Thursday, 20 July 2017

Changing tack....

I have a few model boats for Radio Control, some finished, some 80% done, but the trouble is, where the hell does one go to use them?  OK there's a river up the road, but it could get awkward if they head off into the reeds.  And my yachts are too deep keeled to come to the edge of the river, meaning I'd need waders to get in there, which I don't fancy.
So, why the hell did I build a model of my old home, Vanity, a Victorian Cutter, when, with it's 14"of fin keel with a 10lb. bulb on the end, it needs special places to sail.  The only place I can use it is, at the closest, Sheringham, a day trip away.  Same comment for my Marblehead.

Motor boats, except for my restored and original Aerokits which are now over 50 years old, bore me after 5 minutes.  I like making them, but using them isn't really my cup of tea and having batteries around which rarely get used is the same as having dead batteries.  I assume my older radio gear works, I haven't tested it.  My new stuff has to be "bound" to the Rx and I have no idea how that is done.
So, realistically, why have any model boats beyond the restored originals I had as a kid?

Should I just flog it all off?  I'd have to finish the unfinished ones for them to be worth anything at all.
Give them to the kids?  They wouldn't  know what to do with them!

It looks like static models are the way to go these days.  That and my paintings.
How things change without us giving them a thought.

Friday, 16 June 2017

an APB on Iain...

It has only just occurred to me that a good place to ask about our chum Iain Robinson would be right here, where he had commented so valuably.
We all know by now, no doubt, that his blog has been removed. I asked him by email if all was well and have had no reply, so if anyone has any idea what has happened to Iain, please let us know by commenting.

An APB on Iain....

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Never mind the quality...

.....feel the width, as they say.  Well the width of my wife's Pashley Picador Plus trike is certainly there. It wouldn't go through the gate, but the quality is shite.  No messing now, call a spade a spade...shite!
A make considered lazily by us all as a "Best of British" had the kind of paint on the mudguards that you would have expected from a just post War Beetle.  I couldn't understand why there were such rust bubbles on the mudguards, until I gave it a poke with a screwdriver and a four inch plate of thin cellulose just fell off.  No primer!!  Where the hell is the quality in that?  For some odd reason, one mudguard has a white primer on the outer surface, but none where the rain gets splashed inside and the other two have no primer at all.  I have a feeling the chain guard is a similar disgrace.

I find that appalling.  The construction of the mudguards is nowt special either.  Something with turned over edges, for strength, needs to be dipped to make sure the paint gets in there.  Ha! No chance.  If this thing just came off the slow boat from China I wouldn't be surprised.  They are £745 new!  I wouldn't pay a fraction of that.  Ok, I didn't anyway and I want to sell it well, so I will file the crap off the mudguards, sand, spray with self-etch primer and then spray with black enamel.
I'll show bloody Pashley what quality is!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Everybody loves a mock up...

Work has gone well with the Vanity model.

It started today with a desire to see the water line on it with tape, so that I can take it over to my son's garden pond and see just how much weight I have to put in her to make her float on her marks.
So, while I was at it, I thought I'd attach with more tape the spars to get an idea how big it all was.
Allowing that the mast is maybe not fully seated by a few inches and that the boom needs to be shortened a couple of inches,.....it's big!  That's a full sized door it's up against.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A gentleman of the cloth...

Well, it worked and worked well.  Rather than go for expensive, springy, have-to-wait-for-the-postie Fibreglass cloth in order to sheath my model of "Vanity", I elected to do the tight-arsed thing and use J-Cloth, that cotton waste stuff used for cleaning. It's very strong, is a non woven mesh so strong in every direction, lightweight and goes exactly where you put it.  Once the resin has gone "cheesy" you can cut through the laminate with a knife and, with a wet finger, stick the remaining cloth edge down.
First side done and bang on. Tother side tomorrow, all being well, then finally a test with a waterproof hull to see how much weight it'll need.  Rather than expensive lead shot, I may use the pennies I've saved for years. It's either that or I cash in the pennies, 2s and 5s and pay for lead, but I'd rather not.
Here's the first side before a quick trim.

The apparent moire pattern is the check print on the J-Cloths.  These, btw, came as a huge bundle for less than 2 quid in Poundstretchers!  Then, when you're done, clean up with one.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

...The Owl, The Pickwick and the Fields' Gar-Den...

