Sunday, 20 December 2015

Last Tango for Venice...

Finally, the narrow boat model is finished, all bar an odd touch with a brush, here and there. Knocks and abrasions are unavoidable on such an awkward shape.
It's been screwed to its American Oak base with only just room to spare.

Off with the courier on Tuesday.

Anyway, here it is:-

And now?  Big clear up in the workshop.  The bit I like best, especially just before Christmas.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Maybe I should finish the...

I have carted the McLaren M8F around from pillar to post for years.
I started it way back  at the Millenium's turn after measuring and photographing it at Scott Racing over a couple of days.
I then had to stop work on it because of our sojourns afloat and finally got it back recently from safe storage at my son's place.  I did a few bits and pieces, but now I have a bit of a pursuit gap, I thought I might just try to finish it.  Assuming I can work out what the sketches are that I did way back then. They're all there in an inch thick book!
Here's some of the work I did at the time:-
Zippo lighter for scale.
The aluminium work is all litho plate, with rivets done from behind with a slightly blunt scriber into dips in brass strip, held in the vice.
Front frame including pedal units.

Much more to come as I work my way through the mass of pipework and parts whose purpose now escapes me.  Unfortunately the car had long since gone to Holland and has since been sold again, I know not to whom.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Have you you heard?...

Headphones always make my head itch, but it was worth it for a few hours of the most fabulous music today.  Weather iffy, couldn't think of any modelmaking to do, so I borrowed Chris's very basic headphones and while she watched the usual Sunday diet of Jamie Oliver and people with huge fortunes "Escaping to the Country", I went on youtube and listened to Gentle Giant, Leisure Society and Brand x.
I feel so much better now.

Time is never wasted when spent listening to really great music.  And the above 3 mentioned are great. In different ways.  And all three are probably rarely listened to now, as then.

Leisure Society are the modern band, that the wonderful Guy Garvey of Elbow brought to my attention on his late Sunday night radio show (as was).  The track Last of the Melting Snow struck me as possibly the best song written in the last 20 years.  Simple, beautifully written, played and sung.  I can never hear too much of it.  They have about 4 albums available, most of which is on youtube.

Gentle Giant were a prog rock band from the 70s. 3 brothers and some others playing everything from whimsical to heavy via madrigal, but always incredibly complex.  If you like a challenging listen, GG are for you. Never mind the "too-many-notes" pseudo complexity of Mozart or the mathematical challenge of Bach, GG will show you complexity of thought as much as musicality. Each plays a whole range of instruments with equal aplomb and inventiveness.  You think it reached a crescendo?  Think again.

Brand X will simply knock you into a cocked hat and clean out again.  The musicianship of the sometimes changing line-up never failed.  Phil Collins on several of the albums drums as well as any drummer you will ever have heard and SO much better than anything on Genesis or his solo albums.
Unbelievably complex and tight, he made all tracks with no overdubs. Percy Jones' bass playing on an instrument he made himself was always exemplary, especially his playing of jazz on a Fretless.
Morris Pert on keyboards is always creative, yet complimentary to all the other musicians.  John Goodsall's guitar can take you somewhere you didn't think possible.

I have always seen music as a frame in which I expect all corners to be filled, preferably squeezed.
The above will have you seeing the frame as bulging.

All you need is youtube.  I won't recommend single tracks because they're all equally good.  Just type in the bands and click on anything, but be prepared to spend longer than you expected.

Friday, 27 November 2015

All finished...

Here's the Heather Bell model with all its bits and bobs.
Except the exhaust and cabin chimney!  How could I forget those?
The weather won't allow painting with self-etch at present.

Now, what'll I do next?...

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

One more day will do it...

The model of Heather Bell now has a finished back cabin/engine 'ole with all doors shown open, hatches and runners, etc.
The cross beams and stands and the mast are all also done, but sitting safely in their relative boxes.
But the engine (a Lister JP2) and its gearbox are done (visible through the engine 'ole doors), as is the back cabin stove

One more day should do it...

