Saturday, 28 April 2018

For every supermarket...

Time was.....choice...

Time was...I used to draw what I wanted  photo-etched, with a Draughtsmans' pen (remember them?).

I'd draw it 4 times bigger, so that a)it was easier to draw and b) it would be crisp as you like when reduced to actual size on the local printer's repro camera (remember them?).

He liked a lemonade or two , so I would wait till about 12-30 and find him in the Crown, where I'd buy him a beer.  At about  1-ish we'd roll back to his little graphics office and he would make me 2 negatives, emulsion side down, one for the front, one for the back, charge me a fiver and I was on my way.  I'd turn the back one into the correct a/w for the nature of the work with a paint called Rubilith, a real of the sticky tape version of which I'd got from said printer a long time previous for another pint.  The registration gunsights were bang on because they were on the basic artwork I'd drawn.
This then got sent off to Photo-Etch Consultants, Photofabrications or Chempix and a week or so later I got an 18x12" sheet of 10 thou. brass or stainless steel for £18.  Done.  Because I'd sent them camera ready artwork, they had no need to make a "photo tool" for which they would charge me. I'd given THEM one, all they needed from me. 2 negs, emulsion side down, same size.

NOW, the artwork has to be drawn on a computer and a special file type produced. This is sent off to the etchers, who will then check it over and make their kind of phototool, for which they will charge you. In fact every minute they spend doing something to your a/w, a/w you'd thought you'd finished, they charge you at maybe £25 an hour, much more than you can charge for making the model that these bits will go on, even though you are, by far, the more skilled man.
If you can't work Corel Draw or Illustrator, you will have to pay someone else (at at least £25 an hour) to interpret what you give them. They will NOT be model makers, probably not even draughtsmen, (remember them?), pipe optional,
yet they will regard themselves as worth a bloody fortune an hour for merely redrawing what you gave them.  That job used to be called tracer and paid way less than a proper draughtsman. Usually trainees.  You know, like paying £60 an hour at the garage to have some gormless grease monkey "fix" your car.

So, finally you have a chance of getting your etch made weeks later and then the etchers cock it up and send you a fret exactly one third smaller than it should be. They will not, they will NEVER admit fault and so expect you to pay for their mistake. You couldn't have checked what the computer nerd drew as the file is not what a normal machine can read or open.

Time was, exactly the same crap for having decals made.  Black drawings per colour, each on a separate sheet of drawing film, gunsight registered with a Pantone reference for the colour to use. Send it to the screen printers and pay pocket money a week later.  Not any more. More bloody computer files required. Then a print that means no carrier film, weak, flimsy ink and a need to cut carefully round any image before water sliding it.  All because silk screen is now so rare and expensive, because negatives are no longer made because the chemistry used is no longer made, etc., etc., etc.  A vicious circle that has made these two processes impossible for me to do and therefore makes life difficult for the people for whom I used to make patterns AND offer an a/w service for etchings and decals.

Oh, but computers give you so much choice!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Look what I found in Dadddy's garage......

When I look at most videos of old cars it is quite obvious that the average age of the owners/drivers/attendant viewers means they are set to croak in no more than 15-20 years, leaving the cars/boats/aircraft/motorcycles where exactly?

One exception seems to be the Chain Gang.  That collection of reprobates who populate the Frazer-Nash club, mainly the owners of the Chain driven cars, along with their mates in the Morgan club and the other chain driven oddball clubs.
These seem to have as many young strutters as old farts. Even the old farts seem to have some extra life from somewhere.
The big question is will the Ollies and Justins of the world be real enthusiasts?  Will they be prepared, halfway up the Stelvio, to take the left cylinder off their J.A.P. KTOR V twin to see what that mystery knock is?  Could they improvise a repair?  Will they keep the club going?  Well, since anyone with a 'Nash nowadays needs to be stinking rich they will probably know enough of their public school chums and Uni. muckers to keep those all-nighters going at the Club dinners and, even if it is by a newer tradition than most of us can come close to, financially, at least, keep one club's long traditions going.
As to the rest of the clubs, those with few if any such traditions, I fear the cars will just be put away and forgotten about.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Art, craft, trade, blag?...