They come, with the Waverley pen, in fact, as well as a boon and a blessing to men, as sometimes a curse. At least for this old fart they do. I love gardens. I love to have one, to look at one, to stroll into one, but you gotta look after them and that is getting a lot more like hard work.
But, planting the 4 Garlic plants my wife had brought on from simply planting a single clove of the stuff and waiting no great time at all, was very pleasant and took less time than my knees require to play up.  The plants, whatever they may look like below ground level are now over a foot tall and I just spent a happy half hour digging the ever present grass out and cleaning the ground next to the Honeysuckle and planting them straight from pots to ground, which, despite the dust dry top is reassuringly moist 2" below.
Woodland strawberries replanted into a nice big pot, placed in a garden bed (the garlic has gone into where we penned off a section for fruit and veg).  Fuschias are already flowering in hanging baskets.
The wildflower section has some huge results from the haphazard scattering of seeds meant for birds and bees, well, bees, anyway.  Gawd knows what they are, but they have heads on them, so something's about to happen.
And so goes the gardens. Constantly requiring attention and watering this time of year, although tomorrow night is set to be a heavy storm, they tell us.  I can quite see how this lark could become a real hobby, but it would still leave you doing little but reading seed catalogues (whatever they are!) for half the year.

With that in mind, I have been getting on with my model of the yacht "Vanity", on which I used to live when I was young and stupid.
The hull has come off its building board and is currently being fitted for its deck, having had its insides coated with epoxy resin.  Soon, I will be doing the same plus cloth to the outside to ensure I have a waterproof, strong hull.  Vanity was always painted black so a good finish is essential. My somewhat hurried hull building has showed up in some lumps and bumps, which will be filled first.
Meanwhile, back in the indoors workroom, I've been making deck furniture and spars.
Here's the aft decklight:-

And here's the forward companion and bitts in roughly the same relationship to each other as they will be on the deck.:-
The companion is nothing fancy as this was where the crew entered their quarters.  It had lift out boards, rather than doors.  The sliding lid is yet to be made.  I have used the same Cuban Mahogany as I did for the hull, sawn from some old chairs my Grandad made.  The bitts are made from a piece of steamed pear I found. 
As you can see, the corners of the casings are made with real dovetail joints and the corners of the lids of the decklights are made with mortice and tennon joints, so every part of these structures held together without glue initially.  I used superglue for these which, to my utter surprise, worked very well.  I figured, since they would be varnished after these first two coats of cellulose sanding sealer they'd be waterproof.

Damn!  I didn't water the front garden!...


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Round and round, the sound...

On my shelf, I have a line up of old model aircraft engines. Starting with my beloved old ED Racer and working through a PAW 1.5, Merco 61s and ending with a brand new Leo from a weekly parts deal with a coupe of oddballs here and there.

Now, what do I do with them?  Model aircraft are too expensive, with the cost of belonging to a club, mad costs of insurance, etc.  I gave up the idea of doing some nice model aircraft because of it.

Model boats? No, because almost every damned pisspot little pond that has model boats has banned IC engines on totally spurious "environmental" grounds, usually because we're forced to share the unsuitable puddle with those odd persons who are happy to sit and stare at a bit of coloured stick all day in the vain hope of hooking some feckless fish for the tenth time in a year and putting the poor thing back so they can re-catch it next time they need to escape the nagging wife.

There is only one thing left to me.  And then only because I am within travelling distance of the only example of a place where I can run a tether car.  Yup, tether cars.  A wonderfully English group of old farts, (and my God they're old!) have formed a collective under the guiding hand of Peter Hill (who goes under the pseudonym of R.T.Pole, geddit?)and in Peter's garden in Lincolnshire he has built a suitable circle of concrete with a pole in the middle allowing tether cars of a certain age to trundle round, purely for fun as he doesn't really want super fast things there. I think it's stop-watch only currently.  There's a youtube of a car going round on leaves, rain, bits of muck and having a good old time.  I figure what I can't afford to buy I can make except tyres.  A very reasonable membership fee opens up a quarterly magazine and an archive of plans and articles which I can use in conjunction with my collection of Model Car News magazines from the 40s, which I have carried with me from move to move for the last 40 years!  Back then there were not more but actually fewer circles to run on, Peter's being a relatively recent construction. The hobby in Britain died out in about 1960.

It is from rather earlier that I am going for inspiration. Being a Romford lad, I remember going to the shop of J. S. Wreford in North Street on a Saturday morning and watching him run diesels INSIDE on the counter!  I have loved that smell ever since.  It turns out that he made a series of tether cars called the Half Pint and the Pint.  I can reproduce a Half Pint using my metal bashing abilities and thereby run a car to which I have an historical connection.  I have gathered Pinterest pictures of the Half Pint and reckon it's well within my skills to re-pop. I have joined the Retro Racing Club for a sensible 16 quid and await my first bundle of goodies from Arty Pole.

Mine's Half a Pint.......

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Knobs, chair legs and pump handles...

OK, so I don't have any knobs or pump handles, but I did have chair legs.  My daughter still has a beautiful mahogany dining table, which my Granddad made. It came with 4 chairs, which had had a much harder life than the table and had succumbed to the life they'd led quite separately from the table.  That life had seen the Scotch glue joints fail and the loss of the cabrioles from the elegant legs.
It had also seen some parts of the chairs split, which would have been difficult to repair.  In all honesty, they were never the most comfortable chairs to spend long sitting on and would also raise one's legs to a level that felt like premature thrombosis when shuffled close enough to said table to eat a meal.

