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Bill Fuller's MTH Farm House on Fire

The following articles and photographs are provided by member Bill Fuller. Click on any of the thumbnail photographs to see the full size pictures (this will take a few seconds longer to download). Use your browsers Back Button to return to this page. Enjoy!

Bill Fuller's MTH Farm House on Fire
(Bill Fuller-May 07, 2005)

MTH's 30-9139 "Farm House on Fire," with its use of real water, is a novel accessory but is a little "bare bones" as it comes out of the box. Its two firemen have neither an engine nor additional manpower to squelch that blaze. In fact, even though both firemen cradle nozzles in their arms, only one can hook up to a water supply, and the volume of smoke being generated suggests that one hose line is not going to do the job!

The photos depict a diorama I built after some back-up crews have arrived. We now have an engine company, a ladder company, and "Shorty" stepping from his VFD pickup truck, not to mention the Texas Highway Patrol blocking traffic. Best of all, thanks to some aquarium air tubing and a cheap plastic "T" connector hidden under the fire department pumper, both firemen are now directing their streams of water onto the blaze.

In a few other refinements, the fire hydrant now appears to be feeding the pumper, which in turn feeds the two hose lines, all of the emergency vehicles feature flashing red or red/blue LED lights, the "brick" chimneys have white mortar lines, and the chimney nearest the "fire" is pouring out smoke.

For the detail-minded, the fire trucks are old Model Power vehicles that were bought about 15 years ago. The pickup truck is a $1.99 Maisto toy from Wal-Mart. The highway patrol car is a Road Champs toy. The additional firefighters are a mixture of MTH and K-Line figures. The flashing red LEDs are from Radio Shack, and the flashing red/blue LEDs are #LED5BRFL from Futurlec.com. The LEDs are all wired together and are powered by three "AA" batteries. Every two red/blue LEDs are also wired in series to further reduce their voltage--I figured that out after frying three of them.

Another trial-and-error process was positioning the fireman to direct his water through the window above the front porch. At first, his stream of water went clear through the house and out the side window near the back. I filled in the window "glass" with a bit of clear plastic cut from some LifeLike tree packaging and also readjusted the fireman's pose. Then I discovered that the stream of water was hitting a structural support at the front of the house, causing it to run down the inside of the front wall and collect in the yard (playing havoc with the dyed sawdust "grass"). Additional fiddling finally got this guy to aim his water into the catch basin hidden inside the house, but it did take a bit of patience. To give him a bigger target, some of the mullions and sashes in that window have been "allowed to burn away," also.

As to the greatest feeling of success, it's a toss up between the fact that, once I got the figures properly positioned, there is no water leakage whatsoever outside the house or the fact that I finally got the wires firmly soldered to all those LED leads!



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