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New Year’s Resolution

This year’s resolution is as high as possible! Couldn’t resist that – sorry.  In any case, Happy New Year to all and thanks for your support during the year just gone.


One of the slightly worrying things about writing a specialist blog, is that you do wonder if you are reaching your audience, and whether there is really any point in investing the time at the keyboard. It’s only ‘slightly worrying’ as I do get sufficient feedback to keep me going and blogging is a somewhat self-indulgent activity in any case.  But this post is still, in part, a plea for more comment and contribution on the blog specifically.  The reasons being that I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas, and feedback (good and bad) keeps the standard up and the creativity marching forward – as the following hopefully illustrates.

Some years ago we marketed kits for the wooden L wagons based on the injection moulded sides that used to be available.  Mark D got in touch and asked that, if the mouldings were not available any longer, could the 3D printer be used to manufacture the bodies.  As it happened I had been thinking along similar lines as etched wagons, while lovely, can be rather time-consuming.  That’s all very well for the odd specialist vehicle but (as Kevin Crosado pointed out in NZMRJ some time ago) the humble high side wagon outnumbered other types by a huge margin.  For the workhorses of the NZR fleet, something a bit quicker than punching rivets and soldering all the details would certainly be helpful .

So for your delectation, here is a one piece body in 3/16″ scale for the drawing 305/1737 standard 15ft high side wagon – as NZR called it. Drawing 305 is dated 1889 and 1737 1894.  The drawings were still being amended in 1960, so any steam era railway could do with some of these wagons.  Bodywise the drawings appear essentially identical with the differences being the details of chassis construction that are not visible when the wagon is on its wheels.

As luck would have it a 16′ wagon just fits within the build area of our printer at 40 micron resolution.  Getting good results involved a few false starts, and there is still some refinement to go.  This is very much a work in progress, but the broad intention is to turn these out in resin with a heavy floor/chassis and an improved suspension system.

The close up above shows the 1″ square nuts and other details have rendered quite well.  The 3D model was based on copies of the original drawings plus inspection of a preserved example at Ferrymead.

So, thanks to Mark, this is a project that should see life as a kit in the not too distant future.

When Mark’s suggestion hit my inbox I had already been playing around with the drawing 3070 LA wagon of 1904.  This is slightly more problematic as the overall dimensions are closer to my limit and the original was made from 3/16″ plate rather than the 2½” planking of the wooden L above.  The print below is overscale in terms of plate thickness, but is still very fine.  They tell me it is castable, so fingers crossed. The LA is also tricky in that it does not have a nice thick floor within which to disguise ballast, which is another hurdle to overcome as this body is extremely light weight.  This project too still has some distance to go, but it has certainly passed the first milestone.


The next steps on both of these projects are to test castability and to work out how to tidily get some mass into them.

Manufacturing this way also opens up some possibilities for variations.  The 5 plank modification on the L wagon is an obvious one as are the variations on shunters handgrabs.  It might also be interesting to age the wagons with less than perfectly fitting doors, bulging sides and/or welded lower edge repairs.

To return to the opening point, your expression of interest in wagon kits of this style and quality will hasten their emergence as products. Comments and suggestions will help me to make them better.

Happy holidays!



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  1. craigutting -

    They’re beautiful models, Lawrence! Definitely interested! Better detail than I can make on my own …
    Craig Utting

  2. mark davis -

    Great detail Lawrence! You can count me in for wooden highsiders and iron L’s. Being time poor myself makes these kits a quick ans ready way to build a consist or two….:)

    I look forward to seeing the finished product.


    Mark Davis

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