The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Gerald A. Wingrove, MBE

Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award winner for 2005

Building a collection of models that represent over 400 years of the history of wheeled transport—from carriages to Formula One cars

Phyllis and Gerald Wingrove in their shop in England display a partially completed model.

Building the Wingrove Collection

Gerald Wingrove devoted seventeen years of his life to the business of light engineering as a center (centre) lathe turner. Seeing no future in that vocation, he decided to turn his hobby as a model engineer into his full-time job and went to work as a freelance designer and patternmaker for film, TV, jewelry and toy companies. He did work for companies like Meccano (Dinky Toys), Mettoy Playcraft (Corgi Toys) and others. In 1967 he received a commission from Lord Montagu of Bealieu to build a series of fine detailed scale models for the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the south of England. Other similar work followed as collectors became aware of the quality of his work, and he soon found himself being invited to visit some of the best private car collections in Europe and the USA to document and reproduce in miniature some of these elegant works of "rolling sculpture".

As he collected photos and data on the cars he was to build, he also became interested in other aspects of carriage building dating back well before the automobile. He has also come to document the fascinating world of the elegant carriage that is all but forgotten today. The "Wingrove Collection" now represents a comprehensive and unique record of nearly four hundred years of the art and craft of the "carrosssier", in the development of fine personalized wheeled transport. With a base of over 10,000 detail photographs covering more than 200 vehicles it is at this point in time believed to be the largest and most comprehensive car and carriage data collection available on the Internet. He now makes available scale plans for the models he has built so that others can model these cars in accurate detail. His photo and plan portfolios have also been used by restorers of the full-size automobiles.

Getting started in model making

Gerald Wingrove got his start in model building in 1954 with two 1/43 scale Maseratis. The first was a kit of a pre-war GP car while the second was a 50% scratch built post-war example. Both models had bodies carved from hard wood. In about 1966, he had a chance discussion with a dealer in the model world, and learned that there was a certain lack of supply in the field of well made scale model cars. With this information, he set out to educate himself with regard to the world of the automobile. He frequented the local library and book shops over the next several months, and went through numerous glossy coffee table books, with countless views of every conceivable machine that man had at one time or another applied four wheels to. He was particularly inspired by an illustration of a Torpedo Convertible Victoria SJ Duesenberg of 1934 in deep maroon by Rollston, J517. Although he had never heard of the make before, this to him was a real CAR—elegant, sophisticated, powerful, beautiful to the eye and alive.

During the next two years, he located and joined the "Auburn Cord Duesenberg" Club in the U.S.A. He collected enough general data to draw up a set of working drawings for a chassis, and made a set of wire spoked wheels (his first) and the main parts for the first engine, all this while still working full time in engineering as a center lathe turner.

On a whim in 1968 he decided to write to Lord Montagu at the then Montague Motor Museum to see if there was any future in making models for the museum. To his surprise a positive answer came back and he was invited down for an interview. All he had to show was a set of Duesenberg wheels and tires, and a partly made Duesenberg engine, but on the strength of this, he was invited to take on two projects for the museum.. One was to produce a series of models to show the evolution of the sports car, and the second was to build a model of the world championship Formula 1 Grand Prix car each year. This commission, together with some toy development work that he was already undertaking in his spare time for Mechano Dinky Toys, was sufficient impetus for him to give his notice at the engineering company that he had spent the past 17 years with, and set himself up as a freelance model engineer.

Unfortunately neither of these commissions necessitated the making of a model of a Duesenberg or a model with full engine detail. The scale that he was given was also somewhat smaller (1/20th) than he had personally decided upon (1/15); however, he was content to settle for that for the time being. In any case, he had enough to do to make contact with the owners of the subject vehicles for the two collections, collect data, draft plans and make the models to museum standard in metal, a task that up to that time he had not actually done for a complete model, as the first Duesenberg parts never did get completed.

Right at the start, he soon discovered that the number of special tools and patterns that needed to be made to produce a single model would be the same if he were to produce one or several models, and that it was taking nearly as much time making these tools and patterns as it was to produce an individual model from them. He was also starting to receive requests from the owners of the full size cars, that if he was going to use their car for the museum model, could he not make one for them also at the same time. Lord Montague had no objection to this when he pointed out that it would mean that the cost of the Museum model would be less than if a "one of a kind" were made as the cost of tooling could be shared. As long as the models were not produced in any great number, there were no objections.

