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Hay River retiree shares model-making hobby
'You'd think I'd have run out of patience by now but I still enjoy it'

Diana Yeager
Northern News Services
Monday, January 25, 2016

Ron Hilworth has been building model vehicles in his workshop for years.

And now, after moving on from large wooden ships, ships in bottles, cars, bikes and planes, he has been focusing on model tanks for the past year.

"I enjoy doing them," he said. "You'd think I'd have run out of patience by now but I still enjoy it."

Hilworth spent his career working as an electrician and mechanic for Northwestel and Canadian National Railway. He spent nine years overseas working on drilling rigs, and ended up in Hay River after meeting his then-future boss on a train in Jasper, Alta.

Now, he is spending his retirement focusing on his models.

"I was in Edmonton in the hobby shop, and I saw a model tank," he explained. "Once I got started, I really enjoyed it and I kept going. Now that I have them out here, I didn't realize there were so many."

Hilworth has completed 54 model tanks, which he usually keeps in boxes in his basement.

"I haven't got a clue what the names of any of these (tanks) are," he said. "I just like to build them. I'll probably keep building them 'til I kick the bucket."

Hilworth said he put together eight Harley Davidson motorcycle models a few years ago, which he donated to the Hay River Motorcycle Club.

"I don't need them. I guess I'll have a big garage sale," he said. "The fun for me is in building them. It gives me something to do."

His model ships in particular have generated a lot of interest, with 26 of them going for about $1,000 each - the price of the kit before it is assembled. Hilworth's wife, Pat, really enjoys having some of the models on display around the house. Her favourite is a large wooden ship they keep above their bed.

"I told him to keep that one or else make me another," she said. "I don't mind having them around, as long as there is a place to put everything. People used to come in here and think it was a museum."

Hands-on work runs in the family, with Hilworth's daughter Kerry Buhler being a cabinetmaker and his son Randy also taking an interest in building models.

Hilworth has signs up around town to advertise his tanks for sale, although he explained he doesn't intend to profit off them.

He just would rather see them go to use than spend their time in a box.

"I don't know how to turn on a computer, so this is my computer," said Hilworth. "I'll keep making them. It's what I like to do."

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