Be it Plastic, Metal, Wood, Cars, Aircraft, Watercraft, Dioramas, Radio Control, Robots, Ham Radio or Guitars I am interested.
Sometime in 1972 when I was 6 years old I bought my first plastic scale model at a BX store on an Air Force Base. My father, a retired Vet meant my mother went to the commissary to buy groceries my 4 siblings and myself regularly. The BX was next door and held shelves of aircraft, tanks, muscle cars and figures to build and paint. I don’t remember what my first model was other than it was a car. I built and painted it on a card table my mom set up next to the water heater in the basement with plenty of drop cloths around me.
Later that year for Christmas my father gave me probably the most important gift I have ever received. He had made a small wood workbench for me to sit in the basement shop area. There might have been some incentive for him to get me to stop polluting his bench with my projects and discoveries. Not only did I get the workbench but he set it up with my own hammer, a set of combo wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. Again there had to be an incentive to keep his tools to himself, but it was in vain.
My dad had spent 20+ years in the Air Force and when I sat at my bench to build a model I was inclined to build aircraft soon as it seemed to garner my father’s attention more and I did start to really love the idea of flight. I read books on the Wright Brothers and started to wonder what else will I see invented in my lifetime. I had quite the collection of aircraft hanging by fishing line in my bedroom by the time I hit my teens. It was an eclectic collection, biplanes fighting Russian MIGS, WW2 planes taking on blimps and Apollo missions.
Having tools and a bench meant I could take apart anything with screws including my mom’s blender, and alarm clock, as well as many other things. Not all of it made it back together, well I won’t lie none of it did at first. I just wanted to see how it worked, really my main goal. I did learn a lot though, more in my opinion than what I was learning in school. I had been an avid reader before I made it to first grade and sought out every book in our tiny school library on inventors and historical figures. I had no use for fiction, enough of it was ready made in my mind already and I wanted to know how everything worked. Saturday trips to the public library were excursions in learning, bigger books,, more detail written for adults. By third grade, I was tested at reading at an eighth-grade level, by the time eighth grade rolled around I was reading college level books with ease and understanding them.
For my seventh birthday, I unwrapped a Radio Shack 150 in 1 Experimenter kit. I was in heaven, a huge book of projects, connect wires make buzzers, radios, things that flashed. I built the quintessential crystal radio, I sat in my basement bedroom with earphone, my contraption grounded to the water pipe tuning in stations from thousands of miles away. This led me to a lifelong hobby of electronics and Ham Radio. As I grew interests in stereo music equipment and guitars I expanded my electronics learning as a matter of necessity. I built a great set of home speaker enclosures in Jr. High school Woodshop, made my crossovers in electronics shop the next semester, fixed crappy Sears Silvertone guitars I came across and made a volume pedal out an old sewing machine controller I talked my mom out of.
I had bought myself a soldering Iron with some of my paper route money and twisted wires became globs of soldered ones, but I improved, learned how to solder right by the time I was 9. I was validated when my older brother by 13 years came home on leave from the Air Force where he had been attending Tech School for repairing Auto-Pilots and informed they had not learned how to solder yet, I don’t think he ever did as 10 years later I helped him install a wiper delay in his car.
My models had started to make their way from the ceiling to boxes in the closet and what happens when one of your friends gets a BB gun for Christmas? You light your models on fire and shoot at them in the backyard. Teenagers have the attention span of a hummingbird and models just didn’t give the thrill anymore. We moved on to Cox Control line planes, bicycles and the occasional cute girl. We were fortunate to have a couple of hobby shops in our neighborhood we could easily ride our bikes to. Modeling never really left though as we moved on to carving boats out of balsa chunks and mounting electric motors complete with props cut from soda pop cans that we could run the backyard pool.
Throughout my youth, I was involved in Scouting, and my Scoutmaster owned a Hardware and Bicycle Shop a few blocks away. Remnants of the 50’s and 60’s era hardware stores this one had sold Tv’s, Bicycles, nuts and bolts, Slot cars, Clothes etc. As the years evolved so did the store into a sampling of hardware items and whatever was left from the decades before. this is where I learned to repair bikes, build wheels, and really repair things. I was taught how to troubleshoot, and re-engineer, grinders, files, saws, acetylene, all of it became alive. I worked in the bike shop all through my adolescent and teen years, before the mountain bike boom. I went on to spend 20+ years in the Bicycle industry. I and a few others were ground floor on promoting mountain in our area and went on to bring 4 national races to our region. I managed various racing teams, watched the sport go from grassroots to an Olympic event.
I dabbled in the Computer Tech world for a bit and landed up managing a large local hobby shop which led me onto 10+ years in the Hobby industry and eventually taking a national manager position for a vendor/importer on the wholesale end of the hobby industry. I got back into hobbies first with RC cars and racing, then RC aircraft, and the plastic started to call me back. I learned a lot from customers and dealers in the way of skills, was introduced to many tools and techniques. I went back to the aircraft and learned about weathering. I was fortunate to have some employees at the shop that were excellent at painting figures mostly for tabletop gaming and I bettered my skills with figures and faces.
I took some time off from scale modeling in the last decade although still checking out what was on the shelf. I spent my efforts on getting my Amateur radio licenses and delved into the world of Arduino and Raspberry PI which may appear in future model builds. I also started building a few guitars. In the last year, I returned to plastic, mainly cars, cars I have always wanted to build and have on my shelf although aircraft and other modeling is still on my to-do list. I am trying to use accumulated skills and trying to learn more and I hope to share what I know and share my builds. I don’t care much for clubs or contests I build for my own enjoyment and hopefully others.
Feel Free to follow me on Twitter: @BigHobbyDude Or Facebook: @hobbydude
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