So often one reads in comments about an averagely nice job done that it's a "work of art", etc, when actually it's probably just a nice job, done by a half competent craftsperson.  There is little or no "art" in it. It's just a well planned and excecuted job of craftsmanship and none the worse for that.  Frankly I get very annoyed with the way the word art is thrown around as some kind of superlative.  Look, if you will, at most art these days.  It's execrable garbage for the most part, so I really don't want someone who hasn't thought it through calling what I've happily practiced my craft on, "art".  It is NOT art, it is craftsmanship.  Cut the legacy class crap and deal with the fact that craft is good.  Not bloody "crafting", for God's sake, that dead end glorified recycling of household goods, but real, hand made, mind conceived, eye checked (constantly), craftsmanship, borne of years of instruction and practice.
I regard a few particular crafts as Godlike.  Horology, Coachbuilding, Graining and Marbling (where a little artfulness might reside), Fine Cabinet Making, Silversmithing.  Can't think of that many others.

Trades?  Well there is some crossover there, hence the term Craftsman Plumber for instance, meaning doing that noble trade like it used to be done with wiped joints and hand formed zinc flats, church roofs and rainwater furniture, not sticking PVC pipes together with a pot of glue.  No shame in trade either.  Regardless of what the Victorian snobs reckoned.

All the rest is bodgery, blagging and conmen. Cowboys as we now call them.

I would like to be thought of as a Master Craftsman, but I have not studied one narrow craft long enough or sufficiently thoroughly to be called that.  I was today described as a "Real Craftsman", and that, I regard as a true compliment.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Plus ca change....

He said, with a nod towards his best chum's current predilection for trotting out the odd expression in Yer Akshul School French.  And it's not even right, because what I really wanted to say was the very opposite of that well know phrase.  I wanted to say, "The more things stay the same, the more they change, but my school French was no better than to give me fully 2% in the mock O-Level, for I seem to recall, spelling my own name in French with my tongue firmly in my cheek, so cleverly turning that phrase back in on itself is beyond me.

It occurred to me when I was pressing on with a master made at my choice in the hope someone would adopt it, of the achingly beautiful Morgan SLR.  Four cars were built.....the first on a TR4 chassis, the rest on Morgan frames.  This left the Triumph chassised version a few inches shorter in the section forward of the screen. 

That, you would assume would normally be the end of that.  But NO! Closer examination reveals that all three are different from each other.  Odd, when one assumes the great Williams and Pritchard, coachbuilders to the world of racing cars for so long would have made a wooden buck over which their four similar bodies will have been checked.  Well, if they did, it is not obvious.  OK, the general shape of the red, green and even the blue TR based ones are close (leaving out the 4 inches in bonnet length of the latter), but what gives with the natural metal one?  Same underpinnings of the other two longer wheelbase cars, but  the front wings are sensually raised, the shoulders are softer.  How could this one have fitted the buck?  OR, was it this one rebuilt elsewhere after a fire?  Hmmmm, could be.

Oh well, I like it best, so will make the master this way and concientious kit bashers can file some off the wings and build up some filler on the shoulders.  Oh and reshape the bonnet bulge and remove the smaller one.  Oh and yes, the windows are all treated differently, being largely Perspex, rivetted in.  Getting that effect with vacuum formed plastic on a 1/32nd scale slot care body (requiring as it does a very thin edge to the window aperture inside which the window proper goes) is almost impracticable.  The natural metal one has rubber seals. Much easier to represent. 

Back to the grindstone.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

From the village pump...

Where I now live is a village where Thomas the Tank Engine was born, albeit in better days. Thomas was an offshoot of the earlier Toby the Tram engine.  Toby used to trundle up to 40 full fruit vans along the rails at the top of my road. I could even have seen it from my garden at a squeeze.

The Rev. W. Awdry, teller of the above tales,was the village rector.  Most of the other inhabitants are the village RectUM.  Chavs, under class, pond life of various degrees who think nothing of tumbling down from their perches dressed in pyjamas and dressing gowns, in big Bird Boxes.  You know, those Boxes on wheels that birds drive. I believe the manufacturers like you to call them SUVs.  Nothing else is even advertised these days.  And the ghastly, over-weight, ugly, slack jawed, knuckle dragging, aggressive, fishwife-mouthed dregs who infest this village all drive one.  Deciding which bedware to take their spawn to school in the morning, they leave their fat little sprogs in front of the telly, possibly watching the latest iteration of Thomas that Disney wants them to see, in order to keep them quiet until they shoo them off to school in those same Bird boxes, where they park in such a way that the bus can't get through that part of the village, even though the lazy sluts could easily walk the offspring so short a distance and do themselves some good into the bargain.

