Monday, June 18, 2018

Steamboats, Launches and Dhows, and how to sink them.


So, the Ozark-class Monitor is now part of my small squadron of steamboats, launches and dhows. The question now is:- what rules do I use when they come into violent conflict?

Back in the day my club in England had the occasional game of ACW Ironclad encounters using the very nice 15mm models from Old Glory. I think the 'beer & pretzels' style rules were called 'Hammerin' Iron,' but may be mistaken.

The rules work well for ACW actions but I wanted something more in keeping with warfare on the vast rivers and lakes of my Colonial-era Hidden Continent. A search of the internet came up with a set of rules by Anton Ryzbak which looked the business. A few tweaks here and there has given me a set to try out - although I've yet to decide whether to include options for early Whitehead-type torpedoes.

For ship-to-shore naval support actions I'll use the TFL Sharpe Practice rules with my home-brew modifications. In SP, artillery divides into small or large guns, which will need a bit of tweaking when it comes to the heavy hitters aboard the Monitor. One or two shots from those mighty 9.2" pieces would flatten most Colonial forces in the field. A restriction on line of sight, and the amount of ammunition fired would do the trick, with so many shots allowed per game as the careful captain would need to husband his supply. After all, 9.2" HE shells aren't usually available off the shelf at that flyblown trading station on the river...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Being in all respects ready for sea...


The Monitor is finished. The chocks were knocked away and she slid down the slipway into the river as easy as you please.

The vessel offshore from some islands (using the hill pieces I made a couple of years ago). The river is a blue plastic tablecloth.
She has the 'fierce face' aspect so beloved of French naval architects of this period. If a ship looks fierce, it'll have a dampening effect on the morale of her enemies - assuming they'll see it at big gun range through the mist, spray and smoke of battle.

The business end.
Moving slowly upriver, seen against a dusty sky. What adventures lie before her?


I may make another one to sell on eBay if the interest is there. In the meantime I've finished a small side project - more on that later - and have plans for a couple of other bits and pieces to dress the scene in future games. I have a scenario in mind for the vessel's first outing, but for now, I'm trying to think of a name for her. Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Monitor - almost there


Real life got in the way a bit this past week, but I managed to make a little more progress on the Monitor. First up, I made a coffer out of scrap wood to hold the deck house in place and painted the guns and turret gun ports flat black.


Seen head-on the guns have given it a menacing aspect, like it's looking for trouble. The only other bits and pieces I've done to date are the navigation lanterns - port, starboard and masthead. These are plaster components from the Hirst Arts inn accessories mold. I did hope my inks would turn up, but no joy, so I used Testors enamels to make the coloured glass for the lanterns. I also fitted a short length of tubing to take the flag.


I'm going to work on a Congo Free State flag to fly from the upper deck then give the mast some rigging. Once that's all done I'll take some photos of the finished vessel.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Monitor - slow but steady


A busy weekend for me and my Better Half, but I found some time to work on the monitor. The bulk of construction is now done and dusted. All that's left are the twiddly bits for the upper deck - smokestack, mast and skylight.

For the railings I use the plastic mesh found in craft shops. I think it's used for embroidery. It's cheap, easy to cut, and works well for modelling purposes. It is quite flexible and in my experience doesn't take ordinary acrylic paints well, so in this case I sprayed it with Krylon flat white which works nicely. Six lengths of mini-dowel make the posts. The only other addition to the deck house so far is to paint the conning tower vision slot black.


The railings are now glued on with E6000 adhesive, again because it works with this kind of plastic. The currently empty stretch of deck either side of the conning tower will mount navigation lights once I get around to casting them.


Bits to be sprayed white - The bamboo kebab skewer and mini-dowel mast, component parts of the skylight, and the smokestack. I lightly sanded the exterior of the smokestack to prep it for the spray paint, and painted the inside sooty black. The skylight is more plastic mesh, with wood filler spread across it to fill the square holes leaving the mesh surface proud.