As the models started to appear so articles also started to be written on this work in the motoring press as well as the model magazines. These generated more work, and it was not long before the Wingrove name reached the U.S.A. and he received his first orders from across the pond. It was in 1973 that he made his first visit to the States to deliver the first models to an American collector. At that time he was able to visit several museums and collections in the USA and was able to see firsthand the Duesenberg cars that had come to have special appeal to him.

In the summer of 1980, Gerald met Phyllis Millar-Watt . They were married that November and began a partnership both as husband and wife, and also as miniaturists. Although Phyllis did not have any training in the area of drawing, she decided to try her hand at creating plans for the miniature cars. The plans were based upon dimensions, notes and photographs taken by Gerald from existing full-scale cars. She soon discovered that she had an enormous amount of talent in the area of drawing and painting, and began turning out drawings that were worthy of her husband's work in structural materials. She then set out to learn all of the processes that led to the building of the car miniatures. She mastered soft soldering, silver soldering, lathe work, milling, and next she began building engines and chassis. Phyllis and Gerald began a new life, working side by side in their workshop building the miniature cars, and also assisting each other in the necessary researches to create more books on the subject.

Construction of the models

Each piece of the model is hand constructed in metal or an appropriate material based on the plans and photos. Copper, brass, nickel silver and aluminum are used. When appropriate, parts are machined on a lathe or mill. Fenders and shaped parts might be hand formed from brass sheet or made from copper sheet pounded over steel or carved wooden forms. Tires are molded from silicon rubber. Frames are made up of machined brass pieces silver soldered together. Major engine parts are cast in metal starting with hand-carved patterns. If you go to the home page of www.geraldwingrove.com, there is a link to a photo gallery of pictures of each step of the current model being built. Each gallery contains a number of photos, and each can be enlarged to show plenty of detail. The building of each model is now painstakingly documented so that all may see what goes into a model at this level of expertise.

Awards and honors

Gerald Wingrove has been honored for his work as a Model Engineer. In July, 2000, Mr. Wingrove was awarded the honor of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). He received his award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the State Ballroom at Buckingham Palace. Photos of this event can be seen on his web site.

Gerald Wingrove accepts his award for Craftsmanship from Founder Joe Martin.

In January, 2005, Gerald Wingrove was selected by the Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship to receive the "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" Award presented each year by the foundation. Mr. Wingrove is the 9th person to receive the award which includes an award plaque and a check for $1000.00. Although unable to attend the North American Model Engineering Show in Detroit to receive his award in person, he has kindly donated a number of signed copies of his latest book to be used as prizes in the Sherline Machinist's Challenge Contest.

Joe Martin selected Mr. Wingrove for this award for several reasons. Chief among them is the number of unique skills and techniques that had to be developed in order to make the many parts of these models. From metal forming to casting to molding rubber tires to replicating interior materials—all had to be right for the car to look totally real. In addition, before the building process even started, Gerald and Phyllis spent hundreds of hours researching the cars and doing detailed, dimensioned drawings. Over the years, Gerald has also taken the time to photograph and document his work in the form of many books so that others can be both inspired and instructed in the art of model making. The body of his work over the years leaves behind not only a detailed record of some of the world's most significant cars, but also a legacy of quality model engineering that will be a benchmark for future modelers to attempt to attain.

Books by and about Gerald and Phyllis Wingrove and their models:

THE ART OF THE AUTOMOBILE IN MINIATURE—The Works of Gerald and Phyllis Wingrove, Model Engineers
Published in 2003 by Crowood Press Ltd., Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 2HR, www.crowood.com
ISBN 1 86126 632 4

THE TECHNIQUES OF SHIP MODELLING
(with introduction by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu)
Published in 1974, reprinted 1976 and 1981. Approximately 15,000 sold.

UNIMAT LATHE PROJECTS
Published in 1979 (10,000) Dutch edition (5,000) and German edition (5,000) sold

THE MODEL CARS OF GERALD WINGROVE
Published in 1979 (5000) sold.

THE COMPLETE CAR MODELLER
Published in 1978, reprinted in 1979 and 1981.
Approximately 15,000 sold.
Also Crown N.Y. ( U.S.A.) edition 1979 (~5000 sold)

THE COMPLETE CAR MODELLER 1
Updated and reissued Spring 1993 and reprinted Autumn 1993. Approximately 8000 sold .

THE COMPLETE CAR MODELLER 2
(with introduction by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu)
Published in 1992 and reprinted in the Winter 1993.
Approximately 8000 sold.

