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ing Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #97 Singular Projects
February 15, 2015
Feb. 15, 2014

Singular Projects Hold Challenge

Over the years (pushing about 60 now) I have been involved in a variety of modeling projects, mostly wood and plastic. From standalone ship models to dioramas of ships scenes, pro model railroading to dioramas of loading docks, and from flying aircraft, helicopters and stay in the long plane models, also dioramas, there have been a lot of topics covered.

At 76 years old, there's little chance I'll return to large projects like a model railroad or detailed dioramas. I am looking at singular projects to keep my hands in. I have always liked modeling portions of ships as action dioramas. The same for grounders planes either in crash scenes or in live maintenance scenes.

Now you should be aware that modelling and especially painting figures is an art of its own. Excellent wood workers are not necessarily good figure painters. Also you should have some feeling for scenery. Too many diorama's are spoiled because they are too cramped, or the figures are looking outside the scenery, etc..;

A ship model without figures looks alright. The tradition of model ship building accepts a fully rigged ship without anybody on board: the sails are just there to show how the ship's motor look like. But if you are building a waterline model at anchor or underway, then figures are definitely needed.

Conclusion: figures are OK, as long as their quality matches that of the ship.

Cowboy Takes On New Identity

I always put a few figures on my models just for the scale impression. Only a few mind you. I get them wherever I can. On my diorama of the USS Eagle fighting top, I found some plastic cowboy figures (a big bag full for a few bucks) and "worked" on them a little. One cowboy who was fanning his gun is now on the Eagle climbing to furl the sail. I bet he wonders what happened..!

Modeling Mandates

To be successful at scale modeling it is important to study any available instructions first. Then you need to become familiar with all available parts and the assembly sequences spelled out in the plans or those you devise for scratch building.

But frequently, you need to take the serious edge off. Remember, the true nature of this hobby is creating scale models. This involves the use of your own abilities and then expanding their boundaries by using your imagination. This means have fun and a laugh even at our own expense.

Murphy's Modeling Mandates

1. Built into every modeler’s workbench is a black hole that swallows parts. Only on rare occasions will the modeler ever see that part again though he may hear it rattling through the vacuum cleaner. a. Only highly detailed scratch built parts or those with no replacement fall into this hole.
b. The probability of dropping your most needed part is inversely proportional to the size of the part.
c. The closer the color of your part matches the color of the carpet (that’s right no sound will give away the location) the more likely you will drop it.
d. Once dropped, your treasured part will bounce immediately to the most inaccessible area of the room covering a horizontal distance equal to the length of the drop multiplied by the time spent in searching.
e. A dropped X-acto knife will always be point first and contrary to d., the blade point will find your foot. It will not bounce.
f. The moment you cease your search for a dropped part, you will step on it.

2. The amount of time it takes to build a kit is equal to the sum of the time spent in research plus the number of plan pages multiplied by the number of parts less the time it takes for the glue to dry.

a. The more un-built kits you have on shelves, the fewer kits you will actually complete
b. Your un-built kits will expand inversely proportional to the tightness with which they are packed
. c. Reference materials, magazines and plans will increase in volume inversely proportional to the available space.

3. Regardless of your bench’s dimensions in feet, your work space will be done in a five-inch square just inside the front lip.
4. The minute you purchase a new $9 modeling tool, you will find it in the Dollar Store in a pack of three.

5. Regardless of your method for sealing paint containers you will find it has dried out two days prior to its intended use.

6. The amount you pay for a new paint brush is directly proportional to the number of weeks it will contain dried paint.

7. All kit manufacturers are committed to an association directive to hold new releases until six months after they have been scratch built at least six times.

8. The odds the paint will go in the wrong place are in direct proportion to the number of hours spent building what ever it is you're painting.

9. The chances of the large part falling painted side down are directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

10. The absolute need for a lost part increases exponentially with the need to finish a model.

It Is Way Past Time To Take A Stand

I have come to realize God's Word, the Bible, is truth. It doesn't just contain truth. It is truth. And because it is truth, flowing from the mind and heart of an ever-gracious God, it is the kind of truth that sets people free.

Currently we live in an environment that is pressuring the church to change and compromise its message – to adapt its theology to accommodate the ebb and flow of what is popular and to the opinion that has consensus. Social media so often makes the case that Christians "are on the wrong side of history" on certain social issues. Secular thinkers (and even some liberal Christian thinkers) lose track of the basic premise IF the Bible is indeed a special revelation from God – instead of a collection of myths - then we don't have the option of selecting which parts are to be believed.

It is just like building a plastic model of a battleship, the big guns go on specified mounts. You can't put a set on the bridge just because it would look cool.

At the same time, we can't be bitter about opposing views. When we aren't careful, we wind up misrepresenting the very nature of grace in how we choose to stand for truth. For example, most of the time when I hear Christians repeat popular catch phrases like, "love the sinner, hate the sin," I know that the person saying it presumes their hearer understands the meaning behind both phrases. Unfortunately, we rarely actually communicate what we think we mean.

