How to build a 16mm scale stake wagon

20 May 2020
We assemble Brandbright's stake wagon kit in 32mm gauge. Based on a typical sugar cane wagon, it could also be pressed into use for sticks, or even, according to the manufacturer, beer barrels!

At 18cm long, 10cm wide and 11cm tall is a large wagon, but assembly is easy as long as you take your time and allow the glue to dry. We decided to weather our model as it looks a bit bright for a "working wagon" straight from the box, and these techniques will work just as well on any other wooden wagon kit.


Open the box and inside you'll find plenty of laser-cut wooden parts and some very cleanly cast whitemetal details. There's also a set of instructions, which we mostly followed when building the wagon. Wheels and couplings are required to complete the kit.


Brass bearings simply press into the whitmetal w-irons and axle boxes. Normally we'd fix these with superglue, but this wasn't required as they didn't seem to want to move once in place.


Bufferbeam assembly is the point where the decision between 32mm and 45mm gauge has to be made. The inner beam is shortened for the narrower gauge. It's only intended as a temporary guide for fitting the solebars, but we decided that leaving it would beef up the corner joint. If you do this, to allow the couplings to fit, the bolt hole has to be increased in size for half its depth or you can't get the retaining nut screwed on very far.


An important point made in the instructions is to test fit the axleboxes before fitting the solebars to the floor. This ensures the screw holes are in place for final fitting. Forget and it's not the end of the world, but making those holes now makes life easier later.


Solebars, floor and buffer beams are brought together. We're using Deluxe Materials Super 'phatic glue, which dries quickly, but a bit of weight to keep everything flat at this point is a good idea. Run extra glue into the corners and then have a cup of tea while it dries.


Some measuring is required to ascertain the positions of the end stakes. I mark one of the top bars and use it to transfer the markings to the other and bufferbeams. Vertical stakes are glued in place followed by the top bar. Be careful not to use the wood intended for edging the floor as they are very similar.


Floor edging is attached and then we depart from the instructions by glueing the side stakes. These can be left lose and retained using the metal fittings just like the prototype, but we decided we'd only lose bits this way. That, and we wanted to leave all the metalwork off for the next stage.


To age the wood, we're giving it several coats of EDM Models weathering potion. This is an alcohol-based grey stain that dries very quickly, turning the wood a silver colour. More coats results in a greater apparent age.


While the wood dried, all the metalwork is sprayed with matt black car paint.


If you make the screw holes earlier, fitting the wheels is easy. There is a little adjustment to ensure all four touch the ground with the wagon on a flat surface. Just slacken off the screws and mover the axlebox unit up or down.


The finishing touch for a really mucky wagon is brushing copious amounts of Humbrol brown and black weathering powders over the model. There's no need to seal these, the slightly rough wood grips the powder perfectly.

With so much second-hand stock on the market, upcycling a wagon is an economical way of improving your stock as well as being great fun too. Find out more in our guide here. 

If you'd like more general weathering advice, our article 'How to rust your wagons' is a must-read!

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