To modellers used to working in OO or N the thought of modelling in a scale where there is no RTR trade support may seem insane – to model a less popular era in that scale may seem a step too far. The attraction is often summed up with the phase “the ideal size” by many people, closely followed by “if only ….”. Primarily 3mm is a kit and scratchbuilders scale. This article aims to show what is available if you want to dip your toe into the 1:101 scale world. That said one of the real attractions is that once you have decided to scratchbuild what you model is only limited by the information you can find, so everything becomes modelable.
Ready to run
First to consider has got to be some of the Tri-ang range. Luckily for the modern image modeller some of the best models Tri-ang produced were of the current prototypes of the time. Despite being produced 50 years ago they consist of some fine mouldings but raised plank lines and door edges are the order of the day. They are, however, easily removed and scribed in.
Modern ready to run does not exist for UK stock. Some assembled and painted kits are provided by 3SMR from commercially available parts.
Many kits are, or have been, available in 3mm over the years but kit production runs rarely exceeded 50 pieces and generally have been much less. 3mm modellers tend to be hoarders and often buy when products are available in the knowledge that they probably won’t be able to when they need it. As a consequence unmade kits will eventually reappear through the Society secondhand sales, so the list includes many items long since deleted from sales lists.
Maurice Pilsworth produced a range of bodies and bogie sideframes, long since out of production, using an early resin that is harder and more brittle than most modellers are now used to, but the mouldings are stable if a little sticky before painting. The windows on some kits was moulded in a clearer resin. Some additional details may also be included.
3mm Scale Model Railways market 2 ranges of kits. These are either a combination of etched brass and whitemetal or resin bodies.
Judith Edge Kits have produced 3mm kits based on their etches in larger scales.
The late Bruce Smetham produced diesel bodies in modern “milky bar” resin. Some of these are now sold by 3mm Scale Model Railways
Worsley Works has an extensive range of 3mm locos, multiple units and coaches in etched brass and aluminium.
lennyapplegreen sells resin locomotive bodies through ebay
Luckily for the modern image modeller working in 12mm gauge a combination of cheaper production and a boom in eastern European TT interest has seen a flood of high quality chassis at very good prices.
PIKO – leaders in the field of value TT chassis.
Siemens Taurus Bo-Bo electric is available from €60 new. The chassis has 25mm wb bogies (8’4), 9.4mm wheels (3’1½) at 82.5mm centres (27’6), and provides the perfect chassis for class 24/25/73 and 40 (as a 2Bo-Bo2) with very little modification. This chassis can also be stretched to fit other 8’6 bogied locos and multiple units or split to provide two 8’6 drive units with an additional motor.
The Vossloh G1206 Bo-Bo costs about €75 new. The chassis has 20mm wb bogies (6’8), 8.3mm wheels (2’9) at 60mm centres (20’). Although underlength bogies and small wheels the chassis is narrow enough to fit a class 16 and with stretching will fit both class 15 and 20.
The 151 electric is a good match for class 37s if you can accept the offset centre axle.
TILLIG – Generally more expensive than PIKO but using high quality chassis under many of the Berliner Bahnen or modern bodies. The Tillig TRAXX Bo-Bo diesel chassis has 7’6 wb, 3’6 wheels and 37’9 centres. An etch is being developed by Andrew Shillito to extend the bogies to Co-Co giving a chassis that is a close fit to the middle 4 axles of the 47 and 56. Fully detailed examples are over £100, but ex starter set examples are often below €70 and matching wheelsets are available as spares for about €10, but Jacksons are a good visual match.
