Friday, 26 September 2014

Bloopers anonymous...

With all the talk of less than "perfick", goolies well dropped and hammers used to finesse Caley Singles, it occurred
to me to fess up to a couple of my own, just for fun.

I was asked to do an S-Type Jaguar for a very popular company doing solid , underdetailed, but shiny and reasonably priced white metal 43rd scale car models.  I really couldn't see any major pitfalls, so I banged away at the brass confidently and then I realised that as Jags go, this was looking very like a SAAB 96!  There are similarities in a very general way, but something had to be done.
I looked at it carefully and hurled it at the end wall of the workshop.  "That's better", I said to myself and cut new 2mm brass sheet, hammered as before and produced a perfectly good S-Type from the get-go.  I think my wife picked the first attempt up and put it on the side bench, which she did regularly when she brought me teas down to the workshop.  One day I defeated her when I'd thrown a clamp-on vice at the same, long suffering wall because it hit me on the head when I rose from the carpet search for a dropped item.  I'd calmly unscrewed it from the bench then hurled it wall-wards. It had buried itself evenly not in, but through the wall.  Meanwhile I just clamped the other one in place.  I was bleeding from the scalp, but felt so much better.

These things continue, of course, but suffice to show what I was able to save from a job I just HAD to admit defeat on.  I had made a full styrene model of a lovely old narrowboat called Roger.  Thinking myself such a boatie I soldiered on , making rivetted skins in litho plate and gluing them on and only when the interior was all done and the lettering hand painted did someone bravely remind me what I knew already, but had completely forgotten.  Roger was a wooden boat!
Now styrene hulls can be pulled apart, but hand lettered cabins with scumble staining and barber's pole painting on the swan neck have to be saved, so this is what is left, but will go on another boat, this time with wood grain and tar where I'd stupidly put rivets before.

The stove and drop table cabinet with lace plates, but I didn't finish the graining before the big "mistake" was noticed.
The notional Russell Newbury came out easily.  It wasn't right for Roger, but was all I could find info on at the time.  I now believe that most Nurser boats had a 15HP Petter semi-diesel single, so that will now be made for the Roger model and the RN will go in something more snobby and modern.
The swan neck, tiller stove chimney and exhaust chimney of Roger.  All correct and re-usable.  Made from brass, the handle and chain of the stove chimney are made from pewter repousse foil, now all but unobtainable, so a Chinese takeaway foil one can be made, then stroked with a fine tip Pantone pen to look like brass.  You can do the same to represent copper or nickel with a dull red or straw Pantone respectively, but they must be spirit based or it all just comes off.

So, the choice is, dependant on your particular temper setting, destroy it totally or make use of what's salvageable.  But never be afraid to admit it.  It does, after all, show great self criticism, which is the one thing a modelmaker needs before he ever cuts brass, card or styrene.


  1. On the corner of my workbench sits a bag containing no less than 6 scrap OO9 Hunslet chimneys. Perhaps others would deem them usable but not me. We should never be afraid to throw away and start again.
    The man who never made a mistake never learnt anything.

  2. Exactly, Paul. Isn't the problem with Hunslets that they all seem to have slightly different chimneys?
    I started my scratchbuilding on school lathes making 4mm chimneys and domes.
    I gave a demo once at a show with my little Peatol lathe, doing the boiler fittings of a 7mm scale Drummond Bug and gave a guy and his daughter heart attacks when I stated using home made chisels and a few needle files as hand turning tools. He congratulated me then told me he'd been a centre lathe turner all his life! I was chuffed!

  3. Reading that makes me feel better. Every job I do has a crisis point where I realise I have done something wrong and have to back track, usually not fatally, but sometimes...I don't throw things about the workshop so much these days, but then I don't build locos anymore :-) Those narrow boat bits look lovely.

  4. The main reason I wrote it was to show that nobody gets away with a smooth run, whatever they might suggest.
    Glad you liked the wee bits. I must build them into another boat someday.