Modelling groups

Q. I'm interested in modelling; are there hobbyists' groups or associations that I can get in touch with to get info? Or places to buy models and modelling supplies?

The Model Railway Society of Pune (MRSP) does a lot of model construction. Members of this club have in the past built a 1/16th brass model of a WP, and several models of locos such as WDM2, YDM4, WAP1, etc. They also run a Museum of Miniature Railways. Please write to Dr Ravi Joshi for more information on either the society or the museum:

Dr Ravi Joshi
c/o Soudamini Instruments
17/1 B/2 G. A. Kulkarni Road, next to Sangam Press
Kothrud, Pune 411 029
Phone : +91 20-5435378 FAX : +91 20-5431165

The layout is a mixture of German & Indian Styles. The Tracks are all Marklin 3 rail HO with Marklin Locos, rolling stock and signals. The buildings are mixture of Vollmer & Faller kits. There is also a working Wuppertal monorail on the layout along with a circus, amusement park, swimming pool and faller working road system, and a model of the Khandala reversing station in the ghats. Dr Joshi also sells Fleischmann models at the museum. The Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays in the evening.

Andrew Emery's Indo-Pak (subcontinental) modelling group. For info send e-mail to:

A mailing list, ModellingIR at Yahoo Groups, has discussions on topics of interest to IR modellers, with some emphasis on HO.

Mr S K Mahajan in Dehradun manufactures steam loco models at scales of 1:40, 1:66, 1:70, etc. He has done DHR locos, the Fairy Queen, B-26 units, etc. The models are priced at Rs. 800. [3/99]. Contact:

Mr. S K Mahajan
152, Chuckuwala, Dehradun - 248 001, INDIA
Phone: +91 135.657013

His models are also available through the National Railway Museum in New Delhi, and some gift shops (Giggles in Connaught Place, New Delhi).

Mr Raman Chitale in Pune makes kits of WP and WDM-2 loco models and has supplied these to various IR sheds as well. Contact info??

Mr Dilip Bhat in Pune supplies some larger models of diesel and other locos. Contact info??

Marklin train sets are available through Rolex Lanolin on Princess St. in Mumbai ( Marklin and Hornby sets are also available at other hobby stores and some other places (India Hobby Centre, Benzer, Akbaralli's, Odyssey(Chennai)).

Brass models of 'B' class DHR locos are available at Siliguri, and from one craftsman in Tindharia.

Mr Adarsh Narayan, an IRFCA member, runs TrainAidsa, a modelling supplies company, and also organizes workshops on modelling in India at various times.

Also check out the various web sites of Indian railway models. You may get inspired by some of these models, or perhaps can also get in touch with the modellers and learn more about the hobby.

Modelling techniques

Q. What are the best ways to approach modelling Indian trains? Which scale works best? Are there kits available?

First, please see the following extremely informative pages on modelling IR:

Here is some general information on modelling Indian railways:

The gauge problem

The central problem in modelling Indian (and, for the purposes of this discussion, what are now Pakistani and Bangladeshi) trains is that none of the track gauges is 4' 8½" (standard gauge) unless you are modelling Calcutta or the long defunct Bombay trams. If you are not willing to make your own track, you must choose an existing track gauge and, if necessary, put up with a slight (or serious) discrepancy. 4mm scale models of BG locos on 16.5mm gauge (yes, it's possible) would obviously be very knock-kneed, as 16.5mm is only 4' 1½" in 1:76.2 scale.


Leaving aside N and O gauges for the moment (though note that Pune Railway Club have produced some commercial models to 1:50 scale for 32mm gauge track, equivalent to 5' gauge) the possible scale/gauge combinations range from 3mm:1' (TT3 = 1:101.6) through HO (3.5mm:1') to 4mm scale (OO, EM; 1:76.2).

BG works out to 16.5mm, 19.25mm, and 22mm respectively in these scales; MG comes out at 9.84mm, 11.48mm and 13.12mm; 2' 6" NG at 7.5mm, 8.75mm, and 10mm, and 2' NG at 6mm, 7mm, and 8mm. If available commercial track was your most important consideration, 3mm scale would be very attractive, as you could use HO (16.5mm), N (9mm) and Z (6.5mm) gauge tracks for BG, MG, and NG respectively. Mechanisms from TT, HOe (HOn 2-1/2) and Z gauges could be used.

