a variety of sometimes hilarious body shells to represent stock cars. It must make you roll on the floor laughing when a Daimler hearse freaks round the track. Never mind. They probably think we are weird too. It means though that there are a load of period body shells to be had for £5.99. I thought I would try a couple to begin with and I must say I am impressed by the quality of those they sent. I began with the Morris Minor van but the Austin A60 van is much more redolent of my childhood's days. Ja!

The white body shell has flash to be removed and windows to be cut out and all the cut edges smoothed. I undercoated with Halfords grey and followed hat with a British Racing Green on top of which I slightly flashed a slightly brighter green. I found the best way to simulate chrome was to use chocolate wrapper paper fastened in place with Pritt.

Just a shell isn't quite the thing though, is it? I looked in vain for "dead" V12 motorised, though the wheels would not have been appropriate anyway. In the end, I made wheels and chassis out of extruded polystyrene, painted with masonry paint and other acrylics as usual. Well, it is only a static representation not likely to be closely scrutinised. A bit like theatrical scenery you see.

 From a reasonable distance, could you spot that the wheels are
cut out of extruded polystyrene and the hub caps from a baking tray?