Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pondering Hobbies and Life

Happy Leap Day, everyone. It's probably not a good idea to base a blog on something I overheard my wife say, but here goes.

She was on the phone the other night with her mother, and part of the conversation I caught was her commenting on the fact she has no hobbies. Not that she has a plethora of free time, mind you. Between taking care of two kids (and me) and work, she’s just as tuckered out as the rest of us by the end of the day. Instead, I think she was commentating on a desire for something more fulfilling. A hobby.

Of course, the conversation turned to the fact that I have too many! It’s true. I’m never bored. Well, maybe some days at work, but that’s generally more of a content issue. Think about it. When not chasing the kids or life around, I’m either working on a model car, painting up some minis, brewing some beer or working on the car, amongst other things. Gardening, for example. Or cooking. Or I’m conducting research in support of one of the above. From her viewpoint, oftentimes these hobbies seem an endless source of frustration. (Why can’t I get a paint job on this car to lay down smoothly!?)

She likes to read. (So do I, but I don’t get to as much as I used to.) She tried drawing for a while, and working with clay. Neither seemed to stick. She doesn’t really have any interest in what I do. Well, except gardening. Which she’s very good at. She’s also into home redecorating, which I’m not into all that much, and can get expensive. (Not that Mustang restoration is cheap…)

She insists she might exercise more if I did it with her. But I’m too lazy. No check that, I’m too preoccupied with my hobbies to take time out to exercise.

I guess I’m not sure what my point is here, and I’m not really sure what to tell her. Perhaps it’s all about finding balance, and a journey we must all take on our own. That, and stopping every now and then to remind ourselves that our hobbies are supposed to be fun. When they start to seem like work, or that start to add stress to our lives rather than remove it, we have to start questioning the value. And boy, is the Mustang there right now.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Fast Friday: Monday Edition - Daytona 500

The events of last week preempted Fast Friday, but then the rains came to Daytona, so I can still get this in before the green flag!

I can't believe NASCAR has never run a race on a weeknight in primetime. Well, tonight just might be the night, and at the biggest race of the year for them. I'll catch a NASCAR race here and there throughout the year, or maybe bits and pieces, but Daytona is one I'll make an effort to watch. Most years, that means settling into a comfy chair next to a fire while snow flies. Maybe with a book, maybe not. Maybe with an adult beverage, maybe not.

Yesterday I thought I'd miss it since they said they'd try to run it at noon on Monday, smack in the middle of a work day. Then the rains continued, and they pushed back for a 7 p.m. start. Could be a blessing in disguise - and a ratings bonanza. Plus I can watch. If it doesn't rain again.

So today I give you a photo of the bulk of my NASCAR model collection. A heart well-done to the reader who can identify the over-arching theme here...

As for the Mustang, I talked to the new candidate to do the work. I didn't realize at first he's the guy who did the floors on my brother-in-laws '66. He did a nice job, but said he didn't want to do another one because they are such a pain. He talked about a good number for an hourly rate, but cautioned there are lots of hours involved here. He's going to do some calculating and get back with me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Operation Mustang Retrieval

Got it out from that guy. Didn't see any money, though. His parents said he would call Monday or Tuesday - he still wants to work on the car. I don't think so. I've already pulled it to a different shop while we had it loaded up.

I think I am going to have to fight to get my $850 back.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Winter Storm Warning - Bad for Mustang

And it just gets better and better.

I arranged for a trailer to haul out the Mustang today, and we are getting dumped on. 3 to 7 inches predicted, and it's coming down hard right now. Not the best day to be loading up a half disassembled car and hauling it across country roads.

This may be a rush job Saturday morning, if I can still get the trailer.

Update: My father-in-law, who owns an import auto repair shop, called in a favor with the owner of a body shop, who agreed to take the Mustang on as a side project. Now I just need to get it to him...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

You Get What You Pay For - A Mustang Update

I haven't written much this winter on the 1:1 scale '65 Mustang project because, well, there hasn't been much to say.

But things that have been simmering for a while sort of reached a boil yesterday afternoon.

As you may recall, I took it out to a shop last fall for an individual to do some body and paint prep work. I found him on Craigslist (oops) and he gave me a good quote (oops again). I worked with him to go over what needed to be done and what didn't need to be done, and ordered a couple thousand dollars in parts and had it shipped directly to him. Big parts - quarters, fenders, things like that. And more.

He got off to a slow start. He got appendicitis. He got kidney stones. Then communication stopped. Nothing. No phone. No email. I'd visit the shop and no one would be there.

I was concerned at this point, but not panicked as I could still see the car through the window and, hey, if he wanted to store it for the winter for me, so be it. I haven't finished the engine rebuild anyway.

Finally I caught up with a guy he sublet to in the back of the shop one day, and he told me the last he heard he had three tumors and was being treated in Lansing. My guess is he didn't always practice the safest auto repair/paint safety procedures. Anyway, I finally did achieve contact with him, he said he was in the hospital, but was due out in a week and hoped to get back to work soon.

