Monday, January 28, 2019

Hot Wheels Red Baron

I was mentioning to Vince that in childhood days I thought the Red Baron was one excellent vehicle. Frankly, I can no longer see the attraction. What was I thinking? Although, when the plastic kit was re-issued a few years back, I eagerly bought one from the local hobby store – some sort of unfulfilled primal urge I guess:-)
Also, going through all the Hot Wheels photos I notice that the ones that are missing a single wheel are all missing the rear wheel on the driver's side. Coincidence or pattern? Can't tell.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Ron Pare interviews Michael Paul Smith

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Michael Paul Smith by Ron Pare. It's about an hour long, so go make some coffee before you settle in. I will note that around the 46 minute mark it looks like the image goes black, but the audio is fine. The image does come back.

This is a lovely thing to do. It's better than therapy. - Ron Pare

Matchbox Jaguar Mk 10

This Jag is in pretty bad shape. No interior. No glass. No hood. And for some reason I applied the let's-put-this-thing-in-a-vise customization technique - the results speak for themselves. At one time I used this thing to make tire tracks in wet plaster as a road building technique on a model railroad. That's why the tires have white on them. But, I'm glad it's a survivor.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Johnny Lightning Custom '32 Ford

This one originally belonged to my sister. It's missing the windshield, but it's otherwise intact. I recall it was fast.
I guess the key phrase here is, 'was fast'. With that bent front axle, it can't even drive straight anymore let alone go fast.

Johnny Lightning Custom Dragster

Vince has been asking me if I had any interest in old-school drag racing. Why, yes I do.

Hot Wheels Ford MK IV

For some unknown reason I have a bit stuck in my head so that every time I see this car I think 'McLaren' when it's actually a Ford. I need to figure out why that is.
Anyway, this one was also originally green like the Chaparral, but I brush painted it a gloppy white.

Hot Wheels Chaparral

Of all the little cars in this series this one's shape most reminded me of an animal. 
The paint's still original, but the axles are rather bent and the rear wing is missing.

Friday, January 25, 2019

E. L. Moore's Cotton Waste Plant - Take 2

I received a message from a reader mentioning that the Cotton Waste Plant was his favourite E. L. Moore project, and that he was currently building one. I was lucky to have seen Mr. Moore’s original back in 2015, but looking at those photos again, they look a little dark in the shadows and could use some brightening to reflect what I actually experienced. I’ve learned a bit about image processing since 2015, so I thought I’d go back to those photos and tweak them some so that the colours are clearer and the details in the shadows aren’t lost. So, here are some enhanced Cotton Waste Plant photos.
Look at all that stuff on the roof! There’s a lot going on.

Hot Wheels Brabham Repco F1

This one looks fast even standing still. Looks like it's ready to leap into action. Still has all its wheels too!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Hot Wheels Maserati Mistral

The word Maserati had a certain allure for reasons unknown, so this diecast was always one of my favourites. Too bad all that's left is the body and interior. The original was green and the blue is a repaint - and it was repainted with a brush!  Maybe it could be restored.

My neighbourhood is experiencing creeping gentrification. There’s a guy down the street - an architect who built a fantastic modernist house where a pleasant 1940s vintage bungalow once stood -  who owns a new Maserati. It’s a beautiful machine, but I suspect if he knew what I subjected its miniature namesake to all those years ago, he wouldn’t even let me glance at it :-)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Light My Firebird

Most of our old diecast cars got lots of pretty hard use. And I was no respecter of original condition either: they were all fair game for re-painting, decaling or whatever ‘customization’ seemed good at the time. So nothing is in mint condition that prissy adult collectors would insist on :-)

This Hot Wheels Light-My-Firebird was one of my favourites, and I’m glad that it’s still in fairly good condition. I think Snake on The Simpsons drives one of these things :-)

Ah, I'm feeling the sun's warming rays just typing this stuff....

