Always on the lookout for everyday items that have a modelling use, Glynn Guest reveals some 'finds'...
Whilst following my wife around a clothing store, I spotted the men’s department. After convincing myself that a new sports jacket was not needed, a display stand of golfing accessories was seen. Now, golf has never appealed to me, but this stand was full of items that tempted my curiosity. Who knows I thought, it might just contain something that could be useful in this hobby and lessen the sting of my wife’s purchases. At first it only seemed to contain things that held no interest for me. Packets of plastic tees might have some possible use to make a ship's horn, however this was an item I was not currently in need of. Then, something much more tempting was spotted – packets of Graduated Plastic Tees.
To ensure that they would always support the ball at the same height above the ground, they had a pronounced shoulder part-way down their body. This resulted in a shape that I could see being useful for capstans, bollards or winch drums.
The packs contained 35 tees and several different sizes were available. The 1 inch and 1.25 inch (25 and 32mm) sizes seemed close enough to what might be needed in future. A packet of each was added to my wife’s purchases, much to her amusement and by one of those strange coincidences, my next model just happened to need a winch. By rolling the tee on the cutting mat it is easy enough to part-off the drum of it to make a winch gypsy.
I’d just reached the point in my latest model where the addition of small items were needed to avoid a bare and unrealistic appearance. The usual lockers, hatches and cable reels helped to achieve this and the final touch would be a few lifebelts. In the past the mints with the hole have been used to good effect, whilst an alternative material has been some lengths of solder which could easily be bent around a suitable former and due to its softness, still retain a circular cross-section. On previous models such heavy lifebelts were never a problem, but I felt the new model had enough top weight already.
A search on the internet failed to locate any suitable plastic items, not that I was too upset since it is always more satisfying to create something, even it is not 100% accurate.
So, the lifebelt problem was still simmering in the back of mind when my dear wife took me to look for a new refrigerator. As often happens we also had to visit a few more stores using the feminine logic that 'as we are passing, it’s a shame not to' and thus I found myself in the haberdashery section of a large store.
Viewing all the kit available to the domestic sewer, knitter and dressmaker it was not hard to find potential modelling uses for some items. Working my way through the large display, sets of different sized plastic rings were suddenly spotted. I’ll confess to having no idea of their intended use however one set was perfect for turning into lifebelts on the new model and cost only £1 for ten rings.
My first attempt to turn the rings into more realistic looking lifebelts, by wrapping string around them, was a total failure. It looked horrible and was a very messy job as well. This being the case a little thought and a pack of heat-shrink tubing (bought on a whim at a model show on the basis that I would eventually find a use for it) was tried. The ring was cut and four short pieces of tubing were slid on to it. A length of string was threaded through one piece of tubing which was then placed over the cut in the ring. Heating the tube caused it to contract until it firmly held the string and closed the cut in the ring. The string was then threaded through the next two pieces of tubing which were then shrunk onto the ring at 90 degrees to the first piece. The two ends of the string could then be run through the last piece of tubing and shrunk on to the ring opposite the first one. With the excess string cut away, a respectable lifebelt was the result. If you use red coloured heat-shrink tubing on a white ring then it might be possible to use the lifebelt as it is, but these were destined for a military vessel and so were painted a drab colour.
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