Once the paint dried on the skylight, I painted the piece light blue to represent glass then went over the raised grid work with white for the window frames. Once dry I gave the glass a coat of gloss varnish I think it came out okay.


Next I'll rig the mast and glue a short length of tube to the stern railing on the upper deck to take an interchangeable flagpole. That way I can swap out the vessel's nationality when needed. At the moment I'm debating whether to make the whole deck house assembly removable for ease of storage/transport. I have a couple of small bar magnets left, or I can make a rectangular coffer for the deck house to sit over. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

More Monitor


Having a few minutes to spare these last couple of days I worked on the Ozark-style Monitor model. Joppy's idea of running a bolt through the turret to mount it on the hull is good, and I like the idea of using the bolt-head for a director cupola on top of the turret. Trouble is, I don't currently have a drill bit capable of boring through the metal plate serving as the turret trunk. An experiment on a spare lid aimed at piercing a hole using a hammer and nail was hurriedly abandoned when the plate began to buckle with no appreciable sign of a hole forming.

So, back to Plan A: a magnet.


This turned out to be easy enough to make. A couple of wooden pieces glued either side to support the cross truss, a small bar magnet, and Bob's your uncle. I positioned the truss so the magnet is almost touching the base plate. That way it reduces friction and so avoids the magnet becoming detached from the truss. It's easy to turn the turret yet it has still got plenty of magnetic adhesion to hold it in place.

Moving on, I painted the deck with the first undercoat, aiming at the kind of bleached wood effect seen on old sailing ships. I'm going to mix a little Spackle/Tetrion filler into the next coat to fill the gaps in the planking which are a bit too obvious for this scale.


Now a trial run to see how everything fits together.


I'm not 100% happy with the decking on top of the deck house, and may yet cover the lot with thin card scored to resemble planking. For convenience I'll fit a single smokestack abaft the conning tower instead of the prototype Ozark's twin stacks as it'll take up a bit less space. I'm thinking of putting a skylight in the centre of the upper deck just for looks. The philosophy behind the model is that it's a gunboat, pure and simple, here to carry big guns to a place where they can do a lot of damage and not act as a personnel carrier. It won't carry more than six or so figures, tops. 

So, next steps will be to apply the final coat of paint to the main deck, and work out what to do with the upper deck. More to follow.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Ram in the making


It's baking hot outside so no fun and frolics gardening today. Instead I made progress on the Mighty Monitor, featuring the installation of that curiousity of Victorian naval architecture - the ram.

Back in the 1870's naval architects read accounts of the historical sea battles of Salamis and Lepanto, and came over all unnecessary at the thought of what a good, solid ram - especially one backed up by steam power - could do to enemy ships. As a belt-and-braces weapon it came cheap, didn't require ammunition, didn't do that much to affect handling at sea, and would always provide an option for the more aggressive captains to use in battle. Since my hypothetical Ozark-class Monitor would see service slap in the middle of this period, I thought my equally-hypothetical Stanley would see to it she had a ram fitted.


In this case I fitted a wedge-shaped Hirst Arts component to the bows, reinforcing it with coffee stirrer decking on top and bottom. These coffee stirrers are some of the nastiest bits of wood I've come across, inclined to warp, split and splinter. I wouldn't want them anywhere near my beverage, but they work just fine for cheap decking installed over armour plating in some colonial shipyard.

With the ram in place I worked on the sides around the after half of the hull. The taller pieces amidships will carry part of the upper deck.
 
A bit of wood filler spread around the turret mounting filled gaps and smoothed everything off. The turret sits on the mounting to check it rotates freely.

Time to work on the turret itself. First, I used a sophisticated method of ensuring the turret breeches are lined up parallel to each other...


One final check on the exterior appearance of the mighty cannon.


The Dahlgren gun was an important piece of naval artillery during the Civil War, but advances in gun design made it obsolete within a few years. One type of upgrade came from the US Navy fitting a rifled sleeve within the barrel of 11-inch guns to convert the pieces to 8-inch calibre muzzle-loaders. I've decided Stanley followed a similar route and had the Dahlgrens converted to 9.2-inch rifled breechloaders, as these were coming into use on battleships at that time.

