My Projects

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Here are a couple of my projects – a Jack type Hunslet built to Brian Wilson’s design, serialised in Garden Rail, and simple coal wagons made from bamboo pen pots.


My name is Chris Bird and although I am responsible for the design and marketing of the Summerlands Chuffer, I am, first and foremost, a garden railway enthusiast. Although live steam locos that come at the top of my garden railway list, I love making rolling stock from cheap, easily obtained materials, as well as from kits. I even dabble in simple battery electric locos! (see “Other Stuff’ button for videos)

 My early projects appeared in garden railway magazines, but then I used the Garden Railway Club (GRC) as it was very easy to write them up as I went along. When the GRC was closed down by Google, it was saved by fellow enthusiasts and can still be found via The search function no longer works, but you can click the links in the titles below. When on the GRC site, do scroll down the Contents column on the left to find lots of interesting articles. Please note that the GRC ones are more of a blog and are not as ‘polished’ as some of the magazine articles!

I will also occasionally add pages to give more photos or videos of the projects and I should mention that although not all of the kits I have built are still available, the kit building principles remain the same.

Please scroll down to find these lists of articles with links.

7/8ths Scale Wagon and Coach Projects

7/8ths Scale Locomotive Projects

16mm Locomotive Projects

16mm  Coach Projects



7/8ths Scale Wagon and Coach Projects

The Summerlands General Purpose (GP) Wagon

These are simple flat bed wagons that use strip wood from the DIY store and inexpensive wheel sets from Binnie Engineering. They can be made very cheaply with simple tools. Although these were built for 7/8ths scale, the method is fine for 16mm scale too.

The GP wagon can be made as the flat wagon, slab wagon, log wagon, log bolster, planked wagon or even tanker wagon.

There are also notes on building a simple runner wagon at the end of the article.

You will find the article at by clicking the link in the title above.

GP wagon 1


The Summerlands GP Wagon in 7/8ths scale built from bamboo plant labels

Here the simple wagons are made from plant labels sold by Wilkinson’s in the UK. Because of the size of the planks, they are more suited to 7/8ths scale. Once again, their use is only limited by your imagination!



Bamboo wagon


The Summerlands coal wagons made from bamboo pen pots

Here I have used bamboo pen pots (sold by Wilkinsons in the UK) to make a rake of coal wagons. I have made them for 7/8″ scale, but they could be made for 16mm scale.



Pen pot wagons

The HGLW laser cut 7/8″ scale Slate Wagon

Previously sold by Acme Engineering the kit is now available from The Houston Gate Locomotive Works. In this article I build and lightly weather a set of three.


You will find the kit and many more on the Houston Gate Locomotive Works site.

Slate wagon


The HGLW 7/8″ scale Penrhyn open workman’ coach

Prviously sold by Acme Engineering, this kit is now available from Houston Gate locomotive Works. It is photographed here with my modified Regner Vincent. Similar figures to the ones in the photo are available from Model Earth Design.


You will find these kits and many more on the Houston Gate Locomotive Works site.


Other 7/8the Scale projects 

These article are all to be found under these titles on the GRC site.

7/8ths Model earth Tumbril – full build

7/8ths Scale Oval colliery tubs – scratch build of these quirky wagons.

RMC 7/8ths Brake Van – full build, but kit no longer available.

RMC 7/8ths One Plank – full build, but kit no longer available.

RMC 7/8ths Penrhyn wooden coal wagon – full build ,but kit no longer available.

RMC 7/8ths Type Two Quarrymen’s ‘ coach – full build, but kit no longer available.

SSP Slomo Wagon – building the first Slomo wagon prototype. SSP Slime’s are not currently available new, but may be in the future.


7/8″ Scale Locomotive Projects

Perhaps the most important article is the first one, written by Brian Wilson and posted on the GRC by me. All the articles below are in the 7/8ths Scale section near the top of the contents column.

“Jack” by Brian Wilson – this is the article that Brian submitted to Garden Rail magazine that they then serialised. It includes some corrections.

Brian Wilson’s 7/8ths Jack Build – this comprehensive build blog has over 300 photos and recounts my build of this superb loco.

Accucraft Quarry Hunslet – some modifications and videos.

RWM/PPS De Winton – modifications and videos.

Regner Vincent – extensive modifications and videos

Simply 7/8ths scale Dennis (by Doc Turner) – great article on building this loco.

7/8ths Inspection Car – a bit of fun using an HGLW battery electric chassis and a bamboo pen pot.

16mm Locomotive Projects

I have written various  articles on modifying and testing 16mm scale locos and all are on the GardenRailwayClub site in the Locos section under these titles, so I have not added individual links:

Accucraft 2 Cyl Open cab Shay – various videos including a 250lb haulage test!

Accucraft Leader 2 – various modifications including fitting radio control.

Accucraft Lew – various modifications and painting the smoke box. Videos of steaming up and fitting a Chuffer.

Accucraft Ragleth – videos including fitting a Chuffer. Fitting radio control.

Cheddar Hercules – some modifications and videos.

Cheddar Samson – modifications, videos and operating instructions.

HGLW Wittenberg Schafer kit – building this battery electric kit and video of the finished loco.

Lockbox Sophie – modifications and videos of this very rare loco.

Mamod ‘Mamodification’ – modifications, radio control and videos of very slow running.

Merlin Major – restoration and painting.

Merlin Mayflower – some modifications and video.

Roundhouse Argyll – modifications, respray and videos.

Roundhouse Bertie – extensive modifications and videos.

Roundhouse Charles Porter – total restoration and videos.

Roundhouse Fowler – improving the tender coal load.

Roundhouse George – videos and photos, including fitting a Summerlands Chuffer.

Roundhouse Lady Anne 1983 – restoration and videos.


16mm Coach Projects

Cheddar Coach Kits – full maker’s instructions and build article. Kits no longer available, but sometimes appear second hand.

Swift Sixteen Coach – full build article

Brandbright coach construction (by Dan AKA Doc Turner) – great build article.


Painting locos – the easy way – you will find this in the Workshop section. It was written about ten years ago so some newer paints are not covered. The method still works well though!

Busybodies at Modelearth – also in the workshop section. Painting 16mm figures.

Shorter Staff from Roundhouse – painting a 16mm figure. Near the top of the contents.

Penrhyn coach
Foggy 4
IMG_0443 (2)
Barle Valley 2016 3