I'd previously never been too concerned about the safety of my model collection. At my previous house I had my own room and it was really only ever accessed by myself. At the new house the collection has an expanded space in the garage, but the sheer size of it meant that the majority of it was open to the air. The dust was bothersome but if the models could survive my 5 year old's attention all this time I thought they were pretty safe. I was wrong. The garage has a lot more foot traffic in it than the old room and when I went into it one Saturday a fortnight ago I found a scene of carnage as one of the top shelves had been knocked to the ground. One of our cats is almost certainly the cause of this. On the way down the shelf took some other models with it and the floor was mainly concrete so the models came in for a hard landing too.
The shelf had had the UK charter and independent airlines on it so they were the most heavily affected. In the end 8 models were written off and several others chipped to varying degrees. Annoyingly most of these were hard to find Aeroclassics like the British Eagle and Cunard Eagle Britannias, Laker One-Eleven, Autair One-Eleven and two Channel Viscounts. I was able to fix a few of the sturdier models but it was a hard blow to that part of the collection. I was pretty upset, but worse it now seemed like it was only a matter of time till something else happened. My models suddenly looked very vulnerable.
So what to do? I had looked into glass display cabinets before but the size of the collection, bespoke space requirements and cost had always put me off. It's simply hard to find cabinets with enough internal volume to store such a large lot of models especially when I have them organised just so. I visited a new cabinet importer who had a great range, but not only were his cabinets very expensive they also tended to have shelves that didn't fully use the internal volume of the cabinets. It was very frustrating.
Fortunately the answer came on TradeMe - NZ's answer to eBay. I suddenly found myself heading into the city at 21:30 to check out this guys lot of cabinets he was selling. They were all seemingly ex-shop cabinets - probably from the recently bankrupt electronics chain Dick Smiths. I didn't expect too much but it turns out they were just what I needed. They were a good size and he had 7 which were the right size to fit on top of my workbench area to replace the shelving I used. I actually only needed 5 but I needed the extra shelves from the other two as well to get enough internal volume for the models. Even better he also had a larger upright cabinet for sale too. All came with internal LED strip lighting, which was a bonus.
Price was still an issue but I managed to do a deal with him for all 8 for $2300 NZD and hoped that the insurance claim for the earlier damage would cover at least half of that, with some other model sales covering some more. The seller and his brother were entrepeneurial types but they were good to their word and began deliveries at 23:30 that very night!
With all the cabinets at my place by the end of the next day it was now time to begin the huge job of rearranging everything. In the end this took me nearly the whole weekend but the final result is that about 90% of my models are now secure behind glass. Only the large MDF unit containing 7 of the US Trunk airlines is still in the open air. I have tried to keep the same setup as I had before but there has been some modifications. In the next blog post I'll introduce you to Yesterday's Airlines Mk3!
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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