All posts by Steve

How To Become a Clay Modeler

Recently I have been reading several forums that have had many posts on becoming a clay modeler. In those readings I’m finding that there seems to be a romance with this particular field in automotive design and yet many people have very little understanding in what it takes to become one. It would appear that the image that is being portrayed is, pick up a tool and scrape away until the desired shape is reached. This I’m afraid couldn’t be farther away from the truth. In industrial art certain parameters need to be kept and to create a form that is devoid of parameters will only come back to haunt you at a later stage in the program.

Having artistic flare is always a plus but you have to be able to translate a designers sketch to fit the package or parameters given, that is where the skill lies. Creating the best or closest resemblance to the sketch.

In my particular instance, to become a clay modeler I have progress through various fields. A road that wasn’t direct but through various related trades. For me I started at the age of sixteen as a pattermaker, this came about through my love of wood carving and wooden furniture which automatically placed me into finding a job where wood would play a major part in my daily activity. To determine a career at the age of sixteen is pretty much a hit and miss affair unless you are real focused. To help me with my decision the local careers officer would be at the school for the last two weeks before finally being pushed out to fend for myself and it was at that point that we I decided upon pattermaking. The whole process was based on the fact that I liked working in wood. Little did I know that only a small percentage of the apprentice patternmakers with Ford Motor Company would end up in the wood patternmaking shop, the rest would be working in metal!

During my apprenticeship I became familiar with using blue prints, hand tools and the workings of engines and all components that would have to be cast in a foundry. The fine tolerances that would improved water flow around an engine, the small difference in a wall thickness that could amount to massive savings in materials used during a years production. In that trade I would have to determine the best way and most productive way to produce a pattern for that specific component. It also meant that I had to go to college once a week for the duration of my apprenticeship to learn the theory behind the practical experience. In doing so I was fortunate to put those learnings to good use and hone my abilities, eventually ending up in the place I wanted to work, the wood shop. Continue reading How To Become a Clay Modeler

America’s Vehicle of Choice Is Japanese

After the results of all the tests conducted by the Consumer Reports Magazine were tallied the overall opinion is, a Japanese vehicle is the best for the American public. Apparently this is the second time that Japan’s automakers have shut out the domestic and European alternatives. In conducting these tests they rely on their own findings, car ownership reports, reliability and government safety rankings.

This is no small survey by any means, after collecting data from its subscriber base, a total of some 1.3 million vehicles were polled giving these results. The top ten are;

  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Fit
  • Honda Civic
  • Toyota RAV 4
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Prius
  • Infiniti M35
  • Infiniti G35
  • Maxda MX-5 Miata

Continue reading America’s Vehicle of Choice Is Japanese

How Do You Research Your Next Vehicle?

I frequently read publications such as Automotive News, Car and Driver etc, etc, and when I find a headline that states that a 2007 model year vehicle has the distinction of gaining a mere one star for the side impact rating, I have to read it again to see if it’s a misprint.

Many people who are in the position of buying a new vehicle these days have so much more in the way of researching especially when it’s at your finger tips i.e. computers. This instant access to information takes a lot of guess work out of the equation that may have been the norm some thirty years ago, when word of mouth determined the next purchase. Now you can select your top choice of vehicles and see how they stack up against each other and ultimately this may sway any potential purchaser who is sitting on the fence, especially if it comes down to safety. Continue reading How Do You Research Your Next Vehicle?

Toyota, Honda, more Recalls

The price of increased market share for the Japanese juggernauts Toyota and Honda is becoming more apparent these days as they advance even further into the domestic automotive market, that is, more recalls. The demand for the most popular vehicles, demands more output from the factories, often leading to a lapse in stringent quality control checks or batches of sub-par components that often never become apparent until years later. This malign which often plagues the home turf manufacturers such as GM, Ford and DamlierChrysler is now becoming a more frequent visitor to their doorstep making for a small chink in what once was, ironclad armor. Continue reading Toyota, Honda, more Recalls

Home Made Angle Plates

Over on Clay, Application to Refinement forum “Geep” has posted his remarks on building my angle bracket from the plans provided at my claysculptors website and to compliment his workmanship he has done a fine job. These angle brackets are a necessary item if you are contemplating building a scale model as a home project, purely just to ensure some kind of balance to the model. Many of us who are attempting to create our own little masterpiece will realize that it takes considerable time and money to setup enough equipment to go through the process without the additional hassle of keep running to the local Home Depot for supplies.

The only option for many of these specialized tools is to construct them yourself and with the angle bracket this is no exception. To actually purchase a couple of metal aluminum or magnesium angle plates would cost quite a considerable amount of money, such as you would get from Norton Equipment Corp. The biggest problem is to find a supplier who has the size that would suit the task at hand at a reasonable cost. Initially that was what I had in mind but after considerable research I found that the cost was prohibitive for a project set for the garage, the setup is for hobby modelmaking and not industrial or commercial, so option two comes into play, make your own. Continue reading Home Made Angle Plates

GM, What a Difference a Year Makes

This time last year the top honors for Car and Truck of the year fell to the Japanese company Honda, with the Civic and the Ridgeline. The first time in the fourteen year history of the award that one company has taken both honors. Very impressive as Detroit has always been known as the home of the American auto industry, with that, the spoils for the year saw Honda increase its marketplace percentages as did Toyota at the expense of GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler.

