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Codger

Caterham - Trial by Fire

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Sorry for the drama title but it's close to what happened here. This is the story of my 20+ year old (forgot actual purchase date) 1/12 Tamiya Caterham cycle fender. Started by assembling the chassis and then languishing while I went overboard on 1:1 projects, it has slept in the basements of two homes I've lived in.

Certainly there have been presented here better and more detailed Cats of late, by experts. So why bother now? Especially after I've 'resigned' from modeling after the Rolls? I have recused myself because my worsening health issues had convinced me that I could not work to my standard anymore. Indeed, I declined to finish dear Paul Calvert's wonderful Eagle for those issues and enlisted the capable help of Ron and Sam. But of late, other voices have led me to wonder if I could work through my maladies as others like Thierry have. At least they tried just to see if they could. My undying respect to him and them for now I know the struggles involved when you do not have all your body's tools. So after passing by the Cat downstairs for years, I plucked it as a likely candidate to try. A relatively simple kit of 300-odd parts, and a large enough scale as to be manageable (the Eagle is smaller 1/16 and Paul had added minute rivet and other details-a seeing and handling nightmare) and I didn't have to go buy this now- expensive though reissued kit. So - how hard could it be? Heh, heh, heh,,,,it kicked my duff....

Enough blather - this is not a WIP but shows some steps and pitfalls along the way:

Chassis started two decades ago. A milestone kit by Tammy with .025 ally body panels and many-screw construction. A bit of simplification but not much, inviting scratch details as others have accomplished. But I decided beforehand to cut my usual un-cut corners - not any hidden details when closed, simplified wiring, no brake lines, caliper detail  or electrics. Loving the look of the car closed, that would dictate my direction. I felt a miracle if I just got paint, screws and glue on it and damn the smoking details.

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Here primer being applied - red lead style. Paint and primer by MRP. Clear by Testors.

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Bare body panels ready for prime:

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Rosso Corso at 12 psi straight from bottle goes on as thin as ink, which preserves details like louvers:

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Decanted clear cut 1/3 also at 12 psi:

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Alclad pale gold shot straight at 8 psi on Replica and Miniatures resin Minilite wheels. I had bought their aftermarket PE kit (OOP) but now found I could barely see much less handle their tiny, thin parts:

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The disturbing thing (but really the nature of the real car) is that you must mount finish-painted body panels before assembling the bulk of the suspension and small parts TO them. This invites handling finished paint with the accompanying 'hand damage' or possible scratches from slipped screwdrivers (easy to do on this: the bulk of the screws are 1.2 x 2.5MM) . Plus turning the chassis over and over to get to things and install minuscule stamped steel brackets and screws. I put down a thin foam base and used chunks of thicker foams to support while working. Plus I was lucky - because the shaking was fatiguing me constantly:

 

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After a while, I went back a bit on my original intentions; I tried plumbing the hoses and wires as much as I thought I could just to see how bad my conditions are. Held 'feet-to-fire' despite hating the struggle and taxing my vision. I learned I was right to swear-off and decline Paul's model for this was more than challenging my patience. Trying for an hour to get one screw in place (many times) almost had me ready to epoxy everything instead. But with breaks between, I persisted. I was not liking the results I was getting and the struggle did not feel as good as solving the Rolls' challenges, when I was physically better.

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This nice kit would take at most a few weeks to build especially OOB but it took me over eight. Tamiay's legendary joins and quality were present in this milestone kit. It has a nice weight to it and feels like quality. It mates nicely with my 935 and GT. A spritely little scamp among dreadnoughts. Importantly, it got rescued from the basement oblivion.

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Here's an example of my whining; the spring that holds the bonnet 'closed' gets looped onto a stamped latch. This get screwed to the body (in an impossible place) and then HOOKED onto a bit of the bonnet which is stamped out of the panel. It took me about four hours to get to the point where I CA'd the spring to the latch, screwed (1.2 x 2.5MM) to the body and hooked the latch to bonnet. Then I layed a drop of clear parts cement on it. Shaking like an earthquake is not fun model building. One huge difficulty was the inability to place that screw, paint brush or glue drop precisely where it needs be :

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I'll conclude with a few finished pix. I wound up doing a (rare for me) near OOB build. I scratch built better seat belts, and grille screen and monkied with the exhaust (which I hate) a bit. I had visions of doing a whole Cobra side pipe like mine with collector and flanges but despaired. I did cut one coil from each spring to lower it - but - forgot to shorten the inner rod of the shock - duh.

