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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #021-- "Shaky Old Folks Find Comfort In Modeling"
October 15, 2008
September 15, 2008

Shaky Old Folks Need Modeling Too

Face it, we all will age, some prematurely. But to some degree we will all reach the point where our modeling skills aren’t quite what they were whey we were in our twenties, but there are some ways to slow it down.

It is often referred to as senile tremors or the “old age shake”, you’d think there was no recourse and that sooner or later…

I have noticed in my own performance as a model builder that once in a while, I develop the shakes in my right hand. I have a similar infliction in my right leg.

More often than not each is accompanied by lengthy periods of just sitting like in extensive TV viewing. I have found it abated by keeping busy, even if I am just typing on my computer. Another contributing factor is what I call “negative living”.

There's More to live than just staring at your naval

Every time I get the woe is me attitude or get caught up in if-only type thinking, When I start thinking I’ll never have enough money, or why can’t the doctors cure my problems I find myself prone to the tremors.

But this is a malady that can reach out a grab those in their 20s, or 30s. It is intermittent at this age and usually only when arguing. It is usually so brief we ignore it at this age or ascribe it to an emotional reaction.

As we start getting into the seventh and eighth decade the condition grows stronger and more often, to the point we start looking for help. Sooner or later the doctors turn to the mind as the answer—some type of permanent neurological condition.

I am not a medical doctor and neurology never was a field I tried to get into. I did try what both offered and nothing seemed to resolve the situation like activity and positive thinking.

Beyond age 65, serious modelers will quit, slow down or shift to a much larger scale.

Instead, I have chosen to stick with N Scale in model railroading and 1:426 is plastic ship modeling for the challenge.

Yes, I have scrapped ruined models and let others make a major contribution to my junk box, but I have found a few work-arounds that are part of a new article about hobbies for Seniors on my web site. Its right


In case you missed it last month...

Check Out the Changes At The

For the past few months we have been researching how to bring Scale Modelers Handbook regulars the best value in online hobby purchases.

We have partnered with my favorite site for buying almost anything online This dates back several years as I found it to be a favorite source for books on almost any subject.

Amazon has developed some amazing tools to help shoppers of any ilk and I have pared down their vast library of products for different shops in the virtual modeler's mall. Inside you will find shops devoted to RC Car Racing, Radio Control Boats, Warships and RC Plane and helicopters.

Turn another corner and you'll find Plastic model Airliners and Planes, a shop for plastic ship models, the Plastic Model Car Garage, and a range for plastic military models.

Duck down another corridor and you'll find the Model Paint Brush rack, a Hobby Knife shop, an Airbrush store and the Dremel Rotary Tool Crib.

My primary requirements for entry into the mall was good value for the dollar, I have gotten some good deals); a business concerned about the safety and security of customers; minimal shipping charges (Free Shipping (it works) is easy by combining orders)and effective customer service I have tried myself.

Take a few moments and wonder around the Hobby Mall.

Be Sure You Can Find Your Stress Kit

One of the things that will calm you down is dealing with any stress present in your system.

To put this into perspective, imagine yourself being a Wall Street Broker during the past three weeks. Some are so stressed, they are seeking guidance not only from financial advisers, but general counselors.

The impact has been even greater on those with their retirements bound up in 401ks and the stork market in general.

It really hasn't contributed to the furthering of scale modeling. People just have too much more important to them to worry about.

To many disaster is just around the corner.

But if I, for one, considered the events of the past couple of months as having any importance to me, I can imagine how devestating it would be to modeling projects.

Stress Kit

There are many ways you can manage stress. Below are some techniques I have found useful. You will find that not all will be suitable or possible for everyone, so see what works for you. Remember what works for one person may not work for another.

By running through a stressful event such as an interview or a speech several times in advance you can polish your performance and build confidence. This also works with precise modeling steps. You will find a "dry (no glue) assembly once or twice can do a lot to steady your hands as they know where they are going to go next.


By analysing the likely causes of stress, you will be able to plan your responses to likely forms of stress. These might be actions to alleviate the situation or may be stress management techniques that you will use. It is important that you formally plan for this - it is little use just worrying in an undisciplined way - this will be counter-productive.

Instead, have a plan for your evening's activity. Know what you are going to create and how you will do it.


Where a situation is likely to be unpleasant, and will not yield any benefit to you, it may be one you can just avoid. You should be certain in your own mind, however, that this is the case. Just because you don't like knot tying, doesn't mean you can put it off until after the model is in the case.

Eliminate Environmental Stress
If your scale modeling environment is badly organized it can be a major source of stress. If your environment is well organized and pleasant, then it can help to reduce stress. While this may contribute only in a small way to creating a more pleasant environment, taken together they can have a significant effect in reducing stress.

