Detailing the Iaehss reefer wagon

Changes to be made

In addition to the buffers and steps already mentioned, the different ramps and ladders, made of molded plastic, have to be remake. There is a “kit” in photo-etching for this wagon, but what I have against it is, as always, the flat and not cylindrical aspect of the railings and other handles. The truth is that, seen from a distance and painted in black, it is deceptive.

I also plan to replace the main marking plates, as the original pad printing is poorly applied.


There are four handles near the doors. The fixing pins are very large, but I do not want to fill the holes. So these “blocks” will be preserved, glued and eventually painted to make them more discreet. But the four corner handles are missing. They are a little different: same centre distance, but right angled elbows.

In the photos, their appearance is really very graceful and their diameter is visibly lower than that of the ladders. I choose ø 0.3 nickel silver wire. A very simple template allows to bend the eight pieces to 12 mm of center distance. Four of them have their ends folded at 90° to about 1 mm from the first elbows. They will be degreased with caustic soda, burnished and carefully wiped, with the possible purpose of painting them in black, because, in the black and white photos, they seem very dark color, and I will — just the once will not hurt — to trust Jouef on this point.

The wagon body, mounted on its plywood support, is drilled to ø 0.4 at the desired locations. The handles are glued with superglue, from the inside concerning the parts near the doors, and from the outside to the ends, with a microdrop of glue.


I’ll try to make the ladders from ø 0.4 round nickel silver. I did a test (virtual, in 3D drawing) with 0.5, and it seemed too thick.

To make the parts a bit less fragile, I modified the attachment points to the wagon end walls. As far as I can see in the pictures, there is no fixing at the bottom: the first rung is free, and in fact results from the bending of the two stiles, forming a kind of U. On the contrary, you see on my drawing that only the outside stile ① is bent to form the step, and then extends horizontally ⓐ to enter the wagon body. There will therefore be two fixing points at the top ⓑ and two others at the bottom.

The fifth rung seems missing, but it will actually be constituted by the platform that will be make separately.

3D study of ladders

The making is rather delicate and, to avoid nerve attacks, we must prepare templates. The construction will be broken down into three stages:

The templates are machined in scrap epoxy plates (I don’t lack), preferably 1.6 thick for stiffness, even if the dimensions are not large. The advantage is twofold: it is an insulating material (both thermally and electrically) and it supports the soldering heat, by definition. The positioning of the nickel silver wire will be ensured by a V-groove made with a 60° conical milling bit which is normally used to cut off the tracks of printed circuits in English etching. It can be easily and inexpensively found on the Internet. The groove depth will be 0.3 to 0.4 mm. Obviously, in order to make it, you need a milling machine. If, in addition, one wants to engrave all the curves, one needs a digital milling machine. I don’t have any, and I just mill “wide”, with a cylindrical mill bit, at the locations of the elbows and turns.

Etching 60° mill bits

I wandered how to keep the different parts well stuck in their groove. Eventually, I used pieces of adhesive tape, which had to be changed every two solders about! But holding is not as effective as with a screwed flange, for example.

Here is a picture of the ladder template with a piece already soldered into. I should have made two symmetrical templates, because the aspect of the solder joints is much better on the face opposite the soldering. The parts, and in particular the rungs, must be adjusted to the tenth of a millimeter in order to obtain the correct outfit.

Template for making ladders

Click or tap the picture to see details.

The soldering is done with an electronic tin-silver alloy, of which a tiny slice is deposited on the joint previously brushed with flux. The iron, set at about 350°, brings only the heat.

Here is the assembly template for the parts. It is also used for the bending of guardrails, with holes receiving 2 or 3 mm diameter tubes, and for the drilling of the body, thanks to the holes marked and to the positioning notches intended to overlap the buffer bodies.

Assembly and drilling template

  1. ø 0.5 holes for steps;
  2. ø 0.5 holes for ramps;
  3. ø 1.1 holes for platform;
  4. ø 0.5 hole for electric box.

The inclined grooves were obtained by pivoting the plate around the central screw and repositioning the other screws at locations calculated for a rotation of ± 14°.

Assembly and drilling template

Here is finally a picture of one of the pieces made, placed on another plywood template, for painting (Humbrol acrylic mat black No. 33).

I plan to gather all the useful diagrams into a PDF file.

Mounted and painted ladders


After reflection, I retain the old platforms, with of course their ladders and railings suppressed, because their supports look quite well. But I’m going to have to reposition them higher, because I’ve been shown by a blank test that they are too low compared to the ladders — in fact, the rungs are a bit too far apart. All fastening holes must be plugged with pieces of Evergreen: pieces of 1 × 0.8 mm at the bottom and 0.75 × 1.5 mm at the top, pressed in by force and flushed. You can also fill with putty, but I don’t like — didn’t I say it before?

Notch on platform

To make the platforms compatible with the new ladders, it is sufficient to reduce their rear width by about 0.5 mm between the edges and the supports with a cutter and to thin them by milling their very coarse anti-skid relief, which I replace by brass sheet imitating expanded metal, glued with thin double-sided adhesive. Like all the metallic details added, it will be burnished and then painted. It is also necessary to thin the fixing pins so that they can fit into the new ø 1.1 to 1.2 mm holes.

Note: the plastic material of these platforms is flexible and cannot be easily machined.

The electrical box underneath one of the gangways is also retained, but the conduits or cables connected to it are replaced by rigid conductors of suitable diameter: stripped mini wrapping ø 0.3 wire for the bottom one, and also stripped ø 0.5 telephone wire for the top. The small box just below the roof, forgotten by Jouef, 1.5 mm wide and 1.7 mm high, is created by cutting a piece of 1 mm thick Evergreen with the mini-milling machine, without forgetting to drill a ø 0.5 hole to insert a nickel silver or other material fixing pin. This box is painted in light gray (I'm not sure of this color). A hole is provided on the mounting template to drill the body at this location (mark ④).

Small electrical box


On my copy, the original marking is applied crooked. If it were not, I think I would not touch it. This raises the problem of the inscription plate projecting about 3 tenths of a millimeter on the model, a solution often used by Jouef to facilitate the decoration of its models, when in reality, the inscriptions are painted directly on the body. So, should this plate be made flush, at the risk of damaging the body, or leave it as it is? I will not take a risk: with decals, the thickness will hardly be visible.

Here is the new plate, copied on a real wagon photo, with an adaptation to make it more readable. As for the Res, the PNG image, moreover not to scale, does not render as well as the original vector file.

Marking of the Iaehss wagon


View of changes on the Iaehss wagon

The black colour of the decals drifts a little to the reddish, although the print was made in grayscale, but it is much less visible in reality than on the photos. The wagon still lacks a few touches of black on the door locks.

Ref. SMD 124
Detail kit for Jouef reefer
25.10 € - price end 2016 at SMD

Set of 10 60° milling bits
for printed circuit board
9.59 € (price 2017) at Amazon

Scale Scenics ref. 652-3501,
photo-etched brass grid,
8.90 € — price 2017 at micro-modele

Yes, because I never knew how to use
this thing to make oblique lines:
Etch A Sketch
So, with an XY table, it was missed in advance!