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Cold thoughts on a Hot Wheels Custom T-Bird

It was a balmy -27C when I got in my salt-encrusted car to leave for work this morning. A heat wave compared to yesterday where the wind chill made it feel like it was in the deep -30s. Ah the joys of January in what was deemed last week to be the coldest capital city on the planet. But I see summer on the horizon. It’s not pitch black when I leave the office and visions of sunny days by the water lap through my frozen brain – but maybe that’s just the antihistamines talking that I’m taking to fight a cold :-) 
I should be using this time of hibernation to work on the EVRR or the Alta Vista TC, but no, I can only muster flipping through old photos, and the discussion at Blazing Diecasts got me thinking of a pleasant, long ago summer afternoon taking photos of some ancient and beloved toy cars. Totally harmless fun. Here’s how the T-Bird looked on that sunny day.
This one originally belonged to my sister, but became mine when she got tired of Hot Wheels. It was downhill for the T-Bird from then on. Broken off hood. Bent windshield support. Weird silver paint job. Ratty decals. Scrapes and scratches. But it survived. It still has four wheels that keep rollin'.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Blazing diecasts

I was looking through some photos for an upcoming post and found these two from 2012 when I was taking pictures of my old Hot Wheels and other diecasts. I was fooling around with photo distortion at the time and rather liked these two images. I had thought they'd get posted at retroDynamics, but I closed down that blog soon after these were taken so they weren't posted. On the left is a Hot Wheels Lotus Turbine and on the right is the Red Baron. Below are some run-of-the-mill luxury cars from our present era - I bought them thinking I'd convert them to railcars!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Alheeba to Hav via the Madder Valley: The Greening of Bert's Garage

Freshly painted walls temporarily tilted up for a glamour shot
I like to read the introductions in books; there's often surprising stuff there. Consider this slice from the introduction to John Ahern's Miniature Building Construction.

A model railway can be almost anything from a featureless circle of track for large scale steam locos to a complete countryside with hills and rivers and farms, villages, towns and harbours. Between these extremes infinite variations are possible according to the tastes and inclinations of the builder. But from the pages of the journals devoted to modelling it does seem that increasing numbers of people are discovering an outlet for their creative powers in constructing not just a model railway, as the term was usually understood twenty years ago, but something more: something approaching a miniature make-believe world of their own. The explanation of this is to be found in the fact that, with the introduction of the 16.5 and 18 mm. gauges, the possibilities of the scenic model railway were increased enormously; for it at once became possible to accomplish so much in so little space, and one of the earliest workers to recognize and explore this field was A. Cosomati, whose "Alheeba State Railway" was described and illustrated in the December 1933 and January 1934 issues of The Model Railway News. After ten years it still remains one of the most stimulating and interesting examples of a railway with a "history" and a "territory" to serve, and I think it had more than a little to do with my Madder Valley line, which has been described and illustrated at various times in The Model Railway News, and of which further photographs appear in this volume.

The clear implication being that A. Cosomati's Alheeba State Railway inspired John Ahern. 

I wanted to find out more about the model railway of A. Cosomati - who turns out to be the artist Aldo Cosomati - mentioned in that introduction so I went to Google to see what I could find. I found this interesting discussion at RMWeb, and found a place to order those two issues of The Model Railway News from the 1930s. And order them I did. Here's how that Dec '33 article starts.

Alheeba owes its existence to a veritable lust of model making of all kinds. Modelling of houses, landscape, railway and ships were of course, the prime movers. Its geographical amenities, if they can be so called, were the outcome of an adventurous story, told amongst three friends over many years. This story was bristling with characters who all clamoured to be appropriately housed.

All that seemed very E. L. Moore to me: lust for all sorts of model making, and story as a major creative source. That's a type of introduction I don't see that often - actually, I can't recall where, or if, I've seen one like it before. I love its enthusiasm.

I also found out that the Alheeba State Railway was discussed in Model Trains International #82 (a copy of which I'm still looking for), and in the May/June 1984 issue of Continental Modeller (I've got a copy on order). I'm hoping to use all this to put the pieces of this story together. But while I wait to get my hands on these two magazines, and since this is the Wild West called the Internet, here's some wild speculation.

You can call me Al

I'm wondering if the Alheeba in Alheeba State Railway is constructed from the names of those three friends who cooked up the stories that eventually became the model railway: Al-hee-ba. Is the first syllable, Al, for Aldo? Who are Hee and Ba? Hee-nry and Basil maybe :-) Your guess is as good as mine. 

