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Working jackstands

How many of us have asked ourselves, “just how am I going to put that gear retraction test in my diorama? What am I going to do for jackstands?” That was the very question I faced while planning my 1/48 scale Caribbean air cargo diorama featuring a hanger maintenance scene.

I well remember lugging and positioning those weighty, yellow tripods we used for such tests. These were nothing but huge four to five foot tall, tripod mounted jackscrews one had to screw in and out by hand. Jack up the aircraft, position the tripods under the designated jackpoints, screw them out until snug, then release and remove the hydraulic jacks. Although the aircraft would shake and buck as the gear retracted, I never saw a properly positioned jackstand fail to support the load.

It just so happened I had inherited some very fine 3mm screws and this is what brought to mind working aircraft jackstands. I figured these would make perfect 1/48 A/C jackstands. I took a piece of sheet brass and laid out the 60 degree triangles, then drilled a 3mm hole in the center of each triangle before cutting them out with large dykes and a Dremel tool.

I then cut a piece of 3 mm brass tubing for the top collar and made three legs of thin brass rod. The trick was the jig for soldering the unit together, as the heat from each joint would result in the melting of the other nearby joints, so the unit had to be soldered in the assembled position. The jig was a simple piece of corrugated cardboard with corresponding punched holes. I put the screw through the brass tubing and triangular piece to hold the two pieces in alignment, notching the corners of the triangular brass piece to accommodate the rod. I put the screw into the cardboard hole and aligned the three brass rod legs and then soldered the rods in place.

To make the screw work, I took a pair of small pliers and squeezed the tubing collar snug around the screw, Presto! Adjustable jackscrews!

I have included a few shots of my fully lit, “O” scale, Plasticville tower/admin building that has moved from a train layout addition to my more scale Caribbean airfield. More on this later.

11 additional images. Click to enlarge.


16 responses to Working jackstands

  1. That…….is very awesome

  2. Now this is a very cool idea !!!!!!!!!! I’m going to have to make a set ………….. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Quite the innovative design process you have there. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very nice! I like the dio upcoming! Congrats, Michel.

  5. I have to say, I think mechanics and modelers are among the most creative lot I know! Excellent display of ingenuity!

  6. That is awesome! We called them drop checks in the Navy, very convincing!

  7. Very creative scratchbuilding.

  8. Extremely creative!

  9. Cool! Been there, done that. Did you ever have the pleasure of jacking a retractable single engine Cessna? Talk about shaking and bucking….!

  10. That is simply outstanding. Great work G.

  11. Great idea, Mr. Ley! You could sell those. Thanks for sharing!

  12. This is looking great. Always wanted to build the Beech. Would love to see more! Have you finished this diorama as of today 4/15/18?

    • Hardly. This is a major project. I just finished three days work on the electrics.

      Due to circuit loads, there are four power circuit boards connected to a control box with five buttons.

      One for the terminal/tower building with 21 lights. One for the Hanger that also has 21 one lights, one for the taxiway,

      street lamps and water tower, that has another 21 lights, one for the Quonset hut with six lights and one for the rotating beacon wired directly to the 12V AC power source (black button). All but the taxiway lights and street lamps have been installed in their final configuration and are removable for further work. (The blue-green wire in the photo is a test wire for the hanger lights)

      The control box for the control tower’s signal lamps can be seen mounted on top of the terminal/tower building.

      Press the clear, red button and the three signal lamps cycle through the red/stop, white/return-to-starting-point, and green/cleared for taxi/takeoff sequence.

      Next are details. Photos show a portion of the details.

      I am currently painting 23 figures for the admin building and five figures for the Quonset hut, along with the disassembled Super Cub they are working on just behind the hut. Outside the Quonset hut’s Super Cub and a bit of preliminary work on the Beech, I haven’t even begun building the nine aircraft presently planned for the display. Of course planned details often change as these projects develops.

      By the way, the hearse

      and coffins* in the photos not only recall the bodies I used to deliver, but to our mortality as well; something pilots were always aware of while flying around the Islands. I have a story, titled “Islands in Between,” involving human remains on board. The story describes the intensity of this inflight awareness at times. I will post it along with the completed diorama – should I live long enough to complete it.

      The details of this project seem overwhelming, but I have learned to take it one small step at a time, while ignoring the immensity of the overall project. In other words I concentrate on the individual tree while ignoring the forest – more to come.

      *Actually the bodies were delivered in cardboard boxes without fanfare. But were I to put it in that format, no one would recognize what is being portrayed. When I saw the curtained LaSalle hearse, I knew it had to be in the diorama.

      3 additional images. Click to enlarge.

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