Fun with crates

I’m detailing my goods depot, something I’ve been looking forward to. As the layout is designed for close-up viewing I’ve been searching for goods items that could pass muster at a reasonably close
range. To begin with, here's a variety of crates. First up are these rather nice crate kits from US-based Rusty Stumps (above). The kits are laser cut plywood and come in various types – these are for horizontal crates. They are HO but quite large. The instructions are very good and the kits are easy to build (I used wood glue).

If you prefer a plywood side rather than planks, the kit can be modelled inside out.

Parts fit together well and with care the lid can be made as a press-fit, meaning you can take it off if you wish to leave it open.

Above are the built up kits next to another offering from Rusty Stumps: Ready-made resin versions of the same crates. The latter clean up reasonably well, but I think you’ll agree that the kits are worth the extra effort.

As an aside, Rusty Stumps also do a range of resin workshops scenes. I have no particular use for these right now but couldn't resist having a closer look.

Back to the crates. This laser-cut high quality card kit is from the German company Kotol, which Job brought to my attention some time ago (thanks again Job!). The products from this company are not cheap, and some of their items are distinctly continental. But it’s attractive stuff for those who like small details, especially as they use wood, cotton and card for their goods items – so you get lots of texture.

Above are the Kotol crates built up (I made the front one different just for variety). The kits are a bit fiddly and the card is quite sensitive to glue and scratches. So care is needed. The smaller HO scale was an advantage here, as I couldn’t find any decent small crates or boxes from UK manufacturers

The Kotol range is quite varied and has some unusual items (anyone fancy working bicycle lights in H0?). This wood kit for a set of makeshift steps was a quick and pleasant build, and comes with a convenient jig.

Scratchbuilding is another option of course. Having built the above kits, I used some of the scrap ply and card to fashion a few extra crates such as the one above. This added to the output from these otherwise somewhat costly kits. The scribing etc does take time, but other than that I would certainly consider scratchbuilding as an alternative in the future.

Good old Hornby do these nice ready-made crates (there are others in the package, this is a selection). Some of them are very large and would probably have been dealt with outside the goods depot, not inside. But I find the medium and small ones useful. The one at the rear is as they come, the others have been heavily dry-brushed to add texture and do away with the slightly translucent look.

I found this and a couple of other bottle crates in my spares box, and thought it loooked a bit dull. So I decided to have some fun.

The result was these three machinery crates from Carr & Sons, a well-known Farthing company. A tad fanciful, but I had a fun evening making them. The sharp-eyed may have noticed that “Carr & Sons" looks suspiciously like “To Carry 10 Tons” on a transfer sheet.

As many will know, Carr & Sons were leading manufacturers of round tuits. The one at the bottom is the basic model. The middle one is the advanced version. At the top is another of the company’s products, the square bloke (a development of the regular bloke).

PS: I have no connection with any of the above companies - except for Carr & Sons, where I own 51% of the shares ;-) 


  1. Some interesting products there Mikkel, and how nice of those manufactorers to provide extra scratchbuilding material with their kits ;-)
    The kit built examples look to be worth the extra work compared to resin, much crisper.
    Don't forget labels!

  2. Hi Paul, yes there's quite a lot of extra material around the Rusty Stumps kits - very useful! :-)

    The issue of labels is a bit of a mystery to me. I've been looking at lots of photos but can't find any that show labels on crates (or casks for that matter). Mind you there must have been something to identify them - I just can't find out how the labels would have looked.

  3. I'm sure that the GWR would have published highly detailed instructions on the labelling of crates and casks, the hard part would be finding the right publication for your era. One for the forums?

  4. Hi Paul,

    I've asked but drawn a blank so far. I've found parcels-, luggage- and wagon-labels from all eras, but nothing for crates yet.

    I'm hoping the answer might lie in the "GWR Goods Services" series of which I only have one volume so far. On the wishlist for christmas!

  5. Lovely crates, and well worth the time taken. I just had a quick look through some of my GWR books and can only find one photograph of parcels with labels, and that is in the GWR Goods Services Introduction volume which you probably have, it's on p28. I don't have the other books in the series..yet. There's a small crate in that photo with a label. I hope you solve the mystery!

  6. Hi Iain, many thanks for that! I don't actually have the introduction volume, so it's useful to know that it has that photo. Probably the apparent lack of labels in photos must just be because they don't show up. One thing I wonder about though: In a large shipment of crates or casks, would every single item have been labelled?

  7. Mikkel, I have turned up two photographs in "Edwardian Enterprise, GWR", the Wild Swan book. They are on Pages 166 and 168. They show small labels, probably gummed on to crates. I reckon the labels are about 4" x 2" and look to have handwriting on them. I can scan these for you if you like.

    PS I love the Carr and sons consignment boxes :-)

  8. Fantastic, thanks very much Iain! I even have the book, but must have forgotten to look in this one. Well those labels seem to be fairly straightforward to do. The photos also illustrate that you would only see a few of them from any one angle, so the modellers doesn't have to stick labels on every single goods item.

    The photos again make me wonder if all items in a batch were labelled, or only some. On the photo from Newbury there is a batch of 6 small crates/boxes on the wagon. Only one of them has a visible label. The others may of course have hidden labels, although it seems a bit impractical if the labels had been put on different sides of the box. Ah, the mysteries of the past!

    Once again many thanks Iain and Paul for your help and suggesttions with this!


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