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ing Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #73--Forward-into-2013
January 15, 2013
January 15, 2013

Getting Back Into the Traces

I sort of hit a slump in my scale modeling a couple months ago and am looking for some get-up-and-go.

Of course winter (even if it is only 2-3 inches of snow) had a lot to do with it. There is nothing that will bring a mobility scooter to a halt like a snow bank and 2-3 inches of snow and ice.

That means no trips to the LHS or any stores, not even the gym until spring.  I am having problems getting the city street department to recognize I need access to sidewalks if I'm going to get anywhere.

And I was having problems with the planking on the USS Eagle,so I decided to set it aside for awhile.

It's been awhile.

I'm still not planning to jump right back on board, it almost requires ripping off the first planking and I'm not ready to deal with that yet.

It's my 74th birthday and I get to choose something a little more forgiving.

20-mule team getting hitched up

I have been doing a lot of research on the century old Borax 20-mule team that was used to haul nearly 18 tons (that's about max for an 18-wheeler) of Boron 162miles (324 round trip)through Death Valley. Mules are remarkable animals and so were the mule skinners who made the trip. 

In the early days of Borax, the company used to make available a plastic model of the mules and wagons that made these trips at a nominal fee. Some can still be found today on eBay (price not so nominal).

I came across a website where Steve Breckenridge sells an updated  20-mule team kit at a reasonable price. The detail is a lot sharper and so are the assembly instructions. I also like the fact it is produced with a new set of molds.

I'm starting it today, just trying to figure out  where I can let 20 mules graze until they are ready to be hitched to the wagons.

Suddenly, a Life Changing event

I learned 48 hours ago of the death of my pastor, a true man of God.

There is a hole in my heart which will not be easily filled and matters like the above seem trivial at best.

I am in awe of God's  power and compassion to comfort and even encourage the hearts of my fellow disciples who have each shared remarkable life experiences with him, Granted, these chosen few are heavy of heart burdened with sorrow and despair.

But we all know, as if one, that our Pastor has gone on ahead of us to a place where despair and sorrow can never exist.

Making you modeling time worthwhile

Instead of trying to wedge in another finished model to your display area, how about honoring a Vet or two?

Consider contacting your closest Veteran's Hospital to learn of a Vet who might want a finished model of a ship he sailed on, a plane he has flown, even a Humvee or Hummer he may have driven. You could even add a plaque designating the Veteran's service

It's a win-win, you get a modeling project to perfect and a meaningful way to thank the Veteran for his or her service.

Meanwhile, back at the research desk...

Oh come on now, we're talking about an iPad, a Google Search Engine and either sitting upon bed or in a recliner.

Anyway, I have always wanted to scratch build a Roman warship like in the movie Ben Hur. Funny how these things hang on decade after decade, I mean this is a movie I saw 48 years ago.

Typically, these vessels were over 125 feet (39.3 meters) in length with a hull width of 12 feet (3.67 meters) and a depth of 6.75 feet (2.08 meters). Oars ranged from 22.75 feet (6.81 meters) to 25 .75 feet (7.86 meters) in length.

For a model in say, HO scale, that's over 100 three inch oars. Maybe for the first one, a plastic model is the way to go.

The Romans, and Greeks for that matter, utilized a variety of these galleys: Bireme, two banks of oars per side; trireme, three banks; and larger ships like Quadriremes  , or "fours" started to appear in the latter half century BC.

It almost became a game of who could build the largest and fastest galley by building ships with both larger numbers of oars or larger numbers of oarsmen per oar. Quickly moving through fives, sixes, sevens, eights and nines into double digits. There has been found archeological evidence of 15s, 20s and even 30s.

The latter required thousands of rowers and hundreds of deck personnel and contrary to what the Ben Hur flick portrayed the rowers weren't slaves but were freemen.

Romans were dubious of using slaves for such an important position aboard their ships both for reliability reasons and depth of experience. Letting one or two oars get out of sync and they had the makings of a disaster.

Also contrary to the Ben Hur depiction of ramming as the weapon of choice, many ship commanders would first come alongside an enemy, breaking as many oars as possible to incapacitate the vessel and return later to ram and sink.

Motivation Gets You Up...

