For the last couple of years or so, we have had modellers using complete Faller car system vehicles as a basis for their own models; that is, taking an existing Car System vehicle, stripping off the supplied body and substituting the body of a preferred vehicle. This was particularly so with modellers wanting British outline vehicles in preference to the largely German/European models in the Faller range. 

A couple or so years ago, however, Faller introduced the first of its Conversion Chassis, as a way of expanding the range of vehicles able to be run on its Car System, without the necessity of producing their own version of each vehicle. Their Conversion Chassis have been designed primarily to be used for other vehicles produced by 'Herpa',, which already produces a number of the bodies used by Faller in its own vehicles.

Innovative Kiwis, however, have had other ideas and we are now supplying the conversion kits for modellers wishing to either produce their own, one-off vehicle bodies or wishing to place conversion kits into existing vehicles. One has even added working stop lights and turning signals to some of his models, something not yet available in the existing Faller range apart from their digital offerings.

The present HO Conversion Chassis range includes FA161470 (Two-axle truck) ; FA161471 (Three-axle truck); FA161472 (VW T5 van); FA161473 (MB Sprinter van - available from May 2020); FA161474 (Truck, MB Citaro bus - available from July 2020); FA161475 (Bus Setra 315 - available from May 2020). Each of these has a rechargeable battery supplied, except the FA161475, which has two 'AAA' batteries.

As well as the above, there are two HO Conversion Chassis that are supplied without a battery, being FA163703 (Bus or Truck) and FA163704 (Van). Finally, there is one Conversion Chassis available for 'N' modellers FA163710 (for 'N' bus or 'N' Truck). Suitable, rechargable batteries are, however, available for these vehicles.


The final area of Model Railway landscaping that I wish to talk about with regard to using Grass Tufts, is all the area beyond the tracks. Essentially, there are two main areas to consider - town and country. Considering the town first, there are public spaces (parks, sports grounds, road-sides and gardens around public buildings) and there are non-public spaces. These latter will be mainly gardens around homes, 

Much the same treatment can be used for public spaces and for non-public spaces. Many of the areas can be decorated by first using sections of grass mat (which come in a great range of colours and lengths of 'grass'. I suggest that this is used as a base on which add grass tufts depending upon what you are trying to achieve. A private garden may have, at the edge of a lawn, a row of neatly placed tufts with coloured tips to suggest flowers or flowering bushes. So too, a public garden. Think of the back-yards that you pass in a train, however. Many of these are a mixture of green lawn and long, dead grass. Possibly a line of dry grass along a fenceline. In real life, a fenceline is difficult to mow. Consequently, grass there can grow quite high and then die. When you are placing the tufts in position, the best way is to use tweezers to hold the tuft, put a touch of wood glue onto the base and then press it into position. It is quite okay to glue a tuft straight onto a grass mat, if the situation calls for a tuft or two. 

In country areas, a common decorating method is to use either grass mats; or apply grass fibre using either a 'puffer bottle' NO08100 (for short fibres up to 2.5 mm long) or an electrostatic gun (such as the Noch 'Gras-Master 2' NO60135 (for fibre longer than 2.5 mm). If you are using the grass mat approach, then tufts of various kinds, colours and lengths, can be used to give more detail to particular areas. As an example, slightly darker green tufts can be used in a meandering way across a field, to indicate a slow-moving watercourse. Again, have longer grass on the outside of a fence enclosing animals. Some fields may not have been cultivated for some years and have a build-up of one particular colour of wild flowers. Again, think about what you can see from a railway carriage, beyond the permanent way. 

The main requirements to achieving excellence using tufts and other materials, are observation and imagination.   


The second area that comes to mind strongly, is the permanent way outside the station limits.

Generally, the area of land over which the railway passes, is under the control of the railway, but the only part of it to be actively managed by the railway is that portion under and in the immediate vicinity of the tracks. By and large, the remainder is simply left to its own devices. While much of it is likely to be low grasses, there will also be clumps of taller grass (where various of the tufts such as NO07004, NO07022, NO07027, NO07032 can be used effectively, while other tufts which simulate flowering plants, can be used more sparingly. NO07014, for example, has four different, muted colours, with 52 clumps of 6 mm. high and 46 clumps of 12 mm. high. 

