The Golden Woodie Part 1

Every car show has a gem buried at its heart. These are sometimes flagged by the show organisers and sometimes you just have to find them for yourself. This year at the Perth hot rod show I found the golden woodie. It is for me a true evocation of a custom car.

Just a moment for two asides – if you go to the motoring bookshops you can find very nice illustrated books of the classic 1950’s and 60’s custom cars from North America. Lots of famous names – Barris, Winfield, etc. Sometimes there are colour photos of the cars, though at the time the colour processes were both expensive and rare…and we miss out of seeing some of the images. I like to think that there are 35mm Kodachrome and Kodachrome II slides out here in private collections that still do show the colours of the time accurately. Maybe not taken with all the skill of a pro magazine shooter, but first-rate records nevertheless. If anyone comes across old car photos of any kind they should never throw them out – someone will benefit from them right now.

But the second aside…well a couple of the books I have show some pretty extensive customising done in California in those eras but they are painfully blunt in showing what are some pretty awful design choices. I know, I know – each to their own taste…but if that is the case then some of the tastes evinced by home builders were pretty bizarre. And not just home builders – the big custom boys sometimes reached out for novelty far further than aesthetics could follow. It’s the same with music and clothing tastes of that time and the place – some cause nostalgia and some cause rectalgia.

But enough of the asides. They only serve to point up what I really want to say about this car; it is a truly delightful design and very well executed. I should have wished to see it displayed on a plinth in a compound of its own.

The sign board identified the original chassis as a 1946 Ford Sportsman. It’s been chopped, sectioned, re-engined, and re-suspended. I’ll let you read the sign yourself. And thank you to Valmae and Peter for summarising it at the show – it makes it all the more enjoyable if you know what the bits are.

Okay – wooden bodies – particularly New Guinea Rose Wood ones – are not all that common in the car parks around Bull Creek. Probably just as well, considering what the local drivers can do with the doors of their Toyota 4WD’s. I can only imagine that it must take some rather special maintenance even in the country to keep up the smooth shine. Full marks as well, for the colour paint decision – the rosewood with varnish wants delicate treatment in the metal areas to keep it looking elegant – this Aztec Gold cum bronze is perfect.

Likewise, the temptation to stripe, scallop, flame, or fade is one that every hot rod or custom builder must face. Some give in to siren song of the colourful side and throw decoration at every panel that will hold paint. It’ll work in some cases, but in others they risk losing sight of the lines in the conflicting paint patterns. This car is perfect for the flowing scallop that you see here – indeed square fender Fords of the period nearly always look good with straight scallops. It just seems to echo with our memories of those custom car magazines of the 50’s…I mean the good ones.

Whoops. Is that the time? I’ll have to show you the details tomorrow…

 

 

Dead Cool Legends On A Dead Cold Night

There are car people and there are car people. You can separate them into different camps according to the sort of cars they favour, but eventually you have two sorts; they ones who will stay at home on a 12º cold night and the ones that will come out to a petrol station car park to meet up. You may decide for yourself which are the crazy ones.

Here is some of the cool crop:

I bugged out after my fingers froze, but the enthusiasts were still rolling in. Bless them and here’s to an early and warm spring to make the next meet a more comfortable one.

The Little World – Meets the Big World

And they do not meet at the hobby shop – they meet at the DIY shop – the Home Depot – the ironmonger’s – the Bunnings. And you have to be ready when they do.

We are accustomed in the Little World to being done. In some cases over, and in some cases like a dinner. We have long realised that our wallets and purses are merely containers for someone else’s money. We have patronised hobby shops, dollhouse shops, gamers shops, and toy stores for decades in the sure and certain knowledge that we couldn’t possibly live without whatever it is that has taken our eye, and that it will also take our drinking – and in many cases our eating – money for a month or more. We swim up to the counter with mouths open and gasping for goodies. We’re like human goldfish. No need to be koi about it…

But it need not be so. We can be modellers, miniaturists, and collectors without becoming the natural fodder of the hobby shop. All we need to do is adjust our viewpoint and our scale.