I even found I could no longer take photos as well as I used to and that's clearly evident here. My apologies.

But my purpose here is to salute those who work through their maladies and handle the stress so much better than I. Hats off to you all.

I'd give myself maybe  C or C+ grade for this. I certainly wouldn't put it on the same table as the real-deal Caterham guys...

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Way to hard on yourself this looks excellent work to me. To be able to finish a build like this with the problems you have is a huge achievement. I would happily put this in my cabinet of finished kits and if I chose to build this kit and it came out looking this good I would be well happy. Well done sir !

                Regards Andy

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It's an A* from me. It looks far more convincing than some real Caterhams I've experienced.

Brian

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I wouldn't exactly be ashamed of this result either. I understand it feels different for you, but it must be a good feeling to have finished this despite all the challenges!

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Definitely worthy of much more than a C-Plus I'd say - the A* bhouse gave you looks much nearer the mark. I do sympathise with you for feeling that health issues are getting in the way of your modelling, but going by this result I'd say that as long as you're getting satisfaction from it you're a (very, very) long way from needing to give up yet.

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That is a stunning build Codger, really lovely job! And your pictures are excellent too! As someone who also suffers from constant chronic fatique and those dreaded shaky hands I can totally empathise with everything you said in your excellent post....

 

I rediscovered some of my model car building mojo this weekend and decided to try and progress my 1/24 scale Escort Cosworth that's also been 'in build' for quite a while (although not 20 years) so decided to paint the window trims, something I could do in about an hour a decade or so ago. Given the shaky hands business I thought I'd mask and spray them, but found the edges of the paint under the tape were chipping, so had to go back to doing them freehand - what a total mess!! The job took three times as long as 10 years back and looks three times worse! Just so frustrating.

 

I think I might just stick to 1/48 aeroplanes as they are much easier. But I so love cars too...

 

Anyway, enough mithering, that's a lovely Caterham! :)

 

Keith 

 

 

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1 hour ago, keefr22 said:

I rediscovered some of my model car building mojo this weekend and decided to try and progress my 1/24 scale Escort Cosworth that's also been 'in build' for quite a while (although not 20 years) so decided to paint the window trims, something I could do in about an hour a decade or so ago. Given the shaky hands business I thought I'd mask and spray them, but found the edges of the paint under the tape were chipping, so had to go back to doing them freehand - what a total mess!! The job took three times as long as 10 years back and looks three times worse! Just so frustrating.

Keith 

 

 

Keith has described the frustrations far better than I could. The purpose of my post was to pay tribute to those that now struggle to enjoy the hobby they've had for decades and continue to press on. And still produce excellent work. As he and several others here have. Advancing age is a two-edged sword which affects us all differently. My experience was not as fun as we all do this for but I managed a result.

You have all been most generous with your comments and 'likes' and I thank you.

Seen with its brother in scale, the Cat juuust fits with the 935 in a case without touching. Not pleasant for viewing but effective for keeping the dust off and the cat out.

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Again, thanks to all. Now did I spy that Doyusha Countach from the past in the dark down there....?

 

 

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Ah, BM will now let me comment. Nice.

 

That's quite lovely Codger, no explanations needed. I'll do mine one day (when I'm a better modeller than I am now).

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9 hours ago, keefr22 said:

1/24 scale Escort Cosworth

 

 

 

She's a beauty Codger,lovely job.....I can't wait to see your Cossie done Keith......

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I think that is a stunna mate, it takes a second look to realise some of those photos are not the real thing, the ultimate big tick to my mind. 👍

Steve.

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Fantastic - you do yourself a massive disservice mate. It looks superb, and whilst I am sure the effort involved for you was huge, the testament is that it looks so good that none of us would have realized there was any issues at all, simple as that.

Whilst it is a 'simple' kit in that it goes together very well, it is probably the hardest to attempt with any 'condition' simply because of those damn screws! lol - they are tiny (AND there are 5-6 different sizes that are JUST different, so I had to check every time I used ONE! The bonnet catches had me almost throwing the damn thing across the room - trying to thread the catch onto the end of the spring was genuinely the single most frustrating part of the whole build 🤣 - and then I found that my paint was so thick that I had manged to 'close up' the little tab on the bonnet so much it wouldn't work anyway....🤬

You've nailed the classic look perfectly, and I do 😍 those wheels - love the red and gold. As has already been mentioned, those first two finished pictures look like a real car...(actually so does the 'build' pic with the front wheels fixed....