Whilst the glue holding the guns dried, I continued work on the deck house/conning tower combination. Tongue depressors make up the deck which will shade and shelter the walkways on the main deck beneath. I sanded the edges for neatness, but will probably need to work on the surface since it's a bit uneven. I do need to add a narrow bit of decking to the conning tower end. Once that's done I'll score the wood to represent planking.


A stage further, and it's time for the first coat of paint. My initial choice was for light grey, but the spray can refused to work. The fallback was battleship-grey Rustoleum - appropriate, I thought.


At this stage the hull and turret are essentially complete, although I have an idea in mind for giving the turret a better hold on the hull mounting. It might prove frightfully clever, or just frightful. We'll see.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Shipyard - The Monitor Begins


Having a spot of spare time at the moment I made a start on the USS Ozark project. As there's a lot of interest in it I'll post photos as the build progresses.

First up, I have a couple of these...


Snuff. It fits the general Victorian theme of the build, I suppose. I don't use the stuff, but I got hold of two empty containers from somewhere back when we lived in Missouri. Just goes to show, never throw anything out - you never know when it'll come in handy. This pot will make the classic Erikson-type turret. The label was stuck on with an exceptionally sticky glue, but I managed to scrape it off and remove most of the glue residue using a drop of vinegar mixed with dish detergent. Some still remains, but since the whole thing is going to be clad in card it's not a problem.

Next up, the hull. A piece of half-inch thick foamcore, cut to ship-shape using a card template. The overall length is 9 1/2 inches by three inches wide. Any longer than this and it becomes problematic to maneuver the model around the table. The turret to be is shown below, with the metal base it'll rotate on. This base is the bottom of a frozen orange juice container, and is the perfect size for the snuff can to fit into.


A test run to see where the turret will work best. The original Ozark's turret was sited further back along her hull, but the constraints of scale modelling means this one will have to sit here.


Ozark had a distinctive armoured conning tower situated on top of her turret. Quite how it worked in action I don't know. The location combined with the concussion of two massive Dahlgren guns going off under their feet must have made it difficult for the captain and officers to do their work and communicate with the rest of the ship. I'm going to say for the sake of the narrative the rebuild saw the tower relocated almost in the centre of the hull. A length of thick-walled cardboard tube makes the basis for the tower. More on this later. The white tube below the hull is a plastic candy/lollipop stick, one of a batch from the hoard of stuff left behind by the previous occupant of our house. It'll make up the mighty guns for the turret. Waste not, want not...


Ozark's deck house offered better accommodation than the conventional Monitor class. Of course, it went to the officers, but it must have offered more comfort in the sweaty climes of the Mississippi and Red Rivers. I've made a basic deck house out of 3/16th inch foamcore.


Next to be done is the planking. I found a packet of coffee stirrers in a Goodwill store a while back, and now they're getting used to plank the deck. All together now, Deck the hull with coffee stirrers, fala lala laaa...


The circle shows where the turret mounting will go. I'm cutting the stirrers to make a rough opening for it. That long spell in storage turned my Aileen's glue into a kind of thick paste, but it actually works better that way when it comes to sticking down the deck planking.


The black rectangle aft is a small bar magnet on which a gun will be mounted. The magnet allows the gun model to point in any direction, and it can be swapped out for another type of weapon if needed. Once the deck planking is thoroughly stuck in place, I'll Dremel the bejasus out of the circle so the mounting plate will fit.


That's it for now - more to come.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Monitor Oddity


Way back in the day I scratch-built a model of an American Civil War oddity - USS Ozark. A hybrid between the turreted Monitor-class ironclad and a conventional Mississippi steamboat, this odd duck was commissioned in 1864 and served in campaigns and actions along the Mississippi and Red Rivers.