If you model in fine scale, whether to P4, P87, or 3mm fine scale dimensions, you would model to the exact track gauge, and an existing scale standard. You can also do this if you are prepared to make your own track. If you adopt this course, you would be very strongly advised to adopt an existing modelling standard for your wheels and pointwork: if not fine scale, then the NMRA RP25-88 (finer) or RP25-110 (equivalent to most commercially available equipment).

Full details of the NMRA standards are available from the organisation; see their web page. There is a good range of components available for making track, especially in 3.5mm and 4mm scale, including BH (Code 75)and flatbottom rail in a range of sizes from Code 40 (= 30lb rail in 4mm scale) up to Code 100 (= 133lb). Sleepers, fastenings, and many other bits and pieces are also available.

If you like the Indian MG as a prototype, you would be very close with Sn 3-1/2 on HO gauge - it works out, in 1/64 scale (3/16" = 1') at 3'6" 1067mm prototype, or only 67mm 2-5/8" overscale in width. There is quite a lot of S scale stuff around, even human figures, and the complete range of HO mechanisms are ready to run.

If you like the 600mm NG, you can build UK O scale 7mm models on HO 16.5mm track, or 1 : 22.5 on the 2'6". Roundhouse USA make an NG model with outside frames and flycranks.

If you model to a scale rather than fitting a scale to a track gauge, then the parts available for SG equipment in that scale become useable. For 3mm scale, the market is almost exclusively British, though Continental and US components for 1:120 scale ("real" TT) may in many cases be adaptable. But the biggest market by far for components is in HO and 4mm scale, and many of those (though not all!) are interchangeable. Lots of ready-made parts are available for British trains in 4mm scale.

However, there is a paradox, and one that particularly affects modellers who want to build both steam and diesel locomotives, which would probably include many modellers of the recent Indian scene. The paradox is that most steam locos were similar (though never identical) to British practice, and there are many 4mm scale parts that fit. But most Indian diesels are of US origin or design, and there are scads of HO parts suitable

That matters less with the smaller parts, because the differences are tiny, but when it comes to bogie (truck) sideframes, wheelbases, complete underframes, and so on, discrepancies can mount up rapidly. Some rollingstock parts, such as bogies, brake gear, and much else, may also be useable. Again, a paradox: English components may be useful for 4-wheel wagons and coaches, but US will be better for bogie freight stock. Worst of all, the ICF integral coaching stock uses a Swiss bogie design which may be available on the Continent in HO, but not otherwise. All this means some hard choices!

Gauges for 4mm scale: There are currently three in use for SG models: 16.5mm (British OO, = 5/8" gauge), 18.2mm (EM) and 18.83mm (P4). The last is finescale only (the English equivalent of 1/4 AAR or P87). Ready-made track is available for all three gauges. Better still, track components – FB rail in codes 75, 80, and 100, BH rail in code 75 – plus chairs/baseplates, sleepers, and other components, are available from Peco and C&L.

That means you can build track to any gauge you choose, within reason! (Other rail sizes are also available commercially, down to Code 40, and with copperclad Paxolin – PC board – sleepers great variety is possible.) EM basically uses standard British OO components, including BRMSB wheels (similar but not identical to US RP25-110) pushed out to the wider gauge. P4 uses exact scale wheels scaled from BS 276.

Ready-to-run (RTR) models

Commercially available ready-to-run models specifically for the Indian market are essentially non-existent. An O gauge RTR model is said to be available now [2/00] in India (need more information on this).

A few NG kits were and are available, mainly for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. [4/02] Worsley Works (Worsley, UK) makes DHR coaches (various second class coaches, luggage vans, 'Everest' heritage tourist coach, coach with luggage cubicle and brake, etc.) in 4mm and 16mm. Brandbright makes various rolling stock models in 16mm (check 'Continental Modeller' or other publications for their advertisements). Model Railway Developments has a kit for a DHR steel van in 7mm (1/43) scale. Some items in the Spanish 'Electrotren' series may be usable. However, with some ingenuity, a few other sources can be used satisfactorily.

