2004 National American Model Engineering Society Exposition

Modeler's Corner

Henry Ford's 1896 Tiller

No, it's not a gas engine, but the detail on this model of Henry Ford's 1896 tiller steered car exemplifies the quality of work found at the 2004 National American Model Engineering Society Exposition. 

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The 15th annual North American Model Engineering Society (NAMES) Exposition was held April 24-25, 2004, at the Southgate Civic Center in Southgate, Mich. As always, I had a great time at the show, and judging from the looks on the faces of the show crowd everyone else did, as well. From the novice to the pro, from the young in age to the young at heart, everyone had a smile on his or her face.

The show didn't officially start until Saturday, but on Friday kids from local schools and youth groups were invited to attend Educational Day. During Educational Day, groups of 10 to 20 school kids were treated to two hours of demonstrations and classroom sessions, learning basic theories of electricity, gas engine operation, hot-air engine operation and steam engine operation. It's a very informative session, and the kids get to walk through the show floor and view all the different models before the start of the show.

On the floor
One of the biggest models at the show had to be the impressive, 18-foot long, 1/72-scale model of the U. S. S. Missouri built by Bill Davidson. Another very nice scale boat was a 1940 Chris-Craft built by Fred Widmann, fully detailed down to the flag behind the engine lids.

There were many airplane engines in view, including an impressive 1/4-scale Bentley nine-cylinder rotary built by Roland Gaucher and an 18-cylin-der rotary. Vendors had airplane engine-building plans and casting kits at the show, and plans for building railroad engines and railcars where also available.

As you might expect, plenty of automobile models showed up, including a replica of Henry Ford's 1896 tiller-steered car, and Roland Gleisner had a 1/7-scale 1939 Peterbilt Model 344 semi on display. A beautiful machine, Roland built it in five short weeks. Plenty of tractor models were also on hand (both gas and steam), including the 'Minney' steam tractor owned by Bob and Alice McGinnis.

Stationary engines
Of particular interest were the model stationary engines on hand. The engines ranged from perfect scale reproductions to 'freelance' (self-designed) engines such as Nick Rowland's very attractive flame eater. Roy Baker brought an exceptional Kohler he's working on, and John Burns had both a right-hand and a left-hand Reid running flawlessly at the show. Richard Shelly's scale Domes-tic Jr. was a standout, and he now has four sizes of Galloway engines available, including a 1/8-scale that's still in development.

Pacific Model Design showed a new kit patterned after a 2 HP Root & VanDervoort, and Brooks Pendergrast displayed a model of a 1906 Stickney Universal in 1/3-scale. Brooks had the Stickney pumping water almost all day and - save for the occasional need for fuel - with no interruptions. Morrison and Martin had their well-known 1895 Mery Explosive, and someone brought a very nice Economy-powered tractor conversion, perfectly detailed right down to the scale oil can mounted to the frame.

Stepping back
There are so many models and so many different ideas presented at this show that it's impossible cover everything. Many of the models were for sale, and while some of them cost as much as a full-sized version, there was one available for a mere $17. There were also lathe tools, milling machine tools and hand tools for sale (both new and used in all sizes). Vendors also offered plenty of manuals and books on model making and machining. Everyone seemed to be toting a bag filled with goodies.

I would be hard-pressed to estimate how many exhibitors and vendors attended the show, but both of the arenas in the Civic Center were filled. If you like scales, models and home-builts, this is the show for you. The 16th Annual NAMES Exposition will be held at the same location and on the same weekend next year, April 23-24, 2005. Is this hobby great, or what?

Have a tip other model makers should know? Send it to Rusty Hopper at Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265; rustyhopper@hotmail.com Learn more about NAMES on the Web at: www.modelengineeringsoc.com