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  • [an error occurred while processing this directive]
    Fleischmann Magic Train box van shortening

    (Removing the brake-platform)

    Author: John Oxlade, Salfords, Surrey, UK


    One of the problems with modelling in 0e is the lack of readily available affordable rolling stock. Fleischmann's Magic Train range are the only mass-produced models currently available, but there is a lack of variety in what they offer. However, the modular nature of the Magic Train range makes a certain amount of conversion fairly straightforward.

    The following article is probably the simplest 0e "kitbash" (conversion) you are ever likely to come across. It does not follow a specific prototype but does result in a model which is a little different and you can say that you have contributed more than just taking it out of the box. I encourage you to try this conversion. The wagon is reasonably priced so if you make a total mess you have not lost a lot of money. Fleischmann sell replacement parts (see references below), so it is unlikely you will completely ruin anything. Getting over the hesitation to take a saw to a perfectly good model is the biggest hurdle. After this you won't look back.

    Materials you will need:

    • 1x Fleischmann Magic Train box van (2450 or similar)

    Tools you will need:

    • Steel rule, 150mm or 300mm long
    • Razor saw and mitre box (make sure the mitre box is wide enough to take the model - minimum 50mm)
    • Rail cutters (Xuron or similar - see references below)
    • Modelling knife with plain and chisel blades
    • Flat files - large and small (called "needle" files)
    • Liquid polystyrene glue and small paint brush (size 0 or 00)
    • Powdered graphite (used to lubricate door locks)

    Difficulty rating: Suitable for beginners.

    Dieser Artikel ist im Juli 2003 in deutscher Übersetzung bei erschienen. Die Veröffentlichung des Artikels geschieht hier mit freundlicher Genehmigung von


    The first step is to break the model down in to its constituent parts. As the model is mostly clipped together this is straightforward. Put the end steps to one side as we can use them at a later date for another conversion.

    The chassis and roof need to be shortened by 13mm - the length of the brake platform. Using a mitre-box to ensure a clean, square cut, use a razor-saw to remove 13mm from the end of the roof. This will result in an uneven spacing of the ribs on the roof, so carve them off with a chisel-blade in a modelling knife, then sand the roof smooth with 600 grit wet-n-dry paper. Save the off-cut from the roof.

    The 2 ends of the wagon body are not quite the same.

    Trim the 2 vertical end-braces flush with the bottom of the floor.

    Square-up the ends of the bodywork on this end and widen the opening on the other end to accept the end of the chassis - the gap on the body is narrower on one end than the other.

    Remove the lugs on the underside of the body which held the chassis in place.

    The Magic Train chassis has truss-rods and a brake reservoir, along with a "tank" of some description. The tank and truss-rods get in the way of the next stage, so remove them. Carefully use a modelling knife to remove the truss-rods, being careful not to dig in to the sides of the frame. The only difficult bit here is where the truss-rod runs alongside the brake cylinder. Just take your time and it will be fine.

    The "tank" is a little more difficult. Using a pair of rail-nippers nibble away at the tank until is is almost level with the floor. Then use the chisel-blade in the modelling knife to smooth off any remaining plastic so that it is flush.


    Firstly remove the metal weight and place to one side - slice the plastic "rivets" off with the modelling knife and lift it off the chassis.

    Now place the chassis in the mitre-box and cut through the chassis right next to the brake cylinder. Make another cut on the other half of the chassis so that a piece of the chassis is removed approx. 11mm wide. This plus the width of the 2 saw cuts should be 13mm. Keep the section of the chassis you remove it might come in useful.

    It is very important that when the 2 sections of the chassis are put back together that they be exactly the same length as the body. If they are slightly too long, use a large, flat file to remove a little of the frame continually checking for a good fit.


    In this underside view of the finished vehicle you can see where the "tank" was and the cut across the chassis just to the right of the brake cylinder.

    Now test fit the 2 sections of the floor without glue.

    Do not fit the metal weight back in place as it is too long.

    Once you are happy that all is OK, run a small amount of liquid polystyrene glue with a small brush along the join between body and chassis. It only takes a very small amount of glue to hold the body in place. The glue shows as the shiny dark-brown marks in the picture.

    Be careful not to get glue in the coupler mechanism. To be safe, drop some powdered graphite in to the coupler mechanism and keep moving it for a few minutes.

    Carefully carve off the handrails which are on the corners where the brake platform used to be. Save these.

    Fit the metal weight INSIDE the body. The only problem is that it is visible through the open door. If you prefer an open interior, find some replacement weights to go in the ends out of sight.

    That is about it. If you have been careful you could use the wagon as it is, or you can repaint it before putting it on your layout.

    It took a little over an hour to do this conversion (without painting), a good introduction to "kitbashing".

    before after
    OPTIONAL: As a footnote, after I completed the above I chose to remove the brake cylinder, brake rigging and brake shoes to make a non-braked wagon. As this is not a model of a specific prototype you can have the wagon braked or not depending on your personal preference.

    1. Xuron in the USA manufacture a range of cutters. One of these is intended for cutting rail and has a pair of hardened steel jaws that cut very closely on one side.
    2. Addie-Modell - good supply of parts for modelling in 0e including Fleischmann Magic Train spare parts.

    [ last updated 9th August 2003 ]