Friday, June 24, 2011

Filling in the blanks

As I mentioned a few posts back, I've been on the disabled list for a while with my knee problems. And managed to do quite a few models sitting here with nothing better to do. I'm not a big TV watcher so in keeping my fingers and mind busy have these additions to my former posting on what I've been doing.

A project that sat half finished for some time is the Mack LJSW from Sheepscot Scale. Had no idea where to go with this until I decided to buy the stinger trailer for logging from Dennis Aust. Well they have been sold out for some time and I wasn't too familiar with back dating the trailer to the era of the truck so I decided to make this an eastern rig anyway. We see mostly straight trucks here in New England for logging and this model seems to fit the bill.

The truck was placed on an Athearn B model Mack chassis in order to get the correct Mack suspension. The frame was lengthened slightly and the bunks were scratch built from styrene. The cab steps are photo etched diamond plate on wire supports. The headlights were made from shaped styrene rod and have bent styrene strip mounting brackets. The exhaust is aluminum tubing used by R/C airplane modelers for fuel lines.

The next truck worth mentioning is the 1941,46,47 Chevy that I've made into a rural fire department pumper unit. The bed is entirely scratch built from styrene sheet. The process I use for scratch building most of my bodies starts with finding out the size of the prototype. I then calculate the size in scale and do a drawing on my computer using a vector based drafting program. I print two copies of this on Manila card stock. One I cut out and glue up as a mock up to see how the bed will fit my chassis. The second I cut out and use for templates for the styrene, brass, wood or whatever material I am building with. I then can replicate the body as many times as I want.

The Chevy cab and chassis are from Sylvan Scale. To it I have added a rotating beacon made from two different size styrene rod and a fender mounted siren from Ralph Ratcliffe models. Also from Ralph is the nifty Indian pack on the driver side running board. The wheels are from Jordan that can be purchased separately from them. The running boards on the pumper body are photo etched diamond plate and the hose reel is scratch built as well.

Staying with 1946 a moment brings us to the year the Colecto-Pak refuse body by Heil was first introduced. This was the first actual compaction refuse body ever produced. After seeing an advertisement from Heil of that year featuring the 46 Chevy cab over, I knew where I was going with this one. The cab and chassis are again from Sylvan with the Jordan wheels. The packer unit was taken from measured drawings I found and completely scratch built from sheet styrene using the method I describe above. Below is the drawn profile of the packer unit.

Another model I want to show this post is also a 1946 Chevy cab over, it also from Sylvan and having the Jordan wheels. This time in a wrecker. The bed was scratch built as was the tow unit winch and boom.

One last quickie here since I showed it in the Jordan posting earlier but it's the first one I did after surgery and one of my personal favorites. In July of 1917 the U.S. government contracted Ford to produce a field ambulance for the war. By September, there were 2400 already built with a wooden body on the Ford touring car chassis. So this 1/87 scale model utilizes the Jordan Model T touring car chassis and front clip. The rest of the ambulance is scratch built from styrene sheet. The cab canopy and rear flap are tissue paper.

It is time again to sign off and see what's on Oprah. Yeah right.

How'd you do dat?

There are always questions about a build when others view it. "How did you do that?" echos throughout the forums and lists when someone shows a successful piece of modeling and often the creator is generous enough to share his/her process. Without this sharing of knowledge, I certainly would not be at the point I am with my modeling for there are many in all scales that have contributed to my experience. I have mentioned names like Ken Hamilton, Joe Enriquez and Chuck Doan before here to give credit for a certain technique or material but there are dozens of great modelers out there that can offer good solid modeling basics if you just know where to go and who to listen to. Yes, unfortunately there is not so good, if not simply incorrect information too. So what to look for to find correct information with regard to scale and prototypical accuracy becomes the question.
First of all study photos. I understand that photography plays a big part in this modeling endeavor and many of us aren't as good photographers as we are modelers. But one can't really tell how good a model is by seeing small (500 pixels or less) photos of finished models. If you don't believe that look at what kind of detail is shown on these 4 and 5 hundred pixel photos. Then click on them to see what you're missing. The best modelers I know take detailed shots of individual assemblies in large format. You can really see the details close up and isn't that what modeling is all about? Being able to see in miniature what we see in real life. If you can see fine details well constructed to scale in a photo then you have a better idea of what kind of modeler is doing the build and is he/she worth listening to.

