Monday, October 31, 2011

A New "Earl" Pump

Sometimes when I compare new parts to the old, I'm amazed the Mustang ran at all. Check out the difference in the filter screens on these oil pumps.

Didn't get a ton done yesterday, but did get the crankshaft officially tightened down, put in a new camshaft, messed around with the oil pump and started playing with the timing chain. For those that remember, the old one was pretty slack. This is not "final assembled," but shows progress.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fast Friday: Dan Gurney 1963 Lotus Ford

I figured I might try to start a regular weekly feature here and call it Fast Friday, wherein I will show off some of my model race cars, and maybe occasionally stray off into a discussion of racing in general. Seems a good thing to do in the off-season to keep interest high.

So let's start out with a real game changer, a 1963 Lotus Powered by Ford. I built the Jimmy Clark green version years ago as a kid, so this time I thought I would have a go at the Dan Gurney bright white version. While not the first rear-engined cars at Indianapolis, they were the first to seriously threaten the status quo. Clark very nearly pulled off the win, finishing second to Parnelli Jones, though with some controversy about a leaking oil tank on Jones' Watson. Gurney, meanwhile, started 12th and finished 7th, a very respectable showing for Colin Chapman's Lotus newcomers. Following this, there would be only one more victory for the venerable front-engine cars, with Lotus achieving its first victory with Clark in 1965. From then on, every winner would have the powerplant behind the driver, for better or worse.

This model is built from the old AMT kit, which still stands up reasonably well right out of the box. One could take it to another level, but I was just going for a straight build. Decals are from Cady, though Indycals does a set that is probably better. As a I recall, it's just your basic Testors gloss white finish. The tires aren't quite right, but this was a case of close enough. All in all, an enjoyable build.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Brief Mustang Update

I heard back from the body shop this morning. All the new parts arrived in good order and they are making progress. Not sure when I'll get it back, but I keep saying I'm not in a rush. I really need to clean out the garage to make room. I had thought about taking tomorrow off work to do that kind of thing, along with raking leaves, but the leaves aren't down yet. Maybe next week.

In the meantime, my BIL came over last weekend and we started work on the engine. My task for the week is to gap test the piston rings, but I just haven't found time, plus it's been kind of crummy out weather-wise and it's been more of a spend time indoors with the family kind of week. Maybe Saturday morning.

I'll try to get some pictures as well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apple Pie at Up the Creek Brewing

Meanwhile, over at Up the Creek Brewing (motto: "We can get you there from here!"), the latest creation is an apple pie beer. I'm not usually a big fan of fruity beers, but this one is actually quite good. It's much more subtle than I expected, with a very lightly tangy sweet finish. It's brewed with apple juice, with some cinnamon for good measure, but it's difficult to detect. Overall a fine fall brew.

Currently there is nothing brewing in the keg, let alone carbonating or conditioning. If I get some time this weekend, I might start a batch of a Belgian dubbel that looks promising, or possibly a nice stout. Both should be good for late fall, winter drinking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Turn the Dark On

The Dark Ages. Whew. I haven't pulled these out in quite a while. But after talking to my buddy a few weeks ago about Saga, and resisting him trying to talk me into buying some plastic Saxons, I thought I would take a peek to see what I have already. Just in case Saga comes to a gaming table near me, of course.

The verdict is, I think I could probably put something together based on what I have read about the game, at least in terms of Vikings and Picts. I have a start on Saxons, and have a more (Black Tree Design) that I could paint up.

The bulk of the Picts are from Gripping Beast, along with some from Foundry. The Vikings are a mix of Old Glory and Gripping Beast, while the Saxons are also a mix of those two manufacturers, along with the aforementioned BTD.

The full spread, Picts on the left, Saxons in the middle and Vikings on the right.

A Pict mounted leader. (Gripping Beast)

King Harold his ownself. (Gripping Beast)

A Viking leader type. (Gripping Beast_
I will try to put some specific numbers up on the Dark Ages page soon, but for now here are some photos to whet the appetite. This remains a lower priority project, but it is on the radar and these shall not be passed along to the Moving Out eBay pile.

Oh, and to explain the post title: One of my little girls doesn't quite get the lights go on and off, only that light comes on and then dark comes on. So at bedtime, she tells mom and dad to "turn the dark on." Gotta love it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Confederate Artillery

You can never have too many big guns, can you? With this, I now have a grand total of two Confederate and two Union pieces of artillery. Actually I have more crew, I just need to get some guns.