Rather under-powered, Ozark often had to be taken in tow by other vessels when the river currents were stronger than her own engines could cope with. Even so, she packed a heck of a wallop. Her turret mounted two 11-inch Dahlgren guns, with a 10-inch Dahlgren aft chaser and three 9-inch Dahlgrens covering her beams. The turret itself sported six inches of armour plating, and more armour covered the first forty feet of her hull and the deck.

Ozark was sold after the end of the war, but she was still in service and based in New Orleans as late as 1874 when she took part in a police action against white supremacists. Her subsequent fate isn't known - which is where my alternate history idea comes in...

A European power wishing to expand operations in the Hidden Continent (my version of Darkest Africa) purchased the Ozark and refitted her for operations on the mighty rivers and lakes of that world. Such a 'ship of force' would be something to contend with, and would make even the mighty Royal Navy squint thoughtfully.

My original model is back in the UK, along with a lot of other gaming stuff I hope to retrieve some day. In the meantime I have the materials at hand to build a new version. When I have a bit of time I'll break out the hot glue gun and commence building it. Photos to follow when I do.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Putting the Table back in A J's Wargames table


So, with the exception of one more piece of hardware, the table's finished. I need another hook and eye combo to ensure the folding legs don't collapse while it's in use. It's one of those cases where I could've sworn I had two of the things but no...


The casters work a treat, but now I've got everything back together after our move, I can see how stained the surface is in places. It's a souvenir of water spilling from the plants we had over-wintering on the table at our previous house. I also miscalculated where the screws holding the leg mountings would go, which required a few touches of plastic wood to fill in the holes I drilled. The result's not pretty, so I'm thinking of applying a good coat of blue paint to the surface to hide the marks and make the table suitable for naval gaming, but I'm unsure how the paint would affect the particle board. Will it or won't it warp, in spite of the battening below? Inquiring minds would like to know...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Table upgrade


It never rains but it pours. Drenching rain this weekend made any prospect of gardening a literal washout, so today I decided to make a start on fitting my gaming table with a set of folding legs. Being able to work in the dry comfort of the garage certainly helped.

I didn't manage to complete the project today - I discovered I don't have enough of the right particle board screws - but I made good progress. A couple of photos below show the general idea and how far I got. The pencilled rectangle in the top right corner of the board is a guide for where the screws will go to secure the blocks under the tabletop which will take the hinges. These are the type of screws I ran out of. Whoops...

The legs and the top of the table.
The legs are cut from a length of 8 feet by 2x4 wood. I sawed the wood into four lengths then drilled holes in the ends to take the casters, fitting standard door hinges to the other ends. To keep the legs square I braced them with cross bars. I intend to fit hooks to the upper bars to prevent the legs from folding when the table is in use, but I may add a removable strut to run between the bottom bars on both sets of legs to be sure they stay put.


I'll get the right screws sometime this coming week so I can finish the job. Photos of the finished table in all its glory will follow - then, with luck and a following wind, I might actually get some gaming in!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cart convoy


And so they're finished. A trio of carts ready for service with either the Romano-British or Saxon invaders.

The carts pass by a small settlement. The local priest emerges to bless them on their journey.
Following tradition an excited small boy runs alongside, with his mother yelling at him to be careful around those lumbering oxen.
They were a fun little project to work on, and it's satisfying to see them on the table at last, although I doubt the Fabled Perry Twins have much to fear from my sculpting skills. Next time I'll be scaling up a bit to 1:1 scale when I tackle the folding table project.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

And the cart project keeps rolling along...


By fits and starts, anyway. Work's been busy lately, plus I'm painting wooden latticework for a garden fence - which is a lot less exciting than it sounds. Still, I have made progress on the carts. The drivers are done and the bases are now underway.

Ieremius Clarksonius, Centurion Slowimus and Hamstericus wait impatiently for the course to be laid. No sign yet of Stigimus Maximus.

I did think of using plastic card for the bases, but James Wappel happened to be working on a road-making project which used wood filler. As he points out it doesn't shrink and can be worked easily. I have some wood filler handy so gave it a try using rectangles of basswood, and it works just fine.

