A mish-mash

Lots of bits. I’m writing and procrastinating about writing by writing something else. This.

I held off saying anything about the Las Vegas shooting until there was some clarity on what happened. There still isn’t any, if anything, it’s got worse.

The shooter was a white man, a Democrat, a Muslim, a lone wolf, part of a terror organisation nobody can identify, a rich man with a girlfriend and everything to live for and no previous indication of any trouble at all, and he shot himself. After he shot around 600 people with an (already illegal in the USA or so I’m told) automatic weapon.

There are reports that there were other guns firing from other hotels. Claims that he didn’t act alone. Claims that someone on the ground was shooting too. Claims that someone set off firecrackers to distract people from the sound of gunshots. I have no idea what to believe now.

Yeah. Pick the truth out of that lot. It’s a mess.

This is, once again, being used as an excuse to take all the guns away from Americans. Well, they took our UK guns away a long time ago and the result? Criminals wave illegal firearms around because they know for sure we law abiding people don’t have any. Their guns were unlicensed and illegal before the ban. It made no difference to them.

I’ve never owned a live round gun. Never wanted one so you could argue the ban made no difference to me. It did though. You see, if a burglar broke into my house before the ban he could not know if I was armed or not. Now he knows I’m not. That makes a big difference. I can’t bluff if the burglar knows for sure I don’t have a gun.

In Scotland you now have to have a licence for an airgun. Sold mine before it happened because it was clearly coming. We had to hand in my son’s BB guns from when he was a child – they fired plastic pellets that could dent paper at 10 yards but they counted as airguns under the new law. So, in Scotland, you can’t even have a BB gun without a licence now.

What I can’t understand is that it is Democrats calling for gun control. So… only the government will have guns, not the people. The Republican government, the one they despise and accuse of corruption, Nazism and white supremacy every minute of every day, will have all the guns. They won’t be allowed to have any, only the Trump government will be armed. Why do they think that’s a good idea?

Well, these are the same people who accuse the police of being racist murderers while insisting only the police should have guns. You can’t expect sense from minds that warped.

It’s also interesting to note than many of the big names claiming that nobody needs a gun for protection are always surrounded by armed security. ‘Hypocrite’ is far too small a word.

And another thing. I doubt that Las Vegas shooter hit with every round. If he hit 600 people from the 35th floor of a hotel then, even giving him a generous 50% hit rate, he must have fired at least 1200 rounds. Surely, someone buying that many rounds – especially for a weapon that the public aren’t allowed to own – would have raised a red flag somewhere? How did he do that?

Anyway, on to cheerier things. The anthology is still on target and after that I have a book by Dirk Vleugels translated from Dutch to French, a resizing of the ‘Han Snel ‘ book (apparently people think it should be bigger), an  abridged version of Hugo Stone’s ‘Cultish’ – all of which should be quick to publish – then I have a novel by Lee Bidgood (who is also in the new anthology) and two of my own, ‘Jessica’s Trap’ and ‘Samuel’s Girl’ which are out of contract with the original publisher and just need new covers and a quick revamp.

Then the Christmas anthology. Busy busy busy.

I’m also back into making little models. I’m thinking of making the van that came with Sparkle Truck  into ‘White Supremacy Van Man’. That should raise a few hackles.

I discovered ‘Metal Earth’ stainless steel kits and have made a few. They’re quick but they take a long time. Even with a magnifier and a good light, they are tiny and shiny and are held together with extremely tiny tags. So I need to stop before it gets to hammer time, and go back to it when the destructive urge has subsided. Total work time is only a few hours but some of them take days to finish.  I’ve made a few, there will be pictures. Also advice if you fancy having a go.

The train obsession has resurfaced. I sold off most of the N gauge stuff when I was broke and have been slowly accumulating OO gauge since. All second hand of course – the older models are basically a motor and contact from the track. Very simple devices. Unless the motor is burned out, a non-runner is either over-oiled or has dirty wheels. Easily fixed, as are missing buffers and couplings. I pick up the non runners on eBay and will sell a few as working engines to make the hobby self funding. Wagons, all I need is the frame and wheels and I can make the rest.

I recently bought two brand new sets. Both have a GWR 0-4-0 tank engine, a few wagons, a basic track oval and a mains-powered controller. One was £60 in Asda, the other was £48 in Toys R Us (half price). The Toys R Us one has repainted the engine blue and given it a probably mythical company name. That’s okay, I can fix that. Excess controllers are easy to sell too.

Modern engines cost a lot more because they have, or can be fitted with, DCC (direct cab control) which means you can run two trains on the same track and control them independently. I don’t want that. It’s great for clubs where you can have people running their own trains and someone in charge of signals so they don’t run a train into the back of another one, but for solo use it’s more concentration than I want to apply. It’s supposed to be a relaxing hobby.

