Ron & Vicki
We drove north a little ways to see friends Ron and Vicki. They have a beautiful home southwest of Phoenix where they spend the winters, choosing that over Lincoln, Nebraska. We had a nice afternoon with them, and during the conversation, they mentioned a friend of theirs who makes 5/8 scale cars. From scratch. So we all decided to go check them out.
Dwarf Car Museum
This Dwarf sign tells you a lot. First, it’s out in the middle of nowhere. Second, it really is small. Third, it’s not overly sophisticated.
This is my photo of a photo on their wall. Just to set the tone for the museum to follow.
Here’s a nice sitting area where you can take in the ambiance of the showroom.
When I called it a little car museum, I meant it in more than one way. A 5/8 scale car is barely over half the size of the original… Which makes Cherryl here look pretty tall!
These guys take a real car, measure the daylights out of it, and then hand make all the parts to the smaller scale. Did I mention they are made by hand?? Steering wheels are resin into sand castings, and then the finger grips on the back are ground out by hand. They build wheels, chrome grilles, actual working convertible tops, everything. By hand. (did I mention that?)
Here is Gene with a car he’s working on. They build a metal frame, then hammer sheet metal into the proper shape for fenders, doors, or whatever. This one looks terribly rusted, but later will shine like the other finished cars.
The dashboard, all rusty, looks like it has been sitting in a junk yard for decades. But very authentic!
This will be a 60’s something Chevy. The framework for the convertible top is being finished.
This is what is known as a “Rat Rod.” Rust and bizarre appendages are the norm on a rat rod. Well, I guess nothing is normal, but all is whimsical and fun.
Here are a couple more miniature vehicles.
The door handles are ground down from a solid block of metal. The chrome strips on the side of the car are created by running a strip of sheet metal through rollers (which they also made) to create the ribbed pattern, then they are chromed. In the below right picture he is showing the metal die he made, so sheet metal could be formed over it, then chromed, to make the parking light bezel.
Here’s the grill, formed the same way: build a metal jig, hammer the sheet metal over it to final shape, then chrome it. They make their own badges, like this “Dwarf 4.”
A photo of his video showing a dwarf car driving in the desert.
These are machines they created to make the ribbed trim that runs down the side of some of the cars. There are many wheels to allow making different styles of trim.
I think this may be how they got started with this dwarf stuff… racing dwarf cars.
I think the boat was built elsewhere, but they look pretty good together!
Down the street a ways is the gift shop.
It is the main building among several interesting others.
It shares some of the same attention to clutter as the workshop / museum. Very nice folks, lots of fun stuff to rifle through.
She is a hair stylist, and has a salon room just inside the entrance. A picture is posted of her cutting Jay Leno’s hair when he visited!
So after the intense small car exploration, we needed sustenance. What better than the Raceway diner, where the continued classy clutter seemed very appropriate. And the food was great too!
Our Winter Hangout
So we are adjusting to having our rig stationary for a while. The place we are hanging out for the winter is probably 75% “Park Models.” That means they don’t move! The pattern seems to be:
1) Snowbirds come south for the winter in their RVs
2) They tire of driving the RV to their home up north, so they leave it here
3) They buy a park model and live here half the year
4) They decide it’s silly to have two homes, so they move here full time.
We are nowhere near doing that whole list, but we are enjoying Tucson and all there is to do around here. We are using the bikes a lot – on the trail just outside the park, and inside the park for running errands.
I periodically document here the small projects I do on our “home with wheels.” One thing I’ve wished for is a set of gas struts for the front hood. It has a prop to keep it open, but that’s a bit awkward. Two nice gas struts would be so much nicer! A neighbor had the hood to his rig off for some other reason, and as I helped put it back on, I studied his nice strut arrangement. It’s not too hard to get the length needed, but how strong should they be? I ordered a couple from Amazon, measured and planned, and mounted the first one on the passenger side. As I gingerly tried closing the hood, I heard a cracking sound. AGGGG! It seems that the pressure to compress the strut was too much, and the hinge started to come out of the fiberglass on that side. So I need to get weaker struts, reinforce the hinge attachment, or both. Not happening before Christmas! I’m just posting this so you know I do live in the real world… not all things work out at first!
I mentioned the Gila Woodpeckers last week… they make a sound like a little squeaky toy in the mouth of a dog!
We’ve been excited about seeing Road Runners, even though the locals have seen so many they think we’re crazy. But they (the Road Runners) are very fast, and usually won’t let you within a couple of hundred feet of them. Cherryl spotted this one in a bushy tree, and we crept up very close to him. It was hard to get an iPhone shot, since he was hanging out in the center of this bush, but I did get an amazingly close picture.
While out there I shot some of the flora as well.
Since I was a kid, I’ve been intrigued by Ham Radio. A fun relative (Dallen, that’s you!) was into Radio and other mystical electronic stuff, and then my father-in-law was a Ham. But I was always too busy, and afraid of learning the Morse Code as well. A couple of dozen Hams are in the park here, and have convinced me there is still a purpose for Amateur Radio in this age of internet and cell phones. So I studied up and took tests for the Technician and General classes. And I actually passed them! So now I know very little, but I have a license to learn. And my own call sign: KO4VJK. If you are a Ham and want to teach me something, you can respond to this blog and maybe we can chat!
Christmas is Coming!
Wayne, at our woodcarving group, was making cute Santa ornaments. We asked him to show us how, and he turned out to be a great teacher! Several of us made some, all very different, but all fun. Guess what are now hanging on our daughters’ Christmas trees?
Lots of the streets are being decorated for Christmas. A bit unusual for cacti and palm trees to be sporting Christmas lights!