Roll the Wagons

GWR Wagon N gaugeMake your wagons and coaches look and run better with this quick and easy tip.

I recently acquired a job lot of Peco GWR 5 plank mineral wagons. They look wonderful when being pulled around by a Pannier Tank engine and they’re great apart from one thing – they’re second hand and came fitted with Black plastic wheels and axles. They don’t look great and do nothing to help my trains run.

Note: I love this tip as just like 7 Tips That Will Make Your Model Train Run Smoothly and others on model railways 101, it’s simple, quick and effective way to improving how well your trains run. If you have any other tips why not share them. Either tweet them to me at @modelrailwayeng or send them via the contact page.

Luckily, I had some metal spoked wheels (seen below – shown next to the standard wheels). The metal ones look much better and I decided to replace the plastic wheels on some of my wagons with them. (Replacement wheels are easy to pick up. You can get them from a local model shop, one of the specialist online model retailers or via Amazon where a set can be picked up for under a tenner).

N gauge wheels

Swapping wheels is really easy.

Just turn the wagons or passenger cars over and very gently prise the sides of the undercarriage apart a tiny amount while lifting the axle, the wheels should pop free.

Then it’s just a case of reversing the process to put the alternative wheel into place.

Run your finger over the wheels to feel them rotate. They should move freely. If they don’t it’s likely the new wheels aren’t sat into the retaining holes correctly. With pliers on the axle move them up, down, left and right until you feel them click and try again.

Having done this my new wagons look more authentic and certainly run a lot better.

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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