a beautifully constructed working model about 35" long made in 1/6 scale
No, it's not a real full-size Duesenberg, but
rather a beautifully constructed working model about 35" long made
in 1/6 scale. 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 over the 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. The model weighs
about 60 pounds. Lou's 40 year career was spent as a mechanical
engineer. He once restored a vintage 1930 Cadillac convertible that
was on the show circuit for years, but now he prefers to work in
miniature 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 starting over on 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 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 of the volume of the original part. 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
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
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 thing. 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 rather
than machining simpler bevel gears.
This is the dashboard and interior with the body primed but not
Note the detailed instruments and
engine-turned finish on the dash.
The complicated convertible top mechanism is shown
in the lowered position.
Lou was presented with a special Lifetime
Achievement award by the Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional
Craftsmanship 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
In case you didn't get enough, here's one more
photo of the Duesy from rear quarter. The model will be on public
display in 2011 at the Cabin Fever Model Expo in York, PA in January
and at the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in
Southgate, MI in April
where Lou will be officially presented with
his award. It was on display at the Western Engine Model Exhibition
to be held in conjunction with the Good Guys car show in Pleasanton,
CA in August, 2011. This message was produced by the Joe Martin
Foundation. Please feel free to forward it to anyone you know who
likes fine craftsmanship, car models, miniature engines and/or
Duesenbergs. See the outstanding work of Lou and 99 other
world-class craftsmen at www.CraftsmanshipMuseum.com.