Tool Van Test Build

As some of you may know we have been developing a model kit of an N Scale Ransom and Rapier 45ton steam crane. It is essentially done but we are trying to reduce the considerable number of parts and we intend to incorporate some 3D printing into the process but as development time on our printer is severely limited by our other activities, especially at this time of year, progress has slowed somewhat.


However the crane is also going to need a mess and tool van to go with it. Sometime ago created the drawings for the laser with the intention of producing a mixed media kit incorporating Michael’s 3D printed American style GWR bogies so here is a brief description of the test build to make sure it all goes together properly to represent this particular van,  (seen here with different bogies).

Firstly here is a picture showing the laser cut wooden sides representing the planked type the kit is based on. Here I have already fixed the supporting bulkheads in place.

Having glued the bulkheads I set them aside to set while I made a start with the chassis which is laser cut from plywood with card additions which when glued in position represents the bottom of the angle iron of the solebar and the footboards which are handed to match the doors but at this stage it does not matter which way round they are glued together so long as the cut outs line up for the bogie pins and wheel clearances. Lining these up will automatically put the rest of the piece in the correct position with equal overhangs.

Best practice is to have a ‘dry’ run with each stage before gluing with PVA. Here is my best tip—- Squeeze a small quantity of glue at a time onto a piece of scrap plasticard or yoghurt type pot and apply the glue using a suitably sized paint brush.

The next stage is to glue the floor with its upright supports to the chassis. To do this properly, lay the chassis on a flat surface, (footboards down), and glue the floor in place using the bogie centre pin holes to line everything up squarely.


Once this stage is properly set it is time to assemble the four sides and ends of the superstructure. Do this by removing all the parts required from the fret using a sharp knife to cut through the retaining ‘pips’. Any rough bits should be sanded smooth with an emery board, before assembly.


The sides are best fixed in place without the inset door parts in position. Glue the first long side hard up against the stops on the partitions and ensure you have an equal overhang at each end to accommodate the end pieces. When the first side is correctly positioned add the second side in the same way. Only when the glue has set add the ends. These hang over the sides, (mimicking the stops on the partitions), and between the sides. Use a soft jawed clothes peg as a clamp if you prefer while the glue sets. Test fit the recessed doors as the smaller ones are different to avoid the windows.

Now glue all the doors in place hard against the floor and equally within the gaps.

Before adding the glazing, is the best time to paint and detail the body. Colours used for the outside were GWR coach brown and either cream inside or leave unpainted.  Enamel or acrylics are equally OK but do thin them a bit. Also paint the solebars and underside of the chassis a suitable frame dirt colour, never neat matt black!



The next stage is to paint the lettering using the paint masks supplied. No Transfers are required. Stick on the low tack self adhesive masks flush with the top of the body. These masks are handed so it is important to affix correctly. Also mask off everything else you don’t want over sprayed and when happy everything relevant is covered, lightly dust the paint mask with a sand/straw spray, either with an airbrush or a can of Humbrol acrylic sand colour.


If you wish you can practice spraying on a piece of scrap. The masks can still be used again afterwards on the body.

When the sprayed paint is completely dry peel away the masks and hey presto your body shell will look like this.


Now is the time to add the details such as the trusses and the end steps. The trusses are glued into the slots provided on the underside of the chassis and the ends have slots already laser cut to take the card steps. Make sure they are at right angles to the ends. These are quite fiddly bits best applied with fine tweezers. There are 4 extras provided in case you lose any but cut them off the fret only one at a time!

When all the steps have been added, (treads upwards), and the glue is set, paint them a frame dirt colour like the chassis. Glazing is provided pre cut to size so have a dry run to know which bits fit behind which windows and secure in place with PVA.

Cut the roof from the fret above and very carefully, but gently, roll the card to the roof profile. Note the centre of the roof is fairly flat and the sides drop away sharply. You may find it best now to file down the ends and roof spacers, if necessary, where they meet the sides to obtain a smooth transition from roof to side when stuck down. Use an emery board to do this. Keep rolling the roof until you obtain a good fit with a dry run. Note the roof is ‘handed so if there are any upright spaces exposed by the cut outs turn the roof 180 degrees. When happy with the fit, glue and hold in place with low tack masking tape or utilise the ‘transfer’ masks. Meanwhile the roof lights have to be bent to shape. Again take care and bend along the perforated lines. When bent correctly add the glazing with PVA.

Glue the roof light assemblies and the shell vents in place to complete the roof and paint.

Here the dimensional problems with the roof lights show up so I will amend the drawing to make the corrections. Tiny holes are provided for handrails and I might try fitting some but it is not planned to add them to the kit components. Also at the moment we have not produced our own coach (or wagon) buffers so on this test build I have used some B&H Enterprises brass ones I had to hand, but they are not the correct type.

The bogies are American Pattern GWR, 3D printed in house, with Bachmann/Farish Coach wheels fitted and here is the coach with buffers and bogies in place but no couplings although the bogies have provision for NEM couplings such as the Bachmann/Farish ones which will be provided in the kit as will the bogies and wheels.

This picture shows the coach from a lower angle and it is clear I need to add the gas tanks etc. to the kit so I will amend the drawings to accommodate them for the final version of the kit.

Reference to the original photograph shows the bogies inset more and the truss bars extending  lower down so I will also incorporate that. This picture also shows the holes provided for handrail fitting. I will also try and provide the roof boards Laser etched with the legend “Loco Carriage and Wagon Dept.Swindon Factory”.

So there it is, the first test build of the Tool Van, which has thrown up a list of a few improvements that will be incorporated in the kit. Apologies for the quality of the pictures taken in my dingy workshop!

