Peter Go’s 1/16-scale 1908 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost features incredibly delicate wire wheels and many other fine details.
If you’re a male of a certain age, chances are you built at least one model car kit in your younger days . . . maybe several. You got a kit from AMT, Monogram, or Revell and some paint and glue from Testors, put down some newspaper on the dining room table, and did your best. Maybe your finished product turned out good enough to occupy a spot of honor on your bedroom shelf, or maybe it ended up being fodder for firecrackers in your driveway.
Today, there are passionate groups of adult model-car builders who have taken a hobby that started as a 1960s fad and elevated it into a true art form. And the place to see the best of these miniature wonders in person is the GSL International Model Car Championship—a prestigious contest that was created back in 1979 for the upper echelon of automotive-modeling artisans. It’s essentially the Academy Awards of hand-built scale vehicles. GSL stands for “Greater Salt Lake” (the contest is held biannually in Salt Lake City, Utah), and this year’s running was the 24th edition. More than 300 models from 80 or so builders were on display in the Salt Lake Sheraton Hotel this past weekend.
Though the competition is intense and judging is taken very seriously (a trio of expert judges spends over eight hours painstakingly analyzing the entries), the atmosphere is wonderfully congenial and welcoming. Builders happily share techniques and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. The contest is the main event, but there are plenty of other attractions over the course of the four-day show. Master modelers explain their building techniques in instructive seminars (this year’s show included demonstrations of 3-D printing, metal shaping, and cobalt plating), and shuttle buses ferry attendees to the nearby National Model Car Builder’s Museum for tours (both GSL and the NMCBM are brainchildren of Salt Lake City-area attorney Mark Gustavson).
The best of the models on display at GSL reach a level of craftsmanship and precision that rivals that of the premier full-size car restorers and fabricators. Here’s a sampling of the amazing works of art that were on display. For more information, check out http://www.gslchampionship.org.
The big winner at GSL this year was Greg Nichols’ “Backdraft”—a completely scratch-built, T-bucket-inspired hot rod chock-full of hand-machined metal parts. It took home the coveted “Best in Show” award, along with several other honors. The “Backdraft” name is inspired by the model’s rear-mounted radiator, which is positioned just behind the driver’s seat.
Mike English brought several amazing motorcycle models, including a 1/9-scale Bianchi 350CC (background) and a 1/9 one-off custom bike. Note the leather riding gloves on the saddle.
Advanced modelers use ultra-thin “photo-etched” metal parts for extra-fine detailing. Gary Kulchock crammed several projects’ worth of his own custom-made pieces onto this jam-packed sheet, which measures roughly 11 inches by 17 inches. It’s a work of art in and of itself. A Jeep grille, a manhole cover, various gaskets and brackets, speaker grilles, and a myriad of tiny bolt heads are just a few of the precision-crafted bits.
Master modelers utilize advanced painting techniques to make simple plastic-kit parts look like weather-beaten old steel. “Hollywood” Jim Fernandez built this 1/25-scale 1950 Oldsmobile 88 drag car to look as if it had spent the last 40 years decaying in a junkyard. Did you notice the robin’s nest (with egg) in the rear carburetor’s velocity stack?
Jimmie Harris’s wondrously weathered 1923 Ford Model T “peddler’s truck” looks like something out of “The Grapes of Wrath.” It’s complete with pots and pans, a bulb horn, and a rooftop chimney.
“Hollywood” Jim Fernandez’s heartwarming 1/25-scale diorama “Making Memories” makes fantastic use of color: The under-construction pedal car and ’32 Ford coupe are finished in full color, while the cluttered garage backdrop is rendered in muted black-and-white-photo tones. The level of detail here is breathtaking.
Traxxas created another hit when they introduced the 4 x 4 SLASH. Durable, fast and most of all, fun to drive. Traxxas is the company that started the short course truck craze, just like they did with monster trucks several years earlier.
It didn’t take long for the other names in RC to come out with their version’s of short course 2wd and 4wd vehicles of their own. Manufactures like Losi and Associated who tend to make competition level vehicles, were quick on Traxxas’ heels and released better handling versions that the more racer oriented folks typically purchase.
Enter the Traxxas low CG conversion. The already good 4 x 4 SLASH could now be made to handle even better by converting the chassis and a few other components, which lowers the overall center of gravity significantly. The lower the CG, the less potential for body roll, the better handling the vehicle will be, which should make the vehicle faster through the turns.
Since the shop has an older SLASH 4 x 4 demo vehicle for customers to drive we thought it would be neat to see just how much better the new chassis design is. The idea being that we would bring the stock SLASH to our local indoor track, (Smac Trac), to get some average lap times from a couple different drivers. Then convert over to the new low CG chassis, and have those same two people get average lap times for comparison, hopefully proving that lower CG will improve lap times.
Traxxas part #7421 includes everything needed for the conversion. Chassis, new style battery strap (no more body pin), motor mount, and front and rear suspension arm mounts. It also includes a little instruction sheet exploded view showing how it all goes together. The conversion itself took about 3 hours to complete.
After tracking average lap times for Dennis Fischer and myself, our two average lap times came out to 25.29 on the original version. The low CG conversion dropped our average time to 23.67. That is over 1.5 seconds faster!
The addition of sway bars, GTR shocks, and a center diff should make it faster still. This is a perfect example of creating speed, not by increasing horsepower, but by making a better handling vehicle.
