You Want To Save The World? Part Two

Okay, in Part One we got you to put a decent house in your neighbourhood and to get on in peace with the neighbours. We got you to save it, instead of trashing it for novelty. So far so good.

Now we get you to look at the things inside that dwelling…to see if they should be there or not. Start in the living room. Is it a room you live in? Or is it an isolated place that never sees visitors? Is it crammed with furniture that is never used? Have you taken to preserving it under clear plastic like a cake at a bake sale? Keep this image in mind and walk into the kitchen.

Is it clean? Is it roomy? Does it have enough space to cut up food and enough oven and stove to cook it? Is there cleaning room? If it does, you are succeeding…if it does not you are not succeeding yet, but there are many firms that can help you…

The dining room? A table, chairs, and a sideboard? Lighting? Cutlery and a tablecloth? You can eat three squares a day in there and entertain as well. No need for a breakfast nook, bar, or any other useless division of space.

Family room? Why? You have a perfectly good living room. The children are not well-behaved enough? And you need an extra room in which they can practice this behaviour? How much room would you require to teach them to be pleasant and well-behaved?

Bedroom? Is there room for  bed with room enough for you? Don’t laugh, because it may eventually involve a number higher than one. If you have cats and dogs the number may get to double digits. Do you have a clothes closet to hang your old rags in? Or is the Salvos bin a better idea?

Do you need a second bathroom? I say you might, if there is more than one of you in the house. It need not be more than a cubicle with pooper and shower, but the space you dedicate to it will pay off handsomely some day. If there is no room, spend big on air fresheners.

And is there a storage room? A big one. Big enough to take all the stuff you just can’t bear to live with nor to live without. Stuff that somehow comforts you by being stored invisibly. If you are of stern character and wise mien you will not need this room, but you’re reading this post so we need not go into that.

How has this all saved the world? Well, if you have furnished your nest wisely you need not continue to redo it every three months. The flat-pack shop will become unfamiliar territory, and you need not revise your taste every time a flyer is pushed into your letter box. It may cause consternation in the furnishing trade, but you will be putting less pressure on the rest of the planet.




The Experiments – Part Four – Final

The heading image placed on this last experimental page is a conventional representation of a one of the flags of the Confederate States of America in the 1860’s. Recently it has become the centrepiece in a storm of controversy in the United States and has been used in a number of deplorable political and criminal acts, as well as for theatrical presentations.

It was also an extremely small part of an image on a weblog column dealing with die-cast toy cars – fuzzy and pixellated though it was, I suspect it triggered a mechanism in Facebook that blanked the image. I determined to see how that mechanism operated. The previous three posts on this column ( go back and read them ) detail the experimental means I employed to see if the thing could be set off again.

If we don’t see an image up there on Facebook today – or if it’s a generalized image of my studio card – we’ll know the trigger mechanism is the entire, coloured, detailed pattern. Every other combination has been ignored. If you do see the flag pattern, then the whole episode was just a flash in the social media pan.

The flag pattern won’t be shown again – not for political or moral reasons – but because it is just not relevant to life and thought here in Australia. And that may be a hard thing for anyone in North America to accept…that this is another part of the world with people who lead other lives. The distresses that the North Americans encounter or engender within their own borders are theirs to deal with amongst themselves. To put it succinctly – it’s none of my business.

Readers can be as proud or as ashamed – as busy or as idle – as high or as low as they wish. No need to howl at me with either rage or approval – my opinion on North American matters is not relevant. The only thing you might care to do is to share some thoughts:

If you can’t see an 1860’s flag on the top of a Facebook post…what other things are you not permitted to see? What price constitutional amendments or bills of rights ? Who decides the let and hindrance of your life?


The Little World – Nowt Boot A Trick – Part Three

I have an agreement with the local council…actually with two separate councils. Every year they send me a demand for money and every year I accede to that demand. In return, the council removes my household rubbish and…and…and…sends me another notice next year. I’m not sure that they actually do anything else at all.

Ah, but if I wanted to build a porch on my house, or a house on my porch, they would be there in an instant with a demand for more money. That’s service, and in much the same way that a bull services a cow.

