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.