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 Mercury That Wasn’t

Ever since the late 1940’s the Mercury sedan or coupe has been a constant subject for the custom car enthusiast. From extremely mild to extremely wild, the Merc has been chopped, channeled, frenched, rolled, tucked, decked slammed and ratted everywhere. So much so, that when you see a body that is sleek and low but has a domed appearance in every direction, you instinctively think that it is a Mercury.

I saw this one at the NSW rod show last month…and I was wrong.

I had not looked at the notice board beside the car, but was just admiring the full-on traditional lead sled style…when I noticed that the characteristic Mercury step in the side line was missing. Thinking that this must have been a hell of a job to cut out and fill in…and why would you want to, anyway…I finally got the clue when I saw the shape of the grill area. Not a Mercury – a Hudson.

Equally fine heritage, equally cool old school style – but a lot fewer of them in the field. And as a right-hand conversion in Australia…even rarer.

Please take time to notice the smooth side skirt enclosing the rear wheels and the use of the chrome trim strip to unify the body. Also please note the frenched aerials and the bumper shrouds front and rear. There would have been a temptation in some customisers minds to get rid of the heavy chrome bumpers – or if it was the early 60’s in California to make up horrible bent-tube things and try to blend them into the pans. Thank goodness this builder did not give way to this. Big bumpers were a real part of the Hudson heritage and a look that deserved to be preserved.

Likewise, I am glad the builder decided to keep the Hudson hubcaps rather than just go with generic spinners or bars. Moons would have been traditional, but these are all the better for being so specific. And with those rear skirts, you only have to find two good ones…

As far as the interior and dash, I don’t think that you could find any European woodpile dashboard of the time…or even a modern swoop and splatter design – that could be as elegant and stylish as this Hudson. The two-tone is superb. I do note some modern ait conditioning vents, however.

This is no trailer queen, either – look at the panel near the accelerator – feet have been down there pushing that pedal, presumably to the metal. Let’s hope there were some floor mats, too.

 

 

The Cut Lunch And The Water Bag

I am getting to be three things in my old age; smarter, cheaper, and more determined. It does not prevent me from being taken advantage of in the first place, but it does prevent a repeat performance. Next week I am going to test myself out in all three characteristics.

It is to be the occasion of the annual big hot rod show at the Claremont showgrounds. A weekend affair, I will go on both days to see different things and to take different photos. I am delighted to be a guest of another car photographer who is a regular shooter for the car clubs…he invites me and it means a free entry at the door. I will also take advantage of the free public transport card that allows a senior to travel on bus and train. Since the photography can be done with the Fujifilm X cameras, there is no film or paper cost either. So far, so good, so cheap!

But the trap for old players is at about 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon when you get a bit hungry and wander over to the fast-food stand. The pavilion that houses the show has a contracted caterer there who serves hamburgers, chips, and nachos…no-one else is permitted to do so. there may be a coffee stand up, the other end, but they are bit players, and the caterer is sited near the only bar in the venue.

Needless to say, they clean up with all the hot rodders and their kids wanting to eat at once. Their prices, like their name, suggest the charge of a wounded bull.

Well, this year there will be no more bull. I am going to take my own lunch in my camera bag and buy a beer in the bar. There are plenty of tables to sit down at, and so far in this country you can still make your own sandwiches without government interference. I wish it were possible to do this in pubs as well, but I guess there is a limit to how cheap they will let you be.

It’ll be interesting to see if the days can be as nice as the one spent at the NSW hot rod show a month ago. All I need is a half a dozen new cars to see and it is all worthwhile.

” Not Working, Eh? “

” You’re retired? ”

Yes. Yes, I retired from a profession some ten years ago and a trade two years ago.

” So you don’t work? ”

Don’t work? Whatever gave you that idea? I work every day…and upon some days…all day.

Since becoming a double retiree I work for my family. I make sure that we have clean clothes, good food, a tidy house, and security. And we have those things every day. In fact we have them to a more satisfactory extent than ever before – more care is taken and it leads to better results.

” But you don’t get a pay cheque…”

I don’t need a pay cheque. Nor do I need the governance of the person who signs it. Oh, I thought I did when I first began this second retirement…I thought I would be huddled over a meagre fire of twigs, lost and alone. I was wrong.

” But what is the point of your day? ”

I’ll give you a little time to re-read the paragraph about working for the family. Done? Well add to that my participation in two forms of art and one form of literature…and the occasional visit with a friend…and I’ll think you’ll find that my days do really have a purpose. I have found new vistas to view, and I’m enjoying it immensely.

” But don’t you want a job? ”

No.

 

Cut-Price Serendipity

I am not given to mystical feelings or premonitions. I regularly stub my mind and toes in the dark, and most of my spirituality is kept in the liquor cabinet…But Saturday I must have known something good was afoot even in the midst of being frustrated.

Our local big shopping centre is a good one serving affluent suburbs and has the sort of up-market shops that cater to the entitled. Not quite as entitled as the older suburbs north of the river, but sufficiently up themselves to sometimes require a stepladder. I don’t mind the slightly higher prices as the mall is clean and smells nice. Plus it has underground parking with an escalator that debouches near the shops I patronise. Not, however, on the Saturday morning of a long weekend…it may have an underground but no chance of parking anywhere.

I dutifully did my round of the carpark aisles with my lights on to fend off the 4 WD tractors from the surrounding suburbs, and then had to give it up and drive away. Normally upset by this, I was quite calm about it and was prepared to drive a further 3 miles to the next shop likely to have the things I wanted.

Imagine my delight to discover that the second shop had not only parking, and the batteries I needed, but also a 50%-off carpark sale. Never let a chance pass you by. I found the last two kits of LED domed accessory lights that people use to jazz up their cars ( I use them to light up my miniature buildings. ) that normally sell for $ 19 being discounted to $ 2.50 each. Yes, thank you very much, and the next two or three dioramas thank you as well.

Had I got parking in the first place, I would have missed out. I shall try to be cheerful and philosophical in the future to see if it leads to equal success.

The Football Final

Every year I see advertisements for the football finals and then the preliminary finals and then the grand finals. And it is all a fraud and a bitter disappointment – they come back again the following year. It never IS final…

In some respects it has grown a little easier here in Western Australia with the passing years – the WA Football League has taken a back seat…somewhere beyond the Black Stump…to the Australian Football League and the flood of multiple games played at ovals around the town on Saturday afternoons has tapered off to a little dribble. Of course there is the televised AFL footy game in the afternoon and this is blared over screens in every pub, but at least the roads are clearer.

We pay the price when the game comes to Subiaco Oval, and will pay a worse one when the new Burswood stadium is built, but it is not as frequent as when we had a dozen teams in the city. I pin my hopes for happiness on the fact that the land that will house the new stadium was once a riverside rubbish dump and there is a possibility that subsidence or methane venting will cut the fans down.

There is also the consolation of knowing that Melbourne has more of this than we do – more fanaticism, more expense, more disruption. Possibly more methane…