Friday, October 19, 2018

Saxon force & Majestics finished

My wife and I had a great time at Archon this past weekend, although we were both pretty exhausted by doing back-to-back panels and suffered from 'con crud' for the rest of this week. Anyway, I managed to finish the Saxon force for Dux Britanniarum, along with the Majestic class battleships for pre-Dreadnought naval games.

First up, the mighty Saxon horde of raiders, fresh off the boat and looking for spoils. 

I aim to make the movement bases for these over the weekend. Once done I need to get the event cards printed up and hopefully get a game in before I head across the Pond to England.

Next, an octet of Majestic-class battleships.

Now, these aren't the greatest scale models in the world, but they look fine from a distance and they'll do fine for my gaming. I mounted them on rectangles of clear plastic taken from pastry packaging (which also gives me a reason to buy pastries...).

First off I scratched the surface of the plastic where the models would go to provide a key for the glue to grip to. I then glued the models using E6000 adhesive, allowing it to set before getting to work with the hot glue gun. I found that pushing the glue ahead of the nozzle along the side of the ships made a nice tight seal and replicated the appearance of water flowing along the side. Smearing the hot glue on the plastic made a decent looking wake. If trying this method be careful not to let the nozzle linger too long on any part of the plastic or it will melt. Once the glue had set I painted the water with white craft paint thickened with PVA, followed in turn by a thin overall wash of light blue-grey which flowed into the dips and hollows to give a nice 3D appearance.

I've yet to work out how to designate the ships for record keeping, but will probably plump for a slip of paper at the rear end of the base, like I've seen other modellers do. 

The Apollo-class cruisers are molded, and will be next on the slipway. I've taken a good hard look at the German battleships of the period and they're a bit more complicated than their Royal Navy counterparts when it comes to condensing detail into a 1/2400 scale model. At the moment I'm unsure whether I want to mold them using silicone or just go the scratchbuilt route with all of them. We'll see.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Archers - and a Pulp kickstarter

Apologies to those British readers who now have that theme tune running through their head. More on the kickstarter later.

Anyway, I've finished the archers for both Romano-British and Saxon forces...

The Romano-British - some of whom look rather nervous.

The Saxons - ready to administer some long-range violence to those effete Roman nonces.
Since light troops are individually based in Dux B rules, I made the archer bases a bit larger than those for the close-order troops so the figures are more stable.

Next up on the painting block is the Saxon leadership contingent. Some interesting poses amongst these. There's the Mighty Man of Yore on the left, a true giant of a bare-chested Saxon champion about to give someone a heck of a belt with his axe. Next to him is the horn blower, a skinny twerp who's possibly related to the Saxon Lord's wife, a youth who has been given the horn blowing duties to keep him out of the battle line where he might get hurt. The Lord himself is next, a bluff chap pointing and shouting orders. Behind him is another champion, a lightly-equipped bloke armed with a quarterstaff. Next to the Lord is another champion of more conventional appearance. The standard bearer is the only two piece figure in the batch. His standard is an animal skull on a pole. Last, and by no means least is the shaman, another skinny and half-naked bloke getting down and funky with a large snake in his attempt to unnerve the enemy.

I had a bit of a think about bases - as you do - and instead of going with the cast bases used for the Romano-British I'll make new ones for the Saxons. I've seen some used that have a staggered arrangement of holes to give the impression of a more fluid, armed mob style of fighting which fits with the Saxon way of war, so I'll try that.

The command figures will possibly be finished before this weekend, when we'll be at Archon 42 mixing with other nerds. Then (whisper it softly) I will be able to get a game of Dux Britanniarum going.
 * * * *
Splintered Light Miniatures have launched their first kickstarter aimed at the Pulp/fantasy market in the shape of a 15mm Egyptian fantasy army - The Scarab-men. The sculpts are pretty good and it's worth a look for those gaming Pulp or Fantasy in that scale.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Gedridht completed

A bit more progress on the Dux B project. The Saxon Gedridth (hearth guard) are finished.

I forgot I needed to attach the shields after doing the basework and not before, which made applying the gunk a bit more fiddly than it had to be, but all's done. I did have a small problem with the shield transfers since they're slightly larger than the shields themselves, requiring a bit of careful trimming around the edges.

