Winner, Joe Martin Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for 2006
January 18, 1934–April 21, 2005
Added to museum: 1/15/03
Augie Hiscano in his small home shop. Following the article about Augie are photos of some of his projects.
At age 7, Augie Hiscano was already carving model airplanes out of blocks of wood. He went on to win contests in U-control model airplane flying and eventually got interested in building and super-detailing plastic model cars. In 1964, he won the biggest national model car building contest ever held; the Revell National Championships which started out with over 500,000 entries at the local hobby shop level. His tools at the time were no more sophisticated than a Dremel tool and files. Contest rules prohibited former winners from entering again, so after winning that contest, his interests over the years moved on to building real hot rods and going drag racing. He has applied his skills as a craftsman to working on guns, model trains, cars, boats and tanks and loves all things miniature. He found a job with Orange Blossom Hobbies in Miami that kept him close to the hobbies he loves, and he remained there for the 35 years as manager until his recent retirement.
In 1989, he was invited back to the National Model Championships in Salt Lake City as a former winner and special guest. There he was inspired to take up building model cars again. A change in the rules meant he could enter again, but 25 years later the level of quality had risen to where he could see his hand tools would no longer be sufficient to build a winning entry. In 1990 his wife bought him a Sherline lathe and he began making machined parts. In 1991, he received a mill and his entry in that year’s contest, a 1932 Ford Victoria hot rod, won both "best of show" and "people’s choice" awards. In 1993, he built what he calls "the best car that never won a ‘best of show’ award" and finished second at Salt Lake City. Determined to build another winner, he went to work on a black ’33 roadster. It won the 1997 National Championships "Best of Show" award. In 1999 he came back with an even more detailed 1932-1/2 Ford roadster and won "Best in Class (hot rod)", "Best Engineered" and "Best of Show". It is rare in any avocation to find someone whose national championship quality work spans over three decades, but Augie’s has. He took four "Best in Show" awards at the largest national show over a 35-year period. With typical modesty, he gave a lot of credit to his tools saying, "Without tools of this quality I could not have won in the 1990’s".
Augie only had two years of Machine Shop in high school, so all he has learned has come from reading books, talking to other machinists and just plain experience. When he was young he built real hot rods, so he knows what goes into a car, but since his return to modeling he prefered working on the 1/25th scale variety. He said, "Today I can make my ‘dream cars’ and park them in my dining room."
After his retirement, Augie spent some of his time attending shows other than model car shows, and expanded his modeling to include boats, airplane engines, steam engines, bikes and other small models. What they all have in common is his craftsman's touch and a level of perfection that goes down to the level where magnification is needed to really appreciate the smallest details. Augie continued to take his modeling to new levels and also to passed on what he has learned to as many interested modelers as possible. Having spent months and even years working on some of his prize-winning entries, in retirement he found it more to his liking to take on a greater number of smaller projects that can be completed in shorter time span. Augie worked on his models and traveled the United States in his motorhome with wife of 51 years, Carol attending model shows and giving seminars on modeling to pass on what he has learned.
It is with great sadness that we must announce that Augie Hiscano passed away suddenly in his home on April 21, 2005. His obituary can be found online at http://www.legacy.com/Herald/LegacySubPage2.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonId=3459020. Augie had just helped complete a new trophy sponsored by Scale Nuts & Bolts that was to be presented at the Salt Lake City model show for "Best Metal Work" and would be called the "Augie." The trophy contained a custom machined 1/25 scale metal wheel that he had produced. We hope his legacy of quality will continue to inspire new generations of modelers.
(Click photo for larger image.)
