Friday, December 31, 2010

Rookie Night on New Year's Eve

 Do you remember your first model?  Your first hobby knife?  I do.  I remember it as clear as day.  My father, who was a second generation model railroader, sat me down with an N-scale church kit and showed me how build.  Now, it is time for someone else to learn.

 First, we need a simple kit.  The hobby shop in Orem, Utah sold me a $5.00 Plasticville Item 45532 Vintage Auto Repair Shop.  This is a snap-fit kit, so no glue is supposedly required.  Yeah, right.

 Next, we need a willing contestant.  Any volunteers?  Yes, you in the yellow princess dress.  Come on down!  You are the next contestant on The Model is Right!

 This is Taylor.  She is five years old.  Time to build her first kit.  As you can tell from her smile, she needs a bit of assembly herself.  Tooth fairy got it on Christmas night.

 The first step is to take the kit out of the box.  The parts are molded in color so we won't be painting this kit.  That is training session #2.  We'll keep the box and study the photo of the assembled kit.

 Together we read the instructions.  Ok, ok, I know YOU don't read instructions.  I don't either.  But for grins and giggles I'm actually going to do it this time.

 We'll use a parts tray (stolen from the friendly Marriott hotel in Chicago) to keep all of our parts together and to provide a cutting surface.

 We'll take the parts out of the bag carefully so that we don't break or knock a part off the sprue tree.  We have grey, cream and clear "glass" sprues.

 After an hour of safety and skill training, Taylor is ready to undergo the knife.  I've given her a special hobby knife with a padded grip.  Here she picked up the knife the wrong way, so I gently corrected her.  Most children are NOT ready for a hobby knife at this age, but I've been working with Taylor for a while and I think she is ready.  Hey, if she gets a scar at this age it will disappear by the time she is 40.  I've showed her all of my scars including the one in my foot, thus the reason to work over the table!

 Safely holding the knife with the right hand and holding the part with her left hand clear of the cutting area, she begins to do surgery on part #12.

 There are several small burrs from the cutting, so she uses a sanding sponge to smooth the edges.  Mommy insisted we get a bath and put on warm jammies before continuing.

 After she got the hang of using the hobby knife, I switched her to a sprue cutter.  If you don't have one of these go order one from Micro Mark right now!  They are fantastic and leave a very smooth cut.

 The first wall is completed and I hear the familiar "daddy, let me do it myself" song that I love to hear.

 With great precision Taylor removes each part, and following the exploded drawing, puts all  the pieces together.

 The last wall sections need some sanding and Taylor uses the 45 degree corner of the sanding block to get in tight areas.

 The windows ans doors are now in, and we fit the wall sections together.  Looking good!

 Some detail parts have to be removed and assembled so she works diligently to make the chimney and the gas pump.  Perfect!

 As is typical, one of the parts is warped.  Here you can see the roof is taking on the shape of a pagoda roof.  We'll need to warm it in hot water and bend it back in shape.  Actually we wind up digging out the Tenax 7R in order to hold it in place.

 With the roof, chimney and gas pump in place, the model is now ready to go!

 See!  Even a five year old can do it.  So why do you keep reading magazines and talking about tomorrow's plans with Taylor is smoking you in the workshop?  Time to get busy!!!

Good job Taylor!  I'm thinking Master Model Railroader at 14!


  1. You need to forward this to Lee Riley at Bachmann!

  2. Way cool! Scott, can I send her some of my kits for the Hoovertown extension to assemble?



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