This is a very talented and patient craftsman!
...and truly remarkable!!
Anybody who has any sense of the dedication to a job done to the nearest level of perfection,
who sees beauty in such purism of craftsmanship, who can appreciate the dedication and love of a person for such an impeccable job, who can relate to the ability of a single person to do what Lou has done after years of dedication, all these people must applaud Mr. Louis Chenot for having accomplished such a task.
Louis Chenot has spent the past ten years building this incredibly detailed 1932 SJ Duesenberg LaGrande dual-cowl phaeton. Not only does it look good, but the engine runs, the lights work, the top mechanism functions and the transmission and driveline are complete. Lou started his research on this project over fifty years ago with the purchase of a book and through the following years collected many drawings and studied a number of Duesenbergs while they were being restored, taking photos and recording dimensions.
Here's a shot of the finished car from the side on its specially made display table. The model weighs about 60 pounds.
Lou’s 40 year career was spent as a mechanical engineer. In the 1960's he spent 7 years restoring a vintage 1930 Cadillac convertible that was on the show circuit for years, but now he prefers to work on smaller projects in the comfort of his home shop.
The bodywork is all metal, not fiberglass. Here is the car in Lou's shop before the brass coachwork was primed or painted. Lou is not adverse to remaking a part that doesn't meet his standards. He started over on the especially difficult brass radiator shell nine times.
Here is the engine removed from the model and sitting on its test stand. The transmission is in the foreground.
Most running models are built at larger scales like 1/3 or 1/4. Working in the smaller 1/6 scale magnifies the problems caused by miniaturizing certain parts. Remember that these scale parts are 1/6 as long, 1/6 as high and 1/6 as deep as real parts, making them 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 or 1/216th the volume of the original part. By comparison, a 1/3 scale model is 1/27th the volume and a 1/4 scale model is 1/64th the volume. Further complicating the prospect of building a running engine at that size is the fact that fuel molecules and electricity don't scale. It is very difficult to get tiny carburetors and little spark plugs to work like the big ones. A video of Lou starting and running the engine for the first time can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6TetkMpFIc
Inside the straight eight engine are all the correct parts custom machined to scale from steel, cast iron and aluminum. Here we see the block and crankshaft at the top. Arrayed below the block are the cast iron cylinder sleeves, pistons, wrist pins and assembled connecting rods.
Even though there would be no way to tell once it is all assembled, the cylinder head shows that Lou didn't cheat. The engine has 4 valves per cylinder--32 total--just like the real one.
Here is the head (before painting) with the camshafts in place--there are 16 lobes on each shaft. (The apparent curve of the upper shaft is caused by the camera's wide angle lens.)
The gears inside the differential will never be seen by anyone, but Lou cut them as actual hypoid gears like the real one rather than machining simpler bevel gears.
This is the dashboard and interior with the body primed but not yet painted. Note the detailed instruments and engine-turned finish on the dash.
The complicated convertible top mechanism is shown in the lowered position before the canvas top material was installed.
Louis Chenot (Left) and Joe Martin (Right) inspect progress on the chassis and engine at the NAMES show in Detroit in 2007.
Lou was presented with a special Lifetime Achievement award by the http://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/ in 2009. The model was nearing completion but the engine had not yet run. Now that the engine runs and the model is completed, Lou has been selected as the foundation's "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year." The award includes an engraved award medallion and a check for $2000.00. Lou is the 15th person to receive this coveted annual award. Because it is likely that this could well be the finest running model car ever built in this small a scale, Lou's award this year will be presented as the "Craftsman of the Decade." More can be seen on this car and some of Lou's other projects at http://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/chenot.htm