I feel like I’ve read a lot of comments where a certain population laments that “no one is making anything anymore” or “…isn’t for everyone”. I don’t believe that this book was created to respond to those types of comments but in producing Scratchbuilding: Thinking it Through, Mike Cougill has produced, I believe, a truly unique and accessible guide to scratchbuilding and working to a finescale standard.
Mike introduced the book recently on his blog in this post:
The book follows Mike’s project to scratchbuild a 1/48 scale model of a PS5344 boxcar. It would be easy to create a step-by-step recipe guide that leads the modeller through building their own copy of his model. We could start each chapter of that book with a title like The Underframe and in the pages of that chapter instruct the modeller to cut some styrene or brass a certain size and combine it a particular way. Following the work of the master, presented in that format, should yield a copy of that car. There’s certainly nothing wrong with those articles. Sometimes, I tend to look at them and think “Hey, that is neat…IF I wanted to make one instead of just spending twenty bucks on the Athearn model…IF I had the time…the skill…” The style provides examples of where there are alternate approaches and there is never just one way to make anything. (e.g. I really enjoy handlaying track but I would have never tried it had I not read the right article, and a method that worked with how I liked to build, no matter how many articles I’d read or still read.)
What TMC12 offers the reader is a rich and inviting conversation that shares what worked and what didn’t over the course of creating the model. Neither path is presented in the extreme of “works” and “would never work” but more in a humble sense of what worked at that time and based on the experience to date. Mike invites us to consider each approach in a very warm and conversational tone. It presents the idea of actually scratchbuilding the model in a way that ignores the fact that it is completely scratchbuilt or to the Proto 48 standards. The model is presented as a series of components and the efforts to build a model of a centresill, a door track, or how what seems to work to represent the corrugated ends on the prototype car.
It isn’t that we shouldn’t admire the work of accomplished modellers or otherwise respect their journey but I feel like we often install an artificial barrier in that distance between their work and our own. We seem to create groups for them and for us and it sometimes appears like only a special type of modeller gets to pass from one group to the other. Scratchbuilding, handlaying track, or modelling to “finescale” standards is no different in terms of decisions made than drinking one brand of coffee or another, or chosing HO scale instead of N. Perhaps it’s not the decision at all but in the way we involve ourselves in the decisions we’ve made.
Thanks Mike. The book is terrific.