Pilgrimage back to Pendon

Pilgrimage to Pendon (part 1)

The Vale Scene

Way back in the late 1950’s I lived at Didcot in what was then North Berks, (now Oxfordshire), and on a recent trip back ‘home’ I could not resist the opportunity to call in at Pendon to see how it is progressing and whilst there I took some photos to remind myself how good it really is  so please forgive the poor quality but I only had my ancient mobile phone with me and they also had to be taken from behind glass!

On Summer Sundays, myself and a couple of friends, would cycle the 4 miles to long Whitenham to do a spot of roach fishing near the lock. However it wasn’t always sunny and if it started to rain we would saddle up and head back down the road to what is now Pendon Museum, but was the local  youth hostel then. We would go to see and hear Roye England discuss his models and in particular the Wagon and Horses pub which is still part of the exhibit. Roye was a native Australian but he had fallen in love with the British countryside and the GWR’s part in it. I well remember him explain about all the interior details he incorporated and even how he had made the loaf of bread on the pub’s kitchen table from the cellulose in a cigarette filter tip!

Back in those days the main exhibit was the Dartmoor scene which to us 11 year olds looked massive and was dominated by a superb long Brunel trestle bridge.

If we really behaved ourselves then Roye would regale us with a procession of his magnificent locos and stock trundling over the bridge.

Although Pendon does not portray an actual place nearly all the models then were of particular prototypes from the area west of Didcot towards Swindon known as the Vale of The White Horse and in his vision would be recreated in one giant model to ‘represent’ the are in the 1930’s.

He would use his spare time to cycle the Vale taking measurements and details of properties he wanted to include and as a nice touch he has been modeled doing just that, so look out for him in the vale scene but more about that at a later date.

Roye doing the business with his bike against the fence.

As I mentioned before he would show us the locos and rolling stock built for him by the great man, Guy Williams, who unfortunately we never met but I did buy his brilliant book about constructing 4mm scale locomotives.

To our eyes these locos were absolutely superb and compared to our own Triang ones on a completely different level. We didn’t appreciate the niceties of finescale but we knew what we liked and this was it!

The Fair Rosamund loco which we locals were familiar with as it was an Oxford engine usually working the Woodstock branch.

We were always drawn to the coach interiors and when the lights were dimmed Roye would bring a train to a halt on the viaduct so we could peer inside and marvel at the detail including a Maharaja as one of the first class GWR passengers. Did I mention that was another of Pendo’s attractions for us it was virtually all GWR and a fascinating look back in time to how rural life was prior to WW11. Nothing much changed for generations but the 1960’s and mass modernisation was soon to encroach and much would be swept away for ever!

Nestling under the arches of the viaduct is this impoverished remote farmstead.

A GWR fan, or not, this really is a go to exhibit if you are a model railway enthusiast, better than visiting any exhibition and probably cheaper!

More later



A Cuckoo In The Nest — N Scale L.S.W.R. Road Van (20T Brake Van)

A customer of ours DJ, who is not a GWR modeller, requested that we create an N scale model of the brake van in this drawing below.  I thought to myself why not. I don’t know much about Southern ways  but here is a chance to learn so I set about creating a laser cut micro ply and card kit and this is a description of how it was achieved using published diagrams.

 The test build is described below.

All the parts provided plus wheels and couplings but note buffers are not included. These can be obtained from B&H Enterprises at shows or online.

The first job was to build up the chassis designed around a tab and slot assembly. The parts were separated from the sprue as below.

Working from the centre of the chassis- block outwards I glued in place the brake gear first pushing them all the way down into their respective slots (onto a dead flat surface).

Next the side frames were glued in place and I made sure everything was aligned vertically and parallel before gluing on the axle boxes/springs over the axle holes. The oblong cut outs at each end are to accommodate the plastic NEM coupling pockets provided with the kit.

These axle box pieces have to be aligned by eye and that is a fairly straightforward job but they are are quite delicate, as you can see, so I provided a spare one on the fret ‘just in case’.

Here is the basic chassis finished.

and the coupling pockets added,

after gluing on the buffer beams, (aligning the pre-laser cut holes). Note the coupling pockets are designed for short NEM couplings (provided), but the length of the couplings can be further reduced, if required, by shortening and setting back the coupler housing.

Now turning to the body. Normally my kits are built up around the floor section but in this case that is not possible because of the ducket arrangement. So I built up one side by slotting together the parts and securing with PVA.

It is important that the sides slide home fully so a ‘dry’ run was performed to make sure the slots were clear of debris. The pieces must obviously be kept as vertical as possible during curing. Once this has completed I added the other long side and this action has the effect of squaring everything up as in this picture.

When this assembly had cured I turned it upside down and added the floor section by inserting the tabs on the base of the dividing walls into their respective slots in the floor piece and when set glued the body to the chassis       to look like this.I now added the two end pieces which fit inside the side walls and on top of the buffer beam. This also completes the roof supports. The ducket covers are the next to apply and in this case there are 2 versions provided, (one panelled and one a plain steel sheet cover). In this example I have opted to use the panelled ones and these were bent roughly to shape ‘dry’ before gluing in place and pressing into the required profile as the glue ‘grabs’.

The next job was to add the roof which was first rolled to shape over a former. (pen barrel or similar). Test fitted ‘dry’  and then glued down with an even overhang all around. Note the chimney hole is at the ducket end.

Next glue on the solebar covers and then the foot boards on both sides and by now the wagon looks like the photo below.


Click in the couplings next then pop in the spoked wheels. I fashioned the chimney from a piece of plastic rod I had available and then she was ready for painting. I opted for a Southern Railway brown version with the full red ends. Either enamel or acrylic, (as here), paint will do but it is best to thin both types down and do light coats so as not to clog up the planking detail. The roof is just a dirty grey colour and the chassis is painted with acrylic frame dirt colour.A paint mask is provided for the lettering but I need to have another go at it this time allowing the brown paint longer to dry. So that is it. Another fun kit to add to the Osborns Models Great Western Replicas collection (even if it is a Southern).

It will look better with buffers!

All that is left to do is to send off a sample to DJ for suggesting it and being patient while I was distracted with other work. I hope he likes it!






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.

2017-01-19 00.27.57


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.