|This 1933 Ford roadster was the "Best in Show" winner of the 1997 Salt Lake City contest. Except for a portion of a plastic kit body in the rear of the car and the tires, almost every part is scratch built from metal.|
|Side view of the 1933 Ford shows details of the hand made 427 engine and custom turned aluminum wheels. The frame is scratch-built from brass and chrome plated. The front and rear suspension are fully functional.|
|Bottom view shows complete undercarriage detail down to and including brake lines.|
|This 1932-1/2 roadster won the 1999 national title. It features a laid-back 1932 grill in a 1933 body with a mirror smooth metallic green paint scheme. It has a photo-etched grill, chromed brass frame, removable painted brass hood, opening "suicide" doors, fully plumbed and wired 1996 Mustang Cobra engine and a working Jaguar rear suspension.|
|With the hood removed, the detail of the Mustang Cobra engine can be seen. The higher angle also shows some of the detail of the interior.|
|With the body removed, some of the frame and suspension details of the roadster are revealed. Note the engine detail and working front suspension.|
|The photo from the rear shows the details of the Jaguar independent rear suspension. Over 100 parts make up the rear suspension alone.|
|This tiny BMX bike shows another aspect of Augie's skill. The frame is gold plated and a dime in the foreground shows how small the whole thing is. Kids go nuts over this project.|
|Here is Augie's interpretation of a dirt track hot rod from the 1930's. A dime shows the small size of the all-metal model.|
|A detail of the tiny engine in the hot rod.|
|When Augie attended a show for vintage airliners, he wanted to take along something the people at the show could identify with. He built this extremely small 14-cylinder radial aircraft engine like the one used in a DC-3 of the 1940's. In the foreground is a dime to illustrate how small it really is. The bolts used on the cylinder heads are M.5 size (about 0000-160) made from stainless steel.|
|This view of the 14-cylinder radial shows how small it really is.|
|Augie's latest project is a 1/25 scale all-metal chopper. Here it is seen on its building fixture. A dime shows size scale and sits where the V-twin engine will soon sit. Note the aluminum 3-spoke wheels, front disc brake rotor and rear drive belt hub. The extensions on the fixture are to hold the front and rear hubs in various positions when the frame is being worked on without wheels and tires.|
|The "picture" side of the chopper (the side that will have the chromed exhaust pipes) and the side of a V-twin bike that is usually photographed for the magazines.|
|A rear view shows the custom flush-mounted gas cap on the tank. The hole pattern in the rear brake rotor shows up well in this photo too. Augie is enjoying this project because, though small, the cycle allows him to employ just about every tool in his shop. He's used a his lathe, mill, rotary table and a number of other accessories, not to mention hand tools like files.|
|Finally, the chopper is finished and ready for display. Augie painted it a mica mist purple metallic. The exhaust pipes are formed from nickel silver wire with a hollow section attached at the rear. The material bends smoothly, can be silver soldered and takes chrome plating like the real thing.|
|This view shows the iron cross logo "stitched" into the seat. Since the "leather" seat is actually brass, the logo was machined and then trimmed off in wafer-thin form. It is soldered to the seat and then hand sanded to round the edges to make it look as if it were sewn in. The black paint actually has a leather texture. The spark plug wiring can be seen in this view as well.|
|Unlike the guys you see on the Discovery Channel who "build" custom choppers, Augie actually made every part on this bike himself except the rubber tires. No sending out for someone to make the wheels and someone else to do the chrome and paint. He does it all. Also unlike the budget for building a full size chopper, the materials involved here cost only a few dollars, although the amount of time involved might be even more. Augie has over 300 hours in this 3" long model.|
|A dime shows how small the wheels actually are. The drilled brake rotors can be seen here too. On the wall in the background is a "poster" which is a miniature version of an actual magazine cover featuring a photo of one of Augie's contest winning hot rods.|
|The painted frame with the motor set in place rests on a miniature workbench for this photo. The front forks sit on a stand in the lower right corner.|
|The Harley V-twin engine, drive belt and toothed drive socket now sit on the workbench for display. The engine actually bolts into the frame with with tiny threaded stainless steel bolts just like the real thing. Augie says the fit between engine and frame is a tight one...only a few thousandths of an inch.|
|When attending a recent model train show, Augie decided to take with him a model the modelers at that show could identify with. He chose to model GM's ElectroMotive Division 567 "Prime Mover" engine in HO scale. Known as a "diesel/electric" system, the large supercharged diesel runs an electric generator which actually powers the electric motors of the real life engine. Engines like this are what moved the world out of the steam powered era in railroading.|
|Anyone superdetailing the dummy unit of a Diesel/electric "F" unit from EMD would be proud to pull off the shell and have one of these sitting on the platform inside. This is the type of detailing that separates a kit builder from a master modeler.|
|Here Augie has broken down the parts of the Prime Mover model into subassemblies, some of which have been left on the raw material stock so that a novice can see the various parts involved and how they are made. The look of screen material on the air filter was achieved with the use of a knurling tool.|
|These are the first shots of Augie's project for late 2004. It will be shown for the first time in January 2005 at the Prototype Modeler Show in Coco Beach, FL and then at the Cabin Fever Expo in York, PA the following weekend. It is a 1/15 scale Browning M2 machine gun. It is made up of 125 separate parts machined from brass, aluminum and steel. The rivets are all real. It is about 4.5" long and has an adjustable tripod, opening receiver and cocking bolt.|
|Another project shown for the first time at the York show is this unpainted chopper. The previous purple chopper was often mistaken for a plastic model, and Augie wanted people to see that the parts are all machined from various metals. Note the iron cross on the seat that looks like it is stitched into leather, but the whole seat is made from brass.|
|Augie called this "the best model to never win 'Best of Show'." The 1/25 for hot rod is displayed on a model hydraulic lift and includes Augie's usual high level of detail. (It's a little dusty on top from being on display at the show. Augie left his models uncovered and would gladly pick them up and show you the details underneath and inside.|
Augie and wife of 51 years Carol show off some of Augie's models at the 2005 Cabin Fever Expo in York, PA. Augie was great at getting both kids and adults fired up to take their modeling skills to a higher level. Augie will be greatly missed not only by his many friends but also by those he taught and inspired in the world of high quality model making.
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