Saturday, November 29, 2008

airing some thoughts

I guess it's about time to get a little philosophical about my modeling and any other subject I deem appropriate for here. After all, and with deference to Leslie Gore, "it's my blog and I'll do what I want to". There's a lot that crosses my mind as I'm working on a build not the least of which is what I want the piece to turn out being. Often, as in life in general, 'the best laid plans.....' , or as some would say, Murphy's Law kicks in. Anything can change at a moments notice and alter the finest of intentions. This happens all too frequently in my modeling and I'm sure I'm not alone in sharing this fate. I try to insure against mistakes and what I like to refer to as 'material failure' and as I grow in my modeling, these mistakes become fewer. I have learned especially to take more time with things and have learned to recognize the limiting properties of materials (and myself, in the immortal words of Dirty Harry "a man's got to know his limitations"). Learning by experience to make different choices in techniques and materials from those that I first started using has been augmented with advice and tutorials from all different modeling genres. I've mentioned that military modelers have had a profound impression on my weathering before and larger scale vehicle modelers are very adept at scratch building and kit bashing. Model railroaders and diorama builders look at the world of miniatures in a completely different way and come up with techniques and practices that can benefit any kind of modeler. I have developed, at the very least into a good student (where was this propensity 50 years ago?)

Above you will notice a model of a 1940 Ford coupe. On seeing how larger scale modelers grind out the insides of a model to represent the cancerous rust around fenders and also how they make dented looking sheet metal, I decided to try some of their techniques on a 1/87 scale model. The base model here is a really awful injected molded piece from an outfit called Herka but the casting has been done by several others, most notable Tyco. The details are lacking and what is there can at best be considered barely acceptable but the initial shape, proportion and scale accuracy is pretty good. I cut the hood and grille area out and had to carve the headlight bezels into the front fenders. The engine, firewall and radiator came from the '40 Ford sedan model kit by Jordan. I wish I had a bunch of these little flathead V8's to fool around with.

You might remember my Model AA stake bed that has an exposed engine too. It's at this point in the writing that I realize that there is going to be a theme to the photos I show. Let's see what I come up with in showing the power plants on some of my models. Revealing the inner workings, so to speak. The Model AA motor is again a Jordan piece, this one from the deuce coupe kit they make. The photo below showing what the intended model for that motor is. All spiffed up with an Alcad 2 paint job. If I hadn't mentioned it before, this Alclad product is a super chrome finish. One needs to put down a good smooth black enamel finish on whatever you want chromed and then a very light coat of the Alclad 2 finish goes on. The Alclad is a lacquer based product and in effect dissolves a portion of the underlying black enamel to combine for a bright chrome.

I hearken back now to the days before I started weathering everything I built. This resides in a collection of another fellow and he did not want any weathering on it anyway. It is a resin model of a Kenworth C540 oilfield tractor. The model is from Diesel 87 and is quite nice with some photo etched details but a very heavy price tag. In kit form, it retails for $150.00. Add what I charged the gentleman to construct the model. It is a very impressive machine even in 1/87 scale though. The kit included the engine so as to be able to model it sans hood or covered. I added the steering column.
The Alloy Forms Constructor was in my post on dump trucks. The engine shown is the diesel 6 from the Herpa/Promotex Mack CH. You will notice some piping and a steering column added to the engine compartment here.

I haven't yet shown this next piece yet mostly because I have yet to get a photo that accurately displays the truck. For some reason the color or intensity of particular features of the truck just come out all wrong. I'll risk showing it anyway since it is a real nice model kit and the truck itself is a beaut. The resin kit comes from Don Mills models and is of the Mack FCSW quarry truck with chain drive.

Some time ago, I was given a super nice resin casting of the Cat c12 diesel motor with tranny. I couldn't figure out (or haven't yet) how to use this really great little model in a truck. But I did have the opportunity to utilize the transmission part to get a nice detailed look to the back side of the International Emeryville. Both the Cat engine and the Emeryville were graciously given to me by Bob Johnson.