Conclusion: We thought that lowering the CG would make for a better handling car, which in turn would make for faster lap times, it did!
(Manager, Mark Twain Hobby)
Our friends over at the Gateway Military Historical Society are presenting a FREE showing of the classic World War 2 submarine film RUN SILENT RUN DEEP. This will take place at the Galleria 6 Cinema on Saturday March 16th at 10:00 am. This movie is open to everyone.
A movie’s lasting value can often be measured by its influence in the years and decades following its original release, and on that basis Run Silent, Run Deep is certainly a classic of sorts. It remains one of the seminal World War II submarine pictures, and its intelligent script and tautly executed action are clearly echoed in such later submarine dramas as Das Boot and especially Crimson Tide, which borrows liberally from this 1958 film.
In one of his best and final roles (he appeared in only four films after this), Clark Gable plays a submarine captain without a command, having been saddled with a desk job after his previous ship was destroyed due to his overzealous pursuit of the enemy in dangerous Japanese waters. He finally gets another boat–this time with a vigilant first officer (Burt Lancaster), who stands poised to assume command if Gable puts his crew in unnecessary danger. The tension and mutual respect between these two principled men is superbly written and directed (Robert Wise was just two years away from his triumph with West Side Story), and the crucial inclusion of a strong supporting cast (including Jack Warden and Don Rickles) enhances the movie’s compelling authenticity. Based on a novel by former submarine commander Edward L. Beach, Run Silent, Run Deep is rousing entertainment with the added benefit of paying honorable tribute to the men who navigated through the most frightening and claustrophobic channels of the Pacific theater. –Jeff Shannon
Grab your friends and take a bit of time to remember what our fathers and grandfathers went through during the war in the South Pacific.
Enjoy the film,
Good afternoon all,
I am posting today some images of trains around the St Louis area circa 1904-05. These images come from a group of glass plate photographic negatives that Mark Twain Hobby Center has in it’s collection (also spelled accumulation). These were scanned on an Epson scanner. Each negative is 4 x 5 inches and show some wear and tear from the last 100 plus years. The date that I am using is based upon one image of a rare experimental locomotive that was used by the Pennsylvania Railroad for a couple of years. It was in the St Louis area and exhibited at the Louisiana Exposition of 1904 leaving the area in 1905 at the conclusion of the world’s fair. Click on the image at the top of this post and it will take you to the Flickr site where you can see all of the images.
Each negative is shown as it would have been printed. From all indications the railroads represented are MKT (Missouri Kansas Texas), Cotton Belt (St Louis Southwestern), Wabash, Pennsylvania Railroad, CB&Q (Chicago Burlington & Quincy), Frisco (St Louis San Francisco Railroad). There are a few unidentified locos as well. There are also a couple of images of street scenes in the City of St Louis. This group of negatives came to us a number of years ago following the passing of another long time hobby store owner in St Louis, Bill Henze. While cleaning out a box of things that came from Bill’s estate these negatives were noticed. Bill was a collector (and seller) of all things trains, it was in his blood. Bill owned Henze Hobbies with his wife Thelma for nearly 45 – 50 years. Thelma would typically work the day shift while Bill held down his regular job and he would join her in the evenings and on Saturdays.
I hope that you enjoy these as much as we do. As a side note Mark Twain Hobby Center is de-acquisitioning a number of items from our collection due to space limitations and we have placed a lot of photo images out for sale in the store as well as some time tables. Please take the time to stop by and see what we have.
Keep on railroading,
On Sunday, November 4th, 2012 USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) completed her final and 25th cruise of a storied naval service. She was authorized by Congress in 1954 to be the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier and the 8th ship to bear the name USS ENTERPRISE. On January 12th, 1961 USS ENTERPRISE was commissioned into the Fleet. For the next 51 years she would make the distinction of being the 2nd oldest serving ship in the U.S. Navy; the USS CONSTITUTION in Boston Harbor being the oldest.
During those 51 years, USS ENTERPRISE would witness many historic events:
· In October 1962 she would be part of the blockade of Cuba as part of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
· USS ENTERPRISE provided air support to the Vietnam War and numerous deployments in the South China Sea as hostiles on the Korean Peninsula flared up.
· She would be the first aircraft carrier to operate the Navy’s newest fighter, the F-14A Tomcat, during Operation Frequent Wind in 1975 as part of the evacuation of South Vietnam.
· In the 1980’s she continued her service to the country being deployed on WESTPAC cruises during which the 1986 movie “Top Gun” was filmed onboard.
· Returning home in the 1990’s to Newport News Shipyard in Virginia, she would undergo the largest refit on any naval vessel and to extend her service life. Upon completion she was deployed to numerous cruises in the North Arabian Gulf as part of Operation Southern Watch, the enforcement of the no-fly zone of southern Iraq.
· In October 2001, USS ENTERPRISE was of the first aircraft carriers to launch air strikes into Afghanistan at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.
With her final cruise over USS ENTERPRISE was inactivated from naval service on December 1st, 2012 and scheduled for decommissioning on March 15th, 2013. At the inactivation ceremony the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus, announced proudly the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier CVN-80 will be the ninth ship bearing the name USS ENTERPRISE, thus carrying on the tradition of the legend “Big E”.
Tamiya models has released a 1/350th scale model of the Big E that is fantastically detailed and big. Click on the picture for more details.