There is also the Alco 'World' series, which matches the Indian WDM-1. These were used by Brazil and Australia as well as numerous other countries. A Brazilian RTR kit is (was?) available for this. In Australia, they were the NSWGR 44sel class (also SAR 930), and had a rear cab built into the otherwise flat rear end. Lima and Powerline (more accurate) do HO versions of these, which of course would have to be repainted. See Continental Modeller, May 1994. The Australian NSW 45 is very similar to a WDM-2. AR Kits sells an RTR kit for the NSW 45 (can motor, 12-wheel drive). The NSW 48 class is quite similar to the YDM-4, but needs a scratchbuilt centre portion and some other adjustments to the body. Powerline Models (PowerMaster) sells an RTR kit for this. Trainorama is another supplier of an RTR kit with an injection-moulded body.

There is also a Brazilian firm called Frateschi who do unpainted models of Brazilian diesels, most based on US prototypes, but (once again) to a restricted loading gauge. Some of their diesels are similar to Indian ones, and at least one of them is identical to a Pakistan Railways diesel. In May 1996, Continental Modeller ran an article on cenverting these to 12mm gauge, to represent MG. This might be a good place to start for a WDM-2. Also see models for the Australian NSWGR 48sel loco, which is very close to the Alco DL560C on which the WDM-2 is based.

Many years ago Lima made a model of a Co-Co electric (a Heemaf-Westinghouse loco of the Dutch Railways) which had some resemblance to the English Electric Co-Co units of CR's western ghats line; but these are probably hard to come by now.

Other DHR models: Roundhouse Engineering Co., Doncaster, UK, have recently [4/02] launched a live steam model of the 'B' class in G scale. There are a couple of UK modellers who build 'A' and 'B' class locos to order, but the waiting list runs to many months or years. A DHR tea wagon, an open 4-wheel wagon, and an early 4-wheel coach are also available from some UK model firms.


There are or may be a couple of kits suitable for Indian steam locomotives. One is the Langley Models' OO9 (4mm scale on 9mm gauge) kit for a DHR B 0-4-0T, using the now-unavailable Arnold underframe. This is an inside-framed model of an outside-framed engine, lacks the Walschaerts valve gear, and in some ways is rather coarse and lumpy, failing to capture the feel of the prototype.

Another UK firm, Backwoods models, is now [11/01] supplying a kit for the DHR 'B' class. The firm was taking reservations for a limited run DHR Pacific in late 1997. Their DHR C may still [6/00] be available. They had also been contemplating a kit for the DHR Garratt but nothing has been announced. Backwoods enjoy a very good reputation; their kits are in etched brass and very well engineered. Both kits would be 4mm scale. Rumours of a ZB have circulated for some years, but no-one has done one.

A couple of UK manufacturers have been planning or a long time to make Indian NG loco kits in 4mm scale, but nothing has come of this so far. Backwoods Miniatures has etched brass kits for NG Garratts and Class B locos, as well as C class Pacifics.

Scratchbuilding / Kit conversion

There are some US loco kits that one could, with some ingenuity, convert or adapt to look like Indian locos, for instance by discarding the body and using only the drive. An epoxy resin or polyurethane body or sideframes could be moulded and used with these drives. Silicone RTV can be used to make a set of moulds after modelling the loco using styrene or other kinds of stiff plastic on the kit's chassis, or even using a brass prototype. Another possibility is to cast in lead. Sideframes have to be moulded separately.

Of course, if only one item of a particular type is desired, it can just be built in styrene and fitted on the chassis instead of going to the bother of casting from moulds. Instead of discarding the body and scratchbuilding the loco, another possibility is to find a US or European loco that looks reasonably like an Indian loco, and to use sheet styrene, auto body putty, judicious snipping/drilling, and repainting, to make it look like the loco you want.


On the whole, it is easier to adapt diesel models than steam or electrics. Athearn sells the PA-1 kit which is a good candidate for some scratchbuilding. One of the Athearn FM Trainmaster models could serve for a WDM-3, the Fairbanks-Morse 2644 Trainmaster for the WDM-2, and the Baby Trainmaster (Fairbanks-Morse 1644) for a WDM-7. The Trainmaster series are in general too tall for Indian BG and some body conversion or rebuilding is necessary if this is a concern.

