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Bob Cleek

Book review: "William Frederick's Scale Journey," worth a look at a bargain price.

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I acquired a copy of William Frederick's (1874) Scale Journey: A Scratchbuilder's Evolutionary Development, by Antonio Mendez C. recently and now note that somebody is presently "remaindering" new copies of this volume on eBay for the paltry sum of $7.50. (And another $3.50 or so for shipping.) In the spirit of full disclosure,  I don't have any connection with the seller.

 

I'd not been familiar with this book prior to recently acquiring it, but had heard of its author, a highly-thought-of Mexican ship model builder of long standing, which I'd noticed only upon taking a closer look at it.  This book's title is a bit odd. "William Frederick? Never heard of the guy. What kind of models does he make?"  As it turns out, "William Frederick" is a three-masted cargo schooner built in 1874, and its "scale journey" is a description of the building of a scale model of her. "Who'd a' thunk it?" It was the word, "scratchbuildler" and the known model-maker author's name that caught my eye. 

 

As it turned out, I discovered what was one of the better collections of great modeling techniques and tricks I've come across in a long time. The book is a compendium of a highly experienced and creative modeler's techniques presented in the framework of a description of his scratch-building a highly-detailed radio-controlled sailing model of the William Frederick. It's not a practicum or "how-to-build-it" book, but rather a "how I built it" book. I'm one of those "We know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two." kind of guys, and I've bought more than a few books on modeling, only to lament that there wasn't anything in them I hadn't seen before. For instance, I must have close to twenty or more books on modeling that contain, to me now, boringly repetitive chapters on "the tools you need to have." I'm sure most MSW forumites have had the same experience. William Frederick's Journey is little different in this respect, as might be expected. What sets it apart, however, is the relatively large number of new, to me at least, approaches to common challenges encountered in building ship models that I haven't seen in other books.  Mendez has one of the best collections of ideas I've seen on setting up a building shop and, for example, provides plans for mobile tool carts I found truly inspiring. He's a creative jig-builder and modeling tool-maker who offers many which are useful as he's designed them, or serve as starting points for those with a creative approach to problem-solving. I was particularly impressed with his extensive treatment of "mass production" block-building. He has two or three separate solutions, including a jig for turning out a dozen identical elliptically-shaped blocks at a time on a disk sander.  His treatment of block-making is the only one I've seen that acknowledges and addresses different techniques for mass-producing the variously-shaped blocks found at different periods in history. Reading this book gave me a lot of new perspectives on how to deal with the many challenges scratch-building provides. It isn't just for "scratch-builders," though. "Scratch-building" seems to have taken on some sort of mystical aura in recent times. To me, it's simply the logical progression of the hobby for anyone who stays with it any length of time. Most modelers quickly "outgrow" the usual run of kits, with a few exceptions (e.g. Syren kits,) and necessarily evolve into "scratch-builders." It starts with buying aftermarket blocks and rigging line and before they know it, their making their own and "it's downhill all the way" after that. :D This book will make you a better kit builder as well as a better scratch-builder, which, in my book, at least, are inevitably one and the same thing.

 

Other books are fancier and have more full-page color pictures and drawings and diagrams which may be more sophisticated. Others still may have more extensive treatments of rigging schedules, spar dimensions, and so on (and which duplicate information so many authors of these books seem to employ as "padding.") I'm sure most modelers have come to realize there's no single modeling book that covers it all. This one is no different. The simple fact is, though, that this one has a lot that no others have, much more, in fact, that others don't have than I've ever seen in a single book before. In that respect, it's a gem. It's definitely worth buying for $7.50. I'm sure it was priced much higher when it was published in 2005. 266 pages, hardcover, tons of illustrations, and an index. It just might change for the better how you think about modeling. Priced at less than a snort at the corner pub, you can't go wrong grabbing a copy.

 

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/William-Fredericks-Scale-Journey-Scratchbuilders-Development-Model-Ships/202632143331?_trkparms=ispr%3D1&hash=item2f2dd121e3:g:w~0AAMXQqBxRGwHl&enc=AQAEAAACQBPxNw%2BVj6nta7CKEs3N0qX2rUt1kMWu04v79%2BQt6%2Fc5KwGGM2txm5wMkabdZRx99zBYT8W7%2BtRzhRxwYTIE7OCqlqcg9LShIsVtAkben0OX7PIzBw7IWBQJIPgBH%2F9GJztvrQUZsGeX7YaNgrqwJwb%2F0Igwsj6z6dOPXMnvTmUeuuXaS8npjn0omAzUhV%2B0b6krrYbwEU43DuP5g5rlIwurD6RCJf1xZRNCklWUW6%2FUbNd3zWO5rE0Ae9hmyVAXGREqWj1HIRTsEqxhH4aHEZ%2BMyS%2Bf32edQrTd8ORY2flRO1lQDow9tcaJYSFMNspy%2B3%2FBq83imiaLsHrv7b%2FfcU5W5muzOygMHUakhfJzHqmhxXTuR0u0Wnhhzdl%2FhV5et4cJxRrqag9hFct2Y%2BeXXcsPf34%2BHZjrnw9w362Vlaqyaja%2FwPc%2Fk4aEWe6NZzXAbo1CaEf9jzB6Zf347lBZztpOiCoFEFYd9SUpiSv8nbZLPieLNtvAbw9BX0NARs0EHugOFI2N6%2FxR5Q4TVYWdDldvhm5Us911jIZ15GwXV%2FyoWlCqJirr91qPiZaTioDhx5VtlqQtzQIRSLtXwNQQEg7NII%2FHjJbNntl2kSp5cpAQCRvZ85hmFOR9vRjPsVlPEsZfFa9YpkAValb0uJABcCFKB98QTN0WQC%2BSCvg9fM2m2PzNJIbAK1pqdd06U23IYgB3fUhKdUHSt5l6tcnns0QHtiTb6o43wZjtVYI2DQshpGka3jInlkf%2FeJpVxA5Vlw%3D%3D&checksum=202632143331e891b87235dc49a8a55d59d9b9e0867e

