Although not a horse lover himself, Duncan contributed a lot to the model horse hobby by building museum quality scale model horse drawn vehicles. He was extremely particular about what he made, and would often build a part two or even three times before it met his standards. Duncan's business background was aircraft engineering, so he brought an engineer's perspective to model building. Everything had to be in precise scale, and built to tolerances of 1/1000"! He was very particular and meticulous about detail, hand making everything from scratch wherever possible, up to and including nuts and bolts, working door handles, and even a working padlock only 1/4" tall!
Duncan retired in 1985 on a full medical disability due to congestive heart failure, and early in his retirement he found it relaxing and rewarding to create these beautiful miniatures. Although he never admitted it, Daphne suspected that he really enjoyed building the tooling, molds and bucks for the vehicles almost more than the vehicles themselves. For instance, the Albany Cutter he built has compound curves; the sides curve out and down at the same time. So Duncan designed a buck, or form, for the body using a mathematical formula on the computer, built a wood form based on the formula, and shaped the body parts over it.
Besides the vehicles, Duncan built several tack trunks of various sizes; most are still owned by Daphne. One (a brass trimmed red one) was auctioned at the 1989 (?) WRC in San Francisco; hobby legend Marney Walerius was the delighted high bidder. (After Marney's death, the trunk was presumably auctioned along with her model horse collection; if anyone knows where the tack trunk ended up, please let Daphne know by clicking on her name.
Duncan also built a couple stable carts, with hand strung woven wire spoke wheels (like bicycle wheels) about two inches in diameter. One is owned by Daphne; the other went to Keren (Woods) Gilfoyle-McGroarty of England.
As long as he was making stable carts & tack trunks, Duncan decided he should build a stable or two to put them in. Daphne owns a classic scale full stable building, complete with tack room, two box stalls, roof, and lighting. Duncan then built her a traditional scale two-stall section to use as a show barn; one stall is for the horse, and the other is set up as a hospitality room typical of those seen at real Arabian shows. The stall doors run on tracks just like the real thing, and the latches were copies of real stall door latches. He also built the center and front walls of a similar two-stall setup for Keren Gilfoyle-McGroarty; one of these days, Karen says she is going to build them into a typical English stone walled barn!!
Of all the items Duncan built, only a few were ever sold; the ones not owned by Daphne were trades. Duncan would make the item, and Daphne traded them for custom models!! The only items ever actually sold were the tack trunk at WRC, and one item sold by its original owner due to financial duress (otherwise, she would never have parted with it!). A third item, the red/white meadowbrook, was an auction lot offered at Northwest Congress; Laura Pervier is the proud owner of this piece.
As his disease progressed, Duncan eventually found he no longer had the strength required to work the wood and metal needed to build his vehicles, and actually never finished the last sleigh he started. In total, Duncan built less than a dozen vehicles, but they are works treasured by anyone who owns one.
On July 29, 1997, Duncan's heart could no longer do its work, and he died of cardiac arrest. His legacy to the hobby lives on in his beautiful vehicles.
These are some memorial letters sent
to Dapne regarding Duncan. We hope you will get an understanding
by these letters just how much Duncan was loved and how much he
will be missed!
Owned by Elizabeth Bouras
Additional views; owned by Elizabeth Bouras
Handmade wire wheels; created in 1989-1990
It has a working padlock and folding handles; created in 1989-1990
Created circa 1996. The trunk is royal blue with real metal brass trim and is Traditional scale. The trunk measures 4.25 inches long, 2.5 inches wide and 3 inches high. The trunk is 1/9th scale. Images provided by Laura Pervier.
Utility Cart, Trunk & Stable
All were made by Duncan!
Created in 1990
Additional view; created in 1990
Created in 1990
Swell Bodied Cutter
Made from 3-view drawing. Very complex curves made by laminating over a "buck"
Created in 1992