The Splintered Light Early Saxon starter army turned out to have more figures than required in the Dux Britanniarum rules, to the tune of six extra gedridht. This isn't a problem, since success in a campaign can be rewarded by the arrival of extra warriors to fight under the Warlord's banner. Although these are nominally for the Saxon force they could conceivably be used as Saxon foederatii loyal to or hired by the Romano-British Lord.

I have the archers on the painting block and undercoated. Once they're done I'll do the warlord and his champions next. I wish I knew where I put that bloody base mold...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Saxon geoguth completed

As the title says, I finished the Saxon geoguth (warriors) yesterday. They're all based up and the shields attached. Once again I used Little Big Men Studios decals for the shield motifs. They save a lot of faffing around painting those tiny designs in this scale.

The geoguth are the run of the mill warriors who form the backbone of the Saxon army. They range from men equipped with nothing more than shield, axe, sword or spear, to men of greater means, perhaps veterans of an earlier raid on Britain, who gained enough loot to afford a helmet and better quality weapons.

I have the Gedridht (hearth guard) on the painting block now. These men are heavily armed and armoured and form the elite troops of the Saxon army. Wonder of wonders, I found my acrylic inks so I can make richer colours for cloaks and tunics and so on. Now I just have to find the silicone mold to make movement bases for the Saxons.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Tunnie's Terrain

A shout out now on behalf of my old friend Stephen Tunmore, of Tunnie's Terrain. This guy has taken on the mantle of the late Ian Weekley where it comes to producing superb wargames terrain set in multiple areas of conflict. I've had the pleasure of gaming over his scenery several times. An example of his work, taken from the North African battle of Bir Hacheim is shown below.

French Foreign Legion troops prepare to defend the settlement against the Axis forces.
If you're in the market for excellent terrain at reasonable prices, pay Stephen a visit here

With luck and a following wind we'll be heading over to England for a visit to family and friends in a few week's time. Stephen's promised to roll out the battlefield shown above at our club in New Buckenham, Norfolk for a game.
* * * *
In other news, I've almost finished the Early Saxon Geoguth (Warriors) warband for Dux B. It's been quite a while since I slapped some pigment on wargames figures, but it didn't take me too long to get back into the swing of things. Splintered Light make excellent 15mm figures and it's a pleasure to paint them up. This batch have just gone through the indignity of being dipped in the varnish/ink mix. All I need do now is let them dry, apply the matte varnish, then base them up. Photos to follow sometime this weekend.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

All wips* together

A peaceful Sunday morning was spent cleaning up the Saxon Dux B force and intermittently frowning at the 1/2400 Majestic class battleships.

Splintered Light Miniatures produce lovely clean, crisp castings so I had very little flash to remove. Once done I popped them in hot water with a few drops of detergent and vinegar to clean off my sticky fingerprints and any casting powder residue.

I'm frowning at the ship models because during the week the dark grey undercoat dried enough - at last - for me to give them a top coat of light grey. Now I have the same problem with the top coat of paint failing to dry completely even though it's been three days since I sprayed them. We are having a spell of humid weather again, so I suppose I'll have to wait another day or so for the stuff to dry. A bit frustrating, but I'll manage.

The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things, of Saxons, Ships and Painting Blocks, and trash-filled worktop scenes.

*Writer-speak for works in progress. Exciting, eh?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Battleship Row & Saxon Shinies

Construction of the Majestic-class battleships is finished, and I got a primer coat on them using Rustoleum grey. The weather has turned cooler and damper, so although I sprayed the models a couple of days ago the paint is still wet in parts. All very annoying. Still, they look okay.

They took a bit of cleaning up beforehand. Although the silicone works as a molding material, it starts to degrade after about the fifth casting, so I'm going to limit all future casts to that number of ships or fewer.

Much rejoicing followed when the early Saxons marched in this afternoon. I ordered the starter army plus a pack of Romano-British archers from Splintered Light Miniatures. They were mailed yesterday afternoon and arrived within 24 hours. Excellent work by the USPS!

I ordered a batch of archers, as reinforcements can reach the warlords or be hired by them over the course of a Dux B campaign, and archers/skirmishers are first on the table of extras in the rules.

So, I'm going to be busy for the next week or so painting Dux B figures as well as working up opposing forces for the pre-Dreadnought games. It's one of those times when projects seem to take ages to come together then everything happens at once. Them's the breaks...

Friday, September 7, 2018

Casting call

So, the silicone molds work after a fashion. I'm now able to turn out a number of vessels quite quickly. The castings are rough but I can work with them, cleaning up the rough areas, adding the main armament and building fire control towers and masts. Here's a photo of the results so far.

