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A Titanic endeavor

Model of the doomed liner took man 10 years to build

Model of the doomed liner took man 10 years to build

September 21, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. - Two large pieces of the 883-foot Titanic remain 12,500 feet below sea level.

A 15-foot replica is intact in Norman Little's basement.

He doesn't necessarily want to keep it there, though, as he has enjoyed displaying it for various fundraisers in the past. The model, on 1/60th scale, was displayed for churches, a Chamber of Commerce and benefit car shows when Little lived in Florida.

"This area, I have no idea. I don't know if there's any interest," he said.

Little plans to spend the winter restoring parts of what he believes is the only navigable, radio-controlled and launchable model of its scale. Little, a member of the Titanic Historical Society, said he has never been challenged when making that claim.

Little first launched the model in a canal on May 31, 1998, coinciding with the height of the popularity for James Cameron's movie's "Titanic." Little timed the launch to be 87 years to the minute after the original.

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"Our lawns were pretty much full of people," said Little, 78, who recently moved to Waynesboro.

As other people's eyes were on the ship, it was Little's heart that was sailing.

"It was a very emotional trip for me because, at that time, it was a 60-year dream that was complete," he said.

Long before Cameron or the film's stars were born, Little was growing up in Ontario during the Depression.

"We spent a lot of our time in the farmhouse. It was a really harsh winter," he said.

The family couldn't afford toys, so Little gathered twigs from the woods to make models. Often, he would wonder about the oil painting of the Titanic that hung on the wall.

"Every day, coming down to breakfast, you couldn't help but run into that thing," he said.

When questioning his mother about the painting, she explained that the painting moved with her family from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their home was destroyed and Little's uncle was killed when a World War I munitions ship exploded in Halifax's harbor.

Later in life, Little, his wife and their children spent time at Smithsonian museums learning more about the Titanic.

"At one time, I thought I was the only Titanic nut in the world," Little said.

The model, Little's "work of love," took him 10 years. He worked from plans and models provided by the Titanic Historical Society.

Three years ticked by while Little made a mold for the hull and its propeller mounts. Fiberglas now covers the hull, and the model's superstructure is aluminum.

Little's attention to detail is evident when he explains how various sections of the ship had different numbers of bars on railings. They varied by class, he said.

The hardwood deck will be his focus in the coming months as he rips up pieces that have bubbled from moisture.

Then, in the spring, Little hopes to load the model onto its specially designed trailer for transport to schools or organizations.

"There's such a mystique with this ship. The Titanic never dies," Little said.

For more information about scheduling a display for school or a charitable function, call 717-762-8198.

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