Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fun in the garage

 I haven't wasted any time getting shots of my new garage diorama here. Everything sitting on my shelves here has become fair game for the next photograph. And I've been playing with the light as it enters the windows like a cat chasing the beam of a flashlight. Most everything has turned out being artsy-fartsy kind of images and really don't contribute to the models description. But it's been fun.

I have built a few new models in the mean time including this 1936 Chevy tanker. The base model is from Sylvan Scale that I used the resin cab and chassis to which I added a tank and bunks. The tank is two Jordan tanks spliced. The wheels are Jordan's as well.

I decided to build another of the Roco pieces. And in spite of the fact that these are hard to find, I really trashed this one. Using the Dremel, I went to work on the door panels and fenders. I have tried this before with decent results but when you decide to cut up a perfectly good (and now rare) model, you always have your trepidations. The wood deck is...... well, it's wood. I also made an attempt at the Autocar Blue Streak 6 cylinder that came in these trucks so I cut the hood sides too so it would show.

The next and last in this posting is an addendum to my Mack R Model.  I wanted to do a utility pole truck with the Mack, but not just a wooden telephone pole type, but a transmission tower metal pole. Ralph Ratcliffe, as if he isn't already one of the biggest contributors to my modeling, came through for me. I found an expandable container trailer from an outfit called American Limited. A really finely detailed but unfortunately discontinued model kit in the scale. I mounted bunks on the assembled kit and painted it to match the truck. Then Ralph turned a gorgeous stainless steel pole for me complete with mounting flange. It simply makes this model and many thanks go out to Ralph for his generous talents.

I'll leave you with one more parting shot of the garage this post done with a pen flashlight. And I hope that this coming nice weather is bringing you closer to your loved ones.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


 Seems like I jump from project to project without much thought given to a theme or era. I guess that's what makes this modeling thing so interesting to me. I'm not locked into any one particular time frame or type of vehicle. Or even whether I will be doing a vehicle or a house, barn or whatever. Anyway, I've certainly strayed from any coherent pattern here this month. Without a doubt the largest vehicle I've ever built is the Mack M75 quarry truck you see. This is a kit from Ralph Ratcliffe Models that has his usual, exceptional fit and finish.  Not quite as heavily weathered as I did to it's little brother the M65 a short time ago.

A definite departure from this monster is the next set that I decided to pair up together. The Jordan Ford Model AA is obviously a favorite of mine if you've seen many of the other postings I've placed here. I built the wrecker bed and tow unit for this truck from scratch out of styrene. Wanting to finally do a tow truck pulling a wreck, I turned to another Jordan, the Model A sedan.

I really worked this one over. By taking the Dremel tool to the inside and chewing out some plastic, I achieved the rotted look you see here. And with a series of washes and dabs of chalk got what I thought was a pretty awful looking car. A broken window, exposed engine and front hubs and the open roof with ribs showing add to the dilapidated look. If you go back two posts there is another quick look of this wreck sitting in my new garage.

At the Springfield show I picked up Sylvan's newest kit, a Fruehauf livestock trailer that is resin with laser cut wooden sides. These are very delicate but manageable if careful. I paired this with the Chevy cab over from Sylvan from the early 50's which is a good match to the time span of the trailer.

Last and most recent is just one more of those Roco pieces that I've been able to acquire through the help of others. The rack body here is scratch built out of styrene and here's another shot from inside my truck repair garage.

Well, I jumped around quite a bit here. And as spring fights hard to take hold here in Maine, I hope you all have fared well through this, the toughest of winters I have seen in a while. And as the flowers begin to poke their shoots through the soil, give remembrance to those you have loved and lost.

thoughts from long ago

I wrote this many years ago for a web site that is still in existence but has slowed in traffic. I still go there to see if any of my old friends are posting things of interest as they are a highly educated group in the realm of 1/87 scale vehicles. Sorry no photos accompany this writing but it struck me as still very much appropriate to my feelings on the hobby.

I started this as wanting to get an opinion poll going but when I finished writing I forgot what I was going to ask a poll about. Your forgiveness is requested if this seems a bit too editorial for these pages. I'm off on another rant today, please forgive it's lengthiness.

