Building things from scratch involves taking raw materials and turning them into realistic models. Materials can include strips of wood, plastic, or metal, sheets of wood, plastic, or metal, left-over detailing parts from kits you have previously built, purchasing and using small detailing parts from manufacturers (e.g. windows, doors, pipes, steps, grab-irons, etc.), and/or any other item found in your "junk" drawer. Starting in the 2000s, we now also have available 3D-printed parts.

To helps us narrow-down what we want to cover in this section of the web site, we are going to limit it by these following guidelines:


To size a drawing (for example, from a magazine) from a particular scale to S-scale, use these enlargement or reduction settings on a copying machine:

To convert from any other scale to S-scale, divide that scale's proportion by 64 and multiply by 100.

    For example, let's say you want to convert from 1:29 (G gauge) to S. Use the following:

    29 / 64 x 100 = 45.3125%

As an aside, Lionel posted a blog on how to measure and determine scale speed for S-and O-scales.

Passenger Car Sides

Over the years there have been a number of companies that have produced passenger car sides for S-scale. These make it easy to create a model of a specific prototype passenger car without the company having to go through the expense of creating a complete, operational model. Historical information is captured here as well, because you might come across these on the secondary market.

The December 1989 issue of the NASG's The Dispatch has an article by Stan Stokrocki about modeling passenger car sides, in which he describes three different methods for modeling Delaware & Hudson passenger cars.

Instrument Design

In 1990 Tom Hodgson announced cast-plastic passenger car bodies that were made from spliced and detailed American Flyer bodies. They offered a 64' heavyweight baggage/RPO body, a 72' Budd streamlined baggage body, and a heavyweight coach with paired windows body.

JC Models

Back in the 1980s, this company sold corrugated or smooth-sided blanks, into which the modeler could cut his or her own windows as desired.

NE Prototypes

This company carries silk-screened sides. Contact the company for a product listing. No web site. Money order, checks, and PayPal accepted. P.O. Box 4-4-2, Rutland, MA 01543-0442, 508-886-4848 (8am-8pm EST).

The Whistle Post Hobby Shop

This company was based in Springfield, Illinois. In 1990 they announced their project to produce photo-etched brass overlays designed to convert American Models passenger cars to the 1938 NYC 20th Century Limited. Nine distinct sides were made so that a full set of 20th Century cars could be modeled. These included the following cars: an Island-series observation, dorm-lounge, RPO baggage, tandem diner, 4-4-2 Pullman, 10-5 Pullman, 17-roomette Pullman, and a 13-bedroom Pullman. The modeler needed to remove the cast-on details from the AM model, and remove some plastic to allow for the new window openings.

Union Station Products

This company currently sells a number of S-scale passenger car sides. These are intended for the American Models passenger car. They offer sides specific to a large number of railroads. If you don't see one listed, contact the company, preferably with some prototype information, and they will be happy to produce a set of sides for you.
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