Keeps You Going

I often find, specially now that Age 75 has passed, my motivation to get going needs a good kick start to the flow of my modeling juices. It's frustrating, isn't it? You define tasks that you need to accomplish, you gather the resources needed , and set the time and place to get it done. You notice it's not getting done. You wait some more. It still isn't getting done. What you need is:

Motivational Help

1. Develop your own plan in outline form so you go through the same steps with each model you begin. Do it on your computer or PDA so changes and updates are easily executed. 2. Don’t model in silence. Provide your modeling area with music, a good source is the Cable TV music channel.

3. Movies, Photographs, Drawings -- What the eye takes in can be a stimulus to your motivation to pick up the knife, the brush or the tweezers. In addition they bring to life the detail you are trying to emulate. Do not get bogged down in research but knowing the history of your subject helps in its recreation. Google Images and model railroading forums are valuable resources I couldn’t be without.

4. Talk to get motivated. I know once I tell my wife about a phase of the layout I am going to build, I feel a sense of commitment to carry it out.

5. Seeing the finished project stimulates my desire. I imagine it finished. Here again, pictures of layouts I am emulating provide an inducement to get to work. Also, of the project will bring in money, it will take precedence.

6. How do you eat an elephant—One bite at a time. You will get more done more quickly by breaking your modeling project into modules. Then take any small step; you’ll want another.

7. Find your niche. You will be much more motivated if what you are modeling is something in which you have a sincere interest.

Share Your Successes and your problems Be an active participant in Internet forums which focus on your modeling subject. I currently have a dozen of them bookmarked in my favorites and check in with each weekly. They are valuable for a number of reasons:

• Relationships - good forums can be incredible communities with a lot of good personal interaction between members. Some of the people that I have worked with more closely over the years are people I have met in forums.
• Learning/Post Ideas - one of the best parts about participating in a forum is that as you use them you’ll find yourself with a lot of new knowledge and potential post ideas. Forums are full of threads from beginners in topics asking questions. Grab these questions and answer them on your blog. You can also get scoops on stories from forums if you monitor them well.
There are plenty of forums out there on most topics. Go on a forum hunt today and when you find one that has a similar topic to your modeling niche sign up and become an active member. To find them simply search Google for ‘your topic forum’ (try a few of your main keywords).

The Road Ahead

I am looking at a lot of exciting changes this coming summer. It promises to be one of my favorites as I look back over seven decades. This reminds me of the utter foolishness of teen suicide.

My wife and I are moving into our own Condo after a decade of renting (I know, the rent alone would have paid for it). We're excited by the prospect (a garage in snow country is a big deal).

I have launched my new website all about my  experiences with mobility scooters. You can bet it is another SiteBuildIt site Check it out:

Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 62 months has led to the creation of over 425 pages of articles on the various facets of scale modeling, this monthly e-zine and a host of modeling questions answered.

As we get ready to embark on our fifth year, I am hoping to open the site up to input from other scale modelers. You may have noticed the Navigation Bar has been sub-divided into the major hobbies covered.

Each of these sections now has one or two pages that invite participation with questions, tips and pictures regarding your various modeling endeavors.

We want to hear from you as do the other 25,000 modelers who log onto this site monthly.

As I get ready to roll into my 74th year, I can’t believe how much I have learned about hobby activities In the past two years. I have heard from other modelers with similar experiences.

To help me develop and maintain my website your comments on its content are essential. You can send me your comments by visiting the “Voice Your Opinion” feature at the top of the Navigation stack in the left column on each page.

It was never my intention to make this website a one way street as my knowledge is no where deep enough for me to be termed an “Authority”. I hunger for your feedback, comments, ideas, tutorials, plans, pictures and even your negative comments if considered constructive.

The Internet and that includes work best when they are interactive and that is collaboration only you can provide. It has been a pleasure serving as your guide for these past two years and by no means am I throwing in the towel, for I honestly believe the building and maintaining of this website are instrumental in keeping my mind active.

I want to open up this site in the fast lane. That is your part of the two-way street.

Its In Your Best Interest

If you have been giving some thought to launching your own home business in 2010, it is worth your time to take a look at what I found:

Steps To Success

Until Next Month

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