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Nearly there now...

The Narrowboat model now has a finished fore cabin and a back cabin/engine 'ole with doors open and hatches.
Also gave the hull its very distinctive half round buffing strips.

Now working on the engine and interior of the back cabin, then floor components of the frames, stands and monkey plank and that'll be it almost done. Paint? the lap of the weather Gods there!

More pics when it's all done.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Heather Bell in miniature...

I have been working on a model of Heather Bell, the 1937 wooden working boat on which we lived for a while from 2003.  I thought it would make sense to use model railway scales as it was most likely to end up on a model set-piece.
There was also a chance a friend might take a mould so the model could be used as a basis for others, like the butty it would have towed sometimes or another wooden boat, built by the prolific Nursers, like HB, but a bit different.  It is made in 4mm-1ft scale and is therefore 280mm long.

Here's the progress so far:-

Made from 60 thou. styrene sheet, with detailing in other thicknesses.  The bow is planked in
styrene sheet, too, but inevitably required a small bit of filler as these bits move a little while the solvent dries.  The bow of these old wooden boats is a lovely shape and that deserved to be shown as well as possible. It's what sets them apart and is so often badly done on other available models.  Not that I would buy a kit anyway!
To my surprise, this all only took three afternoons, 'twixt chores and shopping, etc.  I rarely get going before lunch!
The boat has its correct lining plank, gunnels, internal sheeting called sheering, internal keelson and engine beds.  Being full hull, so that it can be viewed as if empty, a hole will have to be cut in the baseboard to take it.  Accuracy has its price!

Today, because of the foul weather and lack of sleep thanks to a very nervous Shar-Pei called Alfie, I still got the shape tidied, the forecabin and back cabin made, the half round rubbing strips on and have started cutting out doors for the engine 'ole and back cabin's interiors to be seen.
The half round is made by scraping round styrene rod to a half round section and sticking on in their positions.  They make all the difference and I will take more pics tomorrow if the light allows.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Clear the decks...

Well, after 2 years on and off, I finished the De Havilland Dragon Rapide master.  A large and complex model which goes away tomorrow to La Belle France.  The fiddly bits took a long time to set up and make.
These were the last parts needed.  Interplane struts, wheels, tyres, etc.

Also a longish running job, modding a Ferrari 312b F1 car that has languished as an almost generic model for a while, but finally the client decided what version he wanted and that is now done and delivered.
This more or less clears away what was started and paid for before I retired.  From now on I will be doing stuff just for me and hoping to help others with their modelmaking.

That includes a model of our old boat, "Heather Bell".  I thought it would be a bit of a fiddle, but it is almost done after just three afternoons!  More of that when I get some pictures.

In the meantime I sanded down the Marblehead yacht ready for epoxy on what turned out to be the last warm day of the year.  No epoxy work in this damp air, alas.
Chris won me a set of vintage sails for the yacht. Professionally made by the ex Secretary of the august Birkenhead Model Yacht Club.  Perfect period correctness.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Another change...

Finding model flying to be too expensive and too seasonal in a country where half the year is winter,
I have tentatively returned to model boats, with which I have always dabbled.

Some time ago, my dear, late friend, Ken Cooper, gave me a lovely old Marblehead yacht.  He'd found it in a loft of a big house once lived in by Tommy Sopwith, aviator and sailor of the English America's Cup yacht that came closest to beating the Yanks.  Ken had put a nice laid deck on it and hatches. He'd also clearly intended it for radio control as there was a typical modern tiller arm on the rudder post.
I had intended running it as a Braine steered model a la its pre-War roots, but, realistically, it would never get sailed as I have no access to a lake round all of which I can walk and free sailing demands such a pond.  So, with apologies to Tommy Sopwith and the traditionalists of Marblehead racing, I shall fit the boat out with R/C, ensuring I can get it back from the reeds, by never going near them.
The lovely lines of a Pre-War Marblehead.  50" long and 800 square inches of sail area.

