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Better Modeling Through Appliances


Bob Hyman

Although I live in central Oklahoma, I recently joined a model railroad club in Fort Worth, Texas. Here is a "tongue-in-cheek" article I put together for the members of the club about how we modelers do things up in Oklahoma.

As the newest member to the club (and an "Okie" to boot), I feel obligated to share a few modeling tips with the rest of the group. Up in Oklahoma, we modelers use common household appliances to improve our modeling techniques. The only problem is getting our wives to understand why we do such things. Here are a few tips:

First of all, the wives need to be educated. Things they consider to be "household appliances" are really just "hobby tools" that can also be used for other purposes. Don't take this to mean that you should have her do a load of laundry immediately after you use the Maytag Hydrocal Mixer - rinse it out real good first. But it is amazing how many modeling tools she can use in the kitchen and throughout the house when you're not using them.

For example:
Proctor-Silex Foam Grinders can also be used to blend food,
Maytag Bulk Paint Mixers can also be used to dry clothes,
Whirlpool Airbrush Cleaners can also be used to wash dishes,
Clairol Paint Driers can also be used to dry hair,
Mixmaster Spin Casting Machines can also be used to mix cake batter,
Rival Casting Wax Melting Pots can also be used as crock pots,
Kenmore Paint Baking Ovens can also be used to bake cakes,
Tupperware Foam Sifters can also be used as flour sifters,
Custom-made, hand-hammered EZWater Heaters can also be used as woks,
Hamilton Beach Microwave Weed Driers can also be used to heat food quickly, and
Coleman Propane Airbrush Propellant can also be used for cooking and lighting during power black outs.

We all gradually accumulate a collection of Pyrex dishes, pans, spatulas, brushes and the like for scenery use. But don't stop there. Wives will hide hobby tools throughout the house. I found a power weathering tool hidden in the bathroom - she was calling it her electric toothbrush. And she thought my foam carving tool was her electric carving knife! The list goes on and on. Don't let her tell you that your hobby tools are actually her toaster oven, measuring cups, spoons, strainers, cake decorator, serrated knives, etc.

The problem is ... wives just don't understand that the "better modeling with modern appliance methods" actually save time and allow us to spend more time with them. The old fashioned method requires many hours to shape a nice tunnel; the appliance method using a power post-hole auger does the excavation instantly with one quick flip of a switch. And since that's the way the real railroads do it we're being more prototypical too. I realize this is NOT using "household modeling appliances" in the strictest sense of the rule book BUT one does have to improvise on rare occasions.

Another use for that Cuisinart electric foam grinder (besides grinding coal): When Fall arrives, save some dead leaves and grind them up to use as scenic ground cover. Wives sometimes think our manual foam grinders are cheese graters.

There is always room for improvement. I'm working on some new experiments with chemicals, electricity and appliances. Still haven't finished checking out which combination of electricity and water works best on Tuesdays. I can't seem to get past 3 quarts of water per 220 volts of electricity. The lights don't stay on long enough to read the gauges. Maybe higher amperage will work better ... yeah ... that's it ... higher amperage ... that sounds like the right solution. Note to family: Expect power outage throughout the Oklahoma City metro area at 1:45PM Tuesday.

I'm also busy testing the latest appliances. Do you realize what improvements you can get out of the new energy efficient Hamilton Beach Weed Drier when you wire it with 220 volts?

Famous Okie saying: "Hey y'all, watch this! ... YAHOOOO !!!" Uh oh ... there goes my neighbor playing with his 911 speed dial thingie again.

Fear your wife when she catches you making scenery in the kitchen. I speak from experience. But don't be intimidated by what your wife says is inappropriate use of kitchen appliances.  Remember ... she's not always around to watch you.

You want real intimidation? Just spend an afternoon in the kitchen with me. I give new meaning to the old saying "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." It might be a good idea to get out before the explosion though, unless you're wearing asbestos underwear. As we say in Oklahoma, "Blow it up, but blow it up wisely." I usually prefer fissionable materials but I'll try anything once. At last count the State had imposed a surcharge on any appliances going into the county where I live. This is to offset the additional fire and paramedic protection that is required for anyone within a fifty-mile radius. "Hello? ... 911? ... Yep, it's me again."

Most of you here in the Fort Worth area are far enough away to avoid the fallout. But only because of these gol dang new wimpy energy saving appliances ... they don't give as big a bang as the old gas guzzlers that made modeling more dramatic. I sure get nostalgic thinking about the good ol' days when kitchen appliances were included in the Nuclear Arms Treaties. Roasting a chicken or drying sawdust just ain't as exciting as it used to be. Back then, the only thing to fear was fear itself ... and maybe the mushroom shaped cloud in the kitchen.

That reminds me, I probably should warn you about using denatured alcohol and shoe dye to quickly age wood in the Amana Weed Drier. Go very easy on the alcohol until you get used to mixing it. When in doubt, it's better to use less. That is, unless you want to try ... nah, just use less. I would send pictures, but the insurance investigators are holding those until they determine the cause of the ... aw, you know.

We're now getting into very specialized modeling tools. Don't be afraid to improvise. Don't let the wife force you to go to the AA (Appliances Anonymous) meetings. Know where she is (and when she will be home) at all times. A good homeowners insurance policy is highly recommended when using above mentioned modeling devices. Put 911 on speed dial. Get to know your local SWAT Team. Trust me ... I know of what I speak.

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