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1/12th scale Omnibus 16 Passenger

I started this model from an OLD original working drawing by J.E.Bishop, printed in “The Australasian Coachbuilder and Saddler” published in October 1896. I saw a couple of these vehicles on TV in an old short movie clip about Brisbane, Qld.
I liked the look of them so I went and checked to see if I had a working drawing of these vehicles, B-I-N-G-O, had one in my stash of old working drawings, so it soon became a reality.
I even used another full sized Garden Seat Omnibus, on display at the Cobb & Co Museum at Toowoomba, Qld, as a reference for the colour scheme, pinstriping and scroll work.

The main material that I use in the construction of the model is a timber called Tasmanian Myrtle, ( Nothofagus Cunninghamii ), it has a very close grain structure and there are NO pore holes in the timber to ruin a fine finish, it even takes a coat of paint like a piece of polystyrene plastic, with virtually NO grain lifting when painted, unreal B-O-N-U-S, eh.

I start the construction from the ground up, that way if I have stuffed up it soon becomes apparent.
The wheels are all made in a similar detail as to what John Thompson recommends in his Scale Model Horse Drawn books, the only difference is I use sheet acrylic for the fellies, instead of making the fellies from timber, it is a much stronger construction using acrylic and once painted you cannot see what they are made from. I have made numerous model spoked wheels using timber for the fellies, only problem is the amount of wasted timber doing it like that, so went over to using acrylic. It’s far cheaper than using timber, a tad of “Dumpster Diving” produces an endless amount of different thickness and different sized acrylic offcuts.
The spokes are all hand shaped from timber to get the correct profile, as well as making all the spokes as “Shoulder Spokes”, this way I can get each spoke to look about identical with the spokes on each side of it. I do have a FaceBook site that shows how the wheels are made, so if anybody body who’s on F/B wants to have a look.

All square nuts and the bolts with the rounded heads that simulate a coach-bolt, have ALL been made by hand, there is NO store bought nut or bolt on that model AT ALL, I mainly use 12 BA sized nuts and bolts, but I do use 8 BA, 10 BA and 14 BA as well.
I had to make a machine just to produce the nuts in quantity, I used to make them one at a time on the lathe, but it took forever to get any made. So I kind of automated that process of making the square nuts, improved production immensely, can now make about 300 per hour instead of about 20 per hour.
All the nuts have to be hand tapped, so I do about 500 at a time, that way there is a reserve of nuts waiting to be used.
The coach bolts are all made on the lathe using sticks of bronzing rod, it’s a lot cheaper than using brass rod and it’s a lot stronger material as well. The threading is done with a hand held die and the bronze material resists breaking when it’s being threaded, where-as brass tends to break off at the worst possible moment when using the die to thread it.

The other mediums I use are Brass, either rod or sheet, of varying thickness, another excellent medium is Acrylic, Aluminum is used where I need strength and lightness and whatever else will do, that I can find to do the job that’s required. I do use a tad of Modelers License when ever I can get away with it.
The springs are made from brass sheet, select the required thickness brass sheet and shove it through a special jewelers bench saw, to get the required width of the spring leaves. Shove these strips of brass thru a roller to get the shape required for the spring leaves.
Each leaf end is soft soldered to the spring leaf above, this stops the ends from opening up when some fool attempts to press down on the model to test if the springs do actually work.
There’s always some fool hanging around in the shadows, just waiting to do this to the model, so had to solder the ends of each leaf to thwart those fools.

Painting is done only ever using ENAMEL paints, it’s applied with an El-Cheapo airbrush, they work exactly the same as the most expensive one does, just blows paint around onto places you want it.
The fancy pin striping and lettering is all done with decals, I use CorelDraw to create the designs, then an ALPS MD 5500 printer to make the decals. 
I will try and use any OLD original pin striping or lettering that I can come across, from anywhere, that way the finished model really does look the genuine article, not some toy.

