Sunday, January 6, 2013

TBs TechTalk 11 - with Jennifer Clark (Part II)

[Part I]

And finally after major TBs blackout, part II from the interview with Jennifer Clark.

TBs: How do you start designing a new MOC? Is it a trial and error process or do you follow a very well-thought plan?

JC: It's a combination of both. Before the building begins I'll have figured out the scale, the extent to which the model will be powered, and the use of certain core pieces such as wheels, and have some ideas about how this might be realised. However, not all these ideas will stand up in practice, and this is where the trial and error process begins.

The trial and error part is where the real test and fun is - it's fine having good ideas, but putting them into practice is another thing altogether. This part will usually take far longer than the initial concept and design stage.

TBs: As far as we can learn from your online presence, you have very strong Technic building skills and a deep knowledge about construction machinery, while you are also a music bass player for living, I guess.
How can such different interests and occupations coexist in the same single person?

JC: I also enjoy competing in amateur athletics, and in my opinion all these activities have much in common. The notion that they are fundamentally distinct seems to be a fairly modern concept, perhaps derived from the notion of specialisation. In contrast, the ancient Greeks believed that study of literature, music, philosophy and participation in athletics were all necessary for an individual to be a productive citizen.

TBs: How did you get all the knowledge you show to have, when writing about your models in particular and heavy machinery in general?

JC: I have very little in the way of formal engineering education. Most of my knowledge comes from observation, reading, and asking people.

TBs: Do you still keep your models assembled and to exhibit them?

JC: Most are still assembled, but unfortunately not all of them are working as some of the 9V motors have seized. I worry that if I take them apart to replace the motors, I'll forget how to put them back together again!

I've not exhibited the models for some time as it can be difficult to get to meetings at weekends due to my music commitments.

TBs: Some of your MOCs used parts not made by LEGO at the time and engineered by yourself, like the linear actuator and the LED lights on the Demag AC50-1. Did you ever feel the need of other non-existing elements? Something that would make building easier for you, or perhaps allow you to create some special kind of MOC? Can you give/explain us one or more examples?

JC: A compact radio controlled pneumatic valve would offer many great possibilities. Linear actuators have reduced the need for this to some extent,  but there are still applications where pneumatics are preferable.

Editor's Note: I'm sure you can imagine how do I understand you!...

TBs: Which is your preferred Technic part? Why?

JC: Impossible to say, since it is the sum of the parts that make the system great. My choice is therefore based on aesthetic and symbolic meaning rather than function, and is the 24x43 wheel found in the 8860 Car Chassis. It symbolised a new way of thinking to me when I was young, and it was through this part that all the others move.

TBs: Which is your favorite Technic set, ever? Why?

JC: The 8860 Car Chassis - see above for the reasons why.

TBs: Which official Technic set you wish you had designed?

JC: I've never thought about this. The closest is when I've seen a particularly elegant use of a small number of parts to achieve something, and thought "why didn't I think of doing it that way!"

TBs: If you had the option to choose any old Technic set to be re-released, which one would be your current choice?

JC: The 8421 Mobile Crane. I didn't buy this when it was released, and I should have, it's a classic. If you permit me the indulgence of nostalgia, I would also vote for the 857 Motorbike with Sidecar from 1979, as there was just something amazing about this model that I can't quite explain.

Editor's Note: This one?... Now I understand why this interview took so many years to answer! You were waiting to reveal your preference for a re-release just a few days before we get to know about its successor.

TBs: Thank you very much for your time, we wish you many great ideas and new MOCs for the future.

JC: You're welcome. Leg Godt!

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