By Julius de Waal

This design is for an RM class Model T Ford railcar that operated on New Zealand's national rail network. Just two were built, RM 4 and RM 5, as experimental railcars designed to offer improved passenger services on country branch lines that served small populations.

Engine and transmission used for Ford Model T served as the basis of these railcars. The passenger compartment was only 11ft (3.5m) long, seven feet (2m) wide and seated eleven and a driver. At the front, a small front hood housed the engine, and large pannier bags for luggage hung from either side. The railcar weighed 2.5 tons, ran on four wheels, and could reach speeds of up to 30mph (50kph), quite fast for country branch lines of the time. It was operated by one person rather than three that were required for a conventional carriage steam train.

They were built in 1925–26 at the Hutt Workshops in Petone, the railcars were sent to the Greytown Branch in the Wairarapa for trials. Unfortunately, they did not prove as successful or as popular as hoped and steam-hauled carriage trains were reinstated for all services. The railcars were then sent to work in Southland.

In Southland, the Model T railcars worked on two branch lines for the latter half of the 1920s, but without any great success. On the Waikaia Branch, the railcars were unpopular with the local residents. On the Wyndham Branch, they failed to achieve the desired success and line to Glenham was closed in 1930, and the railcars were removed from service the next year. The numbers RM 4 and RM 5 were re-used  in 1936 when they were allocated to the first two NZR RM class Wairarapa railcars which proved more successful.

A replica Model T railcar was built by the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway and is now a popular visitor attraction.The replica was given the number RM 4 by the Pleasant Point Railway and was built between 1981 and 1999 by volunteers. Members of the Railway have since discovered the original body of RM 5.

The model is in two gauges. The first drawings are for 45mm gauge. A second set will be for the 2.5”/ G3 enthusiast. Drawings are complete ready for the builder to incorporate his own power unit.