There has to be a better way – a way to boldly and honestly stand for truth without compromise while at the same time being sensitive to the feelings and differences of opinion represented in those with whom we find ourselves in disagreement.

don't presume to get the balance right all the time. I've been guilty of falling of this high wire on both sides. But through my many mistakes, I've developed a philosophy about how to communicate about sensitive topics in way that honors truth and shows grace.

Choose Conversation Over Combat

In combat mode, we get into our bunkers and defend ourselves against the enemy (even when the enemy is merely a perceived enemy). From our bunkers, we aim our artillery and seek to pound into the opposition our position as victors. We demand surrender without condition and we'll leave people bloody on the battlefield to accomplish our mission.

This war-like language may represent an appropriate way to do spiritual battle with the satanic forces that be, but it's no way to approach fellow humans when we are all ultimately guilty sinners and recipients of the same grace of God.

I often wonder, as I silently observe cultural debates happening on the social web, if anyone is really interested in listening. Everyone seems to have plenty to say though.

Sometimes, choosing combat prevents us from ever having the conversation that might just bring healing, or at least understanding.

Choose Conviction Over Compromise

Grace matters a great deal. One of our core values as Christians is that "everybody belongs." And by everybody, we mean every color, every shape, and people with every kind of story and background imaginable.

I strongly believe that the church ought to be a soft place to land for people with every kind of story. Anyone, from any walk of life should find a welcoming community in which to start over, to heal, and to grow. We're all broken sinners, after all, for whom Jesus died without prejudice. His love and forgiveness are offered without condition.

But… while we have the utmost compassion for every sin struggle, I find that we still manage to offend some people because we won't compromise the truth of scripture to spare feelings. For some, it isn't enough that we accept people who struggle with sin. The only acceptable compromise is that we put an "okay" stamp on the sin itself.

We want the chance to show genuine love to people, but we can't claim to represent the truth of Scripture on behalf of the broken and at the same time water down its message of repentance, which is the root of real life change.

Required: Out-Of-The-Box-Thinking

Over the past eight years Ship Modeling Tips andTechniques has been published, I have found certain topics repeating, often by request, but generally following the lead of the modeling press.

One that doesn't meet that test is cell phone modeling.

Over the past decade there have been many high tech transformations to the hobby of scale modeling and here we want to do our best to keep you in tune with the latest developments. Back when this was first written, little attention was paid to the idea of traffic accidents while using is so phone. We felt we needed to extrapolate this to cover scale modeling.

Only the very foolish what attempt to use it so to text on the cell phone while they were in the process of modeling. It is also true you shouldn't be using Instagram (texting for dummies) while using your X-Acto.

Creativity, frugality, and, on occasion, desperation can inspire innovative modeling uses for the cell phone. Since this is New Ground, you may find several of these ideas are pretty much 'off-the-wall'. 1. Long Distance Modeling Clinic-Can be used with your Twitter followers to provide both audio and pictorial instructions to the folks at your favorite crafts center for modeling or hobby projects. You can use images of both your contest winners or works in progress to explain your situation, accompanied with discussions of what you’ve tried and parts you’ve been using. Despite nonexistent or poorly written manuals, you can provide vocal how-to instruction. Capture images of the entire piece as well as details of gears, systems, and parts prior to making any changes.
2. Capture prototype images and dimensions-- Use digital camera portion of your phone to capture photos of the real thing, measure it and use the phone to relay both to your home answering machine.

3. Use Clamshell option as a press—Being able to fold your phone provides a reasonable facsimile of a bench vise, a glue clamp.

4. Light-weight Bombsight—This can be used to secretly target competitive flyers in RC competition from your RC version of the Enola Gay.

5.Long Distance Audio Critique—Similar to 1. But more for judges who can’t commute to your contest venue. They can use cell phones to view the model and then offer a verbal critique without risk of bodily injury.

6. When closed, it is a paper weight—Multiple phones are ideal for holding down corners of plan sheets.

7. Finally, A Mouse Terminator--Been finding occasional mouse droppings on your model railroad layout. Try this before the nibbling starts:

Lord, Keep Me From Over-modeling

It is really possible to get too detailed in building from scratch. Many of us build from the frame up, even in HO and N Scale. Then we cut our own 1x2s for every stinkin' window, we cut the holes, glue them up and even place individual glass panes. No commercial windows. We want them right, and hand made.

By chance I happened to get to the Pennsylvania Museum Commission's historic Pithole (oil boom town) display. It's a BIG display. The cool part is that it's all done in N scale. They had to scratch build, from photos, literally hundreds of buildings to recreate the entire town, building by building, as it was in 1866 or so. I think they chose N because they needed a lot of horses, wagons, and people to populate it.

It looks fantastic. Any modeler would die for quality like this done to historic standards. But when you get really, really, close.... you get a "What tha....?" moment. EVERY WINDOW is drawn on, with shading. Not one pane. Nothing was hand-done like that. No window glass, no individual pieces. And it looked better (even close-up) than anything I had done with individual parts. A humbling moment, for sure.

So the conclusion is that you have to lead into the mind's expectations. You can trick the eye, and the mind, into seeing things that aren't there. Really good model building accomplishes that, and that's why it's so enjoyable to study - it's almost like magic.

One of the first, and hardest lessons in my N Scale scratchbuilding chronicle is not to be obsessive about detail.

Until Next Month

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