I'm a bit further along than the photo above, but it's late and I'm pie-eyed from painting latticework, so I'll delay putting the anything more up until I have finished the lot.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Painted oxen


A bit more progress on the trio of carts. The oxen are all painted and dipped. I suspect my Pledge/Ink dip lost some of its potency in storage since these didn't turn out quite as glossy the way previous items did. Still, the satiny effect is in keeping with the real-life hides of these beasties, so I'll leave it at that. While I was working on them a paint bottle tipped and rolled down my easel, knocking off a horn on one of the oxen during its rampage, but missing and broken horns are also a feature of these hard-working animals so I'll leave it as a bit of character.

Lugubrius stares dolefully at the missing horn on the nearest ox and wonders if it's covered by insurance.
The yokes are attached to the draft poles. I've roughly followed a pattern found in archaeological digs which revealed a basic bar shape chamfered at the ends. Two loops pass under the bar and around the animals' necks.
I'll probably use thin 'tea bag' string for these loops.
Two more drivers are ready and undercoated. They're swaddled up in cloaks and hairy breeks, ready for a day's jaunt across the Roman roads and ancient track-ways of Early Medieval England. They'll be next up for painting, and after that I'll hook up the oxen to the carts. I'm not sure what to base the trio on at the moment, but I'm leaning toward plastic card. We'll see.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Of Oxen, Carts, and a grumpy Driver


A thoroughly wet and miserable spell of weather means nothing can be done in our new garden, so I took the opportunity to work on the oxen for the Dux B carts.

The armatures, a heady blend of florists' wire and Miliput, worked well. I worked the Sculpey in and around the shapes then baked it as usual. I did have misgivings about the way the different materials would react together when heated up, but luckily only one small split appeared which will be easily fixed. The results look pretty good, I think. At least they look like oxen and not refugees from the Island of Doctor Moreau.

Cedric the Smith and Ferdinand the Bull eye each other during a tense stand-off over right of way. Lugubrius the Carter has nothing to say on the matter.
From all the pictures I've seen, oxen have bulky bodies with surprisingly skinny-looking legs. I'll trim these creatures down and refine the looks a bit before making the yokes and painting them all. One of the animals is a bit too big, more like Ferdinand the Bull, so I might have to make another for a more balanced draft team.

Since I had a bit of Miliput left over during the armature phase I fashioned a carter. He's the hunched and doleful figure aboard the cart in the foreground. Silly me, I forgot how sticky Miliput is and forgot to separate him from the cart. Now he's stuck fast it'll be difficult to pry him loose without damaging the cart, so there he'll stay whilst I try to paint him. I'll make another pair of carters whilst I have the Sculpey out since I find it an easier material to work. More to follow if we don't get flooded out...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Armature dramatics


A spell of building 1:1 scale scenery in the shape of a privacy fence (beginnings of) and laying out raised vegetable beds (ditto) in our new garden today gave way to something smaller in the shape of the continuing Dux B cart project. It took about this long for the Rustoleum undercoat to dry completely. Thankfully the weather warmed up and the air became dryer, or the stuff might be sticky yet.

The loads are now painted. They and the carts got a dry brushing of light grey to bring out texture and detail. The railings still look shiny, so I'll give them a coat of matte varnish to kill that glare. At least the carts now look suitably well-used and grimy.  

I decided a while back to make oxen the motive power for the carts, oxen being a common enough beast of burden and draft animal then and now. Since these particular animals would be a more streamlined, sporty version of their hirsute cousins which I made early last year - and hence have less hair to give the figure integral support - I thought the Sculpey would need something in the way of an armature whilst I worked on the forms. 

So, I set to work reducing a length of florists' wire to smaller pieces in the shape of those wretched hurdles we had to leap over in school track and field PE lessons. These I then fixed to offcuts of wooden tongue depressors (unused) with a hot glue gun to hold them in the position I want before setting to work with either soldering iron or Miliput to fasten the hurdles together ready for the Sculpey to be applied.

