Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Was Harry's Wagon a White Front Car?

Car 990 began service 1 Aug 1933; pg 186
Over at Orange Crate Art there's an interesting post about a diner called Harry's Wagon that appeared in the 1947 noir Dark Passage. The movie is set in San Francisco, and stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The diner reminded me of the streetcars in Charles Smallwood's The White Front Cars of San Francisco that was published by Interurbans in 1978*. Harry's was a real place, so I leafed through the book to see if by some wild chance Harry's Wagon might be in there amongst photos of repurposed cars. No dice. 

Naturally, the book is jammed full of streetcars that look quite similar to Harry's Wagon, but there's no obvious match, and no reference to that diner. One major difference: Harry's has a 4 window front, and all the similar streetcars had only 3. Maybe Harry's was reno-ed? Can't say for sure.
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*I bought this book back in January after seeing an ad for it in an old issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. On a lark I looked for it online, and found one for $5 plus $10 shipping. I bit and the rest is reading history :-)

Monday, August 19, 2019

New stock of records

I surprise myself sometimes. I got up Sunday morning, put on some coffee, and decided to cut some records. Well, make some record sleeves for Stella's.

So yeah, I took an impressionistic approach, cut up some coloured paper into squares, 4mm on each side, and then glued them into the bins.


This is a shot midway or so through the process.

Over on the left is the partially depleted record pile. I didn't cut enough on the first go-round, and had to cut an additional pile of about the same size. Those bins hold a surprising number of records.

As well as records, I cut some pieces of file folder into 5mm x 4mm rectangles to act as bin index cards. They were inserted randomly to give the impression that Stella took the time to identify artists. 

Speaking of surprises, a few months ago I bought a copy of Bill Evans' Waltz for Debby on vinyl. I have a copy on CD, but now that I'm a certifiable vinyl snob, I wanted to find out if I could hear the difference between the vinyl and CD versions. Well, one thing lead to another and I only opened the album on the weekend. I found that inside the sleeve was a Ray Charles greatest hits album! Awesome indeed, but I was in the mood for some BE. Lesson Learned: Open The Album As Soon As I Get Home. In case you were wondering, here is Waltz for Debby:


Sunday, August 18, 2019

A&A façade drawing

I dropped by the drawing board and drew out A&A's facade. I like to do these things with traditional drafting tools instead of software because I feel pencils and rulers help me better understand a project. 

A&A's façade underwent a number of stylistic changes over the years. I've chosen one that I think dates to the early '80s. Also, I think this version will give the most impressive night photos.

Dimension-wise, this model's façade is working out to be about 50' tall and 43.5' wide. And you can see that the main signs will take up about 2/3 of that area.



I'm thinking about being more ambitious with this project. That photo over on the right is sourced from Wikipedia, and it tells me that version of the façade dates from around 1975. The ambitious part is I'm wondering if this façade could be put on the back of the building. Basically, the model would have two façades - think of it as if it were a record with an A and B side - and you'd just flip it around to the side you want to see. Although, that is one complicated façade they had back in '75! I'll have to see how I feel once the main façade is built, and then I'll decide about adding one on the back.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Well Appointed Site Office

The scene of wanton miniature building crushing in The Case of the Golden Oranges took place in this trailer that was being used as a subdivision construction site office.

On the outside it looks like any other trailer of it's type being put to this use, but on the inside it seems rather well appointed.





It's got faux wood panelling, curtains on the windows, a selection of hardcover books on the shelf - not to mention pottery - as well as very decent furniture. I guess this is for the benefit of potential buyers and well-heeled investors. Or maybe it's just product placement. Or maybe the set dressers used whatever they had on hand.






And as you can see from this and the previous photo, there was more than one miniature house - or 'little trinket' as the characters called them - scattered around. It looks like there are 2 on the drafting table, 1 on the desk by the woman, and another in the foreground by the man's elbow.







