Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Gem and Train Show

We drove about 30 miles to a gem and model train show today. We had been planning to go ever since the dood at the train store told me I'd have to go to train shows to try to find the part to fix my commemorative bicentennial American Flyer diesel engine. Plus, we'd gone to a gem show in San Schmose a not long before we moved, and HannahC really enjoyed it.

Honestly, the gem side of the show was a lot more impressive than the train side. There was a surprising amount of N-scale stuff - both layouts and gear for sale - followed closely behind by O-scale. Not much HO stuff, despite that being the most popular scale by far. Perhaps that's why there isn't much at the show, as you can get a good selection and just about any hobby store.

I came away empty handed. Though about 20 minutes after our arrival, The Mrs. won a random drawing for a door prize. They gave away two about every half hour. She got herself a carved jade(?) iguana. I call it "El Lizardo." She was very happy.

HannahC and I watched a guy "scratch building" a wooden house. That means it wasn't a kit. He had made up a little drafting of the building and was cutting tiny pieces of wood to put it together. I don't think he was doing the 16" on center stud distance to scale, though. More like 24". He wasn't particularly inclined to interact with the audience, as he complained about all the interruptions he experienced at the show while trying to build.

Maybe if he didn't have a big sign that said, "Scratch Building Demonstration," in front of him, and wasn't sitting at the demonstration table at a train show, he could have had a more peaceful time. But it was nifty to see the tools he was using to make the thing. Really, the only thing he had that I don't already own was a thing that looked like a hybrid of a miter box and a paper cutter that was used to cut the little sticks to length. Mostly, he just cut them with an X-acto knife, though.

He was the only guy actually doing anything at the train demonstration table. The other guys were just sitting around with stuff they'd already built in the past handing out fliers about how much they'd charge to make you something like it.

Now, over on the gem side, HannahC and MaxieC both learned to pan for gold. HannahC also got to grind and polish a rock into an oval shape on a six wheel wet grinder bench. They called this "making a cabachon". She spent a good 20 minutes on it. Afterwards, she and The Mrs. headed off to the gem vendors' section and found a little necklace mount in which it fit, and now HannahC proudly displays her art around her neck.

On the way back, we stopped at a brand new TGI Friday's. We almost never eat at TGI Friday's, and The Mrs. was nostalgic for it. It is apparently one of the favorite hangouts for her sister and mother, though not the one in Longmont.

So, I didn't manage to find a replacement piece for my engine at the train show. But, not to worry. As you all know by now, I am the master of fixin' stuff. I had decided to take a crack at fixing this before having to plunk down like $20 to buy a whole engine just to scavenge one little part off of it. My dad had tried and failed many years ago to fix this by trying to reform the plastic with a plastic-melting tip for his soldering gun. I decided to go more high-tech.

I schlepped MaxieC off to Ace while the womens were seeing that godawful hopping-around-in-tights and toy-soldier-marching Christmas tradition, "The Nutcracker." Ace, as it turns out, has a dizzying selection epoxy clay. They probably had 8 to choose from, including one that was even Ace-branded.

That was 8 more than Lowe's had, but at Lowe's we did manage to score a whole lot of hot tub chemicals. I've learned that, around here, Lowe's is my best bet for inexpensive hot tub chemicals. See, they sell the non-chlorine shock (that my hot tub seems to require about a half pound of every time we go in it) packaged both for hot tubs and for pools. If you buy it for pools, it's about 1/4 the price. They also, for the first time, had water clarifier and filter cleaner, so I got everything I needed. Except for epoxy clay.

I got the second-cheapest epoxy clay at Ace, as the cheapest didn't claim to stick to plastic. $4.99 for the tube. Epoxy clay is cool, as it's like what you'd get if a cheese log were a tool. It has an inner core of one color clay and an outer shell of another. You cut of a slice, then knead the two together until they're mixed. Then you have about 5 minutes to work it into whatever shape you want, and it's completely hardened in an hour.

The one I got was called "Quick Steel", which made me kinda wistful for twenty years ago. I don't know why.

I put the stuff on there (which I had to do twice cuz the first time I didn't get enough of the black core and it never hardened), shaped it as well as I could with some mini-screwdrivers, let it dry, and then used my Dremel tool with a grout cutting bit to shape the tab until it fit just right on the engine. Now the wheels don't fall off anymore, and I can use the engine that matches the caboose.

I only needed about 20 cents worth of the Quick Steel. I have three years to figure out uses for the rest. I'm thinking of using it to fill the holes when I change out some of the old hitches for the new style, which requires some filling and drilling. I just fixed my Leatherman, which had a little tab break off that would keep the pliers from getting stuck against the screwdriver when you closed it. Oh, the joy.


blogauthor said...

Reminds me of Tilex, at about $4 a bottle, is a weak bleach solution. Or you can buy a gallon of bleach, undiluted, for $1.29.

Manly Lesbian said...

Thanks for the ad- that was a nice Christmas tree incredible light show!