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James B Robinson
12 articles

Old Friends and a New Place

July 16, 2018 · in Uncategorized · · 27 Comments

With the boy child moving out of the nest, the need to renovate the upstairs became a topic of discussions initiated by my wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed. Since my Camera/Office room upstairs was the biggest space and often never used for anything other than equipment and media storage, it was decided that I would move. My room was a nicely sized 156.38 sf (14.53 m2) with a large walk-in closet. The new room is a tad smaller at 119.44 sf (11.10 m2) and a small reach-in closet. This felt akin to fitting 10 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound bag! It was time to rethink my photographic needs and wants for the future.

As luck would have it, SWMBO was very approving when I expressed my desires to return to the world of model making. Now for the daunting task of switching rooms. After realizing I had been harboring WAY too much stuff from previous work, family photo albums, unused photo equipment and things that did not have a place in my or anyone else’s future, I developed a plan. Having semi-retired from Professional Photography a few years ago, I could ditch/reduce my inventory and save some space.

In the process of culling and packing, I found some forgotten memories. My father had introduced me to scale modelling when I was around 7 years of age. I still have some wooden models he and his brothers had built before WWII. None of my early model airplanes survived, but some 45 years ago I switched to building AFV. Must have been the 1970 movie Patton that caused this. I was eleven at the time and Dad took me to the fancy theater where they had models of tanks in the lobby. I started building dioramas as well. Somehow, a few bits and pieces have survived.

Here is my new space, complete with a new air compressor. I still have a ton of negatives and family albums to sort/scan, as well as a collection of 8mm film reels to deal with. My plan is to alternate between working on models and scanning of film/photos to eliminate at least one of the storage racks and make room for a display case or shelves.

I’ve already started on a few ideas for builds. Beginning with an OOB Mk II Spitfire, one of the very first models I built without my father’s help, probably because of the 1969 Battle of Britain movie. Then one or two others before starting one that will require some modifications. I have in my stash a Vought OS2U Kingfisher, with the Cutting Edge corrected cowling, floats and cockpit.

After I relearn forgotten skills and learn some new ones, I have plans for two dioramas. One that will include a few of my favorite aircraft and one that will include two very special aircraft representing the Centennial Of U.S. Naval Aviation.

What will the future bring………….

3 additional images. Click to enlarge.

27 responses

  1. Sexy space. Can I put your bride in touch with mine? Might help advance my efforts.?

  2. Love that new 'play room' it's time to get that bench "dirtied up". 🙂

    • Craig, if you could only see my desk at work! My engineer complains that he can't find anything unless I'm there. Organized disorder. 🙂 I'm actually a pretty disciplined builder. Dad taught me that and it stuck with me for the most part.

  3. That is a great room! Enjoy your new hobby!

  4. James! I really think your space is quite neat! I'm sure that - the moment you start building - chaos will increase on the bench, but as long as you know where you put everything it's ok! Thanks for sharing these old wood models too, were they actual kits too or completely scratch built?

    • Michel, thanks! I'm not totally sure. I know that there were wooden kits available back then, you can still find some on Ebay, but I know that at least one of these was hand carved by him. If you notice the model on the top right side in the first photo, that one is unfinished in it's natural wood state. Dad had a ton of magazine pages he had collected before and after the war. They had scale drawings of older and current planes. He taught me how to trace them, then glue the outlines onto wood. We would then carve them down to match the plane. The first plane we built was a P-80 in Balsa. Softer wood was easier for me to carve. We spent one whole summer working on another one in Pine that we unfortunately never finished. I had kept it but unfortunately it disappeared in one of my many moves during college. BTW, the Jeep and the Matilda were built 43 years ago.

  5. Really nice room, much better then what I have to work with these days. Hope u get a lot of use out of your new workshop.

    BTW The Revell Stearman in your stash is an outstanding model to work on. It will surprise u how well it is engineered, with great details, and perfect fit. DOnt let the Bi-plane subject matter turn u off, its an easy build. I think it is one of the most under-rated kits on the market. Sat in my stash for years before I started on it b/c just did not know.

    I would love to build that Helldiver, never built one before. Looks like you have an awesome collection of Vallejo Model-Air paints. That is my most used, go-to, paint. BTW here is a picture of that Revell Stearman to motivate u.

    4 attached images. Click to enlarge.

    • Paul, I don't know if you looked at my backstory, I am privileged to crew with the only flying SB2C-5 Helldiver in the world. It's kept at KEFD, about a mile from my house when it is not on tour. It's usually in town from November through March and we general inspect/maintenance during the winter months. I chose Vallejo because it's easy to get locally. The Stearman will probably be my 3rd or 4th model to build and will be my first using PE. BTW, nice job on yours! I may pick your brain when I start mine.

      • @jjetmec Here's some eye candy for you. Cylinder head replacement in 2015. You really don't appreciate the size of this thing until you are up close to it. There is a link down below that will take you to more of my photos.

        4 attached images. Click to enlarge.

        • That is so cool! WOW!

