Sunday, February 2, 2014

Failure, Not As Epic As You Think

Failure.  No one likes it, but everyone does it.  We all fail at some point, no matter how much we try, plan, and prepare something goes wrong.  Sometimes failure seems to out weigh success and even the littlest thing just won't go the way we'd like it to go.  In modeling, failure is ultimately up to you, the builder, to decide.  Some kits fail on a monumental scale and you really have no say in the matter because no matter what you do, that puppy ain't going together.  That is a whole different matter, some kits are not meant to be built.  I'm talking more about the difference between paint that's "close enough" and paint that get a bath in the "purple pond".
The old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again" applies to modeling as well as life.  How well you deal with failure is the measure of your success.  I recently have been working on my 1957 Ford for an upcoming contest and I scratchbuilt the fuel injection set up for the 312 motor in the kit.  It came time to think about the injector stacks on it so I bought some short injector stacks from Detail Master.  For those that are unfamiliar with the old Ford Y-Blocks, the intake ports are stacked vertically in pairs, not in the usual horizontal arrangement we are used to seeing.  The injectors have to be short and very close together to fit in the tight space.  When the Detail Master parts arrived they were too big for the little Y-Block, so I had some tall injector stacks that were smaller in diameter so I cut them down to 1/8" to fit, still too tall.  I whacked off another 1/16" and they were still too big in diameter to fit correctly.  I tried flattening the sides to mover them closer together and they were still a little too wide to fit. I then had to create some 1/16" tall injector stacks out of aluminum tube to get them to fit.  This little exercise in failure took about four hours; and a lot of swearing.
Later, I needed to build a front spoiler, or "air plow" for this Bonneville Beast, so I got out a piece of aluminum, cut what I needed and then made a futile attempt at gluing it to front bumper of the old Ford. It never happened, it just wouldn't fit right and in the process I managed to rub all of the Alclad off the bumper, and scratched the black under coat to the point that I needed to redo it.  I then decided to glue the "air plow" to the bumper support and that worked better.  Total time for that little fiasco: about three hours.  I also sanded through the clear coat twice, which caused a repaint each time.  Lots of "fails" on one car.
I'm not writing this to impress you with my building ability or to whine about the trials and tribulations of model car building, I'm writing this to explore the idea of what makes a person successful.  Success with model building, as well as success in any endeavor, are directly related to a person's ability to handle failure.  I've been following a thread on the Model Cars Magazine Forum about a build of the Army Vega Funny car in 1/16th scale.  The craftsmanship on this car is amazing, so I commented on how nice it is and how I hope to improve my skills to this level.  I got a reply back from the builder that said,"Thank you sir. I appreciate the kind words. My advice about adding more detail is to not be afraid and go for it, and do it little steps at a time. I can't tell you how many things on this build that I redid 2 or 3 times."  We tend to forget that when we see the final product.  We don't know how many "fails" were involved to get it right.  Any great accomplishment has a history of failures to its name.  So next time you think you need to throw that model against the wall (which I have done) remember, you may be one redo away from success.
"Rat Fink" Ron

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