About Girders & Gears

Like so many of you, the good doctor* (that's me) received one of A.C. Gilbert's wonderful Erector sets for Christmas as a young boy. It was a small set, probably a 2½ or 3½, but I loved it just the same. And, like so many of you, I enjoyed building with it for many years thereafter. However, time seems to have a way of causing some things to pass from our consciousness, or to disappear altogether. And so it was with my Erector Set...

Now, many years later (nearly 40 to be exact), I find myself with a restored 10½ Amusement Park Set, as well as several dozen other construction sets of all types. I'm not sure where the bug came from to do this, but a program on the Discovery Channel about famous toys of the 20th Century sure helped rekindle those fires. I decided to see whether the sets as I remembered them were still available. A quick search of the Internet said yes, but only as restored or refurbished versions, as the originals had ceased being manufactured long ago. A little more searching led me to Pandy's Collectibles, and my "new" 10½ set. Finally, I could build all of those bigger models which were illustrated in my old manual, but which were beyond the scope of that first small set. And I haven't wasted any time since then - I went for broke immediately and together with my daughter we tackled that ultimate model, the Giant Parachute Jump. Thereafter, deciding to stick with the Amusement Park theme for a while longer, we built the Carousel and then the Ferris Wheel. And many more have followed since - to see the results of our efforts, visit my Model Gallery.

* A word about me, John Cook (a.k.a. "Dr. Prune"): besides being a metal construction set enthusiast, I am a geologist by education and a full-time Web developer and computer analyst by trade (please note: I am NOT a doctor of medicine or of philosophy - "Dr. Prune" is an Internet "handle" and "Doc" is a nickname). In addition to Girders & Gears, I am also the designer and proprietor of Nightfall Books, a website that caters to my own interests in speculative fiction literature, art, architecture, music, and computer graphics.

Okay, so why "Dr. Prune" you may wonder? What's the deal with that? Well, the name comes from one of my favorite books (three books, actually), books I feel are among the greatest works of literature in the English language: Dr. Prune, short for Dr. Prunesquallor, is a main character in the Gormenghast Trilogy written by Mervyn Peake. For more information on these amazing novels, see below.

The Gormenghast Novels
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Set in a rambling, crumbling castle as large as a city, in an unknown time on an unknown world, the first two novels of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy are among the most astonishing works of fiction ever written.

Dark, brooding, oppressive, and strange beyond words, "Titus Groan" and "Gormenghast" will haunt you forever with their bizarre and tragic characters, disconcerting images, and unrelenting strangeness. For fans of speculative fiction literature, these two books, along with their less effective counterpart "Titus Alone", are not to be missed at any cost. Once read, they will never leave you, and I am certain that, like me, you will read them again and again over the years, always marvelling at the world Mr. Peake has created.

John Cook (a.k.a. Dr. Prune)
November 2000