Cedric the Mighty Village Blacksmith contemplates the cattle. "I hope you don't think I can shoe those buggers?"
I have reservations about using a soldering iron, not having handled one in anger in all my years on this planet. The dramatics came in during the above session when I succeeded in inflicting a minor burn on my finger whilst wielding the hot glue gun. That'll teach me not to drink so much coffee before performing delicate work, but it bodes ill for my attempts with a soldering iron. I may just fix the armatures together with a blob of Miliput, although solder would be quicker and probably give a stronger join. We'll see.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Carts, undercoated


A session with the spray paint yesterday undercoated the three carts for Dux B. Something about the weather - cold, damp, reluctant to stagger above the mid-40's Fahrenheit - makes the Rustoleum paint take a geological age to dry. These were sprayed in my garage yesterday afternoon and they're still tacky to the touch, even after being brought indoors.


The paint soaked into the wood and the carts are now exactly the base colour I want. All I have to do now is give them a little dry-brushing and so on to bring out detail and texture. At the moment the contents look like heaps of manure, something no Saxon raider is likely to want to loot unless he's a really keen gardener. They'll be painted a lighter shade to make them look like sacking covering something more interesting. Next step will be to sculpt the oxen, a trickier prospect. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Carts - a little more progress


Some more progress on the Dux B trio of carts this weekend. I found the tiny metal beads I was looking for - no mean thing in itself. Six of them went to make the axle hubs. The next stage was to make the cargoes.

I thought over options for the loads the carts would bear and came to the conclusion making various sacks, amphorae, storage jars, etc is too much work. Instead I went for sacking-covered generic... stuff. It could be the sacking is covering vital food supplies for a stricken community, tax money or treasure bound for the king's palace, relics destined for some distant monastery, or the local magistrate's collection of pornographic scrolls. Whichever load the scenario calls for, the loads have it covered - pun intended.

A packaging peanut awaits its fate.
A packaging peanut - of which we have a lot after the move - was brutally sliced up to make the bulk of the loads. I cut it to fit the beds of the carts, then covered each piece in tissue paper soaked in PVA. The paper has a weave to it. Although the weave is probably a bit too big for this scale, it looks enough like sacking of some kind to fool the eye.

Trying for size.
Once the PVA had dried I gave each load a once-over with black craft paint. I intend to spray the whole lot with Rustoleum, so anything that protects the foam from the caustic effects of the paint is helpful.

Glued in place.
I used more PVA to glue the foam to the cart beds, and a smear of E6000 along the latticework to secure the loads to the plastic battening. Next step will be to apply the Rustoleum spray once the day warms up a bit. Winter is taking its own sweet time to let go here in the Midwest this year.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Putting the cart before the... oxen


Working on a manuscript has kept me busy lately. Writing a synopsis is fun! (said no author ever). I've not had time or inclination to set to work on the gaming table yet, but I did fool around with some wooden strips, plastic grid and coffee stirrers to make a trio of carts for Dux Britanniarum gaming.

Almost done, and awaiting cargo and motive power in the shape of six oxen.
One of the scenarios for Dux B is Raiding a wagon train, a jolly jape whereby the Romano-British have to escort a trio of carts or wagons across the table before the naughty Saxons grab the goodies aboard and make off with them.

A study of archaeological finds and artists' impressions comes up with a basic boxy shape with solid, rather chunky-looking wheels. It's a rustic design that changed little over the course of a couple of millennia, and some examples can still be seen in out of the way places.

The base is a rough rectangle cut from a wooden tongue-depressor, and the sides are sections of coffee-stirrers, all glued into place with Aileen's tacky glue. The tops are cut from the plastic gridwork used by embroiderers, glued into place with E6000 adhesive. Plastic-to-wood bonds tend to be weak, so I hope these will hold. The yoke poles are cut from paperclips. I did intend to use mini-dowels but they looked way too big for the job, more like telegraph poles than a yoke-pole.