The upshot of it all was,despite carting the bits around from pillar to post ever since the first one broke, leaving me stuck through the seat hole like a man too keen on his toilet for his own good, I finally made the decision that Granddad would approve of my re-using the mahogany of which the chairs were lovingly fashioned, for other purposes, such as my latest model boat, which, at the point of the Big Rip on my son's table saw, was a model of Vanity, a Victorian C class racing yacht that I once lived on.  The resultant stock of wood was in the form of sticks, rather like slats, of a suitable thickness for making a yacht's hull, but also, it has transpired, a deck for a model power boat which has been on the stocks for ages.  Now, people will know that I don't like to use real mahogany to represent mahogany in scale.  BUT...I don't have enough of my favoured steamed pear in solid form to deck the boat, although I would have ripped up my one chunk of solid pear, BUT, I noticed that my slats of mahogany were not like other peoples' mahogany. It was, of course, being very old, Cuban Mahogany, a wood now only available in veneer form. It was close grained and free of the tell tale dark flecks that gave the game away on the stuff everybody else had to use.  SO....I decided that the deck planking on the "Greavette" look alike would be in this wonderful wood, as I had several shorter slats which wouldn't have been of use on the yacht, Vanity.


A few planks cut to width, a scale 3" wide, ripped up on my absolute life saver of a wee saw.  I always bought Mini/Maxicraft power tools. I used to have one of their transformers, but seem to have lost it, so I now use a Proxxon that I got in a deal. I wouldn't pay their prices without a good deal, believe me!  The great beauty of Mini/Maxicraft power tools was that they were all about 25 quid each, so I'd occasionally treat myself to one to make life easier.  The drill has long gone to that broken drill in the sky place, but I still have and really value the table saw, the disc sander and the hand held orbital sander I have. The motor from the drill is in a special mill/drill attachment I made from an old fax machine for use on the lathe.  I waste almost nothing!
Old, dirty, needing some oil on the motor bearings and prone to the fence wandering if it isn't clamped up with something more than its own knob. All things it has just reminded me of as I haven't used it since I last built a Riva for some rich git.  The knob, by the way (there I mentioned a knob, but still no pump handles) was so big that it would not allow any wood to pass flat on the table!  An oversight in design so typical of German stuff (don't get me started, now), so I simply chewed off the poking out bits, till a piece of wood could pass unmolested through the saw, in a way surely originally intended for it.

For them as likes a bit of wood to look at (Rich!) here's a closer view of the slats that were made from the seat stretchers of the chairs. I have quite a few of them for other boats.  Note the lack of any obvious, flecky grain that afflicts the current "Bleed'n' pink shit", as my Grandad would have described what masquerades as Mahogany these days.  Phillipine mahogany..."What the bloody 'ell's that, boy?", he would say, dismissively.  Sorry, Messrs. Chris-Craft, Ditchburn, Greavette, etc., but Grandad knew best.



Saturday, 4 March 2017

Spring, it seems, is nearly sprung....

In my household, the most reliable harbinger of Spring, a big thing for a nation kept in 4 months of dismal Winter, is that I start looking at pictures of wooden speedboats on the 'Net.   I have just joined a Facebook group called, wittily, Mahogany Hot Rods.  And so it seems to be. Lots of lovely wooden boats, some classic, some modern, but all beautifully crafted by real craftsmen and women.  Not a bunch of lacky mechanics, like you get overcharging in the old car world, but people who can fashion hardwoods into the most beautiful shapes.  People who know how to varnish, upholster in the finest leathers, metal polishers, for you only get the plated finish you put on the piece by hand.


And, of course, the more I look at real ones, the more I want to get back to the models of them that sit on my shelves all Winter.  I have made the current ones to be motorised, but I hate all that battery charging faff. The chances are the damned batteries are all dead as dodos anyway and can't be revived. I don't do LiPos, because they also die if not used and are potentially dangerous.  I have a shelf full of lead acids which no doubt are as useless as my car battery was recently when left with the side lights on.  I can't charge them because the special charger I bought has instructions in Cino-English that I can't begin to decypher.  So the chances are that my working models probably won't work at all.  But that's irrelevant really. They exist as much as a seasonal prognostigator than a fine running example of man's fascination with miniatures.  And anyway, the old farts at the pondside (if I was ever to find a pond) are only interested in tugs and lifeboats or overblown renditions of nondescript commercial craft and NO interest whatever in the beautiful mahogany speedboats of the Golden Age.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The want of money is the root of all.....rudeness.

