Darren at Brooklin

My name is Darren Mould and I have worked for Brooklin since July 1987 at the age of 20. There is an irony to me working at Brooklin. At school I had no interest in metal work or woodwork, though I enjoyed drawing. I am a left hander and I hear we’re meant to be creative. So I left school hoping to get a job in some kind of art and design but ended up working at a Jewellers, making jewellery, as you do. I did that for 4 years where I learnt the skills I use today. At the exact time that my boss decided to close the business, John Hall was looking for someone to train and replace him. Initially he approached my colleague, who trained me but he had other plans. My colleague pushed me to apply, though I was a bit hesitant. Over 35 years later, I’m still here and love it.

When I joined Brooklin in 1987 my colleagues had been at the current factory for a couple of years, having moved from a site a couple of miles down the road. The factory looks a lot different now to what it did back then. The factory has gone through many changes, from a new floor, to accommodate new staff, 33 at one point. Various room changes, the paint room moved so that the casting could expand. The front office where John and I worked became the reception. I didn’t start working with John straightaway. I started in the casting room, most probably the plating department. Then cleaning up the castings, fettling, sanding and finally assembly.

Typically, every four weeks or so there would be a schedule of models to build. Below is Schedule 22 where you can see repeat orders for existing models. As you can see, the Nomad was a big order. The BRK 26 Chevy Nomad was the first master I worked on and the first model John Hall showed me how to use the skills I learned from Jewellery making.  I didn’t actually make the mould, but I had to process it. Which means having to make alterations, which quite often meant remaking certain components, changing the way things would go together. From here it was a learning curve that became 35 years long!

I don’t make all the masters myself as it takes a long time. Though over the years I’ve made plenty of different things, from something as simple as a bumper or something completely different like a car carrier, even a lawnmower. My job mainly is too make sure the master looks like what it’s supposed to and make any alterations needed so that moulds can be made and the models can be built as easily and efficiently as possible. This can take anywhere from two to three weeks, depending on the model and what needs doing.

The very first model I made from scratch on my own was the BRK 128 1952 Cunningham C-3 Continental Coupe. Nigel and I went to photograph and measure the car. We took a myriad of measurements from the wheel base, size of windows, to all the trim like headlights and taillights, etc. All these measurements are put onto a drawing of the car for reference. Also plenty of photos from all angles, inside and out. The middle photo shows some of the brass masters I made of the Cunningham. The car on the left is the working master. You can tell by the colour, which has years of oxidisation with the help of rubber and high heat. The one on the right is a spare one that hasn’t been cleaned up.

I started with a block of resin that was the rough shape of the car and sculpted it. Grinding, filing and sanding. Once that’s done, it’s sent off to be cast into brass. Then it’s cleaned up and polished. All the other components such as dashboard, bumpers, things like headlights and other trim are made out of brass. Though this process can be lengthy, 4 to 8 weeks, possibly longer, depending on the model.

I also work on resin parts of models, such as this front wheel arch for LDM 84a 1937 MG VA. I made a mould of the profile of the arch. Cast some resin into it. Then I cut it down the middle, and I then have a left and right identical set of arches to be shaped and finessed.

 

With the vastly improved 3D printing, a lot of work can be taken out of master making, but it does come with its own set of problems. There is no formula to making model cars. Every model is unique and has its own set of problems to overcome.

Even now, 35 years on, I’m still learning and finding new ways to do things, though sometime the old ways are best.


Photo credits: the author and the Brooklin archive at hobbyDB.