Building cars

4 Scratch Build Cars

Click on any photo to enlarge the photo

1. Flat Car 40′ HO Scale

I started with a old sign that was thrown away. It was cut into strips  to be able to move it around. Even set up a work table at the railroad, so I can use the LED lights on the railroad to see.

Went to the local hobby shop and picked up different shapes of styrene.

Was sent some simple plans to show the basics on building train cars.

Cut up the styrene into the shapes that I need to layout the car frames.

Started to glue the pieces together to make up the main frame body.

Added cross braces to the base to add some detail to the car.

Added the stake pockets to the side of the car.

Bracing is done and will be adding the brakes on next.

So far I’m at 100% scratch built.

Modified some brake hardware to fit in the car.

Final set up on the bottom side. Just the steps and the grab irons to go.

Then it’s time to go to the paint shop.

First coat of paint added.

Train car on the railroad.

Received a Merit Award on this car.

 2. Flat Car 1/8 Scale 32′ 7.5 Gauge

Even started on a 7.5 Gauge car. This is the base for the floor of the car.

Built up the lower section of the flat car frame, and installed it.

Setting up the coupler in the frame.

The stirrup steps and grab irons took some time.

Cut out the side frames and the stake pockets for the sides.

Welded up the outside of the frame.

Needed more welds for the rivets. Can’t forget the pusher pole pockets.

The wood on the back of the car is going to be the flooring.

The wood is from the strapping blocks under new wood. Cost $ .40

I had no idea that the trucks were so heavy.

Ready for the paint shop.

Great paint booth.

Decking is going on.

Sitting on the floor.

Just how big is it? I’m laying down on the car.


It is really looking good for judging. Ian and Trip are going for a test ride.

Received a Merit Award on this car.

Set-up is in the front window at Advance Auto parts. (Troutman, NC.)

3. Car Unknown

4. Car Unknown

4 Kit Bashed

1. & 2. Box Cars 50′ Single Door  HO Scale


Looks like I found two car bodies to kit bash into a Merit Award?

The car sides have to be straightened out.

Had to remove the plastic ladders off of the car. Building the ladders on all sides from scratch.

Started on the under frames for the box cars. All of the under framing will be scratch built.

The holes in the top of the cars are getting plugged. One will have a roof walk and the other will not.

One brake wheel will be high on the car and the other will be mounted low.


Hard to believe I have spent EIGHT hours filling eight holes.

Took styrene strips and made “I” beams on some of the braces.


Time to start building the brake hardware. I will be building it myself. Started on the two bottoms.



Checked the clearance on the lines under the bolsters. Took a shot of the ladders, stirrup steps, brake wheel/chain-rod, and the grab irons. The photo with the two cars shows the difference in the two styles of the same car years apart.

The roof walk is an etched brass shim from a acid bath. (Did this in 1975) Look close by clicking on the photo.

3. Box Car Kit  HO Scale Super Detailed

Picked a box car to add some detail to it. Making some inside walls for the car.

Checking out the spacing on the inside of the car.

4. Must Be A Passenger Car

More to come.

All photos taken by author unless noted.

Thanks for looking and enjoy the rest of the web site.

    • Kevin on August 23, 2019 at 10:56 am


    I was wondering what size the square tubing is on the 7.5″ gauge flat car?

    1. Reply

      It was my first one and I had 1″ square tubing to use. The sides are 1/8 plate. The center tube was 1 1/2″ x 3″.

    2. Reply

      On my first flat car I used 1″ square tubing. Now I use angle and flat stock.

    • Nathan on September 27, 2020 at 9:26 pm


    How did you get the letters on the 7.5 car done? Did you make them your self?

    1. Reply

      I made some and had other’s help me with them.

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