Hmmm. OK.

Then yesterday afternoon, I get a call out of the blue from this guy's mom. Yes, his mom. That can never be good. Honest to truth, when she identified herself I thought she was going to tell me the guy died. He's still alive, apparently, but not doing great, and it turns out he doesn't own his building after all and his landlord is evicting him for failure to pay rent. And oh, by the way, everything needs to be cleared out by noon on Saturday.


So some frantic phone calls, I get the guy who helped me haul it out there in the first place to agree to help me get it out on Friday. Which means I'll have to take some time off work, and hope that we really don't get hit with the 4-8 inches of snow they are predicting.

I've already contacted a different outfit that looks like it could be more expensive, but appears reputable. The moral of the story is you get what you pay for. That's one of those fundamentals everyone knows, but we need to be reminded of every now and then. I jumped at a quote lower than expected, tried to help a guy out trying to get a business started in this economy (a credit to him, I thought), and all I have to show for it is I had some extra space in the garage over the past few months to clutter up with other stuff.

Ugh. The 1/25 cars are easier to deal with.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Somewhere in Time

Who else has seen the movie “Somewhere in Time”?

Living in Michigan, and a semi-regular visitor to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island (yes, they are spelled differently), you’re bound to see it at sometime or another. The basic premise is a modern (OK, early ‘80s) Christopher Reeves falls head over heels for a photo of Jane Seymour – taken in 1912. So he dresses in period costume, stays in a period hotel (the Grand Hotel on the Island) and eschews anything modern and through self-hypnoses travels back to 1912, where he pursues the lovely Seymour, yada yada, mushy stuff, yada yada. Gimmicky, yes, but an entertaining movie nonetheless.

Then his whole charade comes crashing down when he pulls a 1979 penny out of his pocket. Oops.

So what does that have to do with gaming or model building?

Well, aren’t we all just modeling something somewhere in time?

Earlier today I was reading some reference material on WW2 aircraft in the Pacific. And I already knew this, I suppose, but the author made the point that to try to replicate paint schemes and marking with 100 percent accuracy is virtually impossible. Ground crews were much more concerned with making sure the aircraft were flyable and had adequate fuel and ammunition than by making sure they conformed with the latest paint and markings regulations. Throw in the effects of brutal sun and relentless humidity and salt, and these planes could look all kinds of diverse pretty quick.

None of that is earth shattering, I know, and I pretty much knew all that anyway. I just got thinking about it after reading another piece on Indy cars and how different they could appear not just from race to race, but day to day in the month of May. Want an “accurate” model? Pick a day.

And let’s not even get started on what hats the Iron Brigade wore at a certain battle, or the differences in coat cuts from Bunker Hill to Saratoga to Yorktown. Or are red coats good enough. But then that opens up the debate of cocked hats or slouch hats?

I guess it all comes down to whether we are satisfied to be “period representative” or as accurate as we can be for somewhere in time. Do we go for a representative sample, say “early war P-40s,” or do we go for “the 24th Michigan as it appeared on July 2, 1863?

For gaming, I’d say try to be as “representative” as possible. For modeling, I’d say try to settle on a specific time.

What do you think?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fast Friday: A.J. Foyt 1987 Oldsmobile

Yes, it’s true: I actually finished a model.

Here is A.J. Foyt’s 1987 Oldsmobile. This one had been on the bench for a long time, certainly longer than the 10 laps the car actually lasted in the Daytona 500. He started 41st and finished 42nd after a spark plug failure. Foyt did go on to run five more races that season, but only finished one of them. Still, not bad for a guy 52 years old at that point.

This model fought me quite a bit. And created a mystery when I went to install the right side of the chassis, and noticed everything forward of the firewall was flat out missing. I could have sworn it was there when I started. I ended up pulling one off of an old early 80s Monte Carlo glue bomb I had. The most frustrating moment, though, had to be at the very end. First I noticed some wrinkling of the decals after putting on a coat of Future, and then after I put in the windshield with “safe” glue, a small drop seeped out and lifted the paint on the cowling! Grrr. It almost hit the wall at that point. But, some careful masking, airbrushing and polishing and it’s close enough.

I also think the headlight buckets and wheels are wrong for this car (I think they should be five-hole wheels), but I just needed to clear it off the bench. Monogram kit (the Wynn’s Kmart car) with Testors lacquer paint (Chevy engine orange) and Powerslide decals.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some Kates

Today I present some Nakajima B5N Kates. These have actually been done for a while, I just didn't get around to posting them. I tried something a little different on these, and I'm not sure I like it. I used a Rustoleum clear matte finish in an attempt to save a few pennies over my standard Testors Dullcote, and they turned out with a bit of a semi-matte sheen to them. I think I'll stick with Dullcote from now on.