(BTTB chassis dimensions from Mixed Traffic 51)
V200 – 26mm wb bogies with 8.5mm wheels, 95mm centres
T435 – 19mm wb bogies with 8mm wheels, 52mm centres
M61 – 16+16mm wb bogies with 8.5mm wheels, 84mm centres
Shunter – 12.5+10+12.5mm wb with 8mm wheels
E49 – 27mm wb bogies with 10mm wheels, 67mm centres
E42 – 27mm wb bogies with 10mm wheels, 645mm centres
E94 – 20+18mm wb bogies with 10mm wheels, 72mm centres
MEHANO – Production of their Blue Tiger has been on and off and their 1:120 class 66 is long awaited. Expect to pay at least £130 for the Blue Tiger and you get a superb chassis for both the class 58 and 60. Additionally a change of cabs gives a close approximation to a class 70. Bogies are 15.5+15.5mm with 9mm wheels, at 122.5mm centres
English Electric 262-380HP diesel hydraulic 0-6-0
A complete kit with a whitemetal body, etched nickel silver chassis, motor and assembled geared wheelsets. The centre wheels are dummy castings
SR 500hp shunter – a reduction of the etches from Judith Edge was available in limited quantities.
Sentinel 4W Diesel Shunter – etched brass by Judith Edge
Barclay D2400 204hp 0-6-0 Diesel Shunter – etched brass by Judith Edge
North British/Paxman D2700 Diesel Shunter - etched brass by Judith Edge
Hunslet 67T Diesel Shunter - etched brass by Judith Edge
02 – etched body and chassis kit by Worsley Works.
03 - A very complete kit was produced by Bruce Smetham consisting of a brass etch for the body reduced from an O gauge kit, a new nickel silver etch for the chassis and coupling rods, a resin casting for the bonnet, a set of wheels, casting and bearings. Only motor mount and gears are needed. The kit can be built for either 12 or 14.2mm.
04 – etched body and chassis kit by Worsley Works. Alternatively the BTTB/Tillig shunter chassis can be adapted by swapping the jackshaft axle position.
LMS/BR Jackshaft drive 0-6-0DE - etched brass by Judith Edge
08 – Tri-ang T95. Requires extensive surgery and a new chassis.
08 – Easi-form etched body and chassis kit by Worsley Works.
08 – a high quality kit from Masterclass Models of similar construction to the 03 kit. Motor, gears and wheels required.
14 - etched body kit by 3SMR
For all bogies the dimensions are from the outer axle first.
LMS 10000 – Resin body by Maurice Pilsworth
Requires 8’+7’8 wb bogies with 3’6 wheels, at 35’2 to centres of middle axle (pivot centres are 35’6).
17 - etched brass kit by Judith Edge.
Requires 8’6 wb bogies with 39½” wheels, at 28’ centres
20 – Etched brass and whitemetal kit by 3mm Society. Complete kit to make an unpowered locomotive. Whitemetal castings for the bonnet need heavily thinning down.
20 – Resin body by Bruce Smetham based on the 3mm Society kit as either headcode fitted or disc fitted versions. Disc fitted version was also sold by 3SMR
Chassis is 8’6 wb bogies with 43” wheels, at 24’ centres. Geoff Helliwell produced a narrow power bogie to suit years before the kit was available. The Piko G1206 chassis can be stretched to fit.
21 – preformed etched body kit by Worsley Works.
Requires 8’6 wb bogies with 3’7 wheels, at 28’6 centres.
22 – preformed etched body kit by Worsley Works.
22 – preformed etched body kit by 3SMR.
Requires 8’6 wb bogies with 3’7 wheels, at 23’ centres.
23 – A body can be cut-n-shut from a class 37 body.
Requires 8’6 wb bogies with 3’9 wheels, at 32’ centres.
24 – preformed etched body kit by Worsley Works.
24 – resin body by L+J.
24 – Resin body and Piko Taurus chassis by 3SMR.
Chassis has 8’6 wb bogies with 45” wheels, at 28’ centres. The Piko Taurus chassis is close.
25/3 – Etched brass and whitemetal body and bodies sideframes by 3SMR.
25 – Resin body by lennyapplegreen. Replacement grilles available from Andy Shillito.
Chassis has 8’6 wb bogies with 45” wheels, at 28’ centres. The Piko Taurus chassis is close.
26/27 - conversion possible from the Bruce Smetham class 33.
Chassis has 10’ wb bogies with 43” wheels, at 29’ centres.
28 – Part preformed etched body kit with bogie sideframes by Worsley Works.
Requires one 8’6 wb bogie and one 5’11+6’2½ wb bogie, all with 3’9 wheels, at 32’4 centres (the centre of the 3 axle bogie is 1” inboard of the axle).