Much more recently, I was given a bare, very early GRP yacht hull.  My old chum, Peter, had it under piles of junk where it had been for maybe 40 years.  All he knew was that it had been modelled on a design by Uffa Fox, the famous yacht and dinghy designer, but I could find no evidence of such.
But this week I placed pictures of both models on the sailing section of the American based R/C Groups forum and in no time received the news that the early GRP hull was a 1/12th scale model of the famous Dorade Ocean Racer and that the Marblehead was a "halfway" point 'twixt Madcap and Pocahontas, 2 very competitive designs of M boat.  The Dorade won its first race in 1931 and is still winning against fleets of much newer boats. Even in 2013 it won the Trans Pacific race outright! The Uffa Fox link was that her lines drawing had appeared in a famous book by Uffa Fox, but she had been designed by the equally famous Olin Stephens.

So, Super 60 fuselages were hung up in my son's loft and the 2 boats brought home from their overstay up there.  As I left, he gave me the mast for the Marblehead.  It just about fitted in my car.  Indeed, I have no idea how these boats will ever get transported anywhere when the deck fittings are all on and the masts fully rigged.  Peugeot 206CCs are small!
I have a huge collection of electric motors, so I will be using one to make a sail winch for each boat. I see no point in spending a fortune on a sail winch servo when a geared motor and a drum can be made so easily.
Rigging?  Haven't got a clue, so a cheap book on the topic is on its way to me as I type.

Friday, 25 September 2015

5 days away...

We are just back from a very nice 5 days in deepest Essex.  We do this from time to time for a bit of "us" time. Sometimes a boat, this time a trip south to see some family and friends.

I have always been a sucker for the Estuary.  And Essex, my county of birth and childhood, has plenty of them.  We were staying near Tollesbury, in the most charming and tiny one bedroom cottage, which the even more charming owner allowed us the complete run of, because she had a small "lodge" half way down her garden, in which she spent the evenings and in which she slept.  So bed and breakfast became cottage and breakfast.
By going to the end of her lane to the crossroads and turning right, you go towards the lovely West Mersea, or by turning left, Heybridge Basin and Maldon.

Firstly, we turned right and went to West Mersea.  I have been to Mersea island many times and was delighted to find that The Blackwater Pearl cafe was still there, largely unchanged, so we parked up  and had a toasted teacake and a cuppa there, where the cleaner girl told us which of the two main establishments we should trust for fresh seafood.  As her Dad and brother were local oystermen, we figured she'd know.  Not that we wanted oysters, you understand.  If I wanted to swallow snot covered school rubbers and tabasco sauce I could do it much cheaper.  But a bit of dressed crab is always welcome and my good lady loves her cockles.

Later that day we had a look at Heybridge Basin, an old boaty haunt of mine since the days when I lived aboard a Victorian cutter at Burnham-on-Crouch.  It is less relentlessly boaty these days almost inevitably, but the Ship Inn and the Jolly Sailors are still there, so a pint was in order in the Ship.

 I was delighted to see two boats go through the sea lock from the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation, the first time I had ever seen the lock in use.

After our drink I strolled up on the sea wall for a gander and to my surprise a large ship came up the river from the sea.  It turned out to be a large tug, a small tug and a floating platform between them, which had been hired for the day for some operation at Clacton, up the coast.
It made an interesting counterpoint to the sailing barge which plies its trade in the trip game these days.

Old and new

Maldon is to the right of the above shots, but when we went there, we found no available parking place, so wended our way back to the "digs" via a very good Indian restaurant in Tolleshunt D'arcy.
And so the week progressed with visits to old friends, one of whom, my dear old pal Jimi, I hadn't seen in over 20 years as we'd always just missed each other.  Jimi is seriously affected by Cerebral Palsy, but whilst his speech and movement are difficult, his brain is sharp as a needle.  He has top qualifications in electronics design and a passion for the rock band, Hawkwind, which he combines when they tour to programme synths, design light shows and even sing backing!  When he sings, his speech is much clearer.  Anyway he was delighted to see us after all this time and we spent a wonderful couple of hours reliving old adventures.  Jimi was a regular on my boat Vanity when I lived the other end of town and we'd talk deep into the night.