One more example of the inner workings of a vehicle in this model that you have seen several variations on already in past postings. The Bucyrus Erie B2 steam units from Vintage Vehicles I've done without the cabin housing since the details on the boiler and engines is so nice. I made the piece on the left into a shallow dredging barge. And the right photo shows a lattice boom crane version.

Well I hope I didn't embarrass anyone with all this exposure. Perhaps I will cover up better next time.

And if I don't get back to this in the next few weeks, please all have a safe and enjoyable Holiday Season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2009.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where's the beef?

Since I just finished this latest diorama, I thought I would share it with you. It's based on a laser cut wood structure kit (my first actually) from Durango Press that they refer to as the newspaper office. Having scratch built many of my structures and used several different plastic kits, I wanted to go with an inexpensive laser wood kit for my first. I wasn't quite sure I would like them and to be quite frank, I'm not terribly enthused. Don't get me wrong, the kit was fine and turned out pretty good but I felt a bit constricted in just what it was I could do with it and the tolerances aren't what I myself like to deal with. Be that as it may, I had some fun with it and I hope you enjoy the end result. This is the photo that comes on the box to give you an idea of the manufacturers intentions.

The first step I took was to layout the building on a piece of 1/4" plywood, size the wood and seal it with shellac. I decided to do a butcher shop and use the small shed addition for a smokehouse building separate from the main structure. The next decision was to create a different elevation in the rear by making the basement a walkout. I used Evergreen styrene brick wall for foundations and added the window and doors to make it a walkout. By shaping and gluing 1" extruded styrofoam insulation board I was able to make the elevations for this configuration. As you can see, I've already assembled and braced the main structure and cut the foundation walls here but everything is just dry stacked for the moment.

At this point I know my footprint sizes so I am able to do some grading with plaster. Normally I like to paint the dried and shaped plaster with a dark color but all I had was red primer so this is what you see in the next photo. I've also finished building a door from wood and added the window to the brickwork. The sharp drop in grade between the buildings has had a retaining wall built from cut linoleum flooring. I individually painted the bricks to give a slight variation to the color and washed it with an acrylic linen white for the mortar joints. The doors have been distressed with a razor saw and washed with a rather thick wash of RR Tie brown acrylic then weathered with chalks.

I proceeded to tackle the small smokehouse then and used the same painting method as on the other brick. It has a corrugated steel roof on it and the sidewalls were weathered using the RR Tie brown with a wash of red chalk dissolved in alcohol. You'll notice some ground cover here that I put down that consists of a screened gravel I acquire from well drilling spoils. The roof is a bit too orange in this photo and you will see that I toned it down later. I put a wood jamb for the upper door and used another piece of corrugation for it and just boarded the window over.

Now was the time to do a little sceniking with Woodland Scenics coarse grass and a lot of natural materials. I'm always anxious to get to the point that I "plant" my structures permanently. After doing the signage on the front of the shop and installing the windows and tab shingle roof, I was ready. And with some additional details like a wood pile and some obligatory junk laying around I took it outside for the next photos.

Now I'm one that can't leave well enough alone. I just had to keep moving on this diorama since I saw so much potential for super detailing further. Everything else you are about to see makes up what I hope is the finished product. I've utilized several of the vehicles I already have built like the telephone pole truck, Ford Model AA stakebody and '37 Chevy panel truck and added a recently completed 1926 Essex coach. The butcher carrying a hind quarter (with newly added apron), pole crew, sheep and stuffy lady going into the shop to place an order were the last to be done to the diorama. How about a bunch of finished pics?

I dedicated this butcher shop diorama to Ken Hamilton whom has been a tremendous inspiration over the years with his phenomenal skills and generous advice. I only wish that my work can be nearly as good as his some day. It is my hope that this has been the least bit entertaining and I appreciate your time in viewing. And to all of you that have left your nice comments I will say thanks. Please know that they are truly valued.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

tanks a lot

I suppose looking at the prices on the gas pumps the other day made me think of this one. No matter what the liquid is that we are in contact daily with, usually was in a tanker of some sort or another at one time. Even water is either transported by tanker or used from a tanker like in the example above of the '56 Chevy LCF that is similar to many fire department tanker unit from back then. The resin cab for this truck was placed on a Roco military chassis and made to look like the old 4 wheel drive conversions back then by Marmon-Harrington Corp. The tank itself ironically is made from a cigarette lighter that I made bunks for to fit on the chassis.