To the left is a trio of Apollo class protected/light cruisers, to the right a trio of Majestic class battleships. The Cressy class armoured cruiser mold... failed. I won't show the resulting cast - it's too hideous for sensitive souls to look upon, but I can cannibalise the bows part of it to make a sinking ship. I'll repair the master model, take a new mold from it, and see how it goes. I'd like to have at least four of these ships. The prototypes had interesting and all too frequently tragic careers.

My aim is to produce eight to twelve battleships for the Royal Navy, which will make two or three divisions of four ships each. There were nine Majestic class ships, but I think I'll make eight and the rest will be another class. I may stick at four Apollo class cruisers since these were dispersed all over the world and seldom operated together in great numbers.

The German navy built three five-ship classes of battleships - the Braunschweig, Kaiser Frederich III and the Wittelsbach classes, so I have a choice of making ten or fifteen battleships total. Fifteen ships might be a better match up for the two sides in a fleet action, since for some reason the pre-Dreadnought German navy stuck to guns of around 24cm calibre when other navies were increasing the size of their main armament to 12" or greater.

I'm still debating a campaign set up. The German navy wasn't large or powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy of this era head-on, but a guerre de course campaign is a good prospect. Much like the Bismarck, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau of a later era the German navy faces the challenge of breaking out of the North Sea so it can launch attacks on Britain's huge mercantile fleet. The Royal Navy, of course, aims to stop them doing just that...

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A qualified success

So, the mold came out okay after a fashion. It needed some tidying up and patching because the silicone is getting rather old. At this stage it's thickening and doesn't flow too easily into crevices. The master model also broke apart on extraction, but I expected it to happen and if necessary I can repair it.

Still and all, I got a result.

Majestic master model in the mold.

The shattered wreckage of the master model lies beyond a pristine (?) new mold.
It doesn't look like much, but believe me it's a good result. Once the patching has dried overnight I'll clean it up a bit more then try pouring some resin.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Making a battleship mold

The long Labor Day weekend gave me the chance to work on the next step of the nascent fleet -  creating a silicone mold. The Majestic master model is the first - and so far the only one - to go through the process. A technical hitch in the shape of a broken glue gun prevented me from doing the others.

Still, here's what I have so far...

To start with I coated the master model in diluted PVA to seal the wood and close off any tiny gaps and cracks between the layers. Since PVA this thin is near colourless when it dries, I put a drop of paint in it to show where I'd covered or missed bits.

Silicone caulking is viscous stuff, especially as it gets older. I advise using disposable gloves when handling it as it will stick to everything that isn't wet. Water will stop the setting process so keep the work area free of anything wet while working with the stuff, and wait until any paint/glue/whatever is dried on the master model before using the silicone.

Once dried, I glued the model to a rectangle of foam core. The sides and ends are cut out to enclose the model with about a quarter inch to spare all round.

To make sure all the undercuts and overhangs are filled I worked the silicone into them using a coffee stirrer. It's kind of like applying fondant or icing to a cake.

I then assembled the coffer around it using a hot glue gun. Quick and easy.

Majestic nestling within its box, awaiting the rest of the silicone. A host of destroyers lurk in the background.
Not long after I took this photo the brand-new glue gun decided to break under the moderate strain imposed by doing its job, so it's back to the store with it. The good part about the process is fresh silicone will happily stick to itself even when the first layer is dry, so I can pick up where I left off without problems.

Friday, August 31, 2018

From the Shipyard

It's been a busy week, full of ups and downs, skulduggery and shenanigans, but it's about time for a progress report on the 1/2400 pre-Dreadnoughts. This is a cheap and cheerful project and very much a homespun effort. Since I'm going to cast these I chose ships that had at least four vessels in their class. Here's the result so far. These are all Royal Navy vessels.

Front to rear ~ Majestic class battleship, Cressy class armoured cruiser, Apollo class protected/light cruiser, and a couple of generic destroyers. The latter are awaiting their funnels. In this scale the destroyer of the day is barely there so I painted this pair black to stand out. All detail on them will be limited. Since I intend to mold these models I've left off the main guns, masts and fire directors on the battleship and cruisers.

Next on the list will be their future opponents of the Kaiserliche Marine.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Moldable Majestic

A little more progress today on the Majestic class battleship in 1/2400 scale.