29 – preformed etched body kit by Worsley Works.
29 – Etched body kit by 3SMR.
Requires a 8’6 wb bogie, with 3’7 wheels, at 28’6 centres.
30/31 – One of the best models in the Tri-ang range (T96). Finely proportioned, flush glazed and separate handrails and some very neat detailing. The bogies have good detail but have a flat backing. Replacement magnets are available from the Society. The Tri-ang power bogie is easily adaped to run through Peco HOm points by easing the back-to-back of the wheel sets. If using the Society etched chassis whitemetal replacement sideframes can be fitted. Adding a second power bogie or re-wheeling the trailing bogie has the advantage of extra pick-ups. The Tri-ang model is of the original Brush/Mirlees locomotives. Conversion to a more common headcode boxed cab-roof or the rebuilt English Electric engined exhaust arrangement is a plasticard job.
Bogies are 7’+7’ wb at 28’10 centres. The centre axle has 39½” wheels, the others 43”. The Tri-ang chassis is to scale except for the dummy centre wheels.
33 – Resin body by Bruce Smetham.
33 – Complete kit by 3SMR using the Bruce Smetham body kit and Halling bogies.
Requires 10’ wb bogies with 43” wheels, at 29’ centres.
35 – Etched brass body kit by 3mm Society.
35 – Resin body by Bruce Smetham based on the 3mm Society kit
35 - Complete kit by 3SMR using the Bruce Smetham body kit and commercial motor bogies.
Requires 10’6 wb bogies with 3’9 wheels, at 25’6 centres.
37 – Resin body by Maurice Pilsworth.
37 – Resin body by Bruce Smetham.
37 – Resin body by lennyapplegreen.
Requires 6’9+6’9 wb bogies with 3’9 wheels, at 37’2 centres.
40 – Etched body kit from 3MSR.
40 - Complete kit by 3SMR using a resin body and commercial motor bogies.
40 – Resin body by lennyapplegreen.
Requires 5’6+8’+8’ wb bogies with 3’9 driving wheels and 3’ pony wheel. The bogies are at 37’2 to the middle driving axle centres. The Piko Taurus is close for the middle 4 axles, as a 2-Bo-Bo-2.
41 – D600, preformed etched body kit by Worsley Works.
Bogies are 7’6+7’6 wb at 35’ centres. The centre axle has 39½” wheels, the others 43”.
42 – Warship, resin body by Bruce Smetham.
42 - Complete kit by 3SMR using the Bruce Smetham body kit and commercial chassis.
Requires 10’6 wb bogies with 3’3½ wheels, at 37’9 centres.
43 – IC 125 power car. Etched brass and aluminium section body kit by Worsley Works.
Requires 2600mm wb bogies with 1020mm wheels, at 10300mm centres.
45 – Resin body by lennyapplegreen
Requires a 5’6+8’+8’ bogie, with 3’9 driving wheels and 3’ pony wheel. The bogies are at 32’8 to the middle driving axle centres.
47 – Crude whitemetal body kit by BEC using the Tri-ang class 31 bogies.
47 – Etched brass and whitemetal kit by 3MSR.
47 – Resin body by L+J.
47 – Resin body by lennyapplegreen.
Requires a 7’3+7’3 bogie, 3’9 wheels at 37’ centres. Tillig TRAXX is close.
50 – Etched body kit from 3MSR
Requires a 6’9+6’9 bogie, with 3’9 wheels, at 42’8 centres.
52 – Western, resin body by Bruce Smetham.
52 - Complete kit by 3SMR using the Bruce Smetham body kit and commercial chassis.
Requires a 6’1+6’1 bogie, with 3’9 wheels, at 42’6 centres.
55 – Resin body by Maurice Pilsworth.
55 – Resin body by lennyapplegreen.
Requires a 6’9+6’9 bogie, with 3’9 wheels, at 45’ centres.
56 – Resin body by lennyapplegreen.
Requires 1950+2150mm wb bogie with 1143mm wheels, 10680mm to centres of middle axle (pivot centres are 11480mm).
58 – preformed etched body kit by Worsley Works.
Requires 2030+2150mm wb bogie with 1120mm wheels, 10800mm pivot centres.