Of course tankers are most well known for hauling fuel as is the case with the unit being hauled here by a Mack Vision with flat top sleeper. The tanker is from Promotex and has merely been repainted and detailed.

Way back when, food related liquids were almost always hauled in wooden tanks. The truck above was modeled after a cider/vinegar transport truck. The truck itself is a 1922 Packard and the tank is modeled with Manila paper wrapped around a wooden dowel.

I knew I'd get around to showing more of that 1930's truck that I made so many versions of in an earlier posting. Here's one more in the form of a tanker. The tank was made this time by wrapping a dowel with sheet brass and a pair of wire bands.

If you remember seeing the movie "Duel" then you might recognize the Peterbilt 281 above that chased Dennis Weaver all over the desert in his poor little red Valiant. This model took some doing by adding 6 scale inches to the height of an inexpensive Imex Pete and cutting out the heavy window glazing that comes with the original model. Then the grille was scratch built and it was fit onto a customized chassis and all the details such as fuel tanks, steps, wheels/tires and mirrors were added. The trailer is an old Wiking piece that I added the tool/chain box to and all was heavily weathered. I love these old Petes and when I drove a truck, it was one similar to this.

The Peterbilt above is a rather unusual truck. It is a fuel and lube truck that would be in service supplying fuel, lubricants and hydraulic fluids to large equipment that cannot be driven back to a fuel and service facility. The spent fluids would also be carried away with a truck like this. The model itself is the Wiking Peterbilt and the tanker bed is from a train load that has been detailed.

To the left above is another of the Sheepscot International R180's in a highway tractor pulling a fuel tanker similar to the one on the Duel Pete. On the right is the same Sheepscot R 180 cab this time in a milk tanker. The body on this is also from Sheepscot and is cast plaster. Two very distinctively different trucks using the same cab.

Often a piece designed for the military is quite suitable for civilian use as is the case above with the Oshkosh tanker. More commonly known as a HEMTT this model is from the Roco Miniatur civilian line and is painted to represent an airfield refueler.

We'll be entering the area of fantasy for this next piece as I don't believe anything like this ever really existed. But I loved the truck and wanted to do something really different with it. The Henschel is a German truck from the 30's that is shown here in an airfield fire/rescue unit that has been with hyrail wheels. Perhaps there was a large enough industrial facility to once need something like this but who cares really. I just like it.

Lastly I'm going to come around full circle and show another Chevrolet fire department tanker from 1956. This one is a resin casting of the Wiking Chevy that has been sitting roadside for many years.

Well again it's been my pleasure to show some of my builds to you all and I hope you enjoyed. Tanks again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

on the job - here to assist

I don't particularly like the thoughts of having to call for a tow in real life. But for some reason the wrecker has become one of the model types I do quite a few of. When I started building them I was using wrecker units from other models and a favorite was the Holmes unit that came with the B and R model Macks that were so well done by Athearn. The International R 190 above left came from Classic Metal Works and I fit the Holmes wrecker unit from Athearn directly onto the chassis and added some corrugated metal fenders. It's companion to the right is the IH LC 180 cabover that had a bed from a Wiking model altered to hold the Holmes unit.

Much more to my liking and frankly just a much better model is the Sheepscot IH R190 in a solid resin cab. This cab is prototypically correct and appears less toy like than the CMW offering. I scratch built the tow boom on this model.

I showed this one already but it's one of my favorites. The 1930's Zis 5 from Roco that I scratch built the wrecker body for out of old watch parts and styrene. Just another glimpse above.

I have a customer and now friend that loves his old trucks and among his collection resides a 1938 round nose Ford cabover. When Clare Gilbert of Sylvan put out the call for info on this truck I went over to my friends barn with camera and ruler and gave the information and photos to Clare. He was kind enough to give me the first of this model to which I scratch built the wrecker unit for on what you see above. I was very pleased at what Clare did with this truck and am happy to have been able to contribute to bringing it to the scale.

