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Busted Bricks four wheel flatcar kit

A plywood and MDF kit in 16mm scale
Kevin Strong
16mm scale, gauge 1, four-wheel flatcar kit
Busted Bricks
30 Carlton Court
Carlton Road
Harpenden AL5 4SY
United Kingdom
Price: $15.95 (subject to exchange rate) + s&h

Laser-cut plywood and MDF kit for a short, four-wheel flatcar; available in both 45mm and 32mm gauges; all-metal wheelsets included; instructions to be downloaded from website; suitable for beginners. Dimensions: Length, 5.9"; width, 3.5";  height, 1.4"

Pros: Simple construction, good instructions, solid end product

MDF decking not conducive to a “natural” wood finish, metal wheelsets included with kit not insulated (the kit is also available without wheels for those who wish to supply their own)
Kevin Strong
Short flatcars are arguably the foundation for any industrial-based railway. Run as simple flatcars, or used as the basis for gondolas, tank cars, or boxcars (the possibilities are endless), cars like these seem always to appear behind the short and quirky locomotives we run.

Busted Bricks’ flat-car kit fits this bill well. It’s generic in design, which lends itself to whatever degree of customization you’d like to add. The basic kit is well engineered. To save shipping and printing costs, the kit does not come with instructions, but these are available from the company’s website for download. (Kits can only be ordered via the website, as well, so while you’re there, don’t forget to download the instructions.)

The kit is unusual in that it uses 1/8" MDF (medium-density fiberboard) for its principle components, as opposed to the more common (and expensive) plywood. Bolsters for the wheels are laser cut from 1/16" plywood. Wheels are machined steel and roll well. Mine came gauged a bit too wide for G1MRA and NMRA standards, but that was easily remedied. Note: The wheels supplied with the kit are not insulated. If you run track power, you can purchase the kit without wheels (it’s a bit cheaper) and supply your own insulated wheels instead. The manufacturer recommends using Bachmann’s 24.5mm-diameter wheels.

Given the nature of the kit—and my seven-year-old daughter’s interest in building things—I decided this would make a cool project for the both of us. You don’t need a lot of tools; the parts pretty much just pop out of the laser-cut sheets. Just a little sandpaper is needed to smooth the few places where the tabs holding things together didn’t break cleanly.

Sill pieces fit together nicely. There’s almost no slop in any of the fitted pieces, and everything goes together with just a spot of wood glue. With a little guidance from me on how to apply the glue, my daughter had no trouble putting the pieces together to form the side sills of the car.

Bolsters were the next step, again easily assembled from three layers of laser-cut plywood. Once the glue on the car sides and bolsters had set up, the wheels could be added. The instructions advise you to get the wheels ready to go, then glue the bolsters in place. That works well, though the wheels are then permanently installed in the car. You could also use small screws or hex-head bolts to hold the bolsters to the side sills instead of glue, if you thought there would be need to remove them (for painting, etc.).

The decking supplied with the kit is a piece of MDF, laser-etched to look like individual boards. Most flat cars had unpainted decks, so trying to simulate a “proper” wood deck with the MDF would require some effort, either by sanding and hoping the stain you apply looks good, or painting it first (as you would a styrene kit), then weathering it to look like wood. While both techniques are adequate, because the flat car essentially has a false floor that holds the side sills square, you could also easily add solid wood decking to suit.

The couplers supplied are little more than bent wire pins, over which you would put a link of some kind to keep things together. While this is simple and effective, it would be easy enough to add commercial link-and-pin coupler pockets to the car.

The manufacturer recommends painting, or at least sealing, the model, as the MDF is not weatherproof and will soak up water if it gets wet outdoors. If you’re going to paint the model, I’d recommend either painting the finished model by hand, or painting it prior to adding the wood deck, if you intended to replace the MDF decking with real wood.

This is a simple kit that builds into a nice looking, basic flatcar. You can add whatever details you want to make this car as unique as you like. 


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