There's a very wide range of wagons available include plastic,
etched and cast kits, and few are difficult to build. However,
the easiest and best are the plastic kits by Parkside and other reputable
manufacturers which have been introduced in recent years. They include
examples from almost every period of railway history, and no matter where
your interests lie you should find something to make a start with.
Here are three Society Parkside wagons from the early 1930's
under construction: a GWR van, an LMS 3 plank wagon and an LNER van;
they lasted until the 1970's or later. Start by forming a box of sides
and ends, then drop in the floor. Add bearings to the solebar/W-iron
units, glue on axle boxes, glue the solebars to the floor, then drop
in the wheels, and you've arrived at the stage shown here. Now just
detail the underframe (these can be built as fitted or unfiitted wagons),
add buffers, couplings and roof, and you're ready for painting and lettering.
Each kit will produce a number of variations.
For those fascinated by pre-Grouping railways, there's also plenty
of choice, such as these Cambrian-produced GWR wagons from Finney &
Smith: a wooden bodied van pre-1886, an iron bodied van post-1886 (the
gunpowder variety shown here was built until 1909), and an O2 or O10 7-plank
general merchandise wagon from around 1906; they all had long lives, and
the vans could still be seen until recently as grounded bodies. They
build the same way as the Parkside kits, and also include chasses.
Most plastic wagons include Parkside chassis kits; these are highly
detailed and include most variations, including the common RCH types and
the distinctive Dean/Churchward pattern, and also both steel and wooden
solebars. Here are the 9' and 10' frets (these come in pairs), and
an accessory fret which gives even more variations. The chassis kits
are also available separately, for improving older kits or scratchbuilding.
If you feel you need even finer detail, there are some excellent etched
chassis kits available, including Andrew Thomas's kits from Finney &
Smith, Fencehouses kits from the Society, and Worsley Works kits.
Here are three completed Parkside wagons. The transfers are from 3SMR's
Modelmaster-produced waterslide range.