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Local man ‘model’ citizen with building hobby

8/21/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

New Franklin resident Mike Meredith stands next to 55 model planes he built.
Mike Meredith displays the Henschel HS129B-2 airplane he built.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
NEW FRANKLIN — When Mike Meredith opens a new model kit, he said it feels like Christmas.

“It’s exciting to open the package,” said the New Franklin resident. “I already have a vision in mind of what I want the model to look like.”

During the past 10 years, Meredith has built 55 model airplanes and said he has 55 more kits waiting to be assembled.

“It’s a quirky hobby that takes patience, some artistic ability and some mechanical aptitude,” said Meredith, a mechanical engineer at Seifert Technologies in Massillon.

When Meredith was a boy, the 57-year-old said he built models and has always been intrigued by aviation. Meredith said his father was a naval aviator in World War II.

After a co-worker reintroduced Meredith to the hobby, he started building models again and has a room in his home dedicated to modeling.

“I typically build from kits, but I improve upon them,” said Meredith, adding that with each model, he researches the history of the aircraft and the servicemen who flew the planes to make his projects as realistic as possible. He said he builds airplanes from World War II to modern jets.

Each airplane takes about “60 hours to a couple of hundred hours,” to complete, Meredith said. He mounts the miniature parts on toothpicks to paint them and gently sands each piece.

“The seams have to be clean and smooth so you don’t see two halves of the plane,” he said. “I try to make each plane as flawless as I can.”

Meredith said he enjoys adding details to his airplanes.

“I paint streaks to show where the plane collected dirt or chip the paint to expose the aluminum underneath,” he said. “Planes got beat up in the war and were used in harsh environments, and I try to simulate that as best as I can.

“Most modelers are scroungers,” added Meredith, who is a member of the International Plastic Modelers’ Society, an organization dedicated to hobbyists who build plastic models, which has local chapters. “I look for bits of wire in the trash and keep the lead foil from wine bottles that can be used to make seat belts. If you can’t find something for a model and want it in there, you’ll have to build it yourself.”

He said he has made dials on the knobs for the instrument panels and has added wiring and plumbing to models.

“The details give the airplane more life and make it look like a real aircraft,” he said.

Painting the aircraft is the fun part of the project, said Meredith.

“All the hard stuff is done and it’s starting to come to life,” he said.

Meredith typically uses watercolors, pastels, enamels and acrylics on each model.

“I try new techniques all the time. Most are disasters,” he joked.

An eight-time award winner in national modeling competitions with five first-place awards, Meredith also has won many local and regional contests.

“The national event is like the Olympics of scale modeling,” he said. “It’s nice to get the accolades and acknowledgments, but I love doing this. It relaxes me to spend time in my model room in spite of it being tedious, delicate work. I have ‘Super Glued’ myself together more than once.”

Meredith’s wife, Amy Meredith, Ed.D., who is vice president of the Manchester Board of Education, said modeling offers her husband relaxation. They have a daughter, Emily, who is a junior at Manchester High School.

“It is a great way for Mike to have alone time and relax while he builds and gives him time away from other daily activities,” she said. “I am proud of the models he produces, as well as the stamina, patience and drive he has committed to this hobby.”

For more information on modeling, visit the International Plastic Modelers’ Society website at www.ipmsusa.org.

“There are so many models and so little time,” Meredith said.

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