The steel tyres are cut from a piece of steel hollow bar to the sizes required, just so you can squeeze them over the painted wheel fellies. When I’ve cut all the steel tyres to the required size, I then shove the lot onto an electric hot plate to make them turn blue, once that happens they are removed from the heat and allowed to cool down, when they have cooled down they are then attacked with a bit of 360 wet and dry.
This blueing of the metal gives them the look of being made by a blacksmith and the wet and dry gives the steel tyre a used/scuffed look on the surface that rolls over the road.

Wheels have been made to rotate, the brakes do work on the rear wheels when applied, and the turntable can rotate was well.

Any questions, then please ask, ——- so enjoy 🙂 —————————————

10 additional images. Click to enlarge.

13 responses to 1/12th scale Omnibus 16 Passenger

  1. A-maz-ing! Beautiful work on this.

  2. Bloody hell! That is some piece of model. Love the hi-beam, low-beam light arrangement.

    • The small lights on the sides are miniature versions of lights that were candle powered and they are only there so somebody knows a vehicle is there after dark. The candlelight only radiated out about 5/10ft and they even had a red tailights showing when lit. Now that big one of the front, that’s a miniature version of a Carbide Lamp, so it would throw light maybe 30ft ahead on a very dark street. Not much of a high/low beam really, they were there as a warning to others on the road.

  3. Really nice. Trouble is, now we’ll expect you the scratch the horses….

  4. Super work Graham !

  5. Incredible piece of work here, well done!

  6. What a unique and expertly crafted piece of modeling to present for your first article – here’s a “well done, sir” and a another “welcome to the site, my friend”.

  7. Fantastic! What a touch you have for the details, and if you hadn’t described what it took to pull this off, I never would have imagined.

  8. Hi Greg, what I have described about making this Omnibus in the intro, is actually just a few flippant offhand comments, there is a lot more involved in the making of this model that has NOT been written about.

    Let’s take the WHEELS, how many on here know what the term ”dish” means and why it should be ‘put’ into any wooden spoked wheel ?

    Very few could answer that question without doing a ‘google’ search.

    It is a long lost art, only done by a very few competent ‘Wheelwrights’ today.

    Now, when looking at a model of a horse drawn vehicle, the first thing to look for is —— do the wheels have any dish, is it too much, or too little ?

    If, on the first impression you find that the wheels have NO dish at all, then that model is no longer a model, but a toy that you should give to your kids to play with in the sand pit.
    Doesn’t matter what the rest of it looks like, it’s not an “Historically Correct” model AT ALL and should never be described as such.

    ‘Dish’ was added to a wooden spoked wheel for a few reasons, mainly to be able to withstand side-wards pressure, think of a wheel suddenly slipping into a wheel rut, no dish and the wheel would explode, not a good thing if you want to be further down the road, eh.
    The dish resists that sudden side impact and stops the wheel from falling apart. The wheel is actually stronger when this happens, as everything is trying to be forced inwards, so the spokes now resist this and the fellies are forced even tighter than before and the wheel keeps rolling for years to come.

    Now if you have the spokes in an upright position, ie – NO DISH, when the wheel drops into the rut, the spokes will be forced to bend inwards, immediately followed by the fellies collapsing and now you got a stuffed wheel.

    Another good thing about the ‘dish’ in the wheel, is if traveling over wet muddy areas, then the mud will be slung outwards and forwards doing no harm. Where-as, if the wheel had NO dish, then the clumps of mud will be slung directly upwards and forwards, it can hit the horses causing them to bolt, or smack the driver from behind, or even hit the passengers if the vehicle has no top cover.

    Axles, Axle boxes, Knave, Knave bands, different types of spokes, Fellies and Tyres are all worthy of their own explanation, as to how a wooden spoked wheel has been made and why they have been made that way.
    All this has to be thought about and recreated in miniature, for the model to be truly accurate and worthy of the words an “Historically Accurate” model.

    There is a lot more to it than meets the eye, if anybody is interested in this type of modeling, there’s just one site that does have some relevant information. Read it all or just go to the ‘Tips & Ideas’ section for more detail.

  9. The love of wood instead of pre-molded plastic! Amazing work!

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