• ban smoking and open up windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate through your home and work area. use an ionizer, this helps to freshen the air by eliminating positive ions created by e.g. electric motors powering computer fans, use dehumidifiers where humidity is a problem.
• introduce plants where the air is too dry. evaporation of water from the plant pots or from the plants themselves will help to raise humidity. plants also raise the amount of oxygen in the air and reduce stuffiness
• you need to have a large wastebasket with plastic liner at the ready. Modeling creates a lot of trash
• organize, organize, organize. Everything you use in modeling needs its own home paints, thinners, bushes and spray cans go here; cutting tools, files, drills, pliers, tweezers and even a small hammer go over there--you get the idea • make sure there is a designated place for everything, this makes it much easier to stay tidy and find things quickly and avoid the stress of misplacing things.
• if you use a computer for long periods of time, ensure the monitor and keyboard are comfortably positioned and take regular breaks of 5 minutes in each hour, to rest your eyes and stretch your muscles

And Speaking of Homes and Getting Organized is now well over 300 pages and regretfully has grown into quite a hodge-podge Even though I wrote and set up most pages I can get frustrated trying to find a particular subject.

But recently when I got my first complaint about navigation on the site and not being able to get around very easy it forced me into action to reorganize.

The lengthy navigation bar on the left side of the page must go.

I am rebuilding with a full page width containing three columns left--segmented navigation center--the content and right features.

It will look something like this:

Every now and then a neat
scenery idea comes along...

Use A Pot Topper

Finally a field grass solution that makes sense, is inexpensive and works just as well in a diorama as it does on model railroad layouts.

I had never run across a pot topper and when I found the topic in a forum, I just knew I had to share it.

As this picture shows, "Pot Topper grass" easily splice into rock and earthen scenes adding realism that is hard to match. Until now the best method has been to use static electricity.

Application can either be manual or automated with the Noch Turbostat static grass application gun. The Turbostat looks a lot like a hair dryer with a hopper for the "grass".

The Noche Grass is actually colored flock and is applied by coating the surface with a high strength adhesive. Before it sets insert a nail into the base and attach the clip. Turn on the applicator and shake the "grass" from the hopper.

The main drawback to the Turbostat is its cot ($90) vs the cost of a Pot Topper ($2.99 at Michaels Craft and Hobby Stores.

Ig you are looking for a method of adding a lot of grass that never saw a lawnmower to your scene, look a little deeper into Pot Toppers.

Here is an in depth instructional:

Using Pot Toppers

Words of wisdom from military manuals

'If the enemy is in range, so are you.' - Infantry Journal
'It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.' - U.S.Air Force Manual
'Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.' - General Macarthur

'You, you, and you ... Panic. The rest of you, come with me.' - U.S. Marine Corp Gunnery Sgt.
'Tracers work both ways.' - U.S. Army Ordnance
- -----------------------------------------------------
'Five second fuses only last three seconds.' - Infantry Journal

'Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once.'
'Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.' - Unknown Marine Recruit

'If you see a bomb technician running, follow him.' - USAF Ammo Troop
'Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death, I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing.' - At the entrance to the old SR-71 operating base Kadena , Japan
'You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3.' - Paul F. Crickmore (test pilot)
'The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.'

'If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter -- and therefore, unsafe.'
'When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.'
'Without ammunition, the USAF would be just another expensive flying club.'
'What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, .... The pilot dies.'
'Never trade luck for skill.'

'Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.'

'Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!'
'Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it.'
'The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.' - Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)
'There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime.' - Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970
'If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to.'
'You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.'

As the test pilot climbs out of the experimental aircraft, having torn off the wings and tail in the crash landing, the crash truck arrives, the rescuer sees a bloodied pilot and asks 'What happened?'.
The pilot's reply: 'I don't know, I just got here myself!' - Attributed to Ray Crandell (Lockheed test pilot).

Painting Tip: Refining the Tin Palette

A few weeks back I disclosed a use for expired candy tins, the Life Saver Fruit Tart type, using them as a mixing palette for acrylic hobby paints.

Acrylics are handy for model painting as they clean up and thin with water. The problem is they dry so fast, they dry on your palette wasting paint and your time.

I found a painting tip that improves the tin palette by keeping the paint (acrylic) moist and ready for use, hours, even days after mixing.

That beats the "use-it-in-20-minutes" or forget it scenario. You go through the difficulty of mixing a special shade, get distracted from its application and find it has skinned over...solid.

Worse, after it dries and you need to finish the job by matching the mix, you have a whole new problem.

That's why I like the "wet palette". It is inexpensive and easy to use.

To make your own wet palette, you will need:

• A Life Savers Fruit Tart tin
• 2 oval compressed sponges and
• A sheet of Sta-Wet "Handy Palette" acrylic paper (Available in refill packs at AC Moore or Michaels).

You can get oval compressed sponges through beauty supply companies, beauty salons or you can find them online.

Now put it together:

1. Eat the candy tarts.
2. Fill the tin half full with water.
3. drop in a compressed sponge and let it suck up the water. 4. Put the second sponge on top and give it enough water to fill.
5. Cut a circle the size of the tin and hold it under the warm water tap until both sides are thoroughly wetted.

Now you have a wet palette.

Just put a drop of paint on the top of the wet Sta-Wet palette. It will remains usable as long as your sponge will deliver humidity to the paper. This means, for as long as your Fruit Tart Tin is at least half filled with water the paint will stay moist.

If the sheet starts to dry, or dried as the water evaporated because of several days to air exposure, just repeat previous steps 2 to 5, with exception of step 3.

I like to use a separate circle of StaWet for each color and I keep them (after they have dried) in a ZipLock bag for use at a later date.

Until Next Month...

Make It Your Best Effort!

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