 

Also see: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=William+Frederick’s+(1874)+Scale+Journey%3A+A+Scratchbuilder’s+Evolutionary+Development&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

 

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Bob,

My copy just got here from Amazon.  Your review is spot on.  Thank you for bringing attention to this book.  It is one of the better general technique manuals now in my library.

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    There were several articles submitted to Ships In Scale magazine by Antonio over the years which I thought were of great interest to me.  So, when the book came out in 2005 and was offered for sale through SIS, I jumped at the chance to get a copy.  I immediately put it at the top of my X-mas list and the admiral got it for me.  At that time, I think it sold for about $35, so if you can get it for less than $10 you will have yourself a real bargain!  He had a very extensive model shop with many innovative ideas and pieces of equipment

    Since getting the book, I have used many of his ideas to make versions of them for myself.  Most recently I modified a broken drafting chair into a mobile support table for my model shop.  Both Antonio and I strongly believed in modifying old equipment for other uses rather than to just discard them.               

    Unfortunately, he has recently passed, so the book will be his last.  Although I never met him, I somehow feel that I have lost a kindred spirit.

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Bob

 

Thanks for a great review. Amazon won't ship it to the UK but I've ordered a copy from ebay. The only downside is that shipping adds another $35. I still think it'll be worth it.

 

I came across a description of Antonio's workshop some years ago in Milton Roth's book, Ship Modelling from Stem to Stern. I was greatly impressed by his use of mobile workstations, and although that's not practical in my workshop (which I'd already fitted out with fixed units)  I've used the idea in the garage. There I have four mobile benches of various sizes for different machines, including two 6' benches that I can line up when using my Syren Rope Rocket. When not in use they fit neatly against the back wall behind the cars.

 

Thanks again

 

Derek

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I couldn't resist either.  Order placed.  I'm planning on placing an order for a Byrnes Table saw in the next day or two.  Maybe I can find some interesting jigs or tools in this book to break the saw in with.

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I don't know exactly why international shipping seems so much more expensive than it once was. Perhaps it's because everything is more expensive as time goes on, but it seems it's gone up more than a lot of other things. ( suspect it's what I call the "Amazon Effect." Everybody expects what they order to arrive on their doorstep in a day or two, so everything is shipped airfreight, which was always much more expensive. It used to take a month or six weeks to get something shipped from Europe to the US. That was when mail went by ship. I wonder if things can even still be sent "regular mail" instead of "air mail" anymore. It's the heavy stuff like books and heavier that really get crazy. Perhaps a request for something to be shipped by ship (Why do they think it's called "shipping," anyway?) might significantly reduce the delivery costs at the "expense" of a longer wait for it.

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  • Just to rub salt into the wound, we pay a tax (vat)-17%, on personal imports over $75  INCLUDING postage!!!!!
  • I need to import kits,wood,electric tools etc. Its lucky my wife doesn't ask the cost of these. BUT, the hobby is worth every penny (cent). So please reduce the temptations.
  • May you all keep well in this Virus situation.

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Bob

 

In the last few years all the carriers have done away with international shipping by ship.  I think the USPS was the last to go and you're right, international shipping has doubled in the last 5 years.  I can only ship ground to Canada now.  I shipped a saw to Latvia last week, $426.00

 

Jim 

Model Machines

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30 minutes ago, jimbyr said:

Bob

 

In the last few years all the carriers have done away with international shipping by ship.  I think the USPS was the last to go and you're right, international shipping has doubled in the last 5 years.  I can only ship ground to Canada now.  I shipped a saw to Latvia last week, $426.00

 

Jim 

Model Machines

Ouch!  That really must put a dent in your potential customer base. Maybe it's time for the modeling specialty manufacturers like Model Machines, Syren, and, the US kit manufacturers to throw in together and fill up a cargo container to ship to an online retailer middleman in the EU every now and then.  Or maybe airline personnel might be enlisted to "Smurf" in an item or two on each flight. I believe they get a free personal baggage allowance. :D 

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Bob

 

Ouch!  That really must put a dent in your potential customer base. 

 

Yes it has.  Between  the ridiculous shipping cost, vat taxes and duty our international customer base has gone down quite a bit.  Shipping cost in the states has also doubled in the last 6 years

 

Jim

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Many thanks Bob for a great recommendation.

 

Ordered 12 March through your ebay link, delivered to the UK today (21st) very well packaged and no import duty to pay! Excellent service, particularly in the current situation. I'm looking forward to staying in and reading it - nothing else to do now all the pubs are shut 😟.

 

Derek

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On 3/16/2020 at 12:29 PM, toms10 said:

Just put my order in.  Thanks for the insight Bob.

Tom

Just received my copy. Looks like it contains some useful and practical info on how certain tasks were accomplished by this particular scratch modeler. Looks like I have some decent reading material for those rare times when I actually take a lunch hour😁

 

Thanks again for the recommendation Bob. 👍
 

Tom

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