Monday, April 8, 2019

Fuel in the Bowser

A friend of mine once related an aviator's saying which I think might be an apt introduction here: There are two things in aviation that are no use to a pilot whatsoever: altitude above the aircraft and fuel in the bowser. There's truth to it, of course: If you're dealing with a problem it's really best that you have altitude to burn between you and a suitable landing strip, which is to say below you. And of course any fuel in the bowser is not in your tanks. But all of the altitude starts above you and something like a bowser will always move the fuel at some point between your tank and the point of origin. So, rather like the sky above inspiring the young aviator to greater things, a big, fat bowser full of A-grade rocket juice can be a thing to inspire plots and players.

And for that reason I built me one. The contest over at the Emporium of Rogue Dreams might have had something to do with the timing, but given the box of toy parts sitting in my closet it was bound to happen eventually. What you see below was the sunk cost of a previous project. I could get rid of it, but . . . why?


Some of those toys looked like spaceships. Others looked like quite an array of ground vehicles. (A few even look like watercraft. Which . . . yeah, I'm mostly running games in places short on that stuff, but hey, maybe there's room for a ship washed up on the long gone shores of a now arid sea.

Anyway, on to the build. As per all too usual, I failed to take any pictures of the actual toys used before starting in on them, but here's a roughly comparable set of unmodified parts:


The first step was generally laying them out and making them trucklike. Once that was accomplished I added a few parts to camouflage the more toylike features and create additional detail. From my bits bin(s) I fetched out a German 20mm flak gunshield, the ferrite core off an old power supply, and the sleeve from an old paintbrush. These became a bumper of sorts and an exhaust pipe and muffler.



Next I found an old coax jumper that was no longer needed and separated it into its constituent parts. With a few toy parts the insulation would become the hose while the dielectric would serve to pin things together.


The truck is, of course, almost comically large for the scale, so some ladders would be needed. These I made out of bits of styrene stock.






With everything added into place it was just a matter of painting the truck. I chose to leave the red and white checked sticker visible. It makes for a nice and worn rocketry badge.


For the basic color of the vehicle I chose a high-visibility yellow, though faded and dulled by sun and weather.


And I modeled the fluff off a local company called "Airport Terminal Services" that was once a subsidiary of TWA. Much as TRS, TransRim Spacelines, is based on TWA, TransWorld Airlines. but also suggests a now defunct but once pioneering computer company: Tandy Radio Shack, so too does STS also suggest a pioneering, but now defunct project: Shuttle Transportation System, the onetime codename for NASA space shuttle launches. The styling of the STS logo is loosely modeled on ATS. Where ATS has a stylized aircrfat flying away inside the A I put a stylized shuttle atop the T.








Anyway, while this is essentially a quick and dirty project (I think it took about three sessions) it should serve the purpose admirably. You can at a glance tell that it's a large fuel bowser for a rough-and-tumble kind of place.

And one bit of trivia: While it is usually the United States that hangs specific company names off generic products in the fashion of Xerox, Kleenex, or Google, it would appear that the UK did so in this case. Bowser seems to refer to the S. F. Bowser company, itself named after the gloriously Victorian sounding Ft. Wayne Indiana inventor Sylvanus Bowser, who is credited with inventing the automotive fuel pump. His company went on to manufacture pumps for a wide variety of liquids, which led to the term being used for fuel tankers first on airfields, and apparently more generally all liquid transport vehicle capable of final dispensation in places like the UK. (In then US we still mostly call them tankers or tank trucks unless you're around an airport. Odd bit of turnabout there.)

As always, thank you for joining me on this journey.

Sincerely,
The Composer

12 comments:

  1. Wow Composer, you really knocked this one out of the park! Well done man :)

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    1. Thank you Papafakis. Your own toy-hammering is always an inspiration, so it means a lot coming from you.

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  2. You possess a sharp-eye for turning junk into treasure. Very nice modeling, Mr. C.

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    1. Thank you Jay! Now I just need to actually tell a story with it. :D

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  3. Every rough field space port needs an off road capable fuel truck. Now what you need are a few luggage trailers, some sort of unloading robot/servitor, and a tractor to move ships into position.

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    1. Some of that is actually in the cue, believe it or not. The fact that the toy spaceship parts came with toy spaceport parts might not have been coincidence. And looked remarkably handy. :D

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    1. Thank you! I was just glancing at your blog. Neat stuff! I need to dig deeper. It looks like you have done some great rough-and-tumble airfield work yourself.

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  5. I think it's a creative piece and a marvellous repurpose of the raw materials. Elements such as this truck bring a board to life and make the difference. Bravo!

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    1. Thank you! Now I just need to actually hold another game with this stuff. :D

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  6. That turned out ball'n AF! Nice work man.

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    1. Thank you! :) Maybe I need to get it on a table where some dusty orks or some crazy vampires can get at it.

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