As you get bigger in scale, the designs, materials, and techniques employed get much closer to real life. And they get, surprisingly , cheaper. Oh, it is more expensive to buy a 1:1 scale Chrysler hemi engine than it is to buy a 1:24th scale model, but the reverse is the case when all you want is corrugated iron. And when it comes to paints, scale equates in a logarithmically reverse order to price. If you painted a Ford Prefect in 1:1 with pots of Tamiya paint it would come out to the price of a Bugatti Veyron.

So. So take advantage of the low prices on paint when you need it for a 1:18th, 1:12th, or 1:6th structure or vehicle. You can get perfectly good coverage for any of these in the hardware store. Bucket or spray can, the paint can be made to look scale-correct with a bit of thinning and in the case of some of the enamel sprays can do a damn sight better job than an airbrush. You can score sample pots of paint and complete a whole project for $ 5.

Likewise fasteners, screws, nuts, bolts, and odd bits of casting made for many other purposes can all be swung into battery with the larger scales and at hardware shop prices. The oak strip wood and moulding racks are your friend and even the humble MDF stacks can be the materials of your dreams…if you dream big.

I have yet to find a good scale reason for regular doorknobs and bags of chicken manure, but I’m still thinking about it. At least in Australia you need not think hungry – Bunnings does a regular sausage sizzle on Saturday that most of us regard as sacred. Sacred with onions.

A Repeated Pleasure

I rarely go on a repeat visit to a motor car show…because most of the ones I see are one-day affairs. But the major indoor shows do run over a couple of days, and this time called for a the second run into Claremont Showground to the West Australian event. I am glad I did it, as it saved me money and made me friends.

My first day there was a test day for a lens from the Fujifilm company – a top-quality professional thing that promises to be all lenses to all men…I was curious to see if I should get one and never take it off the camera. I enjoyed using it and laid down a solid 300+ images which I’ll share in due course. The second day I took a lens I already use to compare it with the pro version. Again shooting many of the same cars, and taking time to seek out others that I had missed. These days the processing once you get home is fast enough to have it all done in three hours and the results side by side on the screen.

And what do you know – the pro version doesn’t really look any better than the enthusiast glass. Same colours, same sharpness. And the enthusiast version has the advantage of a longer optical range and a stabilising mechanism within it. There might be some difference visible if I was making wall-sized prints but I don’t – and for the things that I do, the one I own is just dandy.

The other good thing that happened is that I met a Lady from california who does custom painting – Katt put a set of hot rod scallops on the front bezel of my new Fujifilm EF-X500 flash. I now own pinstripe, flames, and scallops. If I ever get to the point where I am taking my studio Elinchrom strobe units out to car shows I will get Travis Corich to change them from standard Swiss grey to candy apple or Metalflake. Metalflake holds no terrors for Travis. That’s his work on the ” Tequila Sunrise ” model T bucket and it has proved a winner.

And finally, I hope to see a new Hot Rod Honey and her husband in the studio too – I met them whilst she was touring the clothing and accessory stands at the show. I’m glad I had my iPad along to show off previous results and to brag a bit. If the lady from California comes back to WA I hope to recruit her to the studio too.

Featured Image: Anglia outside.

 

The Mini-Motor Trade Monthly Report

Well, the last of the boxes have arrived from New South Wales – this year’s quota of new die-cast models for my collection are ready for unboxing and display.

Or, I should say, they are ready for further work. They have already figured in complex plans for photo shoots and now it is time to prepare them for their roles. They will be unboxed and the worst of the anomalies ground off them…by this I mean any mounting posts that the makers have left visible on the bottom of the chassis. They do this even on some quite pricey models and the result can spoil low-level shots if you are not observant.

Then it will be time to consider whether there should be any weathering. While I am quite enamoured of the normal wear and tear look of normal daily drivers, some of these cars are always going to be showpieces or central players in advertising scenarios. That means clean tyres and no road grime on the sides of the body. The license plates might need to be changed and little anomalies polished out, but essentially the models are ready to go.

There is one model scheduled for a big repaint straight away, and I have no idea exactly how to do it yet. It will be a complex pattern with advertising signage and extra accessories glued on. It goes to the back of the queue…

I am starting to collect more trailers and caravans as well, and have started to notice more of them in the smaller scales ass well. They certainly appear to have been a popular subject for the classic die-cast makers of England and France in the 50’s and 60’s. I would add some of them to the collection except that the market seems to regard them as far more valuable than new models. I am not a great fan of being driven to overspend by someone else’s urging.

