Build – Part 1

I bought some Steam Era Models (SEM) GY 4-wheel wagon kits in Spring of 2015. For A$17.50 (at the time I bought them) you got a high quality injection moulded kit, with a fret of photo-etch to go along with it. While this may sound pretty good value, it is really great value when you consider that for ready to run sets of 6 wagons you are paying around the A$240.00 mark plus shipping. Let’s get into the meat of the build.


I’ve not built any Australian railways kits which is unusual since I am Australian born and bred. However the SEM kits are really good starting points for going all out detailing and upgrading of the basic kit to my preferred modelling standard. I am working toward building wagons that are in the last years of revenue life, the mid 1970s to late 1980s, as all the wagons were withdrawn from service and scrapped by the early 1990s.


For the underframe, which has a lot of good basic detail, I want to add more detail including the the brake pipe (shown in image 1 below), upgrade the combined reservoir, brake cylinder and triple valve by adding a little detail to the combined unit and adding the airline from the train brake pipe (shown in image 2 below).

* A quick note, images 1 through 4 show layers, from the bottom of the car downward toward the track. For each addition made to the model the higher numbered image has detail further away from the bottom of the casting. Readers should also note that at the time I did not have a casting from which to work and based my ideas on a non-kit model to develop my ideas.

0-GY-wagon-brake-modelling detail - Train Line Pipe

Image 1: Location of the train pipe against the underframe

1-GY-wagon-brake-modelling detail - Brake Components

Image 2: Air Brake parts and piping from the train line pipe

Next on the list of upgrades is to add missing parts of the air brake rigging not provided with the kit. The triangular section leading to the linkage needs to be added (as shown in image 3 below) along with the linkage from the brake cylinder actuator. I am not going for precision here but a representation. Additionally I need to add the release wire to both sides of the wagon. This allows the air to be dumped when the wagon is uncoupled and the hand brake is applied.

2-GY-wagon-brake-modelling detail - Air brake moving parts

Image 3: Air Brake actuators and rigging

Finally I need to add a dump valve linkage

3-GY-wagon-brake-modelling detail - Hand brake modelling detail

Image 4: Hand brake actuators and rigging

4-GY-wagon-brake-modelling detail - Complete

Image 5: The whole she-bang – with all layers in place

Next steps

I have to begin with the train line. As shown in image 6 below it needs to clear the coupler boxes (Kadee #202) and be routed through the frame and cross pieces. As stated in David Baillie’s excellent PDF (see below) brake lines are 1 inch outside diameter and in HO are approximately 0.3mm (about 0.012″) so I’ll be drilling through the casting to get this laid in and ACC’d in place. The routing should be something like this:

SEM Casting Frame Details - Step 1

Image 6: The SEM frame and floor casting with the indicated path for the brake line

I’m hoping to use the MagnaLock brake hoses on these cars as they add a very nice touch. I’ll be using them on my US stock as well. I am working through the process of getting them ordered as they appear to be quite popular. You can see them in action here:

This should give a very nice representation of the vehicles in action.


You can find out more about Victorian Railways braking systems by downloading this PDF guide to Westinghouse air brake equipment from David Baillie’s website. Take some time and look around here as their is a lot of great information that David has produced and shared with the community.

There is a wealth of GY modelling information on the following websites:

You can find more information about the kits, including the kit instructions at the Steam Era Models website

What’s next?

Head on to the Build – Part 2 page to see how the course of true modelling never did run smooth (with apologies to the Bard).

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