Minis and gun from Dixon, paints from Vallejo and Testors.

Friday, October 21, 2011

30th Pennsylvania

Remember those units I said I was going to base a few weekends ago? I finally got around to it.

And while I don't always model specific units, this one was given the flag of the 30th Pennsylvania, so the 30th Pennsylvania it shall be. Pretty standard Union uniforms, so I'm guessing it will work, as far as I know this wasn't a Zouave unit or anything. Someone out there correct me if I'm wrong. It's a rather small unit at only 12 figs, but if we go with the rules we're thinking of, they use a 25:1 ratio and a 300 man regiment does not seem out of the ordinary.

They are mostly Dixon minis, but the standard bearers and officer are from Redoubt. Redoubt's feature to add various heads/limbs is nice, but I did misplace the officers right hand. Must have been a visit to Dr. Sawbones after the previous battle? Painted with the usual mix of Vallejo and Testors acrylics. Look for more coming soon.

As for what I'm currently working on, Wheat's Tigers are still ongoing, as are some miscellaneous Union support pieces. I've also got some AWI Brits gazing at me longingly from the side of the table, as well as the partially complete Liberator troops on the shelf staring down at me. Not to mention the myriad other ongoing projects, like the Mustang, some model cars, getting the yard and house prepped for winter...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Moving Out, Part 2

Well, Moving Out part 1 proved to be a success. Three of the five items I put up on the bay last week sold, generating ~$75 to the general hobby fund. I have a few more items ending Saturday, including these classic looking Old Glory English medieval types.

I think these must have been some of Old Glory's earliest efforts. They're really not bad minis. They check in at what appears to be a true 25 mm. I had delusions at one point of doing the Scottish wars, Braveheart and all that. But this is about as far as it ever got, and so, it's time to move them out! No bids yet, but hopefully someone out there will give them a good home. I have many more of the unpainted variety, ready to not be naked anymore!

For those readers interested in what else is up for sale, check me out at macsparty2 on the bay. I have quite a few odds and ends to put up, including some more Indians (American west variety) and even a handful of Foundry Greeks and Persians.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1953 Indy 500 Winner

Still feeling a little somber today, so I thought it worth going back to look at the life of another great Indy 500 champion gone too soon, Bill Vukovich. This model is built from a Bill Jorgensen kit and represents his 1953 victory. It's painted with Testors gloss navy grey and finished with Indycals.

Vukovich is arguably the greatest driver in Indy history. In just his second 500 in 1952, he led the most laps and was well on his way to victory when a steering component failed with eight laps to go. He went on to win in 1953 and 1954, then was leading the race again in 1955 when caught up in an accident that resulted in his death. In his five years, he led 77.7 percent of the laps he ran at the Speedway, a mind-boggling stat almost as hard to believe as how close he was to four in a row.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Apple a Day...

I just need to take a little break today. Yet another hobby is gardening. We have a nice vegetable garden in the backyard, along with a few apple trees. This year our Fuji tree did very, very well. This is probably less than half of the apples from it. Very tasty!

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Who the Gods Love Die Young"

Given the topic of my most recent post and the tragic events yesterday, I feel I must diverge momentarily from the primary purpose of this blog. I trust any of you out there reading will understand.

If you are not aware, Dan Wheldon lost his life in an accidedent early in the race in Las Vegas. The eloquent words spoken by legendary 500 broadcaster Sid Collins eulogizing the loss of the great Eddie Sachs in 1964 seem appropriate:

Some men try to conquer life in a number of ways. These days of our outer space attempts some men try to conquer the universe. Race drivers are courageous men who try to conquer life and death and they calculate their risks. And with talking with them over the years I think we know their inner thoughts in regards to racing. They take it as part of living.

A race driver who leaves this earth mentally when he straps himself into the cockpit to try what for him is the biggest conquest he can make (are) aware of the odds and (Dan Wheldon) played the odds. He was serious and frivolous. He was fun. He was a wonderful gentleman. He took much needling and he gave much needling. Just as the astronauts do perhaps.

These boys on the race track ask no quarter and they give none. If they succeed they're a hero and if they fail, they tried. And it was (Dan's) desire and will to try with everything he had, which he always did. So the only healthy way perhaps we can approach the tragedy of the loss of a friend like (Dan Wheldon) is to know that he would have wanted us to face it as he did. As it has happened, not as we wish it would have happened. It is God's will I'm sure and we must accept that.