Another of Sylvans trucks that you have already seen is the '37 Chevy. This time done up as a tow truck with again, a scratch built wrecker unit. These are rather simple affairs really with styrene rod pinched on the ends and a Tichy bolt used to hold them together. The winches are mostly all scratch built as well on these trucks.

The model above is one of the resin castings of the Wiking '56 Chevy I mentioned in an earlier post. In the resin casting process it sometimes occurs that voids and bubbles appear. This I tried to overcome by making a beater 4x4 wrecker with this model. The bed on this is a very nice piece that comes with a Trident model of a newer Chevy that I put on a chassis from a 1/72 scale Jeep.

Another '56 Chevy available in the scale is the LCF, a resin kit from Resin Unlimited. For this truck, I scratch built the bed and wrecker unit.

As you can see, I've cranked quite a few tow trucks out and most of them altered greatly from the original model. However, sometimes I just like detailing an already good model which is what happened here with the Wiking Peterbilt. Some nice photo etched mirrors, different tires and rims and a few decals over a glossy paint job here is all that was done.

OK, one more as I watch the clock ready to go to AM from PM here. This a really heavy duty military rig. The M936 from Roco Minitanks that was detailed by painting and adding a protective screen for the wrecker operator, hydraulic hoses and a chain.
Hope you enjoyed and don't need the services of a tow truck anytime soon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

on the job - equipment

Trucks and cars are what we all are most familiar with since we see them everyday when we get into our own vehicle to ride to work, play or errand. It isn't a rare thing to see the equipment used for work being transported by trailer so we recognize many of the pieces I'm about to show, but don't take the time to look carefully at them. Most prominent among them would be earthmoving equipment since we can also see this type of vehicle as we wait to be flagged through a road construction/repair project. No comment on the number of workers it takes to dig a trench here. Among them backhoes play an important role in getting unwanted material into dumps and away from the job site. The small backhoe above is a European version in the Liebherr 912, a plastic model from Wiking. This is a good example of why I prefer to weather the metal blades like the bucket above on a piece as I do, instead of trying to wear paint off to metal in the case of a diecast or white metal piece. The technique of painting first with an appropriate color and then adding the metal look to it can be done with virtually any material be it plastic wood or even paper. Hence I use it for everything with the same consistent results.

Here's another example of a backhoe or shovel if you will, from back in the days of steam. This Bucyrus Erie B2 is a magnificent model from Vintage Vehicles (Jordan) that is a plastic kit with quite a few parts to it. Not a kit for the novice. I show it above with a vintage lowboy trailer which is a great little and very simple cast metal and wood kit from Rio Grande models. And another version on the right of the same model.

To achieve the grade on a road, graders much like the Caterpillar here are used. This being a very inexpensive Norscot diecast piece from WalMart that I merely painted the plastic pieces, applied a few washes and then used chalks for the final weathering.

Having grown up in a farm community has brought me to think of work vehicles in terms of tractors and other various farm equipment. There was a lot of red International Harvester equipment that I saw in my youth but a few nearby preferred the "green" tractors for their work. The John Deere styled model B was very popular back then and I show the Innovative Designs cast metal model here that I turned into a single tire tripod version. Often seen with a tractor like this would be the discs shown in the photo with it or something similar to the forage wagon on the right which is a plastic kit from Preiser that represents a Euro version.

Here's another John Deere called the "Waterloo Boy" which I believe is an orchard style tractor that I have weathered heavily. This another example of the very cheap stuff once available in scale at WalMart.

And before we leave the farm (something I fear will never leave me), I'll show one more out of use old tractor. The Fordson was one of the first affordable tractors to farm folk. This one from Jordan Miniatures in the farm version. They also offer one for industrial use with steel disc wheels. Henry might well turn in his grave seeing this one left to rot out under the old apple tree.

Also Euro is another Liehberr piece from Kibri in a plastic kit to which I have added a brass lattice boom from Sheepscot models and an excellent cast metal dragline setup from Langley models. This model has been weathered to represent a unit that has not seen use in a while.

Well so much for me neglecting my responsibilities and ignoring the fast growing honey-do list. I must go now but will continue to present things at work soon. Thanks again for coming.