IS it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, the latter wouldn’t be out of the question but this time around Berwickshire modelmaker Brian Cook has been concentrating his efforts on making a scale model of a 1950s tractor.
Over the years Brian has made boats, trains and planes from his workshop, converted from a double garage, and as president of the Borders Model Boat Club he was in action a fortnight ago as craft of all shapes and sizes descended on a pond near St Boswells for the club’s annual regatta.
Enthusiasts from across the region, including a number from Berwickshire, gathered on the banks of the pond in a community woodland for the event, designed to test the navigational skills of members.
The club, the only one of its kind in the Borders, was formed in 1995 and sails regularly throughout the season. And with a plethora of creations under his belt, Brian is the perfect man to be at the helm but back on dry land last week his attention switched firmly to his latest invention - the radio-controlled tractor, which he took along to a vintage rally at Chain Bridge Honey Farm near Norham on Sunday, September 4.
His model of a tractor caught the eye of many spectators at the annual event which made all of Brian’s hard work worth it, as he estimated it took him over 1,500 hours to put it all together.
“I built it completely from scratch,” he told ‘The Berwickshire News’.
“I didn’t follow any plans or anything so I spent an initial six to nine months researching the tractor, its inner workings etc; from there I produced a number of sketches and then I had to ensure all the nuts and bolts were the right size.
“When it comes to scale models it’s no good starting with the mechanics; you’ve got to know the shape you’re working with so you can fit everything in to it.”
Fortunately for Brian, he wasn’t a complete stranger to the mode of transport which inspired his latest project, having worked in the agricultural industry for 20 years.
He continued: “I drove one of the tractors for a while when I worked on a farm and two of the guys that took an interest in the model at the Honey Farm had driven them too.
“Last month I took the tractor down to a rally in Corbridge and got talking to a few people there who’d driven the tractors when they were working on the Darlington bypass.”
Although it’s been the scale model of a tractor that’s taken up the bulk of Brian’s time and energy in recent months he has tried his hand at many different models in his time including an eight wheel drive amphibious vehicle and a six wheel drive tank - so he certainly doesn’t do things by halves!
“I’ve been interested in model making for as long as I can remember.”
“I made model planes out of wood when I was 12 and I’ve made things from plastic kits and done three or four model boats; but the amphibious vehicle, the tank and the tractor came about because I wanted to do something a bit different and a bit more inventive.”
Constructing a 40lb model of a tractor would be a painstaking task in itself but Brian also had to work out just how it would run which threw up its own challenges.
He explained: “These off road buggies that kids have are all powered by remote control so when it came to the tractor it was a matter of upgrading that system and making sure it could handle the weight.
“With its tyres the tractor has a lot of drag so I’ve used two electric motors to power it.
“It’s happiest when it’s on a flat and smooth surface; it requires around 30 per cent extra power when it’s on grass.”
Brian admitted that finishing the tractor on time was something of a close call, but now he is looking forward to getting to work on some new models and getting stuck into to his Club duties.
The model boat club’s next meeting is on Wednesday, September 14 at St Boswells pond near the tennis court and the club will have an indoor meeting at St Boswells British Legion the following Wednesday, September 21.
At the moment the club has a membership that stretches from Belford to Galashiel, including enthusiasts from Gavinton, Chirnside and Gordon, and Brian said new faces are always welcome.