Thank God we live on the very edge of the village and only occasionally have to venture into the centre to buy essentials or use the Post Office.  Fortunately by the time I go to the Chinese Takeaway, most are gone, watching their favourite crap on the TV.  I have lived in other villages and know many more, all were very pleasant, but this one takes the biscuit. Thank heavens we can shut our front door and ignore that Chav Central exists just down the road.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Downsizing perhaps...

I apologise to my tens of followers for the long gap in blog updates.  I've been busy with the Vincent motorbike master and slot cars.  Yes, my huge collection of body shells for which I made the patterns going back years.  So, I joined various Facebook pages concerning slot cars and found them all to be so very friendly and helpful. OK, I was helped by one or two in the railway world, but I couldn't take all the kit snobs. The daft sods prepared to spend a King's ransom only to end up with the same pile of bits that anybody else could have.  THEN spend the same again on the extras like wheels, gears, motor, paint, decals, weathering, und, und, und....I hate all that nonsense.  And the fact that scenery still hasn't scored more than 3 out of ten on the necessity score chart.  Laser cut buildings costing a fortune, yet looking like they came off a robot with their horrible regularity and miss-matched corners.
Nope, life, I have finally discovered, is too damned short to have some old fart's better pension rubbed in my face, followed by their comfortably fat arse in the ticket queue at some cloned exhibition where the kit envy and kit snobbery reach spoken fever pitch and those who have wrangled online can finally insult each other face to face.

I decided that I actually rather enjoyed not merely making model car patterns, but moreso restoring some old Revell slot cars that a good friend kindly gave me for my last birthday.  I lapped up piecing bits of styrene and Milliput filler putty into previously chewed out wheel arches.  I loved that people on the pages would offer their spare bits to the project.  Getting it all primed and painted and decalled up looking pristine again.  And I don't even have a track!  Or a local club.  Doesn't matter. I now have a fleet of 50 year old model cars that still go like the clappers but look better than new.  Then I was given a spare Stingray body so I'm turning that into a Gran Sport, a rare version of the Corvette that was parked next to us in the paddock at the Goodwood Revival.  Boy were they LOUD.

I have a spare GTO body too, so that will become Sir Stirling Moss's lime green version, with lots of detail and probably a home made chassis from brass, or maybe the one my son has 3D printed for me on his machine.
Then it seemed to me that I ought to have the cars I had as a kid all those years ago.  I now had the Revells with their revolutionary "can" motors, so how about the Scalextric vintage Bentley and Alfa Romeo, the Airfix Lotus for which I'd paid 13/10d.  Or the gorgeous 1964 GTO that Monogram made and then licenced to MRRC, my favourite make.  Asking around the pages I found a GTO, a complete kit sent to me by a friend and a spare body he wanted me to modify into a different version for him.  A cheap Bill Thomas Cheetah came from Spain, another MRRC body.  That's gone on an ancient Supershells chassis courtesy of Tony Condon, who wrote the history of slot racing a few years ago and recently bought the entire stocks of SRM/Supershells.  The wheel inserts and tyres came for that today  Guess what I'm doing tomorrow.

And I got that Airfix Lotus.  2 to be precise, in immaculate original sets for a great price locally.  So now, all I'm lacking is the MRRC vacuum formed Stingray body to put on my VIP Club Special chassis. That will leave just a Microperm motor which I built into a carved balsa wood Ferrari 158 in 1965 and won a big F1 open meeting against adult opposition at Runnymede.

I have quite a past in model railways, yes, but they're all dead or gone and it counts for very little now, but when the oldest friend you have (we met on the first day we ever went to school), Steve, goes to the trouble of contacting you via PMs on a slot car forum after 46 years AND makes the effort to meet up and have a drink and a chat, I think my days in slot racing are more important, so, I shall flog off what railway stuff I have that is saleable and my R/C gear which belongs to a now unaffordable hobby and I  will spend it on wheels and tyres, guides and gears.
All the huts and sheds I've made for model railways can be put on my son's 1/43rd scale hillclimb track pretending to be Marshalls huts and paddock cafes and I will build a track on one of his spare doors, hinged to the wall of my workshop.  One day there may be a club in this area like there used to be.
Me, second from right with that Corvette vac-form.  Steve (Uncle Albert on here) far left.  Note the ties, folks.  Around 1964.