Paul Malone : 23cms Tankers Archive

'Foolish Perses' triptych in an early phase.

This page tracks the changes that have occurred in the production of the 23cms tanker series since the first one for the Venice Biennale in 2009.

The essential format has retained the clear acrylic tube with embedded content - a bit like a ship in a bottle - but there have been numerous upgrades within this format. Each wagon is designed to reside within an acrylic museum case but all can be entrained and run around a standard 00 scale track.

See the 75cms Archive for the history of that format.



The first version was called 'Idrogeno Veneziano' or 'Hydrogen Venice'(Venice Water) and was part of a Collaterali exhibition called 'Souvenir' in 2009. Note the first use of text on acetate and the blue tinting of the silicone in the tube. There is a double walkway here made from cannibalised plastic units sprayed silver. Note this was not designed to run on a track and has the bogies glued into place. The case is screwed into place from the sides.


In this series, called 'Foolish Perses', the walkways are still cannibalised plastic but the bogies can now move freely on nylon spaces so that the wagon is functional on a track. After experimenting I decided to use Bachmann couplings.


After 'Foolish Perses' I tried another philosophy in the wagons. This time 'Cogito Ergo Sum' from Descartes. This time I tried embedding objects other than text - here there is the first use of plumbers abrasive in the square grids.


Back to 'Foolish Perses' again; only this time I have designed and made the ladders from acid-etched nickel-silver. These were made in 2 parts - the ladder and the walkway - which were then folded into shape and superglued together. This was then superglued onto the acrylic tube


Originally the walkways had smooth surfaces but in subsequent developments they were textured with small ovals in relief. The ends of the tubes were made to a flatter profile and the centre holes were closed, in this example, with a plug of silicone. The text in this example is done in 'Veteran Typewriter' font which marks a change from the usual 'Century Gothic'.


A close-up of the above showing the walk-way in more detail. Note the tiny ovals. The design was done with InkScape vector graphics program and the acid etch done on 18 guage nickel-silver sheet. Note the bogies have been taken apart and part-sprayed with pewter metallic paint.


In the 2014 development the silicone has been replaced with a central acrylic tube holding various artifacts - in this case a track of plumbers abrasive supporting silver bullion grain and acrylic spheres. The text is now held on a single sheet that is inserted to roll up against the interior of the large tube. The holes in the end now have removable acrylic spheres.