It does mean that the old stuff is on sale cheap. That suits me fine. I recently saw a brand new Class 08 in OO gauge (you might have seen them at mainline stations, the square blue shunting engine) on sale for nearly £200! I bought a Class 58 (a BIG freight diesel) for £25 on eBay. In perfect condition but can’t do the DCC thing. Fine with me, I prefer the old stuff.

Another eBay win was the Lima station with signal. I think I paid about £5 for it. The station is continental and the platforms are too low and too far from the train. I’ve already taken the building off the base and fixed the broken signal. I’ll rebuild platforms over it. The building will make a good house somewhere.

The big thing with this bit of kit is that it has an isolating track. When the signal is red, the train is on dead track. When it’s green, the track is live. It doesn’t use LEDs, it uses a single white racist light and a blanking plate that moves up and down with the switch. I’m fine with that. Filament bulbs are easier to replace anyway.

The bugbear with this one is that the signal light takes power from the track. The higher the power, the brighter the light. This means that to have the light on full brightness the train has to be approaching the station at full speed, hit the dead track section and stop dead with all the passengers creamed into the front end of every coach.

It also means that to have the light green to send the train on its way, the power has to be on full before switching on the track, so the new passengers get creamed into the back of each coach when it takes off like a bullet.

The solution is simple, I just have to rewire so the signal light takes power from a constant source instead of the track. The dead section and light switch will work just the same and the train can come in and leave again at a normal slow speed.

I have to make a portable railway. I have an attic big enough for an impressive O gauge setup but I don’t know how long I’m going to live here. So I need something mobile.

I know, I know, you want to call me a geek and I’m fine with that.

If everyone was into models instead of guns and ideology and hate though, what would the world be like?

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Nail Art Modelling -The Trailer

I have double shifts all weekend, car in for MOT Monday and work Monday evening, so will be a bit quiet for a few days.

This is a preview of a post in the making. I own far more nail polish and nail art equipment than the average over-50 straight guy. Probably more than the average 25 year old gay guy and maybe more than most teen girls. What I do with it does not involve nails.

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The Sparkle Truck

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The box Sparkle Truck came out of. It was the fire engine. The ambulance is currently in surgery 😉

That’s a 1/76 scale RAF fire truck from about 1940. Well, no, it isn’t a fire truck any more. I didn’t exactly follow the instructions. I just need the right number plates and it’s done.

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Projects in progress

 

N gauge items under construction. The ruler is in millimetres.

More on this later. There is a whole new world of model making out there, and it could result in some new ideas for the nail artists too.

First I have to get through a weekend of hellish work levels. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

 

Updated to include the model box on 31 Jan 2016

 

 

A trucker interlude

You’ll get the sensible one again tonight but for now you just have to put up with me.

I have been looking at my collection of 1/24 scale trucking gear and it’s seriously skewed. All my model making pals have plenty of tractor units and few trailers. It seems I like trailers.

Oh I do have models of tractor units too. In fact the first one I made is this one and it still exists –

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However I do have a habit of buying tractor unit kits and then doing things like this to them…

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so they are not much use at pulling trailers any more. I have now decided that some of the trailers will go up for sale. They’ll go on eBay but if there are any modellers out there who want an easy-add trailer, here’s first option.

CynaraeStMary likes this one because it has boobs. If you meet us and you have boobs, understand that I’m holding your gaze so she can look at your boobs. Then she’ll hold your gaze 😉

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It’s called ‘Queen of the Wolves’ and is a curtainside on a dropside base but in one piece. The top is not removable. 1/24 scale. That’s the rear view. Here’s the front…

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Underneath, the support legs are variable. You can pin them up to sit on a tractor unit or pin them down for freestanding. That wasn’t part of the original plan but it works.

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Also going up is the 1/25 American style chrome tanker. A difficult model to make and to look after but I will do it again one day

Some pics….

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Shiny, huh?

It’s a selling/househunting day for me today. Things are pretty chaotic here and the sense of urgency is increasing. I have a hidey hole for some of the models I won’t sell yet and I have to take them there – such as this one that isn’t really finished yet –

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Enough showing off. It’s music night later, so I’ll leave the blog in the capable hands of my much more cheery co-blogger and get back to the madness of life.

It’s all going to work out just fine in the end, even if it does feel like hell at the moment.

 

 

 

Little chairs – part 3

A short one. I have been on split shifts and poor sleep this week. My brain is not accustomed to having to get up early so refuses to shut down early. I’m too tired to do much and don’t want to risk breaking the chairs and starting over.

Anyway, I decided I needed to strengthen the joins between the pieces and the best way seemed to be to use pins. If I just bash them in, the little bits of wood will split. So I decided to drill slightly oversize holes and seal in the pins with glue.

