Modelling Minnipa - Rolling Stock Sources and Techniques

No ready-to-run models of Port Lincoln Division rolling stock are available, so everything must be kitbashed or scratchbuilt.


Fortunately, a number of broad and standard gauge models can be kitbashed fairly easily into SAR narrow gauge vehicles. For examples of what is available and what can be done, please see my paper on Modelling Australian HOn3-1/2 which was presented to the Second Australian Narrow Gauge Convention in 1998. The paper is available here as a PDF download, and many of the kitbashes mentioned in it now grace the rails of Minnipa. Some items are no longer available, and new products have arrived on the market, but the paper gives an idea of what can be achieved.

Detailed articles on kitbashing narrow gauge South Australian rolling stock also appeared in the Convention Notes for the 2000 and 2001 Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention. Copies are available - see the Convention website for details.


Many distinctive vehicles are not available for kitbashing however, so scratchbuilding must be resorted to. In cases where only one or two examples of a vehicle are required, I build them from styrene, but where more are required I produce them using polyurethane castings which I make from my own masters. For a detailed description of this process, see my casting page on John Dennis' Dutton Bay Tramway web site (many wagons in the DBT fleet were also done this way). Please note that the materials used nowadays have changed, but the basic process is the same.

Painting and Lettering

I use Floquil paints, generally sprayed for steel-bodied and smooth-sided vehicles and brush painted for timber-bodied stock (any brush strokes thus representing wood grain). Lettering is usually applied via custom decals, most recently supplied by Signs of All Kinds.

Wheels, Underframes, Mechanisms and Couplers

In recent years life has become a lot easier for those modelling in HOn3-1/2. Steam Era Models have a readily-available range of RP25-88 wheelsets in a variety of wheel diameters, and I have standardised on these. Model Etch have a superb etched brass kit for a 10' 6" wheelbase underframe for the SAR X and Y wagons which can also be used for TS, XP, YP, XFN, K and QX vehicles and water tanks and a ballast plough (Model Etch also have a huge range of detail parts). Mechanisms for diesel locomotives and railcars are available from Hollywood Foundry, configured to suit each particular need. For couplers, I have standardised on Kadees. As operation is of prime importance to me, I use regular HO couplers in appropriate configurations, primarily Kadee #5, #34 and #37, and more recently the whisker-spring #147 and #148.