We are all speeding toward death at the rate of 60 minutes every hour, the only difference is we don't know how to speed faster and (Dan Wheldon) did. So since death has a thousand or more doors, (Dan Wheldon) exits this earth in a race car. Knowing (Dan) I assume that's the way he would have wanted it. Byron said "who the Gods love die young."

Godspeed, Dan Wheldon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

2005 Indy 500 Winner

Racing season is winding down, but this year's Indy Car finale in Las Vegas has me more excited than most. First and foremost, it's an oval, which I always enjoy more than the twisties. But more than that, it represents the final race for the old Dallara chassis. The rules are changing next year, with all new chassis and all new engines, which is cause enough for excitement in its own right.

But for now, this means pretty much anyone who has a car in the stable is rolling it out for one last hurrah this weekend, leading to a record 34 entries. We could conceivable have more cars on the track than at Indy!

Among the 34 is Dan Wheldon, who is part of an interesting promotion. He's agreed to start dead last, but if he wins, he splits a cool $5 million with one lucky fan. Only in Vegas.

So in that spirit, here's a model of Dan's 2005 Indy 500 winner. This is a Bill Jorgensen resin kit, painted with Testors lacquer paint and finished with Indycals. Mike has since updated his sheet to be more accurate, but I think I'll live with what I have.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Moving Out, Part 1

Funny thing, after 20+ years of gaming, I've never sold off a single mini that I've painted. But after languishing in a box for a good 10 years or so, I think it's time to move some out.

At one point I made a brief foray into 20 mm WW2. By brief I mean I painted up some Americans, talked a lot to some others playing games like Battalions in Crisis, and never took it any further. I'm not sure if it was because we were too into WW1 in 15 mm at the time and didn't want to duplicate terrain or what, but the project never took off, and now that I started some 28 mm WW2 skirmish, it in all likelihood never will. So it's time to move 'em out. Posted on the bay last night along with a few other odds and ends.

Still, I have to say I was pleased with how they turned out. Getting that brown drab color to look right can be tough. The Sherman is a rough old Airfix kit, while the halftrack is Hasegawa and is rather nice, almost too nice for gaming, but I'll probably never get around to doing a diorama or anything with it, so it goes as well. I think I might have a deuce and a half unbuilt somewhere too.

I can't recall exactly, but I think these are from FAA, with some from Foundry of all places mixed in.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crunching Some Numbers

Since actually playing a game last week, that has naturally led to drawing up multiple lists of minis I would like to buy. (See, I said "would like," not "need." That's progress, right?) But after reviewing my accounts this morning, the budget is tighter than I thought. The Mustang is really putting a serious, serious dent. Actually, dent isn't the right word. Devouring is more like it. As in leaving nothing but crumbs.

That leads me to ponder a few options:
1. I simply don't buy the minis. At least not for a while. It's not like I don't have a huge pile needing painting anyway.
2. I make a more concerted effort to sell some unused items on ebay. I've tried this before with marginal success. I just hate taking all the pictures, writing up the posts, etc. But let's be honest. I did an off-the-cuff count this morning of periods I have minis for, and came up with no less than 16. Several of those periods feature more than one army, like WWI and WWII skirmish, so I'd guess I have elements of no less than 25 armies, maybe more. Ridiculous, no?
3. I don't pay the credit card off in full this month. Not a good precedent to set, I think.
4. Sell the car. Believe me, I've thought about it more than once. But to have come this far only to turn back now? No.

Keep in mind my hobby budget comes out of my own account rather than the joint marital account. When it's gone, it's gone, and it take me a while to build up. A small amount of my paycheck is set aside for this purpose. Likewise, the credit card in question is also used solely for "my" purchases - as well as gifts for the wife, kids, etc. And with the holidays coming up, there's another thing to consider.

Sorry for the somewhat downer of a post, but it is what it is right now! Much thinking to do... I think the best option is to sort through and put some things on ebay and hope for the best. Now I just need to carve out time for that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

But Shouldn't They Be Red?