We also went to North Fambridge, because I never have, despite living so close for long.  Well, there's not much there, but a couple of interesting old buildings, the distant one being my kind of hideaway.
I would LOVE to live here!

Or here!

On Thursday, we went to Maldon's Promenade Park to see what all the fuss was about.  Not easy to find, it is a delightful Edwardian park.  We stopped by the model boating pool to eat a cream cake, when I realised what was in this very unremarkable place, behind us in the car park, having a photo shoot done.
Now, come on, what were the odds of that?  A genuine Lamborghini Miura S, the only truly good looking Lambo.  Rare as rocking horse poo and worth, what...a quarter of a million or more?  In Maldon Park on a Thursday afternoon.

More anon.....

Saturday, 12 September 2015

And now, even with paint...

The canal boat model got its cream two days ago and today, after well over an hour of masking with plastic tape used in the clay modelling game, pinched from VW years ago and finally found a use for, its blue.  The cream masking was then removed with success and we now have only the dark red to do at the rear and then tidying up, before clear coat.
Apologies for the typically shitty photos, but my camera will NOT take pics indoors and despite a bit of sun, the dogs will jump on the outside table if anything that smells different appears for their noses.
After all the painting shenanigans are done with and the clear coat goes on, the red oxide floors and rear roof can be done and the hull sides and bits of the bow will get matt black to simulate the black epoxide Bitumen that most narrow boats get these days.
More anon........

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Nearly done, bar the paint.....

Back last year I was paid up front to make a model of a customer's friend's new narrow boat, an S.M.Hudson 60 footer.
It has had to be fitted around earners till my official retirement recently as it was too big a commitment in time to be otherwise.  In fact, I charged way too little for the amount of work it has proved to be.

No matter, tis nearly done.
In self etch primer.

The rivet work is impressed from behind in litho plate with a home made tool.  On the real boats these are entirely bogus dummy rivets made of welded on washers, an attempt to look like a "Josher", an old working boat run by Joshua Fellows.  Those of us who despise such follies call them "washer Joshers"!  But the damned things had to be on the model.

I am now out to spray its last coat of self-etch primer/surfacer to cover all the aluminium hinges I have added to the side doors.  I have also cut out the circles in which the brass portholes will fit.  This was done with a Compass Cutter set to minimum so the surface of the plywood was cut through to avoid splitting when the holes themselves were dug out with a small Rotafile in the minidrill.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

That's one hobby gone!...

Today, I am just back from a long trip to Dunstable and back, delivering my Burlington Arrow project to its new owner.
With the sale of the Austin 7 Special almost instantly upon advertising it, that's my main hobby gone, thanks to the Landlady wanting me to get rid of my storage caravans from the back of the plot where they were barely even visible.

So what do I do now in my limited free time?
Well, there's still the model aircraft flying, but that rather depends on having a suitable model to learn to fly on.  The ready made trainer needs calm airs, of which we have had none all Summer and the more durable trainer still needs a set of wings to be finished. Clearly I won't have that airborne this side of Winter, despite the forecast of an Indian Summer.
As Winter does his deep approach I tend to go internal and take to the scenic modelling, till Spring is sprung, but I can assure myself of finishing the Super 60 trainer by then, in the hope I can start flying as soon as the Sun comes out again.

Meantime the shed needs Creosoting before the bad season and the weedkilling needs completing around it.

Since people seemed to like the shot of the Italian Job coach last time, here it is finished ready to go off for casting.  Biggest pattern I've ever done.  .................But, it seems the new computer hasn't kept the bloody photo, so you'll have to wait till I get the first resin casting back from Mr. Francis.  Thanks, Digitalia!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

An hour at "The Field"

Every so often, on a nice day, I pop down to the local model flying field.  I'm not a member, but they don't care as I don't fly yet.
There's usually good banter and it was a nice afternoon.