And then we’ll start on the structure building and the set making for the new shoots. A new building was completed this week, and will show up in the studio shortly. I am getting better at assessing what degree of detailing is necessary for a good appearance on the photographic table and the new foamcore construction methods are speeding the construction no end.

And finally, the new series of Hot Rod Honeys and Hunks shoots started last weekend with a Hollywood starlet and a pesky news reporter at The Goldfisch Studios. The prep shots were all ready to go beforehand and I am happy to say that the talent were perfect in their roles. The only technical hitch occurred  when the studio cameraman inadvertently turned off the RAW recording on the camera and only saved medium fine JPEGs. Fortunately Fujifilm JPEGs are superb and the images are excellent. A dumb mistake…he’d get fired if it wasn’t for nepotism.

 

 

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory…

Have you ever noticed that whenever Hollywood movies play ” The Battle Hymn Of The Republic ” someone is going to get a well-deserved pasting?

The rest of the movie might have been occupied with the Americans getting slaughtered in great numbers – tanks, planes, and ships blowing up and all – but when the chips are finally down the old Civil War song comes on and business starts to pick up. This has been the case ever since it was written, and I hope it continues in the future.

Make no mistake about it – I am on the side of the US in past and future wars. It was a point of polite contention when I was a guest of the old Confederate Historical Society here in Western Australia, and it is bound to be a factor when in social gatherings in the future. People who point out that I was raised in Canada and am a naturalised Australian citizen and thereby hope to change my mind can go and get knotted – and I am prepared to buy them a Boy Scout manual to assist them at it. I still admire the US and the US military.

It’s not a popular view – at least not in the trendy pink-tinged circles I frequent. Contempt for the American military is a basic tenet of the locals – and I have learned to largely ignore it. For my part I have developed my own assessment of foreign claims to military or historical fame…but have kept them to myself. I shall continue to do so – I prefer to live on speaking terms with my friends.

I also keep my opinion about political figures in the USA to myself – aware that it would be as pointless to air them as it is to listen to others. We in Australia are…to put it bluntly…in Australia…and would do well to concern ourselves with our own governance. We’ll need all our wits about us to remain on good terms with the Asians now that the price of iron ore has fallen and the price of apartments in Sydney has risen…

I wonder – is there any other piece of music – save the ” Marseillaise ” – that is so evocative in a motion picture? I can’t imagine Canadians turning steely at ” O Canada ” though I must say that whenever I heard ” The Maple Leaf Forever ” I experienced an overwhelming desire to beat up on a Quebequois. To be fair, I felt that way when I heard a doorbell. French-Canadians’ll do that you ya.

 

 

The Little World – Modelling Yourself A Story

The featured image is where I lived in 1959. This house still stands and is seemingly occupied by people no different from who we were. Google Earth has revealed their choice in cars and vinyl siding, and the prodigious growth of the tree out front of the place in the intervening years. The rest of the landscape – mostly volcanic rock – is unchanged. Apart from Mt St. Helens, not a lot can change in the rocks around there.

In making the model I have surprised myself. I was able to locate models of the cars that my Grandfather, Father, and Uncle owned at the time. I was able to fill the garage with the tea chests and Bekins barrels that were the common receptacles of our nomadic life. All that is needed now is a red Raleigh bicycle to complete the picture.

It has been the work of a month, and encourages me to think that I can tackle much more complex structures…if only I can think of them. As we lived many places there are lots of possibilities – but in the future I am going to be guided by the principle of modelling my own experiences rather than those of others. This is not to decry other people’s work or interests, but to tell my story rather than repeat that of others. We get enough second-hand and third-hand political, religious, and moral instruction as it is.

Or rather, we are enriched by other’s visions in art, and can be enriched by the same in modelling…but we are far better showing our own art rather than repeating that of others.

I am encouraged to think that I do not need to restrict myself to just the cars of the 50’s and 60’s…I’ve been driving since then and I’ve gotten to see some pretty exotic vehicles. It is as valid for me to stage modern car shows as it is to make models of old houses – I am still telling my own tale.