Thursday, September 4, 2008

What to model?

I don't have a layout and don't run trains. I'd like to some day but as my children have left the nest it seems my wife gets first dibs on their rooms. I will make a space eventually but until then I'm taking the opportunity to model anything and everything. Not having a layout at this time doesn't restrict me to any specific era so you will see pieces ranging from quite old to modern equipment. I do however have a penchant for the older classic trucks and cars. Structures on the other hand seem not to date themselves so much and can be used on a layout of just about any era.
My first step in modeling anything is to research as much as possible on the subject model. Finding the years it was produced, and as many photos as possible is something that can be terribly time consuming but I enjoy it. This is where the value of a good search engine comes into play. When typing in a subject, I go first to an image search. This usually leads me to articles that are appropriate to the subject. Often one can find a variety of configurations for one particular subject. I was searching for a 1920's Packard truck recently and found over a dozen different uses for the same vehicle. So it happens frequently that what I first began to look for eventually turns into something else completely. The 1922 Packard truck on this page was first to be a logging truck but turned into a beer & ale delivery wagon after finding some photos on the net.
I'm sure we all would like to model the old car or truck that you first owned. Mine was a '49 Hudson. Unfortunately all of the cars ever made just aren't available in the scale. I don't have the ability to build vehicles from scratch but have altered a few to resemble what I want. Ranked very high in my favorites list is the Model F Mack. Not the more modern cabover highway truck but the old chain drive FK & H models from the 30's. I was able to use about three different models to get to a point where this was a fairly distinctive Model FK Mack heavy tractor.
In the last few years I've seen an appreciation among RR modelers for correct to scale, accurate and unique models for their layouts. RR modeling has really seen some exquisite quality modeling go into structures and scenery recently and these folks want to put vehicles that have the same attention to detail and prototypical accuracy as they have put into the rest of their layout. In unofficial and rather random type polling, the Transition era seems to be the most popular. I believe this can be estimated from the late 1930's into about 1960 and represents the time ending the use of steam locomotives and the beginning of the diesel era. I suppose that much of it's popularity has to do with the fact that many (myself included) grew up in a part of this era. Nostalgia is a powerful incentive. The consequence of this popularity is the introduction of a lot of vehicles that span the era from a variety of manufacturers. One of my favorites is an outfit called Sylvan Scale models and his vehicle repertoire is primarily Transition era pieces. Here you see a resin kit from Sylvan that has had a cast metal flatbed put on it's chassis with a scratch built headboard.
If I haven't mentioned it yet, I built all of the structures you see in these photos and will eventually be having some discussion regarding them too.

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