A few days ago I contacted the office of a well known dealer in and restorer of Frazer-Nash cars. I was told to e-mail them with "what you want, who you are and that sort of thing"  and someone from the workshop would e-mail me back.  Now call me an impatient sod if you like, but I think that stinks.  Why couldn't she just patch me through to the workshop or give me their number?  I am still awaiting the courtesy of a reply. I am prepared to travel a good distance to photograph and measure a chain drive 'Nash, but of course, they will know that I am not about to cross their palms with any of my cupro-nickel, so I am completely unimportant to them.  Well, sod them. I found 2 reliable looking drawings to work from yesterday in my stash of paperwork and whilst I would have liked to crawl over one in the skin, I can make a perfectly good model from the drawings.

I also sent an enquiry to Winston Teague, Registrar of the 'Nash club asking if anyone near my area might have a car to measure, but, once again, no answer.  I always thought the members of the Frazer-Nash Car Club were supposed to be gentlemen, but clearly I was mistaken.

I love the silly old cars, but it seems that unless I want to wave my ability to pay over 50 grand for a bundle of sticks that any half decent mechanic could make in his shed about, I am not part of the "right crowd".  If I won the Lottery, I am really no longer certain I would want to become one of their number.  Money ruined the Austin 7 hobby for me. Ex Bank Managers and headmasters got hold of them on their fat pensions and completely ruined the raggy arsed enthusiasts' hobby for me. I sold off my Special parts with no great regret when I lost my storage thanks to a halfwit Landlady.

It seems that the once staunchly enthusiastic Chain Gang have gone the same way, where even their lackies in the garage have got the money disease, where the want of it makes them unforgivably rude.

Sod the lot of 'em!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Fork off, get outa here!.....

Whilst I have never been able to see what keeps a motorcycle up and have therefore never been tempted to ride one, I do like them as machines, in much the same pure way as I like guns...as pieces of craftsmanship.

So, a recent request for me to make masters of 2 early machines came as an interesting notion.  These were to be used as scenic accessories on a model railway layout which was to have a model airfield on it.
A Triumph Model H and a Douglas 4HP and sidecar.


I drew up the Triumph first, but left the steering head area as I couldn't follow what was happening on the photos I had.  I could see no conventional means of support for the Girder forks.  Only a horizontal spring, oddly and a mess of bits and pieces and more often than not a leather belt wound tightly round the business area.

I have spent most of the afternoon hunting for photos of this area and finally found out what I thought must be the answer, but wouldn't allow myself to believe.

But, sure enough, I was right in the first place.  A horizontal spring decrees a horizontal movement.

The 1916 Triumph Model H motorcycle is not so much suspended, but isolated, from the worst exigencies of horizontal forces.  Pretty much we're talking a method, in that early, rarely metalled roads era, of stopping the flimsy forks from simply snapping off after a few miles!

The forks, showing the only two pivots on the front "suspension". One for the horizontal spring which, by the way, just as oddly, works in tension and the main pivot for the whole forks assembly, allowing the front wheel to jiggle fore and aft.  Your backside relies upon the two large springs on the Brooks saddle!  Pure bicycle.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Bend it, like Shelsley...

Come Winter, I go very much for the indoor pursuits.  Model railways and cars, Model scenery.
In order to show the model cars I have been amassing for years in the best light, should I  wish to flog them orff, I resolved to make a diorama.  NOT, you will note, my usual set-piece, but a proper diorama. A scene with false perspective (why DO people say "forced"?). Viewed from one place for best effect.
My chosen spot was the Start line at Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb, the world's oldest motor sports venue.
The place has changed a bit over the last 110 odd years, but I figured the most interest could be shown if I did it as it has been for the last 30 years or so.

As it happens I had made the commentators' box already in 1/43rd scale for my son's hillclimb track in that scale.  This got me to considering the false perspective notion.  In the view from behind the Start line, Vox Villa,as this structure is wittily known, would be at the far end, so ideally scaled for a bit of occular trickery, as the foreground would be in 1/32nd scale, that of the bulk of the cars that would be photographed.
This left the buildings in the mid ground having to be made a very strange shape indeed. 1/32nd scale this end and 1/43rd 'tother.  Being shiplap construction, this was accentuated by the ostensibly parallel lines of shiplap, but which now were engraved with a degree of perspective, to an imaginary vanishing point.

The track too, which rises slightly at the very beginning as it curves first right then left was reduced in width substantially, so that anything disappearing round it would probably have to be about 1/50th scale at most.  Of course any lines of mad keen spectators standing above the track behind the hedge and fence would have to be made/bought in several different scales, but I am considering photographic figures that far away.  It could just work, as I hope will a photographic backdrop to the whole thing.


These are obviously just plonked on the board, hence the tilt to the Starter's hut.
Vox Villa actually stands on 6 brick pillars around a foot square in section and has a stair case externally to access it, so will be a fair bit higher.