Yabba Dabba Do-It-Yourself

Couple brings a homemade Flintstones cartoon vehicle to life as a backdrop for a regional rock and gem show
by: Chase Allgood Steve and Marcia Rutledge of Forest Grove will simulate the town of Bedrock when they bring their homemade Flintstone-mobile to the Washington County Fairplex in Hillsboro this weekend as a centerpiece for the Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show.

Don't be surprised if you run into Fred, Wilma and Pebbles Flintstone at the Washington County Fairplex this weekend.

Likewise, you might catch a glimpse of Barney, Betty and Bamm-Bamm Rubble, or maybe even Fred's cantankerous boss at the quarry, Mr. Slate, when Marcia and Steve Rutledge of Forest Grove cruise to Hillsboro in their Flintstone-mobile.

It's a yabba dabba do-it-yourself project - created by the fun-loving couple with a little help from an equally ambitious relative.

Steve, a contractor, and Marcia's brother, artist Mitch Metcalf of Reno, Nev., built the full-scale working model of the famous cartoon character's foot-powered roadster in about two weeks.

The cleverly accoutred auto is bound to delight the crowd at the 2011 Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show, which kicks off Friday and runs for three days.

According to Marcia - who grew up watching the animated TV sitcom produced by Hanna-Barbera in the 1960s - the whole experience has been a blast from the Stone Age past.

'My mother-in-law mentioned the Flintstones as a theme for the kids' corner, and everything just went from there,' she said. 'We've had a lot of fun with it.'

To get things rolling, Mitch and Steve picked up wood they found on the ground in the Hagg Lake area. Members of the Forest Grove-based Tualatin Valley Gem Club, to which the Rutledges belong, donated prize pieces of rock and stone so the men could fashion a 'radio,' 'headlights' and a dinosaur-imprinted steering wheel.

Faster than Wilma could commandeer Fred's wallet to go on a shopping spree, the Flintstone car replica was finished. Its license plate, emblazoned with the words 'Prehistoric Bedrock: Rock on,' added a nostalgic touch.

'Mitch has a great imagination, and Steve can build anything,' said Marcia. 'They make a great team.'

To top it all off, Metcalf painted a 16-foot mural of 'Bedrock Quarry,' the perfect backdrop for the whimsical car. The Rutledges plan to allow show-goers to sit in the Flintstone-mobile and have their pictures taken.

'Everybody can bring a camera - we won't charge for the photos,' Marcia joked.

Roped into it

It was Steve's parents who first lit the spark that eventually caught fire in the form of a Flintstones theme.

'Steve's mom and stepdad are longtime members of the Tualatin Valley club, and we joined recently as a way to connect more with them,' Marcia said. 'The next thing I knew, I got roped into managing the kids' corner.'

Responsibility for the show feature soon caught fire with Marcia. Not one to shy away from a challenge, she let her imagination run wild - all the way back to prehistoric times.

'We decided to rename the corner 'Bedrock Quarry,' and Steve built a prototype for the car,' she noted. The mockup, and online research on specifications for Fred and Barney's favorite mode of transportation, were enough for the Rutledges to move ahead on the project.

Steve and Mitch started scouring for wood in late August, and Marcia got to work on the car's synthetic 'animal skin' upholstery.

A friend of Steve's donated the end-cut of a cedar log for the steering wheel, and cylindrical concrete forms - spray painted in gray and black to simulate granite - let the vehicle roll.

'It only goes forward and back; it won't turn,' observed Steve, who pointed out that television's Flintstones car only moved 'courtesy of Fred's two feet.'

Chunky jewelry

As the car began to take shape, excitement over the fundraising aspect of the gem and mineral show began to build in the Rutledge household.

Steve is borrowing a pair of giant dinosaur statues from a local car dealer's lot, and Marcia asked Hillsboro seamstress Emmer Holbrook to whip her up a Wilma Flintstone get-up.

She's working on Steve to show up dressed as Fred.

'We're asking all our women members to wear chunky jewelry to the show,' Marcia said with a laugh.

Although they consider themselves new at the rockhound game, the couple enjoys hunting for eye-catching specimens when they're out of town.

'There are plenty of good rocks right around here, especially near the Wilson River,' Marcia said.

Under wraps

The Rutledges, who live on Poplar Place, have kept the car under wraps, preferring to unveil it at this weekend's gem show, which features fossils, cut and polished stones, gems and rocks from all over the world.

After that, it'll be another great feature in their big back yard.

'It's been kind of a secret,' said Steve.

'Not for long,' quipped Marcia. 'Steve and Mitch are so proud of it.'