A Thomas the Tank Engine Mystery – Railway Series Pre-Cut Model Books

May 8, 2012.

The Railway Series Pre-Cut Model Engine Book No. 2 – Percy with Clarabel the Coach.

Update (14 May, 2012):  Reader Justin A. Olsen has kindly replied to our request for additional information on these models; you can read his comments here. We’re still interested in purchasing the two models we don’t have, Thomas and James, so please contact us if you have any you’re willing to part with.

Can you help? We recently acquired two lovely items from W. Awdry’s The Railway Series. These “Pre-Cut Model Engine Books” each contain a story and the parts and instructions for making two toys out of card. We have Number 2: Percy with Clarabel the Coach and Number 3: Gordon the Big Engine & His Tender (click to enlarge the images):

Percy Pre-Cut Model.

Percy Pre-Cut Model Instructions.

I believe these were produced in the late 1950s, as The Eight Famous Engines, the final story book listed on the back of each volume, was published in 1957. Four different titles in the pre-cut model series are described as being available (with more in production), and we would love to know more about these and possibly locate copies of the other two, Thomas the Tank Engine and James the Red Engine.

Please do get in touch if you know more about these sets and their sales records, and especially if you have copies to sell. You can leave a comment on this post or contact us by email or phone.

Below, a few more photos of the model books. If you have a good printer you could even construct them yourself!

Clarabel Pre-Cut Model.

Percy & Clarabel Story.

The Railway Series Pre-Cut Model Engine Book No.3 – Gordon the Big Engine & His Tender.

Gordon the Big Engine instructions.

Gordon the Big Engine pre-cut model.

Gordon the Big Engine’s tender pre-cut model.


Laura joined Peter Harrington in 2009 after completing a master's degree in book history at the University of London. Her special interests are science and medicine, modern literature, and the book culture of the medieval and early modern eras.


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  3. Gerard

    Nov 01, 2013

    Hey, I have book No4 ‘James the red engine & his tender’. Found it recently in a drawer together with book No3.


    Oct 16, 2014

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    and post is actually fruitful in favor of me, keep
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  6. phil

    May 10, 2015

    I have books 1,2 & 3

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