          My dad was a flight crewman during WWII out of the Pacific. He usually manned the PB4Y-2, but would hook a ride in anything with 2-seats to log flight time to get paid flight-pay. He would tell me about his time getting rides in the HellDiver. Funny thing is he didnt always have good things to say, I dont recall what it was but he reported some pilots having gripes. Do u know anything of this? Would love to re-call that history. Everything I ever heard about the HellDiver was positive, but not an expert on the type. I like it from a modelers perspective b/c not seen often but love all Naval WW2 aircraft. Wish there was a really good 1/48 version. Nice 1/72 out there but to small for me. Monogram not bad but hate the raised lines. Thanx for sharing! Paul

          • The main gripes about the Diver were the early versions, -1's and -2's. They were under powered. The -3's and finally the -4's were far superior. From personal experience, riding in the back seat is not terrible for short periods, but I'm sure it could get uncomfortable if you had to be in it for longer than a few hours.

            Interesting fact about the Helldiver, the French used -5 models from 1951 to 1954 during the Indochina War, the predecessor to America involvement in Vietnam. IMHO, the best model is the Pro Modeller version. After that, you have to move up to 1/32 scale.

  6. I could only wish I had a room to myself! My wife probably realizes I would rarely emerge to mix with the rest of the family! Welcome - and get busy!

  7. Those planes are a lovely find, James. And the new digs are enough to make most of us more than a little jealous! In my case so is the photography kit! Congratulations on the new compressor too - a silver lining indeed (if one were needed). I tend to agree with Tom - I don't think I could be trusted to leave such a space too often!

    • Thank you Paul. My wife was surprised when I pulled those old birds out. She thought she had seen everything I owned. They had been packed away most carefully for a long time. When I was a kid, the set even included some Battleships and Cruisers. I don't remember why those didn't survive. As for Greg's comment, I'm not too sure she knows what lays ahead. We actually have a work-out room right outside the door. Guess if she gets lonely she can work out and watch her movies. 🙂

  8. Great "Playroom" James! The fact that you crew the only Helldiver is awesome and makes me envious! My Dad flew in them in WWII, both as an enlisted pilot and also machine gunner.

    Well done!

    • Thanks Jeff. I get to play with the Diver about 3 or 4 months out of the year. The rest of the time she's on tour. We sell rides and go to shows to help keep her maintained and flying. Cool story about your father. If you are on Facebook, look up "Commemorative Air Force SB2C Helldiver". If you want to see some of my photos, go to

      • Wow you are a lucky man James...

        I just looked at some of your photos, and they are amazing ! I also just happened to notice the pictures labelled "Wings and Wheels" (or something close to that)...
        The Yellow '71 Challenger, 72-74 'Cuda and the yellow '69 Road Runner (with the lift off hood) caught my attention really quick... 🙂

        • Louis, my first love was photography. Another thing picked up from my father. Lucky for me it turned into a paying hobby. Wings and Wheels is an almost annual event. It's crazy! They block off the main runway at Ellington Field (KEFD), and run timed events for cars/trucks/bikes, you name it. There's a Car Show and the planes are on static. Even includes helicopter rides in a Huey B model. I've been thinking about installing an Airaid 300-631-1 PowerAid Throttle Body Spacer for the black beast, topping her off with some high octane and see what kind of time I can get out of her. Hemi, true dual, Airaid air cleaner and chip control. 🙂

  9. @lgardner Give you a wooden nickel if you can guess what the Future holds...

    @dirtylittlefokker I'm a size 42 Long just in case you need to order a jacket! 😉

    • My crystal ball is a little dusty... but if I were a betting man I would say the Revell / Monogram 1/48 Spitfire II as a part of the 100 Years of the RAF... 🙂

      and David has already placed the order for my jacket... I keep telling him the sleeves are too long, and asking about the strange laces... It almost looks like you would wear it backwards. Funny thing he has a huge butterfly net sitting next to it, and you don't see a collection of butterflies... building Spitfires does that to you... 🙂

      My friend, I'm happy to see such a wonderful place to do your work. It looks very nice indeed... you have a wonderful "Man Cave" set up here.

      Seeing your wooden models reminded me of a few my Dad built when he was a boy. The one that is the most memorable for me was his wooden P-38. It was hand carved too.

      • Close but no Cigar! Dust that ball off and guess again. It's going to be a little bit bigger than that. I appreciate the thought that I could entertain entrance into the 100 Year group. We'll see, got a LOT of catching up to do.

        Of wooden models, my wife was so enamored with those. Makes me want to order one of the kits off of Ebay, but that's a long term commitment and well, I don't want to keep David that busy.

  10. Nice man-cave you've got James.
    Those photos in the hangar brought back some memories of my RAAF days. Not the planes, but the environment . . . could even smell the Avgas.

    • Thanks @tecko Peter. I'm afraid that the space is a little tight for some of the things I've got bouncing around in my head, but I'll make it work. Haven't had a lot of time in the hangar lately. We did such a good job the last two annuals there's nothing much to do but wipe the plane down and check the oil.

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