To Hav and Hav Not

The Alheeba peninsula shown on the map reminded me of the geography of Jan Morris' fictional peninsula of Hav discussed in her 1985 novel Last Letters from Hav and 2006's Hav of the Myrmidons.
On the left is a map of the territory covered by the Alheeba State Railway from the December 1933 issue of The Model Railway News. On the right - deliberately flipped upside-down so it roughly presents the same orientation as the map on the left - is a map of Hav's territory presented in Jan Morris' 2006 book Hav, which contains both the novels Last Letters from Hav and Hav of the Myrmidons. Both maps present a railway that starts in some high country bordering the mainland, then cuts through the centre of a peninsula, and terminates at a sea port. This is all just coincidence, but maybe Jan Morris was a secret model railroader, well versed in the ancient texts of model railroading :-) Read in a certain way, the Hav stories could form the basis of a spectacular model railway as did the ones of Aldo and friends.

Ahern Green

The other thing that made me think of E. L. Moore when I saw Bert's Garage was that it's painted green. A wooden structure painted green is almost an E. L. Moore signature. I know there isn't a real connection between Ahern and Moore even though there is one in my mind. Maybe it's just the colour green that pings a circuit in my brain. 

Anyway, I looked around for some green paint on my workbench and found some bottles. They didn't quite match Mr. Ahern's Bert's, but they were ok, and I didn't want to buy anything.

I brushed on some Tamiya green acrylic paint to the wall's outside surfaces. I tried to be a bit loose with the colour so some of the raw cardboard would show through.
The inside surfaces were painted with loose washes of thinned green, white and grey. The next step will be to letter the end walls with the business name, and then add trim and windows before gluing the walls together.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

From the Time Machine's Glovebox: Mr. Buschel’s

After building a couple of E. L. Moore's projects I figured I'd try building something of my own design in E. L. Moore's signature style. I started the project, Mr. Buschel's Barrel and Marble Works, in September 2010, and finished it in March 2011. I even went so far as trying my hand at an E. L. Moore style story! But I did commit a sacrilege: I barely used any balsa. Styrene sheets, pre-cast plastic windows and doors, and real metal siding were the materials. I know, I know, how could I? If you really want to know, you can read the whole series for yourself at this tag.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

King car

Last week I was in Toronto and had a chance to see the King St. streetcars in action. As I reported a while back, automobiles have more or less been banned from King St, so streetcar travel won't be hindered. One night, sitting in a restaurant with a view of the street, I can confirm that streetcars zoomed by - east and west - every 5 minutes or so. Anecdotal evidence of course, but that seemed like prompt service.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

From the Time Machine's Glovebox: Jonesing

In September 2009 I began work on E. L. Moore's Jones Chemical Co., but it wasn't finished until January 2010. Like Bunn's Feed and Seed, I had the opportunity to see E. L. Moore's original Jones Chemical Co. model. The Jones manuscript, seen in March 2015, showed some minor differences with the published article. Some of Mr. Moore's accompanying story was edited out. This follows the editing pattern seen with the Bunn's article: story reduction in favour of efficiency

Jones Chemical Co. is #2 on my list of E. L. Moore sentimental favourites. Bunn's is #1, and #3, Cal's Lumberyard, is the one I haven't yet gotten around to building. But I did make an attempt to start it in the summer of 2018. Vince and I had been talking about large-scale models, and I'd been wanting to give Michael Paul Smith's methods a try, so I got some materials together to build a 1/24 scale version of Cal's from gatorboard and stripwood. I got as far as laying out the main wall, but the project was overtaken by events and shelved. I've still got the parts, I just need the time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Among the Cumbres and Toltec locomotives

I was very surprised to find this envelope of Cumbres and Toltec locomotive photos from the September 1996 trip - I had completely forgotten about them! I think what happened was that after they were printed they were almost immediately boxed-up in preparation for moving house and then forgotten. Yeah, that box has sat in the house, unopened, for nearly 23 years! Until now.
Of the pair of locos shown above and below, it looks like No.488 is in front, and No. 489 is behind.

These beasts don't run without coal.
Flat cars are my favourite type of freight car. Come to think of it, I don't recall any on the EVRR - I need to check on that.
I could have used one of those bad boys on my driveway today :-)