By Paul Morrone CFP®, CPA, MSA
When I was younger I was fascinated with how things work. My nursery school teacher was convinced I’d grow up to be an engineer because while the other children were reading the Bernstein Bears books, I was focused on how jet engines worked and what makes a plane fly. To this day, I often get lost in Discovery channel specials about mega machines, extreme engineering or the industrial revolution, stuff that will put most people to sleep within minutes. Growing up, this led to a collection of die-cast model cars (some of which you can find in my office even today) and boxes of model cars, trucks and planes many of which that I assembled myself.
I soon realized that I could never really be ‘good’ at putting models together because I was a little too sloppy and never wanted to wait for the glue to dry properly. I can still smell the Testors glue (I believe it was called ‘liquid cement’ back in the day) in the red and white steel tube that ultimately covered my hands after about 15 minutes. This meant that all of the major parts of the model had glue finger prints all over them in a matter of minutes, making a nice cleanly finished model nearly impossible. I could never wait the appropriate amount of time holding two pieces together white the glue set. Needless to say my career in model making never took off, but I still enjoy the challenge.
As with anything, as we grow up our toys get bigger and more expensive, but that also generally means they get better. I haven’t put together a model since I was about 10, but recently stumbled on a model engine made famous in classic Porsche vehicles. It is a scale replica of the famous boxer engine that has morphed over nearly 6 decades into what is still used in production today. I had to have it, and wanted to build it myself. A couple of clicks on Amazon and three days later I had a brand-new kit at my door.
As with anything German-made (the model kit is manufactured Porsche itself) the quality of the components is top notch and the attention to detail is flawless (by plastic model standards). The best part: no glue! After sorting and separating all 290 pieces, it was time to begin assembly. Over the course of a couple of hours, I had assembled a fully function model engine. No details were left out, as the finished product had 6 pistons rotating around a crankshaft, a working camshaft with two sets of functioning valves per cylinder. They even went so far as to replicate the correct firing order of the cylinders. Impressive to say the least.
While this was by no means a substitute for getting into the inner workings of a real engine and getting grease under the fingernails, it was a good way to kill a rainy and cold winter weekend.