Friday, June 17, 2011

Old-school modeling! It's in the can!

Sure, the K wagon is $20--but three of these, along with the colorful Kodak film can--make a pretty spiffy oil tanker for less than $99 a three pack! And: bonus! It matches the diecast truck!

Sometimes I think we modelers today have it too easy. There's paint that's mixed to perfection for virtually whatever color your railway used. Detail parts a'plenty. And that fine ready-to-run equipment? It's so good, anymore, that it truly invites the winghers to take broadsides at even the finest efforts, nit-picking, I suppose, for the sake of nit-picking (and let's face it--the Internets give us each a place to be experts).

Something, perhaps, is lost from the old days of modeling. Remember? Well, it was before my time, but I've heard that folks used to whittle locomotives out of left-over pieces of firewood, make turntable pits out of old hubcaps fromVolkswagens, and laid track using old clothespins and stolen chrome trim strip from Chevrolets.

So I'd a bit heartened to see this revival of the resourceful modeler in recent popular modling magazines. In keeping with the reduce-reuse-recycle ethos of the Green Movement, modelers today are using everything they can from the rubbish bin to enhance their modeling. Plastic caps for paint cans? Sure! Bridge abutments! I have a friend who uses his wife's tampon applicators as pipe loads on flat cars (though make sure you ask her at the right time of the month to use them).

I'm inspired, most of all, by the growing movement to feature old film canisters. What could be more old-school than that? It's using remnants of a bygone technology! It's environmental sound! And what nostalgia! I used to have literally dozens of plastic Kodak film canisters rolling around in my car--I couldn't get rid of them fast enough. A few, of course, were kept for storing loose nuts, screws, Kadee couplers and, back in the freewheeling 80s, a bit of herbal relaxation (which could, in a pinch,be used as realistic ground cover, as long as you got rid of the seeds).

Imagine my amazement when I discovered a few of my dad's old Kodachrome canisters from the 1950s--even better than the two-tone grey plastic version, these were in bright Kodak orange and red--what a shame not to use them! And given the recent discussion about the accuracy of the new Austrains four-wheel tank wagons, why not put one to use atop a very nice IDR casting K wagon. The color scheme? Well, I'm sure it's a "what if?", but It almost could pass for Golden Fleece!!

What resourcefulness have you employed lately on your model railway?


Ray P said...



Ray P

South Coast Rail said...

Gee Blair,
that cannister looks like a collectors item. I think you could get a lot for that on ebay.
Wanna swap a black one for a red one?

Gary Laker said...

That's the best laugh I've had for while Blair ! May even take out my 'post of the year' award. (Which I just invented after reading your post !)

(PS You haven't found an old stash of "ground cover" have you ??)

Blair Kooistra said...

Gary, I've always wondered what would happen if the police searched my car in a traffic stop after purchasing some of that amazingly-realistic ground cover (branches, leafs, etc.) that is sold in hobby shops. "But officer!" I say, trying to plead my case as he suspiciously eyes the powdered Hydrocal in the plastic bag. . . .