A Model Hobbyist

| May 2001

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    Keith LadageShow off his Kenner R5 1/4 scale engine

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Photo by Keith Ladage

There are often antique gas engines on display at antique tractor shows, but Bob Suhre offers something a little different. Bob builds model gas engines that not only look like the real thing, but also run.

At last year's Homestead Power Show in Highland, Ill., Bob's models drew a constant crowd. Everyone just kept looking at the miniature models and shaking their heads. More than one admirer was heard to whisper, 'How in the world did he do that?'

These models are just something you don't see every day. Machining and assembling the small working parts would seem to require the patience of Job and the accuracy of a surgeon. If the work phased Bob at all, though, he didn't show it. He answered questions from several viewers, all the while keeping each model engine in motion.

The model gas engine hobby is a relatively new one for Bob. He didn't make his first engine until after he retired from McDonnell-Douglas thirteen years ago. After that he bought a metal lathe and a machine shop and really got involved in model gas engines.

Bob's experience at McDonnell-Douglas gained him the technical skills which would serve him well in his modeling hobby. If not specific skills, it at least help him perfect the attention to detail he would need. 'I started out on a flight ramp servicing radar electronic systems for 14 years, then I went into cost-estimating. When I retired, I was the Manager for Spare Parts on the Cruise Missile. It was fun; we priced out 300,000 parts to the government.'