Apart from that, consider also, use of Foliage. 'Foliage' in model railway terms, is a Razor-thin and highly flexible substrate.The foliage is flocked with up to five different materials, in conjunction with electrostatic flocking. This guarantees the natural appearance of NOCH Foliage. Simply put, take a piece of Noch foliage (NO07270; NO07271; NO07272; NO07280; NO07281; NO07282; NO07290; NO07291; NO07292 NO07300 & NO07301); tear it into the rough shape you require and secure it into place on your layout. It will resemble a clump of low-level bushes - of the types that quite frequently inhabit the spaces alongside the permanent way. 

Finally, consider the buildings and fences the mark the edge of the permanent way. There will usually be a range of plants, flowering or otherwise, that inhabit the boundaries of the permanent way, usually hard up against a fence or commercial building. Here, frequently, quite tall plants can found  and here is where it is suggested that you let your imagination run riot, with tufts that have coloured tips to them.

My final exhortation to you is to go to your local railway line; take a trip (if possible) on a local railway service and observe, observe, observe, the vegetation that you see. 

Although grass tufts have been around for quite a while now, not many modellers seem to be aware of them and the ways in which they can be used. Because they come in many colours and there are two principal heights (6 mm. & 12 mm),  they are able to be used for most scales/track gauges. Possibly one of the best ways to use these, is to first visit a local railway line, or look at photos of real railway lines. Observe where there is plant growth. Real trackage usually has some sort of growth nearby or even between the tracks themselves. I have seen grass/plant growth within station precincts, along the edge of a track, but under the overhang of a platform, for instance; dried grass and even green grass along little-used sidings; small, bushy growths at the foot of rail-yard buildings; at the base of signals, catenary masts and around control gear boxes, to name just a few places. Consider also, placing grass tufts near coal staithes, near the supports/walls of water towers, around hydrants and around the edge of turntables etc. As you see, quite a few places when grass tufts could be used and we haven't even left the station. 


...if you are building a model railway and wish to put some height into it, but don't have a lot of room; or wish to access build and have access to storage sidings underneath the main layout.

To raise track sufficiently to clear trains on tracks passing below, can take a tremendous length of track and usually, a great deal of room. But if that track was in the form of a helix, great space-savings can be made. A helix is in the form of a spiral, rather like a large cork-screw. Trains can enter the helix and after travelling up or down, are able to emerge at a different level. 

Building a helix, however, can be somewhat challenging. A major consideration has to be that ascending a slope on a continuous curve is different from ascending in a straight line, because the curve increases the drag on the wheels, making the climb more difficult for the motive power. Therefore the angle of a slope has to be lower for a helix than for a straight line, unless another factor can be used to overcome this drag. Fortunately, there is an answer: Super-elevation. This is the technique of positioning the outer rails of curved track higher than the inner rails of the curve. Therefore, if  a track was curving to the left, the right-hand rails would be higher than the left-hand rails. Although this makes a helix very useful, it also adds to the complexity of building it. Of all the railway modellers I have spoken to over the years, many have told me that helixes are useless. May I suggest that possibly it was the helix THEY built that wasn't up to the mark.

There are really only three elements to a successful helix: Design, Construction and Installation. Noch have designed a helix that works. They have produced a helix that is easy to construct. All that the railway modeller is required to do is assemble the parts and complete the third leg - Installation. The only requirement here is a completely level base upon which to place the assembled helix. 

Noch produces a range of Helices - Single or double track; HO or N; with modellers usually using a basic helix of one and a half circles to reach a first level and an add-on helix of one circle to reach the next level.

There is a range of versions produced for particular brands/models of track. We keep stocks of the most popular for HO and order others from Noch as required.

To see the range available, type 'helix' into the seaqrch box on the left-hand side of our home screen.