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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Feb > Feb 13

Re: Model Train Wheels & Heflin - Balaskas

From: Nick Balaskas <Nikolaos.nul>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 22:41:40 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
Fwd Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 08:24:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Model Train Wheels & Heflin - Balaskas

>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 14:36:29 -0700
>Subject: Re: Model Train Wheels & Heflin

>>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


>>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


>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.

Hi Michael,

Yes, this is exactly the identical package of four metal model
train wheels that I purchased from this same company for a small
investment of $22.59 plus tax (free to any UFO UpDates Lister
who has model trains and can use them).

I agree, they are not a very good match with the Rex Heflin
flying saucer but they happened to be the largest wheels they
had in stock. Interestingly, some of the smaller plastic train
wheels they had in stock were of a much closer match but my goal
was to put the claims of Anonymous to the test and ignored
these. Although I did look through several model train magazines
they also carried, I did not find any 1/32 scale train wheels to
examine. I am still searching.

>>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.

I concur. What I found very unusal is the very dark underside of
the Heflin flying saucer. It seemed too black for a large
distant object but not for a much small object close to the

>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.

Compare the pictures of the train wheel where I covered its
underside with flat (non-glossy) black tape with the Heflin
flying saucer's black underside. The undersides of military
aircraft are intentionally much lighter in colour than their
tops in order to make them less conspicuous from the ground. Why
would any alien craft or even secret experimental/military
aircraft want to attract attention? I think the underside of Rex
Heflin's "flying" model train wheel was filled in or covered
with black material like I did to make it less obvious that it
is a wheel.

Martin Shough comments that there is a very prominent protruding
boss on my wheel which is absent from the Heflin flying saucer
are valid as long as we remember that it is the "G Scale" wheel
we are making the comparison with. Not all model train wheels
have such protruding bosses and the elusive 1/32 scale wheel may
not either. Even if it did, it would be easy to remove with a

>>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.

This only further confirms what Anonymous said about what the
Heflin flying saucer was. I will see if there are any train
hobbyists in and around Toronto that may have such steam engines
that were built by Roundhouse or Astor or possibly find pictures
in books or the Internet. Maybe UFO UpDates readers living in
England would like to help out with this investigation.

Another gentleman also well-versed in the history of model
trains that I spoke with in person at Credit Valley Railway
Company suggested I contact a machinist that specializes in
model trains. Unless I knew the exact dimensions of the wheel I
wanted and was prepared to pay much more money, this approach
would not really prove anything other that I could produce a
metal wheel that had the exact dimensions of the Heflin flying

>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.

A 1/32 scale wheel is not a tiny prop and much can be achieved
even with a Polaroid cameras and its not very sharp pictures.

A lot has already been written about the Heflin flying saucer,
most of it inconclusive. Although my search for a 1/32 scale
model train wheel from the right steam engine manufactured in
the 1960s continues, even if I were to find a better matching
wheel, there are such large uncertainties in the same ratios
between the three different Heflin flying saucer images that my
investigation may ultimately prove inconclusive too.

Nick Balaskas

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