I have a bunch of CY6 stuff on the table in progress, but I find myself getting distracted by a couple of other projects that have been languishing for quite some time and I feel I should just go ahead an finish them. Updates as events warrant.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fast Friday: "And Mario is Slowing Down..."

Few racing names transcend the sport to resonate with almost anyone on the street. One of those is Mario Andretti.

Indy 500 champion. Formula 1 world champion. Daytona 500 champion. If it has four wheels, Mario has probably been there, won that. But despite all his success and fame, Indianapolis remained somewhat of a fickle beast throughout his career. Time and time again, Mario seemed poise to get that elusive second victory to follow his first in 1969, but something always seemed to go wrong, and Tom Carnegie would belt out that famous announcement once again, "And Mario is slowing down..."

Perhaps Mario had no better chance to win than in 1987. His Lola Chevy was the dominant car all month, and ultimately sat on the pole with a speed of 215.390. Then he dominated the race like few ever have. Through 177 laps, he had led 170 and had a one-lap lead over second place, and a two-lap lead over third place. In fact, there were only 12 cars left in all.

Then, misfortune struck again.

An electrical failure in the fuel metering device, part of the fuel injection system, began flooding the engine with raw fuel. And Mario is slowing down...

He managed to coast back to the pits where his crew replaced a spark plug and wastegate, but despite the tremendous lead, it took too much time and Roberto Guerrero took over the lead. Disaster struck Guerrero shortly after, however, when his engine stalled during a pit stop. That gave the lead to Al Unser Sr., who went on to win his fourth 500 in one of the greatest upsets in race history. His car had been a showcar literally weeks before. More on that in a future installment.

I built this version of Mario's '87 ride a few years ago from the AMT Lola Chevy kit. Painted with Tamiya Italian Red and finished with Indycals.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Late Christmas Present

I still had some money left I received as a gift for Christmas, so last week I purchased a tool every model builder should have: a cordless Dremel.

I actually had one of these years ago, but it finally reached a point the battery wouldn't hold a charge, and they changed the battery style and I couldn't find a replacement. I also have a corded Dremel with a variable speed, but that's almost too much for general hobby use. I use it a lot in the garage, though, working on the Mustang.

This one will be used primarily for cutting and grinding, as well as drilling, on models and minis. It's an amazingly useful tool.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mid-Michigan Model Show Report

This past Saturday I attended the annual model contest put on by the Mid-Michigan Model Makers. It's always good to see what kinds of things others are working on, as well as to check out the offerings of so many vendors in one location!

While the location isn't the best (it's kind of dark and dingy, not always the best for showing off fine pieces of art), there was once again a strong turnout with lots of quality work on display. Though curiously, very few ships once again. I think if I ever do get back into entering models, maybe I should do a ship? (I haven't entered the contest in years. Not so much because of any issues with judging, that all seems fine, it's just honestly I don't want to hang around that long. :) )

What did I buy? Not much, really. A few bits of Evergreen tube, a Lindberg '37 Cord (hopefully to use as the '37 Indy Chief Observer's car) and a '28 Lincoln Gangbusters kit. Allegedly parts from that can be used in a Marmon Wasp. Probably a long-term project there! I very, very seriously considered a Jo-Han '31 Cadillac Cabriolet that can be converted to a '31 pace car, but I decided to hold for now. Some day.

Here are some photos, in no particular order, and with no pretense of knowing who built them...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fast Friday: Super Bowl Sunday

Yes, it's Super Bowl weekend once again. This year's game is being held in Indianapolis, which makes it possible to tie it in with to me a far more interesting sport: racing.

Several of the ancillary events have been held at the Speedway, but perhaps the coolest thing they've done is paint a bunch of race cars up in the colors of each NFL team. Apparently only New York and New England get the new DW12 while everyone else gets the now-obsolete Dallaras, but it still looks pretty cool.

Personally, I don't care much at all who wins. I'll probably indulge in my usual big pot of chili and plop on the couch to watch the commercials.

Other plans for the weekend more consistent with the hobbies include attending a model show over in Bay City. I don't really need any new kits, but over the years I have scored some good deals there. Plus it's a good chance to see some quality models. I tend not to enter anything because, frankly, I don't want to spend all day over there.

The full lineup. Shouldn't they be in rows of three?

Patriots DW12.
Giants DW12.

And the Lions. The only non-expansion team to never even play
in the Super Bowl, much less win one.

Also, remind me one of these days to provide an update on the Mustang. That's turning into a strange and mysterious tale.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And the Oscar Goes to...

Me! I'd like to thank Scotia miniatures, Raiden Miniatures, I-94 Enterprises, Skirmish Campaigns, Dom's Decals and everyone else who makes CY6 possible...

OK, sorry. That was bad. How about if I just show the pictures now and let everyone get on with their day. Thanks for looking.