Every forum or list that I subscribe to ends up having a topic posted like "who are we?". And inevitably everyone gives a brief summary of what they are in this life. Husband, father, construction worker, investment banker etc., how long they've been at it and a brief blurb about how long they've been modeling. This is fine and good and I am very interested and actually quite amazed in the diversity of the participants in our hobby. But it doesn't really say who we are as modelers. It shows us all of the differences in us but doesn't address what we share in common as modelers. One must delve much deeper into the psyche of a modeler in order to find the common ground that makes us as devoted to our hobby as we are. Of any form of recreation that I participate in (I love to fish and I'm a minor sports nut), I have come to the realization that those that share this one with me are the most preoccupied and enthusiastic (some may say even fanatical). Truly a rare breed and in most cases a subject of concern among their families. ("Is Dad alright? He's been poking at that model over 4 hours now.")

It is an odd occurrence that would put me in my pick up to go somewhere, even if only down the road a short piece, that I am not imagining something I would like to model. An old truck in a field, a barn, a tree even a culvert that is passing under me, all become subjects for consideration. Immediately the wheels begin to turn or the light bulb goes off or whatever you use to describe the smell of an idea being born (you don't smell things burning when you think ? hmm..) Thought then turns to the elements of the build process that would bring any of these subjects to fruition in miniature. "OK, now draw it out...and you'll need some 1/16" diameter tubing and some scale wood...hmm... how long to put that part together ?" Soon you have a plan or at least the start of a plan. Now don't make me paranoid by saying this doesn't occur from time to time to you. I know I'm not alone in this thought process and it's time you all came out of the closet with me.

Now that we've established at least one thing in common (hopefully), we share some of the same thoughts as we observe the real world passing by our windshield. Or at least some kind of pattern in our thinking that seems to want to translate everything we are in contact with into miniature. (I tried this with my mortgage but the bank wasn't going for it). I won't try to explain why this is so, I'm not qualified to make that call. These thoughts help to get me through the day, is all I know.

Let's examine too the reasoning that takes place as we go through the day. What takes place in your cranial cavity when we are sorting through the cabinet under the sink or the coffee cans stacked up in the garage filled with every screw, nut and tiny piece of wire that we've ever run across? There isn't one nook or cranny in my shop that hasn't been thoroughly examined for items that possess model building attributes. (what the heck is a cranny anyway ?) All the materials that pass before us become fair game and hold possibilities of becoming a part of our next model. Or at least an integral part of the building of that model. When I asked my wife for her used compacts, I thought she would have me committed. I got equally disturbing looks when I wanted old stockings and nail polish too. But hey, these are standard tools of the hobby we're talking about here. Actually this has all worked to my advantage because now I am thought to have, shall we say, a stability issue, and it drums up a lot of sympathy.

There is one last habit that confirms our bonds and that is the one we are currently sharing. The computer access to the internet has been invaluable in finding those other lost souls who's minds are filled with visions of the world in miniature. We are thrilled at the opportunity to share a technique that works for us and to exhibit the results. We are gratified at the positive responses we get and are appreciative of the constructive criticism. It is pleasing to view the successes of others and motivating to see phenomenal accomplishments. I personally jump at the chance to get any new information "on the web" and make it part of the electronic highway for those as interested as I am to view. I'd like to take the old saying "misery loves company" and give it a new twist by saying that this common interest we all have, loves it's company.

Now this all may sound a little strange to some and I wouldn't blame you a bit if you walked away saying "man, this guys' wife has it right, he's nuts". But I know somewhere out there, someone knows that what I'm saying is so. I'm sure I haven't covered all the little oddities we share because of whom we are and I'd like to think some of them should be kept to ourselves. There is something about who we are that many of us share and it goes beyond what we do to pay our bills or how many kids we have or where we live. It resides in a space inside of us that loves to create and we have chosen to do so in miniature. Perhaps what is most comforting about this is the ability to transcend all the barriers of race, politics, religion, income and I guess even gender and age.
To be modelers first, that just happen to be real people.