So be very justifiably proud of the result - only you can understand the effort needed, but we can all appreciate it. I hope you keep going with more - if you can handle those god-damn tiny screws then I don't see what can hold you back!! 

You built it at a proper rate as well...mine took 17 years. But remember, it is seeing projects like your Rolls (which I remember from when I first joined this forum - annoyingly photobucket screwed the pictures?) that inspired me to progress with modelling, and showed what could be possible.

 

Cobra next? 😉

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1 hour ago, caterhamnut said:

Whilst it is a 'simple' kit in that it goes together very well, it is probably the hardest to attempt with any 'condition' simply because of those damn screws! lol - they are tiny (AND there are 5-6 different sizes that are JUST different, so I had to check every time I used ONE! The bonnet catches had me almost throwing the damn thing across the room - trying to thread the catch onto the end of the spring was genuinely the single most frustrating part of the whole build 🤣 - and then I found that my paint was so thick that I had manged to 'close up' the little tab on the bonnet so much it wouldn't work anyway....🤬

 

Cobra next? 😉

I am snorting so hard with laughter that my cuppa went up my nose   ! PERFECTLY stated to my experience - and you're an EXPERT ! And Young !

Seriously you have all been extraordinarily kind and I appreciate every warm wish you all sent. But for me, be mindful of the several boys here who also struggle and overcome what age and misfortune has dealt them. They continue to strive to produce quality models and deserve all your respect. I am truly fortunate compared to some more skilled and dedicated than I.

But on a sad note, the administrators here want to hold me responsible for breaking the 'LIKE' button on the site. I never foresaw that might happen but you have all cheered me enormously. :worthy:

C

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Great job Chas. 

Despite your maladies, you have overcome and produced a beautiful model, my friend. I applaud you.:clap2:

 

Cheers, H

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I do planes. I have tried a couple of Golf GTIs’ and it’s as if I’ve never done modelling before and I’m a 5 year old!. But I wish they were of your standard. As above A+

 

Steve.

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59 minutes ago, speedy said:

I do planes. I have tried a couple of Golf GTIs’ and it’s as if I’ve never done modelling before and I’m a 5 year old!. But I wish they were of your standard. As above A+

 

Steve.

I write like a 5 year old but you write much better than I so I know you're older! Keep at it and post your car work - plenty of experts and inspiration here.

And thank you for your kind grade.

C

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Dear Mr C,

 

we all know you are your greatest judge. And we all know your striving to achieve perfection. You showed us a true benchmark with your Rolls. A level only few will ever achieve, no matter at which scale. And this level is of course the one you will always judge yourself against. That's why it is called a masterpiece.

 

Now, please take a step back. Forget a moment about the  Rolls, better yet, pretend you never built it. Take a moment to click through some RFI threads. Come back to your Caterham and compare. Be honest to yourself.

 

You'll find you're on par with most of the finished models. No matter what condition hinders you, no matter how much patience it took. You still managed to build a beautiful model. Perfect to some, at least very good to the rest of us.

Was it a painful experience? I bet so. It never is a nice feeling to see you're not up to your old standard and even harder knowing you'll probably never get there again. Besides that - wasn't there any joy to it? Not the least bit? No feeling of achievement with every step taken? If there was no joy, why would you even bother to try to finish. Just to see if you could? Well, I guess that kind of personal challenge is somehow connected to joy as well.

 

I totally get your point of raising attention to the builds of those who battle their own personal hindrances. And you are absolutely right. They do deserve the highest respect for their work and their perseverance. But you Mr C, must not forget on thing: Now you're one of them.

 

If it's just pain, you're right to let go of building models. Else, come back and enjoy doing some gluebombs.

 

Best regards,

Jan

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4 hours ago, Schwarz-Brot said:

Was it a painful experience? I bet so. It never is a nice feeling to see you're not up to your old standard and even harder knowing you'll probably never get there again. Besides that - wasn't there any joy to it? Not the least bit? No feeling of achievement with every step taken? If there was no joy, why would you even bother to try to finish. Just to see if you could? Well, I guess that kind of personal challenge is somehow connected to joy as well.