My little drill had a tough time getting through the hard plum wood so I upped the game:

12_chairsWhat could possibly go wrong?

So far, nothing. Even though I held the chairs by hand while drilling and the bit slipped on the round wood. No shattered chairs and no new holes in me. Either I am getting better at this or I’m just getting dangerously overconfident now. Time will tell.

The pins I have are a bit long but the oversize hole means I can cut off the pointed ends. Then coat them in Araldite and push them in. I used Araldite because it’s very strong but takes hours to set. So I have time to get it off my hands before they stick together.

13_chairsThe difficult part is leaving them alone to set before drilling and pinning the next group of joints. I’m not worried about appearance where the frame will be covered in fabric, but will have to be accurate where the pins will be visible. Excess Araldite helped fill some gaps – again, only where the frame won’t be visible when they’re finished. That also helps strengthen those joints.

Gold-plated brass won’t rust so even if the chairs get damp in the future they won’t get unsightly brown stains. Unless one of the rats has a bad curry and an unfortunate trouser-based experience while sitting on one. Which is unlikely since these are Thai rats and therefore experienced in curries.

I won’t go further tonight. I’m just tired enough to make a blunder. That might result in a busted chair or a holed finger, neither of which would help progress the work. Also have to file the tops of the armrests to flatten them a little, but I really have to wait until the glue sets first.

Next week is also early starts at work but at least I won’t have to go back in the evenings. That will give me a chance to make progress on these things. Baker’s daughter is returning soon, so time is of the essence. A bad time to  be covering other peoples’ holidays, but if I want time off, they’ll have to do the same for me. I think of it as building up some good karma.

For me, that makes quite a change 😉

Little chairs – part one.

Some time ago, the baker at work asked me to make litle chairs for knitted rats from Thailand. Yes, I know, so far so ordinary. It’s the sort of thing people ask all the time.

This is one of the rats in question –

knittedmouseNot easily stable so a stool wouldn’t work. It had to be a chair, with arms, and a means to lead the tail out of the back. I only have to make two. I didn’t promise a table with cards and ashtray and whisky bottle but I’ll make a table anyway. It just doesn’t need to be ready in time.

Time is less flexible than I thought it would be. I have to be away for a few days next week because of a reason so I have to finish these to hand over on Monday. That should not be a problem.

It does mean, however, that I won’t have the model for Lesia ready in time. So I’ll just tell you now. It’s a monster truck made by combining a Mercedes Actros chassis with… a Trabant. It will have smokers inside. Who wants to donate to Lesia and get it when it’s done? Biggest donation gets it, every donation gets a signed book. Random books, sorry, unless you have a wonky table and want a particular book thickness. Just let me know by email (contact page) how much you donated and an address for the book/model.

Note that I might not be able to post until the week after next.

Okay, back to the little chairs. Photos come variously from the garage or the indoor workshop depending on how cold it was. Here is the starting material, cut to manageable lengths.

1_chairsThe top is plum tree wood, two years aged. The lower bundle is red dogwood, similarly aged. I’ll put that aside for now. I have a plan for it later.

The plum wood has lots of little side shoots that need to be cut off I could have just planed them into little planks but that’s too easy. Besides, rat chairs wouldn’t look like they came from IKEA. I needed to work on ‘rustic’ as a theme.

Taking off the side shoots would probably best be done with some delicate tiny tool from my toolbox. A Dremel with a saw blade, perhaps. I used this:

2_chairsInjuries were surprisingly minor and soon healed. I also learned not to get too close to the top of the stick. There is more wood than I need for this job.

I didn’t want to take the bark off completely, just enough to be sure there’d be no flaking later on. So coarse sandpaper was good enough to get to where I wanted. And, apart from slightly shortening one finger, no injuries to report.

3_chairsI needed about 30 inches in total. all of similar diameter. Here they are, with extra because I knew I’d break some…

4_chairsWhen it came to cutting parts to length I almost magically had enough sense to not use the circular saw. I used a little hacksaw with a wood blade.

5_chairsThis is where things started to go wrong. And a tad painful. I had planned proper mortice and tenon joints but plum wood wasn’t playing. It holds and holds and then just lets go. Injuries were minor but too frequent.

Then Sensible Brain Cell spoke up. ‘They only have to hold up knitted rats. You don’t have to make them to support any tonnage’.Why that brain cell waited so long I’ll never know. Possibly because I don’t usually listen.

Now the joins will be simple. Filed curves in the ends of the pieces with gold-plated pins drilled and glued through.

So here are all the bits, filed and ready to start putting together.

6_chairsYes, the file is broken. I broke it trying to open a tin of paint. Files aren’t very good at that. It stiull works though.

So ends part one. Part two will see the bits being assembled into something that looks a bit like a chair.