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Restoration of a Miniature

Restoration of a Miniature

Meet local artists, John Ackerman and David Fischer, and watch their restoration efforts on a model fire station built by Tom Showers in 1965 in this series of demonstrations. 


Most second and third Saturdays of the month. Visit our calendar for details.


Included with museum admission. Free for museum members.

Restoration of a Miniature

About The Model Fire Station

The model fire station was built by Tom Showers circa 1965, based upon a real fire station in Anaheim, California. The model was scratch-built in a 1/32nd scale from balsa wood, bass wood and other mixed media.

The Artist: Tom Showers (1917-1996)

Tom Showers began building replica scale-model fire apparatus in the early 1940s when he began a career as a firefighter for the military. After his service, he joined the Los Angeles County Fire Department where he spent the next 25 years, retiring as a Captain. Over a span of approximately fifty-six years, he created more than four hundred 1:32 scale model firefighting apparatus as well as twelve fire stations and support structures, six fire boats and one training tower, all while advancing in his career as a firefighter.

Originally, Showers created these scale models recreationally. However, when he became a fire training officer, he began using his models as fire training aids. He gained a reputation and praise for the fine quality of his craftsmanship. His pieces also came to be used by manufacturers and inventors to aid in developing and improving the design of full-size fire apparatus. Tom was a member of IAAM (International Association of Automotive Modelers), FAMBA (Fire Apparatus Model Builders Association) and IPMS (International Plastic Modelers Society). His work has been featured in numerous model publications and is included in several museum and private collections throughout the United States.

About The Restoration Artists

John Ackerman

John A. Ackerman worked in the fire service, owned a publishing company called Fire Publications Inc. and is a noted creator of scale replica fire apparatus and fire stations. His work has been displayed at numerous model shows around the country. He has also written magazine articles and presented how-to demonstrations on the many facets of scratch-building scale replica fire apparatus.

John is among the founding members of the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society. He served as chair of various committees and as a member of the board of directors. He was an active and instrumental participant in the successful effort to restore Old Fire Station 27 at the LAFD Fire Museum. His LAFD scale replica models are on permanent display at the Los Angeles Fire Museum. John is actively retired and lives in Sahuarita, Arizona.

David Fischer

Miniature artisan David Fischer started building plastic models the summer before kindergarten, and models have been a fixture in his life ever since. In fact, it was his childhood fascination with the work of airbrush artist Ray Gaedeke, who illustrated the box covers of Lindberg models in the 1950s, that pointed him toward a career in graphic design and illustration.

As a teenager David began researching authentic paint and marking schemes for his models, altering and augmenting the details of plastic kits to recreate a specific airplane or vehicle at a certain time and place. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in the pre-computer era helped him to develop important hand-rendered skills which adapted well to model building. Eventually, he determined that altering and augmenting plastic kits to suit his needs was becoming ludicrous, so he decided to eliminate the kit altogether. Building a model from scratch opened a broad new range of possibilities, and the search for materials and methods became as much a part of every project as the creation of the model itself.

In addition to model building David now collects kits from the 1950s. Opening a well-preserved old kit, with its dramatic cover art and simple, often brightly colored parts, stirs the same excitement for him that it did when he was six.