Halls Distemper Hoarding

Halls Distemper advertising hoarding in N Scale.

When I was a lad in the 50’s these advertising hoardings were strategically placed in fields alongside main railway lines. The one I particularly remember was on the north side of the GWR main line west of Reading. They were about 2.5 times life size. On browsing the internet I came across this image.

A quick play with coral draw and the laser and I came up with this. Ready to paint and ready to plant.


A fun little scenic addition,  CLICK HERE

Test building the half Timbered row of shops

Test building the half Timbered row of shops new from Arch laser

(exclusive to Osborns)


This new mixed media Craftsman kit comes designed around an internal sturdy core on which to ‘hang’ the details. The core is constructed in minutes by gluing, (with a good PVA), together the numbered and slotted lightweight card parts in sequence and this makes construction very quick and accurate indeed. This first stage takes about 30 minutes. To make final painting simpler I lightly sprayed the parts first.

But first a brief bit of background information. This Craftsman kit is roughly based around a block of buildings in Ipswich where the ground floor shops have been updated with large shop windows. The majority of the Kit is laser cut on one of our in house lasers with the chimneys being 3D printed to make construction even easier.



The illustration above shows the core parts cut out on the laser bed and right hand picture shows the individually numbered parts, as supplied, ready for assembly.

The card core is built up by gluing together the numbered and slotted parts in sequence 2 to 1 and so on. This ensures the structure will remain square throughout the process. There is no provision for lighting but if you want to add lights you should punch holes where required in advance of this construction stage and add the lights as you proceed with the build up. Apply the PVA glue with a brush as illustrated here (left) where parts 1-6 are being glued together. As stated before this construction method ensures the structure remains square.



Continue with the sequence until the construction reaches the stage of the right hand picture above. Next the front elevation is glued and slotted into place followed by the second cantilevered layer which is aligned with the tops of the apexes of the dormer windows. Ensure this job is completed with care as there are no slots for this stage. Add the two strips (15 & (16) at the sides corresponding with and at right angles to the front piece.



When the glue has cured add the two roof sections. The front piece (13) should be fitted first and fully forward so that the top is in line with the ridge and engaged in the slots. The rear section, (14) is butted up underneath the front piece. Try having a dry run first to  fully understand this stage.

The next stage is to ‘hang’ all the 1/64th ply pieces onto the core structure. These pieces are also cut, and where appropriate, engraved on the laser. This process results in a number of parts which are best painted before assembly. This stage in the build takes a little longer to add all the pieces accurately.

Paint these parts with acrylic or enamels but thin them down a bit first. Half timbered buildings are usually painted black. Tip add about 20 % of a dark brown or dark grey to Matt black to take out the harsh blackness which if used ‘neat’ is unrealistic on models.


Start adding the timber to the core by starting at the lowest level and building the structure on a flat surface. The long shop fronts should overhang equally at the ends but if you align the window with the core cut outs this is a simple alignment process. Continue up the front of the building by adding the large two storey piece, again aligning with the window apertures and dormer peaks. Followed by gluing the in between pieces all of which are different and should be obvious which ones go where. Add the side sections similarly and finally add the facia strips. Make sure the long front strip is the correct orientation and the mouldings match the doors.

Next it is time to add the laser cut and engraved card roof sections. First glue on the long front making sure it is fully forward and level at the ridge. A dry run is useful here. Next glue on the back roof making sure the cut outs for the chimneys are all aligned. Form the dormer roofs which have a perforated cut to aid this process. Glue each in place in turn. When they are all set glue the ridge tile sections in place after first bending them into a ridge shape. Trim the dormer ridges at an angle to match the roof. Finally glue in place the 4 complete 3D printed chimney sections. These chimneys are also produced in house on our own printer and simplify the chimney building process which is usually a difficult job to get right! No need to roll individual pots out of paper with this kit!

All that is left to do now is to paint the roof slates, ridge tiles and chimneys in the colours of choice. Again used thinned down paint as you don’t want to ‘flood’ the details. Tip Weather the roof tiles with streaking vertically from the chimney flashing for a more realistic roof. This is important as we usually view our models from an above perspective.


N Gauge Bedford S

Following on from the N Gauge milk float, we have been busy designing further vehicles for the range, Here is a first look at the soon to be released N Gauge Bedford S.



Manufactured between 1950 and 1959 this became used for rigid and articulated purposes. Above is our sample of the rigid short wheel base tipper.

Milk float EP

We have been manufacturing our own range of laser cut building and rolling stock kits for a while, but now we are going 3D, following on from the success of our N Gauge Shunters truck we are now going into in house production of all things N Gauge. We are always looking to innovate and provide the N Gauge modeller with products that have not been available

The first vehicle release will be an N Gauge NCB milk float, this was originally designed a few years ago as a personal project, however with our new equipment we can now make this available to all. here is picture of some engineering prototypes produced today. (excuse the poor image quality, taken on my phone with no sun light)



We will be producing this model with a few variations, these will be available shortly, exclusively available from ourselves. So keep checking the ‘N’ Newsdesk

Farm Series taking shape

Recently we have been working on a farm series of buildings and carts. You may have seen the farm cart in Model Rail recently, and thanks have to go to Peter Marriott for the great pics of his build:



The first to take a look at is the farm house, the example shown below is OO gauge but there will be an N gauge version as well.

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For this series of kits we are trying out a few new materials to create the best looking finish.  The picture above is an early stage test build, but you can see one of the new materials being use for the thatch roof, the first test has come out great for the OO version, we haven’t yet experimented with this for the N Gauge version so no pictures of this yet to show you. In the next post we will talk you through the build and show some more detailed pictures and how the kit is developed.