A number of manufacturers sell RS-1's. Atlas markets a Kato-made kit. The Atlas RSD4/5 underframe/mechanism can be adapted for a WDM-2. Powerline Models of Australia make a Class 48 diesel kit that could be converted quite easily to look like a WDM-2. The WDS-6 is close enough to several European models (Atlas, GE U36C), and there are some Lima kits (FA 'A' units) (and Frateschi) that could serve for a WDM-1.

Stewart Hobbies' HO models C628 and C630 could be converted to a WDM-2; their trimount bogies are good matches. One of the Bachmann Spectrum models is quite close to WR's GE-built WDS-1 (ADE) shunters, while CR's WDS-2 shunters from Krauss-Maffei can be approximated by some of Lima's European models. Fleischmann / Roco make some models for Deutsche Bahn locos (class 261 / 361) that bear a strong resemblance to the WDS-4 shunter. A model from Vacek (No.2312) is advertised as an Indian shunter, but probably needs some work to make it really match one of IR's locos.


SNCF models can be used for WAM-1's; RENFE models for later electrics. WCG-2 and WAM series locos can be modelled from Lima's line of SNCF (CC 7100) / Dutch / Spanish railways. The RENFE models with centre headlights are especially suitable. WCM-1's can be modelled with Lima's kits for Australian V-line locos or the Australian A-class diesels. A model for the SBB Be 4/6 or Ae 3/5 can be converted (with difficulty!) to an EA/1.

Similarly, Trix's Ce 6/8 can be converted to an EF/1 -- the WCG-1 or 'Crocodile'. Some of the more recent Bo-Bo electrics can be modelled with Roco's SBB / BLS Re 460 and 465 kits. Kato Models of Japan has (or will have, soon) an HO model of an EF65-1000 locomotive. This model is very similar to the WAG-6B & WAG-6C models homed at Waltair.


A particular difficulty with modelling Indian mainline steam is the 'split cab' many of them had, where the cab area extended from the loco proper onto the tender. Even if suitable models are found with the right valvegear and other equipment, the split cab can pose difficulties. Rivarossi's Hudsons are one possibility for determined modellers. The PR K-4 by Bachmann Spectrum is also a candidate, as is the Hornby Duchess class. Some Baldwins can be adapted reasonably well. Stewart Hobbies sells a Baldwin AS-16 on an Athearn drive. Bachmann Branch line models in OO scale have some possible steam tanks and coaches that can be adapted for modelling Indian units. For other mainline steam classes, look into the European models for possibilities, rather than the US models.

With HO 16.5mm track gauge, there is a large variety of prototype material that can be reworked. Mantua Industries (USA), formerly Tyco, makes many loco parts (all-metal) which are easy to work with and durable. Driving wheels are available as wheelsets in several scale diameters for 3.5mm/1' 1/87 HO on 16.5 gauge; diameters 50", 61.5", 80" (boxpok), with plain, geared, or with roller treads. Spoke count may sometimes be off. They also have a wide range of cylinder blocks, slide valves, piston valves, valve gear kits, and coupling / connecting rods. You can add your own bits to the chassis or make a chassis of your own with 3mm brass.

At 1:101, a MG locos could be built on a HOn3 kit chassis. For MG locos, the chassis from a Berliner Bahn TT loco kit works quite well. These are avalable from a manufacturer in eastern Germany and are cheaper than loco kits from other places. Berliner Bahn's 2-6-2 can be used for a YP, but the valve gear needs to be rebuilt, and other changes have to be made.

Using sand moulds, brass casting can also be attempted; because sand moulds don't allow fine detail, the scale has to be 'G' – something suitable for a larger 'garden railway' kind of project. Small scale brass casting with details is not easy, and requires a lot of skill; but conceivably can be done with the help of a jeweller or someone who works with brass statuettes.

For one-off items, brass sheet can be used to make 'hollow' models. Use wire for rods, and solder everything together.

PCB (printed-circuit board) prototyping software can be used to create masters for photo-etching thin brass (.005-.01").


No UK four-wheel wagons resemble Indian standard all-steel wagons and vans. Most of these are in 4mm:1ft (1:76.2) scale, but would still be smaller than the Indian BG size in HO! (An Indian C van is 23ft 6ins long -- 82.25mm in HO) while a 4mm scale 17ft 6in English van would be only 70mm! The C van has a 15ft wheelbase, but most English commercial underframes would be for 10ft wheelbase -- 40mm -- not 52.5mm. Worse still, Indian wagon underframe design diverged from British around 1900, and existing UK designs are not very close. (You might just get away with post-war BR standard types, but these are not available RTR currently.)

