Starting with the cart

I was tidying in the basement today when I started to think about the Nantucket Railroad and it’s railcar and trailer set The Bug and The Birdcage. I’ve blogged about them before.

Bug and Birdcage picture goes here

Bug and Birdcage - Nantucket Historical Association picture

I have a really sharp set of drawings that Wes Ewell kindly sent to me and I’ve long thought about how much I’d like to have a pair of these. Likely it would be easiest to build them in 1/4″ scale as On30 models. The size should be large enough to permit motorization and the use a nice, high-ratio, gearbox so they are smooth runners.

Anyway, back to the thought that I’d had. I was thinking about the intricate ironwork on the trailer (the “Birdcage”) and how to model it when it occured to me that it might be worthwhile to borrow on some experience I gained in designed a laser kit some time ago for another manufacturer. Why not build the ironwork up in layers of cardstock?. I just now revved up AutoCAD and drew out a template of what I was thinking about.

1/4" scale panel for ironwork

1/4" scale panel for ironwork

I plan on printing this out onto some really leightweight printer paper and laminating that printout onto some lightweight cardstock, something about as heavy as the stock a file folder would be made from. For each panel I imagine what will need to happen is to create 4 layers of the drawing and laminate them to each other to create the completed panel per:

The outermost panels would be cutout without the diagonals. Then, the centremost panels, will be cut out as mirror images of each other with the diagonals in place. When fully laminated the effect should work quite nicely. I’ll need a total of four of these panels for the sides and a simplyfied version for the ends. So sixteen in total.

Mind you…this would be really neat to try in 1/2″ scale…



  1. Hello. I’ve been looking planning to build a model of the two cars in 1:20.3 for about two years now, but have only found a couple of photos of them that do not seem to provide enough data for me to do the job properly. You mention that you had obtained drawings of the Bug and the Birdcage. Is there any possibility of my obtaining copies of them?

    For whatever it’s worth, I live on Cape Cod so have been on The Gray Lady many, many times in my life.Each time, I’ve wondered where the locomotive was buried. (Since you apparently know quite a bit about the Nantucket RR, I imagine that you aware of the story about this?) Just imagine if there was anything left of the loco, eh?

    1. Hi. I’m so sorry to have not replied sooner. It’s been very busy here and I had meant to get back to you sooner. The drawings I have were drawn by Wes Ewell and I think they originally appeared in print. Not in The Gazette but one of it’s predecessors. I’m at the office right now so I won’t be able to look for the drawings I have but they are beautiful.

      Wes has a really nice blog and I highly recommend a visit to it:

      He has posted a number of drawings online to his blog. Check out his excellent Monson Railroad drawings:

      I will take a look tonight to see where I’ve stashed my set. In the meantime you might try an email to Wes. He’s a super guy. If you do pass
      along my compliments on his work.

      Dave Frary built a really excellent model of the Nantucket Railroad for a public display on the Island. A PDF describing his work is available on his Mr.Scenery website. As well I really, really, really recommend a visit to the Nantucket Historical Association’s website. They have a huge database of scanned images and maps. Their online collection includes a large selection of Nantucket Railroad pictures. They’ve even got a large collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps scanned in which are great aids to describing the route of the railway across the Island. One detail that is missing from them but must have existed on the Island is some way of running around the train. I have looked over every picture I could find of the railway and the maps too but I can’t find any indication of a run-around track. Pictures of train consists imply that the railway must have had them but I wonder where?

      As for the engine buried on the Island Dave mentions it I think in his article and I think it’s buried in the swamp just across from where the railway’s shops were located. It’s probably still there but there’s likely very little left to get excited about.

      Thanks for the interest in my own blog – I really appreciate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s