Modelers Pattern Pool

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From Modeltec Magazine, August 1986

By William C. Fitt

Remember the Pattern Pool?

You'll be happy to know that the Pattern Pool is again alive and kickin' and is well on the road to security ... with "full health" a surety within the next year!

It will, however, have a brand new look, new convenience, expanded appeal, and should work out to be THE fist-choice castings source for technical modelers everywhere.

How has this all come about? Perhaps a brief review is in order for those who are not familiar with its past.

The late Walter H. Allen started the Pattern Pool many years ago. He collected patterns from the Live Steamers who had obtained the castings they needed and had no further use for them. He warehoused, cataloged and loaned them to anyone with access to a foundry or, if casting service was unavailable, Walt took them to a local foundry for castings and shipped them to the hobbyist. Those who borrowed patterns usually returned them in short order and, if necessary, did any repairs or painting before returning them.

Several years ago, Walt felt he was no longer able to handle the work and responsibility and arranged for another to take over the Pattern Pool and operate it. Unfortunately, as with any project that relies on its founder's enthusiasm for such a benevolent program, it gradually slipped from view. Some patterns loaned out were not returned. Some were returned with scars of wear, but no attempt was made to restore them to first class shape. For several years, the only reference to the project was the question, "What ever happened to the Pattern Pool?"

Behind-the-scenes activity began when Walt's son, Paul Allen, asked about the possibility of resurrecting the program a year or so ago. He made contact with its operator but got no positive answers. This writer made several phone calls but met the same inaction. One evening, Dave Farmer phoned to ask about its situation and, finding there was still interest, "took the bull by the horns" and went to work in earnest. Dave doesn't take "No" for an answer when he feels dedicated to a cause. there was too much at stake to let it lay dormant.

With other business in the area, Dave made a point to stop and check the Pattern Pool and to get some firm answers to his questions. He was shocked at what he found: patterns in disarray, not sorted, many sets incomplete. That was last fall and he left with much more concern than he had arrived with.

Dave became insistent, rented a truck and spent a long, hard day driving back to pick up the patterns. He was even more disturbed to find that a roof leak developed in the building where they were stored and many suffered extensive water damage (which ruined most of the identifying cards and instructions). Some were further damaged when wet plaster from the ceiling had fallen, knocking many of them from the shelves. He loaded them in the truck and headed for home.

Dave had long been intrigued with the concept of the Pattern Pool and now has a great appreciation of the time and effort Walt Allen put into its formation. Research showed, however, that some "glitches" had crept into the system and that it had lapsed into obscurity because of them:

1. Find a foundry willing to pour "one-offs" for a reasonable price, and any time before Armageddon!

2. Control: once a pattern left the pool, its return (and condition) were "iffy" at best. This resulted in some broken sets that may never be whole again.

3. Exposure: Simple lists published in the past left too much tot he imagination. Unless a person knew the engine, visualizing the wealth of parts was difficult.

4. Continuity: Time marches on, as do people. The institution called the "Pattern Pool", however, must be structured so that it will endure and can be conveniently passed on to some other enthusiastic technical modeler.

To address these "glitches," Dave plans to revitalize and restructure the Modeler's Pattern Pool in the following manner:

1. He has a foundry! a top-quality, short-run house most happy to become "foundry-of-choice" for modelers everywhere. Their work is excellent and their prices are fair.

2. Patterns will be stored in the foundry's loft. After Dave reviews and renumbers them, castings will be poured, inspected, and any necessary pattern repairs noted and performed. Ownership of the patterns remains with The Modeler's Pattern Pool. They will then be photographed for a dimensioned, convenient catalog to be published periodically for the Model Fraternity. All castings will be drop shipped, best way collect, from the foundry.

3. All orders for castings' will be routed through the Modeler's Pattern Pool, reducing paperwork at the foundry and allowing them to give us the lowest prices possible. A small and variable surcharge will be added to the founder's prices to create a fund for pattern repairs, mounting of loose patterns, and for payment of shipping charges for new patterns donated to The Pool. Pages of the catalog will be published in Modeltec as they become available and, when complete, will be offered to hobbyists for a fee of $5.00, refunded on any order of $25.00 or more.

4. Any modeler seeking castings from his own patters is encouraged to work through the Modeler's Pattern Pool for the best price and turnaround. He may elect to donate the patterns or have them returned.

The new method of operation has been designed to meet two important objectives:

1. Get castings to the Technical Modeler in good time and at the right price.

2. The system must be self-sustaining and generate enough revenue, however modest, to attract the next modeler who wants to run the show.

With the backing of the Model Fraternity and encouragement to use it, the Pattern Pool will see robust health again! So talk it up, watch for the availability of the patterns, contribute patterns to its growth and we will all benefit from its resurgence...and a big THANK YOU to Dave Farmer from (to use Dave's coined title) MODELTECERs everywhere!


The March 1992 edition of Modeltec announced the death of Dave Farmer in January 1992.