I let my photos speak for themselves and you be the judge of how good I am (or not). I try to convey in a photo the best description of the model seen as if you were holding it. Yes, I try to make an esthetically appealing photo but making sure the model and it's details are the photo's foremost feature. I won't try to tell you how to take photos because I do not profess to be all that good at it. And because that's not the point of this writing (read: rant). I just want to say that being able to actually see all of a model and every small detail in it is the best way to judge whether a modeler has anything valuable to contribute. The proof is in the puddin'!

The truck crane featured is not a particularly spectacular model in my opinion. I took a rather complicated subject to build that I really liked and sacrificed some precision on the build in order to complete it. But it conveys the feel of the original prototype and has been done in a plausible manner. Key word here being plausible. Is the model something that actually existed and if so are the proportions to scale and accurately placed? Are the details era specific and appropriate to the size, use and type of vehicle you are building? These are questions you have to answer yourself as the builder and good research will help in a successful project. Just saying that it looks right to you isn't going to get a superior model unless you're very lucky. Measure, do the math and know that you're right. The prototype of this truck shows no winch or motor to power it in the bed of the truck. I make the "plausible" assumption then that the winch is under the bed with PTO from the driveshaft.

The bed was the easiest part of this particular project of course being a simple sheet of styrene cut to fit. I used the styrene deck from the Roco model for this and glued .125" U channel around the perimeter with wheel well cut outs in the appropriate spot. The Boom frame is .10" U channel that has had the center cut out. .015" styrene strips were used for the X bracing inside the cut out and a slightly wider strip was used for the diagonal bracing front and back. Blocks were glued inside the top of the frame to accept the pulley in back and support rods from the bumper. These rods are very stiff steel used by R/C/ model airplane builders for control rods to flaps etc. The bumper is the same .125" U channel, drilled out on the top to accept styrene eye bolts from Tichy. The same eye bolts are used on the top of the boom frame.

The boom is again the .125" U channel spaced apart with lattice work on the bottom of the boom from the same strip styrene as used for the frame diagonals. the end has a sheave made from styrene rod and pinned in place with rivets from Tichy. I used the rivets for ornamentation as well down the length of the boom in a plausible pattern. At the base of the boom, a 3/32" styrene tube was cut to length and a block glued to it to attach the boom foot, fastened with a styrene rod with rounded ends. To round the ends of a styrene rod, hold it close to (not in) a flame until you see it round over. It makes a perfect convex. To the bottom of this, I fixed a block of styrene with gears from Vector Cut. These are highly detailed laser cut reinforced card stock. All sits on a raised platform of grooved styrene to simulate a wood deck.

Finally, the not so great pulley is a brass strip bent in the shape of a U, drilled out and a piece of styrene rod was pinned inside with Tichy rivets. The cabling is cotton (not recommended) that has been run through moustache wax to relieve it of it's fuzzies.

For the finishes I use, please take some time to go through the archives here. I have posted on several topics the methods I use to acquire the desired finished look on individual models. Suffice it to say that this model didn't get a lot of weathering treatments since I really didn't want a beater look to it but rather just a working truck. I hope this has been informative as well as entertaining. I enjoy bringing it and my models to the world. The world you say? I have just shipped models to Switzerland, Santiago, Chile and Paris, France just this week. It gives me great pleasure to know that over the years in every continent but Antarctica, someone may be viewing a bit of my work. And what better way to promote the hobby than presenting the real article not just a photo on the computer. So thank you for visiting and please check back often. Oh, don't forget, clicking on these images that accompany the text brings up larger photos.