The usual suspects were there, three of whom were flying.

One chap had a petrol engined (30 cc.) aerobatic type thing...huge wings, massive rudder, blah, blah, but the engine really wasn't pulling many revs.  However John flew it for the chap and it seemed to circulate at a nice speed to my way of thinking, but kept "dead sticking" before time, so got put away.
By contrast, another chap was already aloft with one of those Almost Ready To Fly jobbies, which many are sniffy about , but which get a lot of people flying quickly.  Both his aircraft had electric motors, something much more common these days and almost silent, which keeps the retards at the fishing lake happy, if anything actually does.

Then John got his own huge aerobatic thingy out of the car and started assembling wings on Carbon Fibre spars, connecting servo plugs, etc. etc.  It looked very like the petrol 'plane, except suddenly he just jumped up, turned the motor on and off it went.  By no means silent, but the bigger electric motors in these large models sound like well silenced engines.
He put it through the aerobatic schedule smoothly and efficiently and landed perfectly, with a nearly flat battery.   No mess, no wiping down old spent fuel, just turn off and disassemble.
There's a lot to be said for electric model aircraft, but I do like an on-song engine.
The big problem with modern electrics is the LiPo batteries, which aren't exactly cheap and can be very fussy, nay dangerous on charging, discharging and even storage.
But, I hope to be joining them soon so I can learn to fly again.  The only time I ever flew R/C was with a 2 function model microlight, which I bought for just 50 quid, because it had Skyleader radio gear.  Something I'd always wanted.  It was powered by an unthrottled PAW 19 diesel and screamed to full height before the engine cut and I was able to circle it down to a perfect tricycle landing...twice!  On the third attempt, covered in oily diesel fuel, my thumb slipped off the stick and it nosed in.  Later swapped for work on the front wing of my Jag XJ6!

Meanwhile back at the bench...
The master model of the Bedford VAL Legionaire coach in 1/32nd scale. It is, of course, the one in the original The Italian Job film which ended with its back end see-sawing over a cliff.  This made in Ureol and filler.  The basic shape is there, but windows need filling and detail added before it can be cast in resin.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Solvents, depression, etc....

A friend and fine modelmaking colleague, Iain Robinson has written a very important and interesting post on his superb blog about the link between solvents and depression, lethargy, loss of mojo, etc.

It's officially known as neurotoxicology and is a fact.  of course how it may affect different individuals changes from person to person, but the number of complaints of the above symptoms I see on forums must be a little more than simple burnout.

Please read all Iain's latest post AND the very interesting and informative comments to the post on :-

I think you may be alarmed and surprised.

I think, fortunately that I have got away with it so far, though my periodic depressions may well have coincided with a larger than normal exposure to solvents.  If I had half a memory I could maybe make the correlation.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A change is as good as a rest...

Recently, a feeling of stagnation has caused me to go back to something I'd tried before to do.  Radio Controlled model aircraft.  Of course work always got in the way and so recently I find that a model I have done some work on appeared in a forum I was on 3 years ago!

An old chum in the village, who I first met around that time, gave me an ancient KeilKraft Super  60 trainer which he'd crashed.  Most people would have made a small bonfire of it, but no, 40 years ago he simply put it away.  He also gave me another, which he'd never finished.  The former needed some repairs, but then I found that in repairing it in less than ideal conditions it had bent like a banana, so needs re-repairing.  The unfinished one is glued with Secotine or some such old glue which has embrittled and so I have laboriously reglued every stick.  In the process I thought why not make it into a low winger ready for that intermediate level of trainer, so that was done simply by replacing the same wing under the cabin instead of above it.

