Part 1: The firewood vendors.- Folks hard at work making a living
Oft-times the best way to bring life to a layout is to have folks busy
earning a living. These gentlemen could fit in to just about any era
from the twenties to the modern era. Not only are they quite busy,
they're surrounded visually interesting machinery.
How I did the saw rig: The engine base is just a piece of square
basswood. The cylinder a piece of dowel, notched 1/2way on one end
to overlap a bit and make for a good strong joint. The flywheels are
plastic wagon wheels off a cheapy toy with every other spoke removed
(the Ozark wheelbarrow wheel castings would work just as well). The
valves are brads. The rocker arm, magneto, visible crank throws, and
connecting rod were all made from bits of coffee stirrers. The pushrod
and sparkplug wire are brass wire. The cooling tank is just cardstock
and a bit of stainless screen from a dollar store strainer. The exhaust
pipe on the other side is a plastic sprue with a wooden button plug for
a muffler. The fuel mixer is a bit of bent brass wire, a panelling nail
and some plastic tube. The saw itself is a brass wire mandrel, with
pillow blocks made from plastic, a Dremel reinforced cut-off disc for a
blade, and a wood dowel pulley. The belt is typing paper glued in place
and painted. And the swinging saw table is plastic angle and .030 x 1/4
brass, prototypically restrained with a bit of chain. I eventually
replaced the wheels with better looking ones from Ozark Miniatures.
The shanty is scratchbuilt from simple dowels and coffee stirrers, the outhouse was an Ozark kit.
The dozer took the longest. It started out as a resin John Deere
MT. I cut the entire engine section away (if you've never cut
resin... do it outside, your wife will thank you) and rebuilt it
as a Cletrac. The engine was from a Hubley Model A Ford the rest
was made from wood, styrene and wire and a lot of spot putty!
The figures are mostly Tamiya, except for the elderly gent at the saw
bench. The hand tools are Ozark. A revised version is currently used on
temporary layouts. If I were do redo this for outdoors some of the more
delicate or rot prone parts would be substituted or omitted, and/or I
would house it under a pole building roof to protect it.
Part 2: The Hot Rodders - a short story in 8 square inches
Only an inexpensive Monogram plastic car
kit, and a couple Tamiya Mechanics, but it just grabs your attention.
All that is missing is an impatient wife. A diecast car would be more
suitable for outdoors
Part 3: Feeding Time - the art of common everyday routines
Just some Preiser figures doing
a very commonplace thing... that still manage to evoke an emotional
response from the viewer and draw them in. This family is doing just fine
outdoors, if a bit faded.
Part 4: Ben, Wilbert and Frank - Workers, doing... nothing
Sometimes folks just standing around can be more lifelike than ones
frozen mid-stride. These gents look like some fellows I used to work
with, and probably accomplish about as much. Wilbert is Just Plain
Folk. and Frank with the clipboard is Bachmann. They
are still busy arguing football, baseball, basketball.... anything but
loading the truck, outside. Ben, the guy leaning on the broom is Lemax.
Ben got himself a transfer to a
station at the other end of the layout because he was very tired of
short jokes. The lesson from that is - if something just doesn't work
out, don't hesitate to revise it.
Part 5: Lions and Tigers and Bears (Oh My!) -Animals are everywhere!
Dogs, cats, rabbits, raccoons,
squirrels, birds. Rarely an hour goes by outside without you seeing
some sort of critter. Yet many folks only have a few token ones on
their layout unless it's horses or cows. Lemax has some wonderful
ones, but buy the generic bagged animals at the craft store or toy dept
if you're frugal, and give the badly out of scale ones to the kid next
door. These are OK outside, too.
Part 6: What the...? - Surprise Whimsey!
Not everything has to be serious all the time. Sometimes the most
memorable parts are just plain silly. Often the best kind is the one that
folks might overlook at first. These were all dollar store and yard sale
items. Yep, they're doing fine outside too, except for Tigger... the cat stole him.
Details and mini-scenes help draw folks
into your world. They are a story without words. Life boiled down to
the very essence. The everyday becomes something special... or perhaps
drab reality is suspended for an instant - drawing the viewer back to a
time when they were young and the world was still a magical place. The
only real limit is your imagination.