Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Künstler-Baukasten Architekt

Old construction sets can be a delight. Especially old wooden construction sets. Especially German construction sets. One of the great joys of the Internet is that it has become so much easier to indulge esoteric interests such as this.

One of the challenges of the Internet is that when one buys an old construction set through the familiar marketplaces, it is very likely to arrive incomplete & with broken pieces.

I often plot out how to go about making replacement pieces, but often those require measures that are not currently available to me. We have a nice array of power tools in the basement, mostly purchased for, and well used by, my dear wife. But though I have the knowledge and experience to use them all, mostly I can't handle the noise & safety concerns. Doing something accurately & safely while exposed to that level of sensory overload is not often an option.

For a while I have been plotting how to make replacement parts for a particularly interesting set.

This morning I went downstairs & made one. Cut the block out of a piece of scrap on the band-saw. Sanded it for size & smoothness on the bench sander. Cut slots in it with the table saw. Drilled holes in it with the drill press. (All these tools are smaller, model-builder sized, not big hulky things - but they are still noisy. And quite capable of injury.)

It worked.

I went off to therapy with my set & my proof-of-concept ("POC") block for show & tell.

Put my POC & a sample from the set in my shirt pocket to go meet my daughter for lunch show & tell.

When I eventually got home, I made another, a "size 4" in contrast to the morning's "size 3" then built this building using them. They are the light-colored vertical blocks in the outside rear corners. The camera exaggerated the appearance difference, but I am still very happy with them.

The set is rather nifty, dating from the late 1940s and coming from the area of the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany along the Czech border.

Neither of my primary references, the book Baukästen, by Ulf Leinweber, or Joachim Kleindienst's JK BaukastenSammler web site, had much to offer, merely a directory listing for "Künstler Baukasten," by "Werner Dietze."

The set itself provided the location "Cranzahl, Erzgebirge," and that helped me get a wee bit more information by Googling. Not much though.

Intriguingly, browsing the Leinhaber book turned up a picture of "Haussers Künstler Baukasten" from a few decades earlier and with a similar construction technique, except Hausser's wall plates are lithographed sheet metal, instead of Dietze's varnished wood decorated with water-transfer decals.

I was well challenged getting this to go together, given some design flaws, documentation flaws, and my own personal flaws.

But go together it did, and I am happy to have it. 12 of the lovely lithographed design sheets accompany the set. I look forward to building them all.

Still a few more missing blocks to make first though. Or maybe as I go along.

All in all, very good block play.

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