Tom's Modelworks Project

By Jerry Davidson


Over the past 2 years many of the modeler’s and researchers that were visiting the message board of Titanic Model.Com discussed on many occasions the need for a more extensive offering of photoetch accessories for their models. The members approached one manufacturer on several occasions on the feasibility of producing these detail parts. The results after their inquiries were less than encouraging as many different and varied excuses were given as to why it was not economically feasible nor to the manufacturers benefit to produce the discussed photoetch details. Our overtures to that manufacturer ceased, but the modeler's ideas and brainstorming sessions continued. During that time, I personally wrote down the ideas of the members and filed them away with the intention of one day approaching either the same manufacturer or another of the more well know manufacturers with our ideas. This cataloguing / collection of ideas went on for about 5 months with the list becoming quite extensive.

In January of this year I finally felt it was time to again take the bull by the horns and approach the manufacturers with our ideas. But how would I convince someone that the details were needed and also would find a considerable market profitability? By chance or luck, whatever the case was, I walked into the local hobby store that a friend works at and he happened to be talking to Tom Harrison of Tom's Model Works. My friend and I already had several discussions on the need for the details so I asked him if I could speak to Tom on the phone. After speaking to Tom for a few very productive minutes at the store, Tom gave me his home phone number and told me to call him in an hour. When I arrived at home, I gathered up all of my notes on the ideas expressed by the members and called Tom.

Tom was very intrigued by the idea and was very open to producing a "set or two" of details for the Titanic........ At first. Two and a half hours later we had agreed in principle to a designing and producing a minimum of 2 sets with the possibility of 1 or 2 more. We agreed to talk again in a day or two. I have to say at this point that Tom is great guy to work with and was very interested in the ideas of the model builders on the site. I asked him about the profitability of the venture and all he said was "don't worry about that, this will be great for the modeler’s.

"After several long conversations with Tom, we discussed priorities and what could and couldn't be produced in photoetch. The only stipulation that Tom placed on the project was that we design and produce the most accurate and most extensive set on the market. He would not produce anything that couldn't be verified by the either ships plans or historical evidence. At this point we discussed what we would need in the area of research and I knew that we needed help in that research.

Knowing that we needed a truly accurate source of information, photographs and plans, I contacted Bruce Beveridge and asked him for his help on the project. At first Bruce didn't believe that a manufacturer was actually going to produce our ideas so it took a bit of convincing. Once Bruce was convinced that the offer was real, he enthusiastically jumped into the project. Shortly thereafter we approached Mike Pell to add his expertise to the project. We now had our complete project team.

The next five months were a whirlwind of exchanged e-mails, phone conversations, research of the Hahn Plans and exchange of Titanic photographs. The team left no stone unturned in their pursuit of accuracy and authenticity. By the end of April we had our first prototype for the railings and were working on the benches, windows and miscellaneous detail set. We were up to four sets with discussion of how we would now extend this research to the 400 scale Titanic. Tom was very enthusiastic through the entire process and had many great ideas on how we could accomplish our goals. The goal was now set to have the sets out by Memorial Day so that they could be announced and presented for scrutinization at the first ever TRMA meeting in Chicago. Many long hours were put in by Tom and the team to achieve our goal. The sets were enthusiastically received and reviewed by all of the members present. We left the meeting with many great ideas for improving the sets as well as the full endorsement of the TRMA.

What happened during those 6 months was a complete collaboration between Tom Harrison, a fantastic human being and manufacturer, and a group of TRMA members that would not let up until the project was fully realised. We now have the most complete and accurate set of detail parts available on the market for the 350 scale Minicraft model with additional sets in various stages of production designed for the Academy 400 and 600 scale models. The TRMA can be encouraged and proud of the efforts BY it's members FOR it's members. We now know that we do have both the knowledge and skill to accomplish any project that we choose to involve ourselves in. The biggest thank you goes out to Tom Harrison without whom this project would not be realised or possible. THANKS TOM!!

Jerry Davidson