All this is mentioned in preparation for the 1:18th scale street building that I am going to do – not that the council will ever know, but research into the internet and real buildings in city streets shows evidence of the hand of Official Man everywhere.

I can only surmise that the Official Hand was open and out for a number of the building projects I have reviewed. No other explanation suffices to explain the things that have gotten approved – the varied styles and discordant frontages of the city buildings. Either that, or the city surveyors were myopic to a man.

One style of shop runs smoothly to the edge of its frontage and then is abruptly dropped for something that is literally centuries different for the next portion. In some cases the jarring appearance of one bears no resemblance to neighbours on either side. Add the indiscretions of the signwriters and it is all truly horrible.

The nice part about it is that it is horrible in a picturesque way. And there is really no excess to which you cannot go as a modeller that has not been mapped out in the real thing. I look forward to my first mock-Tudor cake shop butted against an art-deco muffler repair establishment. A bank done in Tiki style? No problemo!

And I look forward to making a silicone mould for model trash cans. Bin night is going to be truly spectacular.

Studebaker’s 50’s Fighterplane Design



There have been any number of motor vehicle designers who have popped to prominence and stayed for years – Pininfarina comes readily to mind, as does Harley Earl.  And others that we hardly know…It would appear that the ” bullet nose ” design was the idea of a worker at Studebaker who was then endorsed by Raymond Loewy. The bullet design had been the feature of Bob Bourke’s drawings for some time.


Does it look like an airplane nose? Yes it does. Was it meant to? Yes, it was. They gambled that people would like the military and aeronautical echo in it during a time of war.


Apparently the gamble paid off – Studebaker had their biggest production and employment years. The car had a big , light engine and performed well in road tests – It got praise from Tom Cahill in the US and he was a hard person to please.


The cars have been seen as 2-door coupes, 4-door hard tops and 2-door soft tops. The distinctive wrap-around rear window of the hard top was as much a controversial point in the rear as the bullet nose was in the front, but people eventually decided to like it and voted with their wallets. For myself, I always imagined a rear gunner and a pair of .50’s set in the rear window. Even now I think this would be a good idea on Leach Highway in the early morning traffic rush – it would certainly cure the tradies in the tray tops from monstering you…


I think the soft top, with the top down, is the best looking variant of the marque. It is also a car that needs wide white walls for best presentation.


Design speculators will look at the hanging rails for the front bumpers and wonder. They are real – you can see them on other examples in the net. They are necessary to get a functional bumper out from under the receding chin of the car. The fact that they are there means that Bourke and Loewy were able to press their vision on the engineering team but I would also be willing to bet that the original design drawings showed another way of providing front protection. The solution as it is seems too conventional and…if I can be permitted the word…clunky to have come out of Loewy. You have only to see his New York Central and Pennsylvania RR  locomotive designs to figure that there was a different idea first.

Wonder what it was?

Cue Red Baron And Snoopy Jokes


Either they needed to get a new company name or design a different vehicle. I’m a little surprised that they did not realise this at the time.


Postwar Germany needed a lot of things: food, antibiotics, coal, less Russians, and some way of earning money. They also needed transportation – some way of getting from the cities that had been bombed flat by the British at night to the cities that had been bombed flat by the Americans in the daytime. And out into the countryside to do a little black marketeering of a weekend.


Who could they turn to? Who still had enough metal, machines, and unemployed fighter plane designers to oblige. Willy Messerschmitt. Out of gaol after only two years, ‘Ol Massa Willy started making sewing machines, prefab buildings, and these little Kabinenroller.


They worked, and seem to have lasted well enough to be seen on the show circuit and in museums nowadays. They are ingenious, and either stylish or naff, as you wish. There is a small motorcycle-sized engine in the back and three fat little tyres. A steering tiller and just enough instrumentation to give you that old Bf 109 feeling. That and the plexiglass canopy were what really riveted the eye and garnered the snide remarks.


One of these – the nice one – is outside and running around in Melbourne. The other resides in peace in the York Auto Museum. I would willing pay a C note for an afternoon on a deserted road trialling it out, but I would not for the life of me try driving it up a freeway in traffic. Not without the addition of a couple of 9mm machine guns and a ring sight.







