A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

September 24, 2021

Getting Limber

Limbers are like the pick-up trucks with a tow hitch of the Civil War.  They were used to haul cannons, caissons, battery wagons, and even a coffee wagon.  We have several period photos showing rows of limbers and other carriages lined up at wharves and railroad depots as in the scene above at City Point, VA.

I had perviously made cannons using cast metal, laser cut wood, and photo etched brass parts. I ordered some 3D printed limbers to go with the cannons from a vendor in Europe. Unfortunately, when those parts arrived, they were not printed at the correct scale. They were about 20 percent too big. Trying to redress the problem with an overseas vendor was not practical. So I still needed some. 

View of the limber I drew
A few months ago, Gerry Dykstra, from the ACWRRHS Group,  sent me a copy of the 3D print file he drew for a battery wagon. Each artillery battery had one battery wagon along with a battery forge and 4 to 6 guns . 

It was a simple matter to scale the file to 1/48th and print on my 3D printer. The model is very nicely done. But, he did not include a limber. He did include a limber pole, an iron rod used to support the tongue of the wagon when the limber was not attached.  However, I believed I needed a limber to accompany it and my artillery pieces.

I decided to draw one myself. It is not that complicated a vehicle and it would be good practice for me in Fusion 360. Gerry already drew the wheels, so it was fairly simple. See the second  drawing. 

Gerry's battery wagon on top with
my limbers and cannon
I printed a test model. It need just a few modifications and it was good to go.  Then I printed  7 more.  

I decided to not include the ammo chest handles in the print. I will add those with wire. But I did include the locating holes to simplify drilling the holes.

This was a fun project that didn't take too long. Now, with limbers taken care of, I need to make the supply wagons. I started making a supply wagon using my cast wheels and laser cut parts. But I think a 3D printed version would be better able to show the detail on the wagons such as the tiny rivets and bolts.


  1. Bernie, the parts are simply exquisite. What software did you use to model these?


    1. I used Fusion 360 to draw the parts and then, Perform to support and slice the file for printing. Preform is the software that comes with the Form 3 printer.

    2. Thank you for the reply Bernie. I think if I switch to modeling the 1880's Colorado Narrow Gauge in Sn3, then I am going to need to pick up some of these skills to populate my layout.

  2. Bernie, do you own your own 3D printer? If not how do you “Order “ parts from a 3D printer?
    Finally how did you advertise your blog? Did you “invite” people or was it word of mouth?

    1. Yes, I have a Form 3 3D printer from Form Labs.

      You can order parts from commercial printing services such as Shapeways, if you do not have your own 3D printer.

      I do not advertise my blog. I use it as my own build diary/lab notebook. I do not have ads on my blog as I do not seek to make revenue from it.