The wheel hubs are causing me problems, though. My first thought was to use 'puffy paint,' but it looks like the weeks in below-freezing storage has totally ruined the two bottles I had. I do have some small metal beads which would do the job, but they're still missing after the move. Annoying, but they'll turn up sometime.

Motive power will be three pairs of oxen. The highland cattle I made a few months ago worked out all right, so I'm going to try making oxen to pull the carts. I may even make the drovers/drivers as well, eyesight and patience depending.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Folding table idea


We're finally winding down the various little repairs and fixes around our new home - and there were plenty of them. The gardening season is yet to start, so since there's nothing pressing to do in and around the house, I can now turn my thoughts to getting my gaming table set up.

My first thought was for a permanent table base with storage racks beneath, similar to those used by model railway enthusiasts. After fixing shelves and such I found I have at least adequate storage space for figures and models, but what I don't have is much floor space. This will change a bit when the better weather arrives. I can clear the last of the junk from our garage and transfer some stuff from gaming room to there. Even so, the lack of floor space remains a problem.

So, after a hunt around internet sites like Pinterest I found a solution to the problem in the table design shown in the photo.


It should be fairly cheap and easy to fit retractable legs to my existing table boards. Four sturdy bolts and an eight feet length of two-by-four will do for making the four legs, and a couple of lengths of four inch wide plank will work for the cross beams. The casters I found during our move turned out to have bent shanks, but I scored four nice solid brass casters at the local Habitat store for $1 each - bargain! They'll allow me to move the table around when it's set up. When not in use it'll fold up and stand against the wall.

I have a two-feet extension piece that turns the table into an eight feet long version. It bolts to the rest of the board through wooden battens and should be strong enough, but I'd prefer it to have some kind of support underneath for those absent-minded moments when I lean on the table. I've yet to work out how to do this. For now I'll be content with a six-by-four table for a while.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Girls of the SWA


Real life got in the way at times these last two weeks, although it's always a pleasure to cook in my own kitchen after waiting so long for our place to become available. (Dutch-style brown bread is baking even as I write). I even like to do various fixes around our new home - obstinate bathroom cabinets notwithstanding. This weekend just gone we did get to attend Cleveland Concoction, a nice SF/Fantasy convention at a new venue in Aurora, Ohio, finding the place without trouble even though a sudden blizzard descended on the area. The 'Lake Effect' snow stuck around all weekend, but by the time we left it was in bright sunshine.

I did manage to finish the VBCW 10mm figures for the Socialist Women's Alliance (SWA) platoon today. Although I'm not the world's greatest figure sculptor and my painting skills seem to have atrophied over the last few months, I think they look okay.


From left to right, back row - Medic with patient: 2" mortar crew: Two Lewis gun teams. Front row, left to right - Four riflewomen: Boyes AT rifle.

The figures are crafted from Sculpey and the teams are mounted on fender washers. I covered these with liquid nails and pressed dry tealeaves into the soft glue, letting it harden overnight before giving it a blast of 'Holly green' aerosol paint and finishing with wet-brushing on lighter green craft paints.

This addition makes up the numbers to two full sections, ready to take on all comers.

Then there's this...


My sainted brother-in-law left a toolbox behind after one of his visits. He does that kind of thing. He's a nice guy, but he'll vanish over the horizon following a family visit and afterwards we'll find a few boxes, bags and other bits-and-bobs that he 'forgot' tucked away in obscure places. I suspect it's his way of craftily de-cluttering his house at the expense of our living space.

But I digress. During the move I noticed a toolbox stuck in a corner of our spare bedroom. When I picked it up it sounded like it had a few things rattling around inside, but I didn't have time to investigate, just sticking it away in a space on the van and leaving it in storage with the rest of our stuff. Yesterday I came across the toolbox in our garage where the moving men had left it. I opened it and - found another whetstone.

