Modern Image

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 3mm Scale Model Railways (3SMR) from commercially available parts. From the continental ranges modern chassis are readily available from Piko, Tillig, Mehano and now Arnold and older chassis from Berliner TT Bahnen range. Hollywood Foundry and many others also supply power bogies.

Other vintage ranges contained some modern image vehicles most of which can only be regarded as a basis for scratchbuilding.

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 what I’ve listed includes many items long since deleted from sales lists.


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

Diesel locos

31 – One of the best models in the Tri-ang range. 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 adapted 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. Conversion to a more common headcode boxed cab-roof is a plasticard job.

20, 25, 33, 37, 40, 42, 45, 47, 52, 55, 56 and 10,000 have all been (are) available as resin bodies

21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 35, 40, 47, 50, 58, 59, 60, 66, 67, 6xx Warships and 125 power cars all as etched/whitemetal kits

47 was also made as an all whitemetal kit

Electric locos

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.

Multiple Units

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.


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. Their Taurus Bo-Bo electric is easily bought for €50 or less and provides the perfect chassis for class 24/25/73 and 40 (as a 1Bo-Bo1) with very little modification. This chassis can also be stretched to fit other 8’6 bogied locos and multiple units. The G1206 chassis looks like it will fit a class 16 and can be stretched to fit the class 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 bodies. The recently produced TRAXX chassis fits 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 or use Jacksons.

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.


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.


3mm Scale Model Railways

Judith Edge Kits

Worsley Works