59 - 'Origami' in brass etched body kit by Worsley Works.
Requires 6'7¼+6'11¾ wb bogie with 42” wheels, at 43’3½ to centres of middle axle (pivot centres are 43’6).
60 – Easi-form etched body kit by Worsley Works.
Requires 2100+2030mm wb bogie with 1120mm wheels, 13020mm to centres of middle axle (pivot centres are 14180mm).
66 - 'Origami' in brass etched body kit by Worsley Works.
Requires 6'7¼+6'11¾ wb bogies with 42” (possibly 1120mm?) wheels, at 43’6 centres.
67 – Easi-form etched body kit by Worsley Works.
Requires 9'2 wb bogies with 44” wheels, at 38’1 centres.
70 – The Mehano Blue Tiger is possible conversion. Needs 26mm extra length, 5mm height and 3mm width. Replacement cabs will do some of that - more thought (and a drawing) needed!
15/16/68 – nothing available yet.
70, 73, 74 and NER ES1 as etched kits
Tri-ang SR luggage van - the length and width can be corrected but a much better model can be made from 2 Parkside PMVs for the same amount of work.
Kirk LMS 50ft full brake – plastic
Mk1 – Kitmaster produced BSK, SK, RFO and CK as plastic kits, readily available secondhand as either built or unbuilt examples. MTK, Worsley, 3SMR and Bedford also cover almost all Mk1s as etches. The Tri-ang Mk1 style coaches are all 57ft and best used as donor bodies for other conversions.
Mk11 – 16 PV and AC types are covered by Worsley.
MK111 – Worsley produce 4 types to run with their 125 power cars.
T190/136/137 Class 104 – Another very nice Tri-ang moulding. The power is from a very clever split chassis bogie. The glazing is not flush and difficult to correct and the bogies have Tri-angs standard size wheels that are oversize. They do need replacing to work well with Peco track standards so pinpoints and pick ups can be added at the same time. There is no interior.
Worsley again list a vast range of 1st generation EMUs and DMUs and a few 2nd generation DMUs. As with coaching stock the world ends in the 1990s.
There is even a good diecast 1992 tube stock from Realtoy (on a 16.5mm chassis!)
RTR – Tri-ang produced some that are still worthy of consideration for the body mouldings only, in all cases the chassis are typical 1950’s mazak lumps that are best replaced.
T70 16T mineral – although inaccurate in its day BR did later built some 17’6 versions (MTV) that only require removal of the top flap.
T171 Bulk Grain - the body is dimensionally accurate and can be upgraded and fitted to either a cast whitemetal chassis or the exquisite Andrew Thomas/3mm Society etched chassis.
T172 Low sided wagon – A rather coarse model, but dimensionally correct.
T174 Bogie Bolster C – Another slightly coarse model, but dimensionally correct.
T272 Bogie Caustic tank - one of the best wagons. Requires new bogies. Can also be re-worked into the chlorine tank.
T276 Conflat L – the containers are a good basis for detailing but the body is rather basic.
T278 Presflo - the body is dimensionally accurate and can be upgraded and fitted to either a cast whitemetal chassis or an Andrew Thomas/3mm etched chassis.
A few RTR continental wagons are close or easily modified for 3mm use with correct wheel sizes and buffer spacing. The Roco van becomes a VGA and Tillig produce a sliding door bogie van.
Thanks to the 3mm Society and commercially a wide range of wagon kits are available.
Plastic (Parkside, Cambrian, Slaters, Coopercraft and others)
Big Four & BR vans, opens and brakes, Plate, 20T coal hopper, Palvan, Lowmac, Fish, Clay, Dogfish, SR PMV, OCA , VAB, VCA, HAA, MAA Rudd, Seahorse, OTA.
GER Mac K Lowmac, FFA/FGA, JHA, Sturgeon, VAA/B/C/D
LNER 25T hopper.
The trend for resin buildings has benefited 3mm scale since many of the large buildings are modelled under scale to keep the price reasonable or to fit the standard boxes. Many HO European and American kits are also small enough to use in 3mm.
It may be better to Google some of these manufacturers rather than following the links below.