Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gunboat - on the home straight

After weeks without rain, the heavens opened early yesterday afternoon and we had a veritable deluge. It trailed off into steady rain that fell all afternoon and into the early evening. Since all outdoor activity was out of the question I happily settled to working on the gunboat.

The mast is now stepped, along with the smokestack. I reused the wheelhouse from the earlier gunboat with a few modifications. The glass panes looked far too large for the Victorian period (and would be dangerous when shot at!), so I divided them up with vertical bars. Shiny black iron bolts (Puffy Paint) decorate where the planks join the frame. A steam whistle (a length of dowel painted copper and the brass bit from an old ballpoint pen) rises from the roof to a good height. At the moment I'm not sure if I want the roof to be removable or not. There's a certain appeal to having figures inside, so the helmsman's face shows white through the wheelhouse windows.*

*Spike Milligan reference there. A Brownie Point to whomever knows which book of his memoirs it comes from.

Whilst everything was drying, I followed Paul's advice and set to work on a Hotchkiss 57mm revolving cannon. It's what I call a serious 'sod-off' weapon, although for simplicity's sake I made this version with three barrels and not the conventional five. It's a stubby little brute and should look effective once painted up.

Hotchkiss & Nordenfeldt, two weapons of Empire.
The barrels are short lengths of brass tubing glued together and set into a 1/4 inch long piece of drinking straw. Like most straws the plastic is quite shiny and slick, and I sanded it down so it'll take paint. I pushed a blob of Milliput into one end of the straw and embedded the ends of the barrels in it. The ammo feed is a rectangle of wood. The side bars are thin card glued in place then reinforced by a length of cotton thread wound about the breach. The mounting is a wooden bead to which I glued a small washer so it'll stick to the deck magnets.

The last steps for the upper deck are coming up. I need to rig the mast and fit two ventilators either side of the smokestack. I'm thinking of making a small skylight for the center of the deck. With luck and a following wind I should finish it all this week!

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