Said chum then presented me with a 50 year old plan and suggested it would be quicker if I just made a new one, so I cleared a space on the flattest table I have in the shed and stripped some 1/4" balsa sheet into 1/4" square strip and cut it to fit over the plan, suitably covered in cling film of course for protection. In fact it took no longer to make the whole fuselage side than to unravel and flatten the damned cling film!
So now I have the makings of not one, but 3 of these venerable old kites to play with.
In the mean time I was also given by said chum a modern ready made balsa "stick" plane with ailerons and a geared electric motor. The gearbox had a bent shaft and anyway my friend said it would be unsuitable as a trainer.  However a visit to my local model flying field recently saw me watching a plane so easy to fly that I couldn't see why I wouldn't be able to fly my one as it was so similar.  I was given some brushless electric motors and speed controllers a while back in exchange for a small diesel engine, a Frog 100 and it seemed that one of the motors would easily fly this aircraft and all I would need would be a prop and a new LiPo battery.  ALSO, last year my son gave me two of the modern pod and boom type powered glider type of trainer, with electric motors and built in R/C gear.  I did try to fly one last Summer, but succeeded only in dislodging a slate from the roof.  However, with a slight repair to the somewhat unusual method of actuating the tail surfaces, it would fly again, no problem, but this time I'll take it to a flying field to try.
All this time, the Skystreak 32 was taking shape.  A model based on the smaller Skystreak 26, a conrol line stunter from 50 odd years ago, for which a kind chap had sent me plans.  When I was about 8 years old, my Uncle gave me an original Skystreak 26, he'd built with an ED Bee diesel up front. He'd doped it in silver and black and it lived on the top of my wardrobe for years.  I could never get the engine started and my Mum probably sat on it as she did most of my model aeroplanes!
But the shape never left me.  To this day I don't think there's a nicer looking 'plane.
Here are a pair of 32s, one glow engined, one electric.
And the same brushless motor I had lined up for the "ugly stick" trainer will fly one of these.
So, from a wish to build a trainer to get into model flying, I seem to have gained a surfeit of airframes!

But a man needs a plan, lest his brain empties.  I also have the Specials to build, but they demand a bigger commitment to time than just gluing some balsa together, while glue sets on a paying job and provide a very different kind of mental abstraction, when needed.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Vac-formed lids for the TR2...

While we were away with the Northern family last week, I took the opportunity to test the vacuum forming patterns for the TR2 as it's No 1 son who does all my customers' vac-formed windows, etc.
What became so obvious was the finish required to represent glass.  It seems that the vacuum was actually pulling through the closed cell structure of the Ureol material I use for my patterns as the very finish on the Ureol was repeated faithfully on the thin PVC being formed.  Great for the soft top material, but ghastly for the hardtop, which has to be smooth enough to paint on the inside for a perfect finish.
So, armed with that info, I made changes to the patterns on my return and also made the side screen patterns. In order to not make the same mistake again, I made the widow parts of the side screens from layered nickel silver, to represent the sliding nature of the side windows.
The soft top down was fine so remains unchanged.

Here are all the parts.  Hardtop, soft top up, soft top down, interior pan and left and right side screens.

And to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary, granddaughter, Holly, made these fairy cakes and decorated them with her Mum.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Sand casting update...

Just to keep the news together.
Here's some shots of the machined mudguard support.  I couldn't wait to get the casting in the lathe.
It machined very well, being surprisingly free-cutting.  Not bad for a casting made of drink cans.

Thanks Mike.  I have 7 more to do, just like this one!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Oooop North for a week...

Having just returned from our holiday (well, quick break really) up with the No1 son and his brood in the frozen north of this fair land, we can reflect....

Firstly, that when the trains work and are uninterrupted, they work fine,  secondly that mixtures of step and natural family needn't be stressful, but were in our case and...that one of the most attractive seaside places from a train can actually be a complete waste of time to visit.

I think that's it.

