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The Model Citizen: Extremes

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Hobbies Topics:  Chevrolet Cameo

The Model Citizen: Extremes

"I don't know why I go to extremes,
Too high or too low, there ain't no in-between
and if I stand or I fall, It's all or nothing at all
Darling, I don't know why I go to extremes."

BILLY JOEL

Tom Geiger
TSSMCC News/JSMCC News
July 1993

The other night I had a crazy dream. I pulled an AMT 1955 Cameo kit out of my closet and peeled off the shrink wrap. I sat down and twisted all the parts from the trees, pulled out a big orange tube of Testors Plastic Cement and put it together--- following the instructions. No paint, no funny fur, no detail parts at all and (sob) no flat coat!! I woke up fast, in a cold sweat. I quickly checked my model case to find everything intact. It was just a dream.

I wish my life was that simple. A funny thing happens to me when I open a new kit. First off, I can't bring myself to peel shrink wrap. I carefully slit the bottom open, leaving the five sides of the box top wrapped, protecting the box art from any friction wear. At this point I fully intend to build the kit as God and Ertl intended it to be, but this is where the plastic demons enter.

Before I know it, I have the Evergreen plastic box and the balsa box out and I'm scratch building an eight foot delivery truck box body. After a week of fiddling, I set it on the chassis and something's wrong. Out come the research books and we find that the pickup kit is on a 114" wheel base, but the box truck is on a 125" wheel base. Cameo number two is plucked from the closet. We saw our chassis in half to add the scale eleven inches. Figure a week of evenings to make it all look right.

This necessitates modifying the pickup body to the "small window" variety since the "large window" simply wouldn't be found on the box truck. Another week of putty, sand and primer goes by and we've accomplished this and primed it all. Hold everything. The kit mirrors are too short, so we drill some holes, bend a bit of brass rod and scratch build some suitable ones. A mockup reveals serious chassis deficiencies, so the pickup underside is scratch built from sheet plastic to include the missing steps. A pleasant weekend is spent building the engine since I can't help myself but to drill out all the surface mount parts and pin them all to the block assembly. Nor can I forget to attach all the hoses, wires, dipstick and carb spring.

We paint everything, add ample coats of semigloss and dull coat (our favorite color) and we realize our truck needs graphics. An NNL EAST theme develops in our head while commuting to work, so a few evenings are spent on the computer drawing this up and transferring it to JNJ decal stock.

The interior sends us rummaging through the parts box, where an old built up Mustang SVO gives up it's Recaro seats. We scratch build a convincing headliner and sun visors, add photo etched seatbelts and make a stereo from black cardstock and photo etched scratch building shapes.

A million small details later, including convincing rust and chassis grime, we have the official NNL EAST crew truck. At this time, we realize the box... heaven forbid... is empty. Several commuting trips later we figure the NNL truck should be filled with door prizes so back to the computer and add some Xerox magic and we have Ertl/AMT cases exactly at 1/25 scale. A load of photo reduced color model boxes we bought because we figured we'd use them somewhere, someday are added as models spilled from a case and our model is complete some 100 or so (we don't dare add them up) manhours from the time we neatly peeled back the shrink wrap.

I sit back to take in the final vision of the vehicle created from my mind's eye. It's possibly my best effort to date. I have clearly achieved my goals and then some. It's much better than I ever envisioned my models ever being five years ago, when I first discovered Scale Auto Magazine and the organized adult hobby. I immediately curse myself for not opening and hinging the cab doors. We will do better the next time! I do go to extremes.

(This column originally appeared in the TSSMCC NEWS, July 1993 and the JSMCC NEWS, June 1993)

Copyright 1993 by Tom Geiger, All Rights Reserved, Used with permission.



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