Modelling Minnipa - Rolling Stock Sources and Techniques

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


In recent years a growing range of Strath Models CAR and CR locomotives and rolling stock in HOn3-1/2 has become available through End of the Line Hobbies.


Fortunately, a number of broad and standard gauge models can be kitbashed fairly easily into SAR narrow gauge vehicles. For examples of 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 since 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 used 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). With Floquil no longer available I now use Tamiya acrylics and sprays. 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 had a range of RP25-88 wheelsets in a variety of wheel diameters, and I standardised on these. More recently, Wuiske Models have widened their range of bogies and wheelsets.

Model Etch had 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. I have used quite a few of these.

Mechanisms for diesel locomotives and railcars were available from Hollywood Foundry, configured to suit each particular need. I standardised on these for my 830s and Brills. North Yard now supply mechanisms suitable for a range of SAR and CR narrow gauge diesels.

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 variety #147 and #148.