This year the North American Car and Truck award goes to General Motors with the 49 automotive journalists appointing the Saturn Aura and the Cheverolet Silverado the winners, making it the second year in a row that one company has taken both honors, couple this with the turn around plan that Rick Wagoner has in place we could see some real momentum for 2007.

This was no easy feat when you think of the competition, the Saturn Aura edged out the Toyota Camry and the Honda Fit proving that the quality is there. The Silverado bettered the Ford Edge and the Mazda CX-7 to win its award. Now with some real contenders out in the marketplace what better time than to reveal the continual story of the Chevrolet Camaro with the Camaro convertible. With production penciled in for 2009 this will keep the palate salivating until the real vehicles emerge. Much to the Generals credit, this years offerings are all about quality and with the possible emergence of an alternative fuel vehicle such as the Chevrolet Volt, the tide could be finally turning. Continue reading GM, What a Difference a Year Makes

GM, True Super Sports on the Way

As everyone may have noticed in recent years the SS moniker that use to adorn true performance vehicles has been used on nearly every Chevrolet model that has been produced, even the latest Malibu. This indiscriminate use of the label has left true performance buffs shaking their heads wondering if even the Aveo will be the next one in the mix. The good news is, the manufacturer has seen the light and only true contenders will be worthy of the prestigious labeling, SS.

That means, vehicles such as the new Camaro due as a 2009 model will obviously be in the mix, the Impala springs to mind and maybe the Colbalt will hang on, as Chevrolets pocket rocket. For me this signifies a belief in bringing quality back to the brand and an end to diluting everything that is good. The SS should stand heads above the regular sports edition signifying that when you purchase that model it is indeed a Super Sport helping it to retain market value and exclusivity.

A vehicle that truly represents the name Super Sport.

Single Cut Files, An Alternative to DMT

A major concern with sharpening steels is getting them to a point where they will give a superior cut on hard clays. I have mentioned the latest in Diamond Machining Technology but these will be at the higher end of the price scale. What would be a good alternative without the additional high end cost?

Single cut files have been used for this very purpose for many years and the price for a smooth cut, single cut file can range from as little as $10.00 for an eight inch length to $30.00 for a fourteen inch length. My preference would be to spring for the longer length, as this can handle all the sharpening tasks on the steels in your arsenal.

I have in the past and still do use single cut files. This type of file is used primarily for the purpose of obtaining a clean finish on cured plastics, fiberglass, acrylics and polyesters, which makes it ideal for edge finishing because it is extra sharp. These single cut files when setup in a sharpening table configuration make it easy to manipulate a shaped steel against the file to produce a razor sharp edge. When I say sharpening table I’m referring to setting up the file at right angles to a flat plane such as in rebating a piece of wood and setting the file on edge. With a few rubber feet to stop the board from slipping you have a purpose made table for sharpening, be it just the length of the file. Continue reading Single Cut Files, An Alternative to DMT

Diamond Machining Technology, DMT

As you may have noticed, in the past few posts I have been talking about the advent of harder non sulphur based automotive clays because of recent changes to solders used in computer circuitry. This change in direction is extremely important because of the reliance on computer hardware and milling machines in most major OEM studios. With this type of clay you will find that the advantage for the milling machine is the lack of oils that cause major sticking to the cutters being used but what it also means is the added abrasion to the cutting edge.

The bottom line is, the cutters are going to be changed more frequently than before and the cutting feed will have to be that much slower to avoid cutter bounce especially with any cut that is on the deep side. That being said, what does it mean for hand tools that are being used on this hard clay.

During my time using this clay I am finding that the tools are being sharpened more frequently than before and for me the best sharpening medium so far is by DMT&#174, Diamond Machining Technology. Continue reading Diamond Machining Technology, DMT

Gas Misers, 30 MPG Vehicles

The launch of 2007 model year vehicles is upon us and the buzz is about the slew of 30 mpg cars and trucks that are available. The record gas prices of the summer has seen a change of heart for many people and the misconception that certain automotive companies only produce gas guzzlers is about to change. Predictably the Toyota Prius is the most fuel economical vehicle available now touting an impressive 51 mpg on the highway, 5 mpg less than the Honda Insight which ceases production for the 2007 model year.

General Motors has improved its position with numerous vehicles from its Chevrolet brand breaking the 30 mpg threshhold. Vehicles such as the Aveo 37 mpg, Cobalt 34 mpg, HHR 30 mpg, Impala 31 mpg, Malibu 34 mpg and the Monte Carlo 31 mpg all hit that 30 mpg threshhold.

That being said both Honda and Toyota have their thoroughbreds. With Honda, the Accord 34 mpg, Civic 40 mpg, CRV 40 mpg and the Fit new to the market with 38 mpg. Toyota not to be outdone provide you with the Rav4 30 mpg, Matrix 36 mpg, Corolla 41 mpg, Yaris 40 mpg and the Camry 34 mpg.

The one thing that the Asian companies have going for them is their already established hydrid technology which they have in place. This coupled with high gas prices helps them to enjoy record sales at this moment in time. Since General Motors has iced the Impact electric vehicle because of costs in producing each unit their energy has been channeled into Hydrogen fuel cell technology but this technology is still aways off for general transportation. Continue reading Gas Misers, 30 MPG Vehicles