[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON Dec-14-02 AT 04:59AM (EST)[/font][p][font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON Dec-14-02 AT 04:57 AM (EST)[/font]
(Ask your friends. I did laugh, by the way.)
I'm back because the Big Boy kit cannot be completed using just the parts which came in the kit -- one of the wheelsets for the tender truck is simply missing. While no casual observer would notice that anything was amiss with the completed locomotive plus tender, any serious railfan would see the defect immediately. Even if no railfan spotted it, I know the defect is there and in the end that is sufficient -- the whole experience has been spoiled for me, though I will get over it and will in fact complete the project.
But this means I cannot donate the build to the Forney Museum of Transportation, where I bought the kit, because the display model would have to have my name on it -- and mikey does not "do" deliberate defects. (Everything mikey builds is as good as mikey knows how to make it. Others often can do even better, but mikey is satisfied as long as mikey has given it his best shot. In this case the best shot remains unfired at the moment.)
Now I'm going to have to see if grandson Alec is willing to have me cannibalize the Big Boy he built two weeks ago. If yes, then in return he ought to get the one I have paused otherwise the loan will not get repaid.
So ... It would appear that the only way the Forney museum could get a display model from me is for me to buy TWO kits so I can make ONE display model for them. I will discuss the situation with them -- in most respects it is a marvellous kit -- but they would have to stop saying that the kit "snaps together with no gluing requred", and they would have to stop saying "suitable for age 13 and up".
In point of fact this kit ranks right up there with the most difficult I have ever built. For example:
Obscure trimming of certain key parts is required, with no indication of this in the plans. This is not a problem for any experienced modeller -- one comes to expect this because no kit is perfect any more than is any software product -- but the statement "age 13" is irrelevant.
What counts here is how many models one has built, not what one's age is. Having built the kit myself now I am stunned that Alec was able to do a creditable job of no-paint/no-glue assembly in around three hours, with this being the first kit he ever did. Unfortunately, it probably will also be his last, he was so turned off. I couldn't really help that day because I had forgotten my glasses, and all I could do was discuss alternatives with him -- but not all the alternatives were evident to me because I couldn't "see" the problems that day.
Trial assembly is required throughout the build in order to determine what trims will be required. Often this can only be done if the parts have been tack-glued using old-fashioned plastic model cement -- so that parts can be separated later.
This also is not a problem for me because here too experience is the guide. When the manager of the store where I bought the paints, etc. insisted that I buy both fast- and slow-drying
cyanoacrylate cement, in turn I insisted on adding a tube of Good Old Testor's, and so after experimenting with the cyanoacrylates I had no trouble reverting to the old-fashioned method.
It's a good thing that this old fashioned habit survives within me -- because I didn't discover that the locomotive was "listing" till about twelve hours after I had glued the cab+boiler subassembly to the front and rear driver frames. I was then able to tear the assembly down, troubleshoot the problem (trimming required on a locator stud), fix it, re-glue and reassemble. (I was interested to hear my wife say that Alec's locomotive also has a list, something I did not notice that day.)
It would not be possible for a mere mortal to achieve the painting results shown on the box without special equipment, most especially a slow-turning lathe on which to mount wheels so their tires can be painted to give the "white sidewalls" effect shown on the box and on 4006 as it sits in the museum. Absent such equipment the silver required for the tires fights with the white sidewalls -- no human hand is steady enough to do what is required, not in applying the paint and not in using the tip of an X-Acto knife to remove the over-slops.
So this area of the build was a failure for me. About 15 hours into the driver wheel painting effort I decided to simply omit the white sidewalls, electing instead to overpaint everything back to flat black and start all over again. Another 15 hours gave me the best results that I can achieve -- others might be able to do better.
Again, this kind of thing is no big deal for an experienced modeller, but it is unreasonable to mislead newbies as to the kind of results they can expect to achieve.
This is a terrific kit but a) experience is required and b) you will have to buy two of them to assemble one build article, putting the effective kit purchase price up around $60 or so.
(Don't hold me to that number.)
I haven't applied the decals yet but some of them are so tiny, and will therefore be susceptible to damage while being applied and postioned, that buying two kits might be a good idea for this reason alone.
The museum's URL is http://www.forneymuseum.com but I have no idea whether the kit can be purchased online, nor do I recall if they give a contact email address.
P.S. The store manager recommended acryylic paints instead of enamels. This strategy has been a stunning success and I will never use enamels again if I don't have to.