*Head Desk*

Thursday, March 1, 2018

UK wargamers - public service announcement

Hammerhead

Due to local adverse weather the police have closed access to Newark Showground. Therefore Hammerhead has been re-scheduled for 28th April 2018. Please share.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

And then there's this


One of those perpetually irritating things about moving house is the way things can vanish in transit. When we last moved over five years ago, my whetstone disappeared. Hunt high and low as I might, I could not find the blasted thing. I always forgot to buy a new one when we visited the hardware store, so I've done without.

Yesterday, while moving a chest of drawers, the whetstone appeared. I swear I searched for it in that chest of drawers half a dozen times along with all my other Man Cave furniture without success. And here it is, all dumb and innocent.


It's a useful item to have, and cheap too. A drop of mineral oil or baby oil on the stone and a few quick swipes back and forth restores a Stanley knife or modelling knife blade quite nicely, extending their life and reducing the need to buy new.

So, I don't have to buy a new stone. Now, if I can just find my inks...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

AVBCW Sculpey session


A change of pace from Dux B now. My Sculpey had been in long-term storage along with all my other modelling stuff and I wanted to see if it was still usable. It is. What to sculpt? Well, I have been mulling over an idea for a Chain of Command ladder campaign based on a VBCW scenario located near my old home town. The stalwart ladies of the Socialist Womens' Alliance (SWA) are due to hold an area close to the River Bure which will see an attack by the local Flegg Fencibles LDV.

My current batch of SWA figures are based on 10mm Pendraken Miniatures SCW milicianas, of which there is only one pose. I bought a pack of ten, and converted two Home Guard figures to a female leader and standard bearer with judicious use of Sculpey and PVA adhesive.

The lack of poses posed something of a problem so I sculpted some additions for the force, making it up to two full sections with support weapons. Luckily the milicianas wear utilitarian overalls which are not hard to sculpt. The basic result is shown below.

From l-r, 2-inch mortar and crew, two prone riflewomen, medic with patient, Boyes AT riflewoman, two more prone riflewomen, and four Lewis gun pairs with spare ammo drums.

These are still a work in progress. The figures have been baked, and the next step will be to add some weapons, belts, ammunition cases and so on.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Armed Might of Gaius Menusius


Aaand we're done!

Comanipulari to the bottom of the photo, Milites alongside them, with the numeri/levy bringing up the rear.

Tribune Gaius Menusius leads the charge.
All the shield transfers are on and the Romano-British army is ready to contest the Saxon invaders' attempt to conquer their homeland.

For some reason there are sixteen round shield designs in the LBMS set, but only one round shield in the Splintered Light Dux B pack the transfers are intended for. There are not enough for the oval shields. Since I was short four transfers for the champions and nobles, I painted those freehand. Luckily a few Chi-Rho designs are a lot easier to reproduce on a 15mm shield than later heraldic devices! I gave the natty little targe-type shield to the standard bearer, Fred Heckmonthwaite the Red, Pride of Spagthorpium*.

*Spagthorpium: Believed to have been founded in AD79½ as a small colonia of retired legionaries in what is now Yorkshire. The site fell victim to reverse coastal erosion in the 17th century. Sighted heading northwest in the vicinity of Leeds in March 1922, its current whereabouts are unknown.
 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dux B Shields - halfway-ish


More progress with the shields today. The levy/numerii are sporting theirs already. Now they can form shield wall, they're ready to take on the Saxon raiders in the brutal struggle for Britain.


So far the E6000 adhesive is holding well. It has good immediate 'grip,' and I was able to stand the figures up after only a few minutes. The label says 72 hours for full effect, so it should be fine.

The shields on the piece of card are drying off before the coat of gloss varnish goes on, which I'll probably apply tomorrow. These are the most colourful designs, suitable for the twelve Milites and six Comanipulari figures since they represent warriors with the cash to spend on fancier gear. I have seven shields left over, more than enough to equip the Lord, his sub-nobles and champion, but no transfers left to apply to them. At the moment I'm thinking of drawing the shield designs freehand. I could give the Lord the targe-like shield with the yellow design, but it seems a bit wussy for such a personage, so it could go to the standard bearer instead. We'll see.

 

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