Most English freight stock was wooden until the 1950s, whereas the only wooden stock built in India after about 1890 was during WWI when steel was unavailable. In general it is probably easier to use 8-wheeler European stock for open or closed box wagons, and tankers. A few American cabooses can be modified to look Indian.


US coaching stock does not do very well for Indian: the loading gauge is larger, so that in 3.5mm scale, they'd be oversize. Also, they don't look much like Indian coaches, so it's probably better to scratchbuild the coaches. Australian models of the 'Daylight Express' by Powerline Models are a possibility.


These may be difficult to find in India and may have to be imported. HO track is available in New Delhi (possibly in Mumbai too?), at about Rs 500 for a turnout, less for sectional track. HO standard gauge can be used for 1:101 scale, and then HOn3 track can be used for MG, and Z track for 2' NG. With OO (1:76 scale), S track can be used with HOn3 for 2'6" NG and HOm track for MG. For sleepers (ties), strips can be cut from printed circuit boards and the rails can be soldered to them. (The copper cladding has to be peeled off in the middle to avoid an electrical short between the rails.)


Kadee couplers are one of the best types commercially available. They are centre knuckle couplers with autocoupling. Uncoupling is by a magnetic ramp in the track. There are special Kadee versions for use with buffered stock. Buffer locking is only a problem if clearances are too tight or there is excessive slop between vehicle and track – careful adjustment of coupler protrusion on your tightest curve would soon establish a workable norm.

You could try sprung buffers, too: components are available in 4mm scale on the UK market. 4mm scale buffers are widely available from the UK, but can be expensive as they are made in small quantities. Low-cost alternatives include using flat-headed nails and filing or machining them appropriately, and using plastic tubing for the casing.


Indian semaphore signals are close enough to British designs that British kits (e.g., Ratio LMS) can be used for semaphore signals, with some minor modifications.


German trucks from Wiking, Roco, etc. are good for modelling Indian TATA trucks. The Ambassador car is the same as the English Morris Oxford of the 1950's. Models of the Morris parents (Mark 1 Morris Minor, Mark 2 Morris Oxford) are usable (painted grey or black for a 1950's look). The Indian Fiat is the same as the Fiat 1100. The Contessa is the same as the Vauxhall Victor. A German model of the Tempo is also available. Bush and Walthers also have models of the Tempo. Other Indian cars from the 1950s are the Standard Vanguard, and the Landmaster. Some of these models, or look-alikes, are available from Corgi.


It is difficult to find authentic-looking human figures for modelling Indian railway scenes. 'Nexus' has some 1:72 figures intended to depict ancient Greeks in their Ancient Life series; many can be used for Indian figures, including one which depicts a woman in a garment very much like a sari. ERTL (old Airfix) has a Khyber Pass British Infantry series and also a Muslim Fighters series which show many figures wearing puggris or turbans. They also had a Gurkha fighters series. Preiser HO figures (unpainted) are suitable for use as Indian figures in 1:76.2 scale. Their figures also include a Sikh and a sari-clad woman. Milliput figures can be used with some conversion. Saris and dhotis / sarongs can be done with single-ply tissue held by paint.

Q. Are there any periodicals of interest to Indian modellers?

The Continental Modeller has published several articles on the prototype and modelling scene in India. About GBP 25 / year. Contact:

Continental Modeller
Peco Publications & Publicity
Devon EX12 3NA

Q. Where can I find diagrams to help me model Indian railways?

See the section on locomotives for some information on some sources of diagrams of locomotives. The National Rail Museum has many documents. Very recently, they set up a separate section called Indian Rail Archives, with a collection of diagrams and other material of interest available for perusal by everyone. Also see Apurva Bahadur's site and Glyn Thomas's site for more diagrams.

Q. What are the loading gauge restrictions (maximum dimensions) and other sizes of IR rolling stock? What are the dimensions of railway track formations?

Please see the 1971 standards for rolling stock dimensions and also the older, 1929 standards for rolling stock dimensions. Also of potential interest in this connection are the dimensions of tracks.

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