 

Jan,

I thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful and eloquent message to me. Beyond a compliment, I feel it a personal conversation which I welcome.

The Rolls you discuss I always felt was my 'term paper' (as the college kids say) and by its completion I felt I had done all I'll ever do. Not to be 'out-done' by a better next project. There are certainly better but that was all I could muster. This before I realized my window for such work had closed down, thanks to medical conditions.

Two years after completion and watching such great work appear on the forum, I felt the need to see just how bad my body was beginning to unravel.So I picked this Cat as a test or gauge of my deterioration.

To answer your questions, there was little joy, much frustration and quite a bit of fatigue. Some days and after a little driving, I am fatigued just trying to see, which causes anxiety with fatigue. I have to get used to this new world I'm in. The eye doc just told me that on Monday.

When I first purchased the Cat decades ago I had thoughts of Brookland screens, a header and sidepipe like my Cobra's, deleted spare and a host of changes to make it a racecar / streetcar - just like the Cobra. Even fancied a DFV engine swap from another Tammy 1/12 F-1 kit.  But as I began and saw the difficulties mentioned above (by Caterhamnut as well) I immediately trimmed-down my wish list and became prayerful to just get it completed. First time ever I built a model who's challenges I couldn't meet to my satisfaction.

And THAT made me mindful of the others here whom I've mentioned who labor with such impediments as well. I am sure that they all handle it better than I because this is 'new' to me.

So yes, I do love the 1:1 car and therefore happy I have this little one on the desk here with me. But like giving up the Cobra because you can't drive the rocket with one eye, I know now my limitations on the model bench are greater.

Given a 'cooling down lap' I may consider putting myself through more turmoil with another long dormant kit.

Or not. But I'll always come here to see and participate with the best builders who are also very kind folk - like yourself.

Thanks,

C

 

 

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7 hours ago, Codger said:

I am sure that they all handle it better than I because this is 'new' to me.

 

I'm not sure if you include me in that group C, but I remember when I first became ill, the docs weren't able to diagnose what was wrong for over 18 months (and then it was finally done after I'd partially 'self diagnosed' through some internet research!). That was over a decade ago. I was then medically retired and I haven't been able to do 'proper' work since. For probably another year after they messed around with various meds to try and stabalise the condition which they sort of finally did. Then for another year or so after that I did nothing on any of the hundreds of models I had sitting in the stash or the dozens I had 'in progress', just sat around doing nothing until one day I just forced myself to sit at the bench and just get on and do something. I now find I don't have good days as such, just not so bad ones! On those I always try and do some modelling, because as others say, it is a good sort of therapy and in my case I'm sure it's stopping me getting worse just through the depression that doing nothing brings on - despite the stupid frustrations I get when trying to do simple things like painting window trims - after three attempts it's satisfying to get them looking half decent!! I guess what I'm wittering on trying to say (& I wouldn't presume to think I know how your condition affects you overall) is that although you say it's new to you now, you may well find like I did, that as you learn to live with it, even just doing a frustrating hour or so a day on a model car will actually bring you some escape from your problems and in the end produce another result like your excellent Caterham, so don't mentally give up on it. Go drag out that Countach, I'm looking forward to seeing it built!! :)

 

All the very best

 

Keith

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9 hours ago, keefr22 said:

 I guess what I'm wittering on trying to say (& I wouldn't presume to think I know how your condition affects you overall) is that although you say it's new to you now, you may well find like I did, that as you learn to live with it, even just doing a frustrating hour or so a day on a model car will actually bring you some escape from your problems and in the end produce another result like your excellent Caterham, so don't mentally give up on it. Go drag out that Countach, I'm looking forward to seeing it built!! :)

 

All the very best

 

Keith

You are not 'wittering' Keith. You have described managing a decade-long fight to the winning side.

You can function and derive some pleasurable result from a difficult process. My hat's off to you. My situation is not due to a single 'condition' but rather a failure or decline of several body tools I took for granted for decades.

But your story has made me sit up and open my eyes; no more muling on about maladies from me:nono: Several of you are beset far more than I. And don't winge about it.  You all don't come here for soap-opera old-guy stories. You're here to see, show and enjoy fantastic car models. In my haste to salute those who struggle to enjoy that, I may have brought too personal a story.

So a pledge to keep my germs to myself :chair:and participate as busy-body in all your great works. If the courage comes for me to try again, you'll all be the jury I look forward to seeing it.

C

 

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