Al The Yellow Cars


I am afraid that the 2107 Big Al’s Poker Run may be the last one. Big Al is no more – literally – and mourned by all the people who benefitted from his energy and vision. I hope someone takes on the mantle, but that is a big ask, and there may be no-one with the resources or dedication…or money…to do it. I shall go in February 2017 and make as much of the day as I can.


Here is a car from February 2016. I think it is a Ford design, but sometimes I get fooled – I find that by the time someone has rodded a body sufficiently I am perplexed as to the exact vintage. Indeed, if it is a fibreglass copy of a body, can I say vintage? Must I start to use weasel words like ” style” and “influence”…?


Well at least I can say that this one is yellow and has four doors. and a V-8 engine and four wheels wrapped in expensive tyres. The exhaust cut-outs are closed, but the builder’s mind is open – as evinced by the decor of the interior. One thing – the shift knob is interesting but must be painful to use.



Students of the art will recognise the influence of the WA Police  – the tightly fitted black cycle fenders. The fact that the plate is a regular one tells us that the builder is a person of persistence – you don’t get them on the first pass over the pits. Our local officials are as much arbiters of taste as they are of safety and have been known to knock back things based upon their “feelings”. This has also been seen with many local councils when builder’s plans are submitted, but in most cases the jobsworths at the desk will retreat when real law is held in front of their noses with the safety catch off. The average shire clerk who might enjoy annoying a pensioner will quail before a lawyer.


Where was I? I had a little moment there seeing all the shire officials I’ve ever met. I’m back now, and refreshed. Let’s look at the yellow car again.


We are all artists under the skin, except for me – I have been told I am not, and it would be rude to argue. This sedan has art all over it, not least in the suspension for the rear licence plate. I make no judgement, other than to say it looks sturdy. I do like the Caddy tail lights, though.

So, in conclusion, I heartily approve of the car. I particularly approve of the determined duck – old-car enthusiasts will recognize the item from which it has been referenced and be as amused as I was. In a way it is a pity that we have lost the radiator cap on modern cars as a platform for amusement – we try to make up for it with stick families on the rear window, but it isn’t the same.



Gentlemen, I am here to state the case for bi-chromatic exterior anti-oxidation coatings. For duo-tonal art. For the two-tone car paint job. The Toot.

Too long has this form of art been laid aside. Generations of car buyers have been denied their rights. Innumerable viewers have been depressed by monotony on the roads. It is time to redress this!

In the heading picture you see Miss Joanne Armstrong and Mr. Richard Stein who are engaged in beautifying the Toyota land Cruiser owned by Miss Armstrong’s fiancé, Mr Craig Spittles. The vehicle is a 4WD rough-duty device that Mr. Spittles and Miss Armstrong take out into the bush and bash through forests to reach the coast. Presumably after they have done so they bash through more forests to return home. The trail of destruction they leave behind them must be tremendous. Leaving said devastation  aside, the car is wonderful, but dull. Toyota have released it in a sort of metallic dark green that neither excites nor satisfies. Miss Armstrong and I determined to right this, and with the help of a couple of tins of acid-based paint from the shed, we were able to do so. We initially quarrelled over either the red should go on the right or the left, but maritime law prevailed and we decided upon the scheme you see.

The photograph was emailed to Mr. Spittles at his workplace – up on a mine site in the remote reaches of our vast state. I believe it was the high point of the week for him – I know it was for Miss Armstrong and I.

Now there are other people who feel the same. Witness the wonderful paint job seen at the recent Rods ‘n Rust show in the Swan Valley. Green and gold are the the official colours of Australia’s Grand Prix racers, when we have them, and as they are free to all who would employ them, who better than a man with a hydraulic-lift agency and a 1955 Chevy pickup. I am entranced with the result, and would follow his lead if I had the courage.



Not all Toots need be as bright. Here are two repaints of factory schemes. Classics in their own right. Both make the cars more desirable than any metallic, flamed, scalloped, pinstriped, or panelled version could ever be. If it is working…let it work.



And finally, just as we can always over-egg a cake, we can sometimes overpaint a car. My daughter’s young man had an old Toyota and I thought to amuse him by devising a suitable paint scheme for it. I regret showing the image to him, as the following hour with the defibrillator and smelling salts was distressing…