OK, a slight diversion. For Spartans of the Michigan State University variety, it's Michigan week. This year's big game is Saturday at noon in East Lansing. This year, Nike, as part of its ongoing campaign against good fashion, has provided MSU with one of its Pro Combat uniforms. Here's what Nike has to say about it:

Like the ferocious Spartan warriors of ancient Greece, the Michigan State University football team views every game as a battle, requiring the right equipment and attitude for victory. Accordingly, the Spartans are one of nine teams chosen to wear the innovative Nike Pro Combat system of dress for the 2011 season. When the gates lift for their battle against archrival Michigan on Oct. 15, the Spartans will sport a unique design with bronze colorways, honoring the heroic armor of their historic namesake. Bronze is visible throughout the uniform, adding an authentic strength and durability synonymous with the Spartan name. 

The uniform's overall innovation starts at the baselayer, as strategically placed seams, pads and cooling zones help minimize distraction and optimize protective coverage. It features customizable protection, incorporating a thin, incredibly strong carbon fiber plate. This symbolically mirrors that of the Spartan shield, which is emblazoned on the right of the baselayer. The Nike Pro Combat Deflex padding, combined with strategically placed cooling zones helps wick away sweat to keep competitors cool, while the Flywire-threaded collar allows for more breathability, enabling that extra push needed during the rigors of Saturday battle. 

Echoing the cry of King Leonidas, the back of the collar is inscribed with the words "Molon Labe," the Spartans' defiant challenge to the competition to "come and get them!" Gloves complete the traditional Spartan headdress look. Armed with intensity and determination, MSU will fight on the battlefield until the last team is standing. 

Now, I'm all for the Spartans embracing authentic Spartan attributes as they strive for victory against the hated Wolverines from Ann Arbor, or as they like to call it, the Athens of the Midwest. But as a gamer, I just can't help but ask in the interests of accuracy, shouldn't the uniforms be red? And where's the lambda?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eutaw Springs

Friday afternoon I made the trek down to Flint for an AWI game with Big Jon at Riders Hobby Shop. Days off like that don't happen often for me, so it was a welcome break. We used our standard rules for the period, the venerable "The British Are Coming!" He supplied the British, I supplied the Americans. The bulk of our figures are Old Glory, with Dixon, Front Rank, Foundry and Perry mixed in. (Apologies regarding the photo arrangements, I'm still learning this drag and drop - it doesn't seem to always want to work.)

First, a bit about the actual battle, again shamelessly copied and pasted:

The 8th dawned fair and intensely hot, but the Americans, on short rations and with little rest, advanced in early morning light toward the springs. At their approach the surprised British left their uneaten breakfast and quickly threw lines of battle across the road in a heavily wooded area. Behind them in cleared fields stood a large brick home with a high-walled garden. The woods and waters of Eutaw Creek were on the north. Heavy firing soon crackled and boomed through the shady woods. At first the center of the American line caved in, but while opposing flanks were fighting separate battles, Greene restored the center with Sumner's North Carolina Continentals. The whole British line then began to give, but Colonel Stewart quickly pulled up his left-flank reserves, forcing the Americans to retreat under thunderous fire. The encouraged British shouted, yelled, and rushed forward in disorder; whereupon Greene (according to J. P. Petit) "brought in his strongest force: the Maryland and Virginia Continentals, Kirkwood's Delaware's, and Wm. Washington's South Carolina cavalry . . . with devastating effect." The British fled in every direction and the Americans took over their camp. Only Major Majoribanks, on the British right flank and pushed far back into the woods near Eutaw Creek, was able to hold his unit together. Major Sheridan took hasty refuge in the brick home, Colonel Stewart gathered some of his men beyond, and from this vantage they "picked off" many American officers and men.

Greene sent Wm. Washington's cavalry to deal with Majoribanks, but penetrating the woods with horses was too difficult, so Washington tried to encircle and rout, thus exposing himself to dangerous fire. His horse was shot from under him, he himself was wounded. and his company practically ravaged. When a hand to hand fight developed, a British soldier poised his sword over the wounded Washington, but Majoribanks saw and gallantly turned it aside.

The American battle lines, with General Greene signalling the advance.
In camp, eating the deserted breakfast, and feeling the battle was won, the hungry, thirsty Americans began plundering the English stores of food, liquors, and equipment. Thoroughly enjoying themselves they ignored their leaders' warnings and commands. Majoribanks, realizing the disorder, fell upon them. Sheridan and Stewart pounded at their right, and Coffin came in from their left. The stunned Americans fought this impossible situation bravely, but they were put to flight from the British camp.

The militia out front, with a 3 pounder on the road. Artillery had little impact on the game.

