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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Feb > Feb 11

Re: Model Train Wheels & Heflin - Tarbell

From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 14:36:29 -0700
Fwd Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2007 10:20:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Model Train Wheels & Heflin - Tarbell

>From: Nick Balaskas <Nikolaos.nul>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 23:49:19 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
>Subject: Re: Model Train Wheels & Heflin

>>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2007 14:18:52 -0700
>>Subject: Model Train Wheels & Heflin [was: Dan Aykroyd Has O'Hare...]

>>I have examined images of G-Scale (1-inch diameter) wheels
>>manufactured by Bachmann. While they are decidedly similar to
>>the Heflin image, the match is by no means precise.


>>Nevertheless, perhaps there is more geometric variation in these
>>model wheels than one might expect. If you can provide an image
>>- e.g., via ImageShack - of a model wheel that is as precise a
>>match to the Heflin image as you indicate, I would certainly be
>>interested in seeing it.

>Earlier this evening at work I took several snapshots of one of
>the "G Scale" model train wheels I purchased from Credit Valley
>Railway Company, one of Canada's top stores that specializes
>only in model trains. As you requested, you will find five
>different images of one these train wheels at the website below.


>Although the shape, thickness, ratio of diameters and angles are
>very similar to the flying saucer image in Rex Heflin's polaroid
>pictures, they are clearly not identical within our measuring

Thanks for the images Nick, they definitely allow for a careful

As you say, in spite of the overall similarity, they are readily
distinguished from the Heflin object by visual inspection.

The image I have for the Bachmann wheels is not particularly
good, see:


I spoke with a Credit Valley representative, and apparently they
also carry Bachmann, so we may be looking at the same wheel.
However, I could be persuaded that yours are very subtly more
'Heflin-like', better matching the ramp from the outer rim
toward the center. Neither is a very good match to the outer-
rim-to-inner-hub diameter ratio.

>The very dark black and featureless underside of Rex Helflin's
>flying saucer is much too dark. One would expect the underside
>to be somewhat brightened by reflected sunlight off the ground
>below it. Since the underside is also darker than anything else
>in the background of these polaroid pictures, this suggests to
>me that the saucer is a smaller model closer to the camera.
>Compare the saucer's darkened underside with the bottom of my "G
>Scale" model train wheel which was darkened by applying flat
>black tape to achieve the same effect, and also cover the wheel
>axial hole.

I am also of the impression that the object seems closer than
claimed, based on the darkness of its shadowed areas.

During the flurry of Heflin discussion last summer I tried to
obtain a range constraint based on atmospheric extinction, but
it turns out that visibility at the time of the photograph was
substantially greater than originally thought, and the result
was inconclusive.

At the range associated with a model train wheel, brightening of
the underside would of course be dominated by light from the
ground and/or Heflin's vehicle itself.

>I am still looking for the larger 1/32 scale model train wheel
>from the 1960s that Anonymous mentioned in his e-mail to the UFO
>UpDates list (see below). Once I do, I will do a comparision
>with the flying saucer image in Rex Heflin's polaroid pictures
>and make the results of my analysis known to the UFO UpDates
>List. Until then, we cannot yet rule out the claim that this
>flying saucer image is really a model train wheel.



In my conversation with Credit Valley, I was transferred to a
gentleman who was quite well-versed in the history of model
trains and their accessories. He asserted the following: in
America prior to 1969, a metal model train wheel at 1:32 scale
or larger would have almost certainly have to come from a live-
steam set imported from England, with the overwhelmingly likely
manufacturer being Roundhouse, or possibly Astor.

I must say that my visual impression of the Heflin images makes
the model train wheel idea hard to swallow. If that's what it
is, he achieved a remarkable effect. Perhaps others have
developed optic/geometric arguments that would rule out such a
tiny, close-range prop.


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