Merchant Wagon cc 1910

Completed May 2015

I got the idea for building this model from the Colonial Carriage website, and also in a book I have on the Marshall Collection.


As with all my wagons, the scale was 1:10.


After having identified all the necessary components and locating pictures/diagrams of them in my catalogues, I proceeded to draw each one in isolation. Once I had identified and drawn 95% of them, I started on the build. The remaining 5% would follow as I progressed.


I decided not to be overly pedantic in this build. Still, I liked a new challenge and the challenge in making this one would be that I only had photos to work from and my books. The making of the collapsible canopy would also be a challenge.

Contrary to my usual build sequence, I decided to start with the body and not the wheels or spring packs.  The driver’s seat section was made from a combination of pine, jelutong, obeche, and maple woods.

Time taken:  175 hours and 20 minutes.

As wagon makers of old would have done prior to assembly, I lay the parts out (after priming).

Then the painting and trim…..

Here are photos of the end result:

Dash with hardware

I was very pleased with this bit of soldering. I used 1mm copper wire and copied a pattern seen on a gig from that era at the James Hall museum. 

Because the pieces were close together, I used varying grades of silver solder.

Then I made the undercarriage.



It took me 1hrs per set (16 spokes per wheel) to shape the blanks. However, once I got started, making the wheels was actually easy.


The rims were very thin, and the hubs delicate so, having learnt from past experiences, I decided to use PVC in their construction. This worked out well. Other than that, I used my usual method of construction, albeit deviating slightly with the spoke jig design.


(Thankfully there are only three!) I really battled here. Firstly with the annealing process. I used spring steel (3mmx 0.8mm) and had to first anneal it to make it pliable. I could not get the temperature right, so the end result was not as pliable as I had hoped for, abeit softer than it had been.

I used the same method as for the Blaauwklippen hearse model to make springs. However, not having silver soldered in a while, and also not having the right flux... well, let’s just say that it was a nightmare. Fortunately all nightmares eventually pass. (I forgot to take a photo of the springs before painting)

Running gear.



Perch and 5th wheel

Undercarriage Assembly

I used card stock, reinforced with balsa and pine to make the box. Initially this looked very nice, until I messed up at the painting stage. I then had to remake the whole thing – this time using wood.  Also, this time I cut the beading strips, painted them black and only THEN glued them to the box. Much better plan than the one I used previously.

In that process, I had learnt about orange peel, over-spraying, insects flying in front of the spray and landing on the paintjob….


The next piece was a learning curve for me: Making the canopy.


To start, I made a suitable jig and used 1.5mm copper wire for the frame.

For the collapsible arms, I used 0.7mm x 2mm chromadek strips. It worked out quite nicely.

Then the covering……

I made a jig that was the size of the frame’s outer dimensions. Using model aircraft silk-span – the same as for my Adams Express wagon (I used a product called SIG Koverall I formed the canopy over the bigger jig and carefully tried to remove it. This did not work. So it was back to the drawing board.


Needless to say, I did not take photos as I wasn’t sure if it would work. (You know what they say about hindsight….)


Nonetheless: I ended up using a sort of lycra material that I stretched over the frame that I had attached to the jig. Gluing it over the frame, and then gluing another piece on the underside to cover the frame on the inside, I eventually ended up with a canopy that is to my satisfaction.

Adding the graphics.

The main feature of this wagon is its artwork. Merchants used their wagons to not only transport and deliver, but also to market their wares. So the graphics had to be outstanding.

The trick was to get graphics of the same period, after which I thought I’d apply them using water transfer decal paper. Finding water transfer decal paper was in itself a nightmare! Eventually I found some and, after designing the layout using PowerPoint, I printed the graphics onto the decal paper, using a laser printer. The design work took long. Very long….

Then I hit a major problem - The yellow/orange washed out on the red of the body. And it was back to hunting a suitable medium. None of my usual sources of information could help and at this point, I almost gave up on the model. The artwork is the main feature, so without it, it was pointless to continue.

Eventually I found a place that specialises in all sorts of paper and their graphic artists suggested I use a very thin sticker film. This also did not work.

Finally, I asked for help on the forum and Greenie quite emphatically suggested that I get hold of someone with an APLS printer.  This printer can print a white undercoat and then the main graphics – meaning that the white will prevent any bleeding from occurring.. I could not find anyone using an ALPS printer locally.

I did however, manage to find a graphics design company that could help me. The graphics would have been printed on vinyl that had been colour-matched to the rest of the body.

But then the owner wanted to charge me a lot more for the design work than the designer quoted – though all they had to do was match the red to the correct colour!! I was not prepared to pay that much for them to simply match the background colour.

Eventually, fortune smiled upon me, and I met a plastic modeller who has an Oki version of an ALPS printer. I did the art work, he did the printing.


Here are photos of the result:

Seat cushions.

Nothing much to say here. I used the same method as for making the peddler’s sleigh model.