Lee's Legion (at least a stand-in), looking resplendent and ready to go.
After more than four hours of indecisive battle under a merciless sun, both armies had had enough. Casualties were extremely high. "Blood ran ankle-deep in places," and the strewn area of dead and dying was heart-breaking. Greene collected his wounded and returned to Burdell's Plantation. Stewart remained the night at Eutaw Springs but hastily retreated the next day toward Charleston, leaving behind many of his dead unburied and seventy of his seriously wounded. The gallant Majoribanks, wounded and on his way to Moncks Corner, died in a Negro cabin on Wantoot Plantation. He was buried beside the road, but when lake waters were to cover that area his remains were removed by the S.G.P.S.A. to their present resting place at Eutaw Springs Battlefield.
Here come the British.

A key early skirmish in the battle, British light infantry and Carolina militia. The militia got the better end of this one.
Jon and I went at it for nearly five hours before finally calling it so I could get home before the kids' bedtime. We called it a British victory, but it was no sure thing. I could have continued the fight for quite some time, I think, and had the dice gone my way it could have turned around.
Continentals backing up the militia as planned.
Good shot of my militia.

Lee's Legion, ready to force back the British. Not.
Jon took a more aggressive stance with the British than historically, and rather than sit at the fence line and wait for my advance, he came out to meet me in the woods. An early clash saw the British light infantry and my southern militia go at it as skirmishers, with the British eventually withdrawing.

Here comes Washington, finally.
My plan was to do damage I could with the militia, then let the Continentals go in and finish the job, with Lee's legion anchoring my right flank, the river on the left, and Washington's legion going where needed.

Things were looking good at this point...
Then command and control issues took over. And it didn't go well. Washington pretty much sat in the rear, despite my urgings to follow the sound of the guns. And while Lee started an advance, he must have gotten cold feet when he ran into the 63rd (or was it 64th?) At any rate, he stopped cold and eventually got slammed in the flank by some Loyalist cavalry. That pretty much did it. And when my Continentals, who made it all the way to the fence line before being turned back, the writing was on the wall.
There goes Lee's Legion, and pretty much my whole right flank with it.

"Um, you're going the wrong way!"
This was probably the hardest fought games we have ever played. It was basically line up, face off, advance, and go at it tooth and claw. Each side gave as good as it got for the most part. It really came down to command and control, and trying to keep everyone going in the woods proved impossible. So all in all, once again we were pleased with the result provided by TBAC.

Mustang Update

First, a quick update on the Mustang. I met with the body man Friday morning. A few of the highlights:
1. He thinks he can salvage the doors. He says they are pretty solid, except, of course the low corners. We might lose a little of the texture there, but you can't really see that unless you get down and look anyway. It will be cheaper to keep the originals, and we know they fit. We decided if it's not working, we can always order new ones.
2. We decided to go ahead and replace all engine bay aprons, keeping only the shock towers (which need some minor patching. The lips were a little worse than we thought, and after a second opinion from his new employee (with 30+ years experience), we thought it best. They really aren't all that much, and will be nicer. The radiator support is solid, which is good.
3. We ordered the other parts we'll need, ranging from quarters and fenders to bumper arm supports and a complete body bolt kit. It will all be truck shipped direct to the body shop. It was pricey, but maybe a little less than I feared.
4. He has a line on a guy in Flint that rechromes bumpers. He had a customer that just had it done on a Galaxie and he said they turned out really nice and were not outrageously expensive. Need to look into that.
5. I got basically nothing done on the motor. I cleaned out the bulk of the sludge in the oil pan, but it still needs a serious scrubbing. And I was getting frustrated with my sandblaster, which was blowing air but not picking up the sand. Guess that's what I get from Harbor Fright.

So all told, lots of cash outlay last week with minimal tangible progress. But progress nonetheless.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shiny New Ford Straight Six

I picked up the refurbished Mustang motor from the machine shop on my lunch break yesterday. It was a little pricier than I anticipated, but it sure looks like they did a nice job. Look at how clean and pretty it is! Even the exhaust manifold looks good. The block (and the oil pan, which I still need to clean) is going to get a nice coat of gloss black, and lots of new shiny pieces put in. Those are all in the big white box.

Part of my day tomorrow will be spent out at the body shop going over what new parts need to be ordered for that aspect of the project. That could get pricey, too. The budget is starting to get strained a little bit, but I am pleased with progress so far.