The Complete Car Modeller 1 and 2 are now being reprinted in paperback.

Here are several examples of Gerald Wingrove's work:

(Click photo for larger image.)

1968 Repco Brabham F1, 1/20 scale

1927 Bugatti Type 43, 1/20 scale

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, 1/15 scale

1964 Ferrari 250 GTO, 1/15 scale. Notice how Mr. Wingrove has put himself in the picture by posing far behind the model to make it look as though he is standing next to the real car.

1920 Stutz Blackhawk, 1/20 scale

1938 Bugatti Type 57sc, 1/15 scale

1933 Duesenberg SJ 508, 1/15 scale

1938 2.9 liter Alfa Romeo Spider, 1/15 scale. This photo shows the completed car with a person's hand for scale. Photos below show some of the phases of construction of this car.

Parts for the Alfa ready for paint or wired for chrome plating

The completed metal body before painting

Completed body from the front with hood open to show engine

Engine and chassis detail

Bottom view of front suspension and engine pan

Exhaust side view of Alfa engine by itself. Interestingly, an American quarter dollar is used for size reference.

1938 Alfa Romeo 2.9 8C with spider body by Touring, 1/15 scale.

Rear quarter view of Alfa with door open showing rich interior detail.

The 1938 black Alfa along with a 1938 2.9 8C Mille Miglia version in red on the left. The cars are posed with Gerald and Phyllis in the background making it appear they are standing behind the real thing.

The 1938 Alfa 2.9 8C with the bodywork removed.

On their trip to California in March, 2005, Gerald brought along a model of the Alfa engine that he had made as a gift for Phyllis. It is carried in a beautiful velvet lined, finger jointed box made of a burl wood used to make model dash boards. The fine grain and tight burl of this wood accurately depicts a scale version of the walnut burl used in many vintage cars.

Here the other side of the engine is seen. Pewter castings simulate the aluminum used on the real engine. A one Euro and American Quarter Dollar coin are used for scale.

Top view of the engine. Gerald says he built this in about a week. A person making a living building models is under different time constraints than one doing it for pleasure and must not only be able to produce quality work; it must be done quickly.

After the car is completely assembled, it is stripped down into individual parts again for painting and chrome plating. These are parts from a 1930 4.5 liter Blower Bentley in 1/15 scale.

After painting and assembly, here is the completed 1930 Blower Bentley No. SM.3939 in blue.

Duesenberg SJ 548 Walker La Grande Torpedo Phaeton with full engine and chassis detail in 1/15 scale.

1930 Duesenberg J-550 long wheelbase convertible coupe by Rollston of New York in 1/15 scale.

Here it looks like the hand of God reaches down to open the hood of a 1/15 scale 1930 Duesenberg SJ-563 La Grande Roadster. The had is an excellent indication of scale as well as pointing out the intricacy of the detailing.

This 1924 Hispano Suiza H6C in 1/15 scale with its wood planked body and full wood "pontoon" fenders presented a unique challenge in model construction. The tight grained pear wood faithfully represents the original Honduras mahogany and over 13,000 brass pins .012" in diameter were installed to represent the original brass rivets.

March 1, 2005 Phyllis and Gerald Wingrove stopped off in California to meet Joe Martin and receive the 2005 award for craftsmanship. They were on their way to Hawaii to measure a vintage 4-masted steel sailing ship called "The Falls of Clyde" to draw plans and make an all-metal model. Though retiring from model making as a career, they plan to continue to pursue projects that interest them.

To see more of Gerald A. Wingrove's work, visit the Wingrove Collection web site at www.geraldwingrove.com. See also www.wworkshop.net.

horizontal rule

New Submissions Welcomed

If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail craig@CraftsmanshipMuseum.com. We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at www.CraftsmanshipMuseum.com/newsubmit.htm for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.

horizontal rule

This section is sponsored by (sponsorship available).

(Your company logo and a link to your web site could go here)

To learn how your company or organization can sponsor a section in the Craftsmanship Museum, please contact craig@CraftsmanshipMuseum.com.

RETURN TO MUSEUM HOME PAGE

Copyright 2009, The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship. All rights reserved.
 No part of this web site, including the text, photos or illustrations, may be reproduced or transmitted in any other form or by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise) for commercial use without the prior written permission of The Joe Martin Foundation. Reproduction or reuse for educational and non-commercial use is permitted.