On the way up, son-in-law dropped us off at the station and the train turned up on time, the coffee bar, while we waited, served an excellent brew, I bought a Private Eye for an amusing read on the more boring bits of the trip (Lincolnshire and Yorkshire), we found our reserved seats at a table, partially occupied, but our glares of disapproval seemed to have the people shuffling off to another part of the carriage, so we faced each other across a table, spread out and enjoyed the passing view, partaking of the well stocked buffet trolley that soon came along.
On the way back, I commented to my wife that where we were was where the train broke down last year, when the progress slowed suddenly and the Guard came on the Tannoy to inform us that "Now you're not gonne like this", in his warm Aberdonian accent.  "There's been a fatality between Newcastle and Morpeth, which means at least 90 minutes delay while things are investigated".  He thoughtfully allowed the train into Morpeth station and opened all the doors so people could stroll around, have a ciggy, etc. or those going to Newcastle get a cab or a bus the 8 miles or so it would have taken.
Immediately, a gaggle of people, so self-important, so OUTRAGED that their time had been taken out of their hands, surrounded the poor guard and the train staff, demanding to know if they would get home that evening.  I merely asked if there was a drinks trolley on the train.  We had a lift the other end whenever it got in, so were nicely smug.
A bit of Dunkirk spirit later and we were away much sooner than expected and sped into Newcastle with no evidence of the scene of the "incident".  Behind the scenes, a family is messed up and turning on itself, a driver is having horrific nightmares along with the medical crew, Transport Police, et al.
There are perfectly effective pills for this sort of thing, I'm sure, which will take you out of this realm in seconds, rather than spreading you all over the front of the 5-18 from Edinburgh to Kings Cross at great inconvenience to hundreds, possibly thousands as the delay filters down the line and re-writes the carefully planned timetables and work shifts for the rest of the day.  In the end our driver stepped on the gas a bit and we were less than an hour late our end.  Whether Mr. Important ever got his sorry arse back to Camberwell in time, who the Hell cares?

Suffice to say that an older step-daughter in a generally younger family can be a right pain in the backside, making a visit increasingly stressful, when it should have been a rest, but 'twas ever thus Ooop North. But it was nice to see our own young grandchildren and our son again, despite the endless crap TV they watch.
Also good to help son out with a couple of his latest projects, which included a wish on his part, to cast aluminium in sand in his back garden.  He had built a furnace using blown charcoal and melted hundreds of drinks cans down and poured into cake trays to make ingots.  Now he wanted to make something.  In anticipation, I had made a simple pattern of something I could use on my kit car, but first we needed to find some casting sand.  Unwilling to pay huge carriage costs, he had drawn a blank, but being a seeker on pages 2-7 of Google search, I found him a foundry not 20 miles away that proved helpful and willing to sell him a bag of greensand.  Off we went to Greenslaw in the borders and found a small foundry, run by an extremely helpful chap, who showed us round, explained the principals and sold us a bag of the necessary for a good price.  On the way home we stopped for chips in the Greenslaw restaurant.  Looking like a rural Irish bar, the chippy is 2 tables and a bar at the front and the chippy out the back.  A very friendly Polish lady took our order, explained that everything there is absolutely fresh, even the chicken nuggets are Scottish fillet chicken cooked in Bellhaven Best Bitter batter.  An Indian gentleman came through, singing the praises of the establishment with gusto and insisting we "bring the family back here like I do".
They were, needless to say, amongst the best chips we'd ever had!

I made the lad some casting boxes in scrap fence wood (they don't HAVE to be cast iron!), rammed the new sand in and pressed in my pattern.  Mike fired up the furnace and poured into the cavity.  8 pours later, I had 8 neat little top hats in aluminium ready to put on the lathe for tidying up.
Made a pattern for a sand-tamping tool for Mike and he cast that too.
Then a gust of wind filled the pot with ash from the charcoal and casting stopped, so a gas furnace is the next thing.

