Derek Osborn lives in Angus, Ontario, smack in the middle of our Canadian Association of Railway Modeler's (CARM) Central Ontario chapter region. He kindly offered to host our January, 2009 meeting at his manufacturing facility. We had a demonstration of how Derek designs items and how he produces the parts using a laser cutting machine.
Derek doesn't just make models of items for Canadian model trains although this is his primary focus at the moment. He makes boat kits, doll houses, and does custom laser cutting work: anything from fridge magnets to floating key chains, signs and one-of-a-kinds. Look for his Canadian Model Trains trackside details at your local hobby shop.
He had produced a CN modern caboose (van) in N scale in his lineup of Canadian model trains items. In the above photo one is sitting on a small diorama with a partially completed model in the foreground.
Here is a picture of a railway crossing showing his Canadian cross bucks and level crossing boards. Derek makes the cross bucks in N, HO and O gauge in three styles: first generation, transition and current. He also manufactures items like Canadian style whistle stop boards (right side of photo). His Canaidian Model Trains catalog includes whistle posts, yard limit signs and other trackside detail items.
Here's another view looking down at the crossing.
You can see examples from his catalog or by visiting www.osbornmodelkits.com. Derek sells to hobby shops and attends many of the Canadian train shows in our general region. He has added a number of new items as 0f 2016.
Derek uses a CAD-type program to design and lay out the parts for precise cutting. The cutting is done by a laser that burns through the wood. Derek explained that the laser machine functions much like a printer except that instead of printing lines, it burns them. It is remarkable how fine a line can be cut.
The laser cutting machine is on the left in the second photo. Here you see the laser cutting machine with the top open. The wood (plywood, basswood, etc) is placed on the platen as you would do with a scanner. The laser reflects through a series of mirrors. Without getting too technical, there are several ways to set up the cutting.
The laser has cut out the bottom of the van. All the beams, cross braces, steps and tool box are cut to the correct depth according to the computer drawing. Derek is holding a new base he has just cut for us as a comparison to a previously manufactured one.To the right is a closeup view of the N scale base of the Canadian National (CN) van he has just made for us with the laser cutting machine.
If you are modeling Canadian railways and want to do so faithfully, it's worth checking out Osborn Model Kits. Even if you're not trying to model Canadian scenes, his items would look great on any model railroad.
In addition to CN and CP trackside details and other lineside items, he also manufactures a number of small buildings: a barn, church, gas station, donut shop, branchline station, freight station, lakeside cottages and boats.
At the conclusion of the meeting, we lowered Derek's suspended HO layout from the ceiling so that we could see how he managed to do it.
If you're interested in seeing how a suspended layout might solve your space problems, go to Derek's suspended layout.
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