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Santa Brought Me A Laser

Started by finescalerr, December 29, 2021, 11:57:45 AM

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This view shows the microscopic bracing below the (angled) footboard. Now do you understand why I had to stiffen the angled straps before somehow managing to glue them in place? Same with the leaf springs under the seat. Those were no fun to build.


I thought building the wagon bed would be a snap. Wrong. It took two attempts because the first time I put some bracing in the wrong place.


If you look under the wagon bed you can see the rear horizontal bolster resting above the axle. All those curves and angles would be impossible for me to create with traditional tools.


The final photo just proves the model actually has two sides ... unlike those building flats I've posted that have no back wall or, for that matter, only a small length of side wall.

For the record, when I was about twelve years old I built a Revell plastic chuck wagon kit and it turned out pretty well except for the brushed gloss enamel paint job. (Well, that was before hobby shops had aerosol spray paints and no kid my age had ever heard of an airbrush.) Anyhow, as it turns out, the plastic kit represented a wagon very similar in appearance and the same size as my paper model. It also was the same scale (1:48) and, with a decent paint job and without the canvas roof, probably would have looked nearly the same as my paper model (with its nearly 200 individual paper pieces).

The Revell kit also was slightly easier to build. And the fact that I actually designed and constructed this ranch wagon suggests I am a very troubled man.



The result is friendly and the laser cut well controlled.
I think we almost all started with paintings Enamel  applied with a brush for a mediocre result.


What an incredible amount of individual parts, which then have to be assembled accurately. But the result is absolutely convincing.



That wagon looks outstanding. Lets see more like it!

Bill Gill

Russ, your wagon turned out most excellent...except for one thing... As you have often pointed out to members who do not post their photos directly onto your forum that at some point their images will be lost when their hosting sites close or otherwise change and the links are broken. Alas, I fear the same fate for much of your wagon's color.

I also have often tried to point out Chatpak artists markers and all similar solvent markers are not lightfast. Yes, they are "permanent", but technically that only means they will not smear if wet with water. Almost all of the dyes themselves are fugitive and fade over time, quickly when exposed to bright light, but eventually if exposed to air and sometimes heat.

I have seen model railroaders painstakingly use a fine tip Sharpie to color window gaskets on rolling stock only to discover 6 months later the color is gone.

Winsor & Newton makes(?) a line of water soluble markers that are lightfast. They use pigments similar to their watercolors. These may have been discontinued.

Sakura makes Pigma Micron markers that are archival. These "markers" are more like technical drafting pens and are available in several size tips. There are a limited number of colors that are probably the most useful: black, burnt sienna and burnt umber.


Bernhard, I could have cut wood for most parts and eliminated most of the laminating. I wanted to build this model from paper just to see if I could do it and how it would turn out. If I ever build the wagon again it will be at least 1:24 scale and most parts will be wood or, if it will represent a newer wagon, styrene.

Bill ... now you tell me! Anyway, for a couple of reasons I'm less concerned with Chartpak's color-fastness than I would have been a few years ago: First, at my age, the model probably will outlive me. And, second, my models rarely see the light of day. They remain locked in closets or in the shadowed recesses of my "workshop", the smallest and darkest room of the house. Fortunately, until now, I've only used Cool Grey markers to disguise the white edges of paper veneers; it's a neutral color and blends with nearly everything. But thanks for the tip. I'll look into those Sakura markers.

Thanks to everyone for your comments.



Wonderful job Unc!  I'm impressed with the way you manged to laser cut all the parts and everything fit so nicely.

Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?
George Carlin


Excellent so lets have more !!!!!
Never Let someone who has done nothing tell you how to do anything
Stuart McPherson

Ray Dunakin

Russ, I am totally blown away by the quality of that wagon! I would never have thought it was paper. It looks much, much better than any kit I've ever seen.
Visit my website to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!

Ray Dunakin's World

Rail and Tie

Quote from: finescalerr on January 02, 2022, 12:46:43 PM
Back around 2005 I noticed the same thing as you so I asked Tom Fitzgerald of Crystal River Products to laser cut some Strathmore doors and windows for me. He added them to his line and was the first and only kit maker to do that. He expanded those first three items to include many of his wood doors and windows. Eventually somebody copied him but it never caught on. Most model railroad guys are interested in collecting trains or running them but consider accurately modeled structures a very secondary part of the hobby.

Strathmore (300 to 500 series Bristol Plate) is the ideal material because you can stain it, paint it, and scribe it to achieve virtually any finish or level of weathering you want. For that reason it beats laser board (also called oil board and stencil card). plastic, and any wood with visible grain.

For the record, since my first attempt in 1980, my Strathmore models have proven as durable and warp resistant as any wood model.

One thing a majority of the model railroad hobby seems to lack is an open mind.


One of my favorite materials for laser cutting and building is Polybak. It is a resin impregnated craft paper product used for backer for laminates and veneers. Comes in various thicknesses from 0.11 to 0.32. I really like for modeling things like your wagon/wheels etc. It cuts beautifully on the laser and more importantly it engraves very well on the laser with it's lack of grain due to the resin.

It is extremely stable material, water proof, but takes paint very well. It is very tuff for it's thickness. Sands and carves like styrene but has the good painting qualities of paper. It comes in 49" widths and 10 and 12 foot lengths. We go through a lot of it so we buy a few hundred sheets at a time, but you can get small amounts from some of the online laser suppliers out there.

I do agree that the RR modelers are slowly picking up the techniques of the plastic modelers and military modelers. We have been pushing new materials and techniques in our kits where we can so you can do more than just build square boxes with the laser.

You have mastered it already in your wagon.... BTW, that would make a great kit!! let me know if you want to make millions of 1:48 dollars with your design.


"Leonard, check it out. I've bought an N Gauge locomotive. Half the size of HO. Look...it fits in my mouth!"


WP Rayner

Russ, you've really taken this medium to another level. I can't believe how fiddly it must have been to assemble that cart.

Of course, the question remains... are you going to model an old sway-back horse to pull it?  ;)

Stay low, keep quiet, keep it simple, don't expect too much, enjoy what you have.


Paul, please don't be surprised when you read the following reply: GO STAND IN THE CORNER! -- Russ