Finally......Northumberland is a beautiful, largely forgotten county.  We had set aside a day for toodling around and mainly going down the coast road, taking in Seahouses, Craster, Alnmouth and any other attractive looking seaside and fishing villages we could.   This plan was also stymied by the dreaded step-daughter, so we only had about 3 hours, so we forgot about Low Newton and the Ship Inn, going instead straight for Seahouses.  It was a sunny, but incredibly windy day. Indeed we all at different times nearly got blown in the harbour.
Seahouses is a bit seasidey, but the harbour was busy, mainly with a bewildering amount of trip boats so folks could see the Farne Islands.
Nowhere by the harbour was selling a cuppa apart from a miserable Asian in a tram shaped hut, where we had a hot chocolate.
Via Craster, which appeared to be closed, we then, finally got to the very pretty Alnmouth, a village on a small estuary that we saw from the train and decided we should visit.  When we got there, it was clear that here was a mini playground for the Audi loving stuck up bastards that frequent golf clubs and the like.  Nowhere to park, despite a dozen trendy little dives to eat, no directions to a car park or any facilities.  Horse shit on the tarmac, a sure sign of knobs abounding and no making use of or even money from, the waterside.  We found a cafe called the Dandelion, which vaunted on many outside posters their "Fresh Coffee", their sandwiches and light bites.  Finding the last 15 feet of unlined blacktop in the town we walked back past England's oldest 9 hole golf club to the caff, where we were pounced upon by a robot, programmed with all the spiel about the weird cakes they sold.
I asked about sandwiches and "lite bites".  We don't do them.  I reminded her that their large signs proclaimed otherwise.  No response.  I am now in a black mood and getting blacker.
The coffee was like the dregs of a bad Costa and would have been improved with a spoonful of Nescafe Gold Blend.  The cake was OK, but so crumbly it couldn't be eaten with a fork.  I noticed that the home made soup of the day was priced at £4-95!!  At that point I left.
People, when visiting the lovely Northumberland, leave Alnmouth WELL alone. It is an unsatisfying dump.  This is the only interesting thing there.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Now we're cookin' with gas...

After the almost interminable Audi, I seem to have gone into overdrive.

Firstly, a Triumph TR2 for the same gent as the Audi, another for his SlotRally GB range.
That has now gone off to my chum, Steve Francis, in London to be slush moulded, the easiest way to get a hollow body from a solid master.
Somehow, I missed taking a picture of this with the turned brass headlight pods fitted, but this is the body pattern ready for slush moulding.
What happens next is I get from Steve a number of slushes, from which I can make a finished TR2, then later, a TR3 and TR3A, all, essentially from one master.  Once I get the first slush, I'll detail that and make bumpers, dashboard, hard and soft tops and hood folded , so SRGB has the option of which versions to do, all rally cars.

At the same time I was asked to do a Spitfire Mk 3.  Now I had one of these started purely as a personal project for my son, who has a passion for the American racing team, Group 44, the distinctive white and 2 tone green cars, all Triumphs, run by Bob Tullius in the SCCA series for production sports cars.  They were successful with all the cars over the years.  I mentioned I had a Spit. "half done" and was commissioned to finish it for the Manx outfit SMK, for whom I have made a number of sports, vintage and F1 cars already.
Now I think I must have done the first work on the model by eye, but I then got some good looking drawings and sized them down to 1/32nd scale on the Post Office photo-copier.  But somewhere along the line, wires must have got crossed, because not only was the original resin body I started with horribly wrong as I expected, but for some reason I got the wheelbase wrong too!  Should be 66mm, but when I checked, because I just thought something was not looking right, I'd got a drawing which showed a 72mm wheelbase.  I have no idea how this happened, because the length was almost right and the width was bang on.  The draughtsman as so often had just drawn it wrong.  Having already cut the body in half twice I had to do it again!
You can see where I'd cut and lengthened it earlier, yet here we are cutting that much out again!  AND the front wheelarch needed moving back to get the wheelbase right.  Now it's nearly done, I can see a big improvement in proportions.  The drawings also showed completely wrong lines for the boot lid.  Sometimes I wonder how draughtsmen get jobs at all!
Here's the front arch ground back and filled at the front edge.
And in the picture, the errant drawings, which will be dumped as soon as the model's done.
So after seeming to never finish that ugly Audi, I've knocked out  2 more models to near completion and there's a Ferrari 312B started too, AND that hideous UFO car is a lot more advanced.
If I can get all three done by the end of May, I'll be ready for my week's break up North with family!