The fictional development was called Sunrise Hills, and you can see the Modern Homes it offers start at $22,500, with no down payment. That was in the spring of 1963 in an equally fictional, although likely close to reality, soon to be ex orange grove in the outskirts of Los Angeles. My parents first home, in 1957 in a then non-fictional, far-flung hinterland of Toronto, clocked in at $16,025

(If you're wondering about the differences between US and Canadian currency in that era, Wikipedia has this to say... Canada allowed its dollar to float in 1950, whereupon the currency rose to a slight premium over the U.S. dollar for the next decade. But the Canadian dollar fell sharply after 1960 before it was again pegged in 1962 at C$1.00 = US$0.925....This peg lasted until 1970, after which the currency's value has floated).

An unsolved murder in The Case of the Golden Oranges

In the Perry Mason episode, The Case of the Golden Oranges, which first aired on 7 March 1963, there was a murder that until now has remained unrecognized and unsolved. 


Architect, James (Jimmy) Wheeler, unpaid for his services, returns to the subdivision construction office late one night to claim his house models, only to be surprised by Mrs. Doyle who drops by for a rendezvous with developer Gerald Thornton.

Jimmy: These things belong to me Mrs. Doyle. I made them on my own time. I'm taking them with me.

Mrs. Doyle: I wonder just how far you're going to get with them.

Jimmy places a model on the floor beside his carton, unaware of the horror that's about to occur when Mr. Thornton arrives.

Mr. Thornton: Well what have we here?

Mrs. Doyle: Mr. Wheeler tells me he's repossessing some of his little trinkets.

Mr. Thornton: Well that's funny. I thought they were my little trinkets.

If it makes you feel any better, Gerald ('The Foot') Thornton is later shot, not for this outrage, and it's not by Jimmy, but who could blame him if he did. 

No more is mentioned of this crushing of an innocent miniature building. 

I can only hope they got this scene in one take :-)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Aurora Rolls Out The A/FX

The model car parking garage got Vince and I talking about diecast and slotcar scales. Naturally, the topic of A/FX came up, and I had to go look for an old ad.

I came across this one in the July-August '71 issue of Jack Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown - I think it was a reprint issue. 

It's full-page and it seems to leap off the page. I didn't own an A/FX slot car set, but this ad does a great sales job.

Now that's a parking garage!

Since I fancy myself something of a miniature building connoisseur I found this parking garage in Louis Hertz's book Building and Collecting Model Automobiles from 1970 mind bending. Here's what the caption says: a twelve-foot-long parking structure with a capacity of 1,000 model cars (Dinky Toys - Meccano Ltd., Lines Bros). Mr. Hertz states the model cars are around 1/4 inch scale.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Low rise buildings on the Alta Vista TC

I've been sorting and taking stock of buildings for the Alta Vista TC. Quite by accident I noticed that I have a preponderance of low-rise buildings. Clearly there's some setting in my brain that prefers that size. It looks like the bank and Natural History Museum are almost exactly the same height!

Monday, August 12, 2019

A&A's on the drawing board

I've set the Natural History Museum aside for awhile now that main construction is over. I'm going to leave the roof and interior detailing for whenever it's time to place the building on the layout. 

I've been hearing A&A Records call me and I can't resist. Last summer about this time I made a cardboard mockup in HO, and now, a year later, I want to try and build up the facade. From the internet I found a photo and have worked on adjusting it to be close to HO by comparing figures that are near the front windows with some in HO scale. Right now I'm working on creating a scaled drawing and figuring out how to build the various components.


I pulled Stella's from the shelf to reminisce and figure out what remains to finish it - I've had high hopes for this, but it's never set my imagination on fire. Those are the record bins and cash desk. I've added some posters and indexing since I last worked on them. Maybe I'll get the urge to add records, or maybe I'll just listen to Sheryl Crow :-)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

E.L.'s Balsa Bits

An homage, but with apologizes to Cap's Hobby Hints.