The process of making these ship models has been described as the 'sandwich method,' but I think it's more like a making layer cake, with each level built up to form the whole. Like any model this size it's not what to include that matters, but what to leave out. Some prototypical details are so small they won't be noticed or are near impossible to scratch build.

So far I have the hull, the two teardrop-shape main turrets and most of the upper works done. I've yet to work out how to represent the 6-inch secondary armament casements which took the form of hemispherical bulges along the top of the hull. I'll probably use Miliput to sculpt these. Part of the aft upperwork has also been left out since on the prototype the mizzen mast passed through it and the masts will have to be fitted separately in any case. I've also left out the main armament since these will be too thin to cast in resin. Instead I'll fit them later using cut-down pins or wire.

I'm going to use a method of making a mold from silicone caulking, which works out cheaper for a small scale limited-run project like this than OOMOO 30 or similar. I've avoided making too many deep undercuts on the model, although silicone caulking is surprisingly good at rendering these.

One of the most noticeable variations between this ship and others like her lies in the funnel arrangement. Majestic and her sisters had two funnels mounted side by side. Sometimes the arrangement was slightly different from ship to ship. Quite often as new and improved boiler systems came into being ships were refitted to mount a tandem pair. The Majestic's near twin Mikasa was one such. For this reason I've not modelled the funnels, leaving the basic form to give maximum scope for this kind of variation. The same goes for the ship's boats, which had a variety of positions.

Next up will be a Cressy class Armoured Cruiser.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Touch of the pre-Dreadnoughts.

A nice order of Early Saxons went off to Splintered Light Miniatures this morning. While I'm waiting for them to arrive I have another couple of projects in mind. One is to build a small late Roman villa for the Saxons to raid. The other is to make a batch of pre-Dreadnoughts in 1/2400.

Jim Jackaman over at Jim's Wargames Workbench has a series of Victorian Ironclad games and campaign ideas featuring the Franco-Prussian naval war between French and Prussian fleets, and a hypothetical encounter between Britain and France in the 1870s. Jim's entertaining accounts reignited my own interest in naval gaming, especially the pre-Dreadnought era.

Naval gaming lends itself to scratch-building quite nicely, so I thought I'd have a go at making a few pre-Dreadnoughts. The beginnings of a Majestic class battleship is shown below. I'm going with 1/2400 scale since it's compact enough for ships of this era to fight an action on the tabletop.

'We want you...' The appropriate chorus from Village People's In the Navy.
Basically, in the finest tradition of naval scratch-building it's a couple of lengths of flat bass wood glued together and sanded to shape. The join between them was concealed by wood filler then sanded again. The Majestic class had both 12-inch gun turrets on the same deck which makes things easier to build. Because the class was extensive in number I'm thinking of taking a mold from the basic shape and casting them in resin. That will make the models more consistent in size and shape, and allow for modelling the slight variations that happens between ships of the same class.

Nine of these battleships were built for the Royal Navy. They served in the Channel Squadron (precursor to the Channel Fleet) as well as the Mediterranean Fleet. During WW1 in many ways they had a more 'interesting' war than their successors, serving as bombardment ships in the Dardanelles as well as protecting cross-Channel troop convoys and the British coast from German raids. They were widely copied by foreign navies, including the Japanese Shikishima class and the battleship Mikasa, which served as Admiral Togo's flagship throughout the Russo-Japanese War.

For opponents I'm going with the Reichsmarine, that darling of Kaiser Wilhelm II who built it to challenge his grandmother's Royal Navy. There's scope for conflict between the two, beginning in January 1896 with the Kruger Telegram incident, and following from that German interference in the Boer War, then the Moroccan Crisis of 1905 which nearly started a war with Britain and France.

For rules I'm going to try the Quickfire set of fast play rules from War Times Journal. They look like they'll lend themselves to solo play.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rumours of Saxons

This past weekend turned into a bugger's muddle, what with one thing and another. Still, with luck and a following wind I'm going to place an order with Splintered Light Miniatures for their 15mm Early Saxon Dux Britanniarum force within the next few weeks. Then I'll finally have some opposition for the Romano-British who've kicked their heels for all this time.

Now I'll need to make trees, a lot of trees...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Inigo Jones and the...

Two posh houses? Doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but it's a way of saying I've finished the two Jacobean houses I've worked on this last week. Results shown below.

Not too shabby I think, although once again I should probably keep off the coffee before doing any fine painting. I managed to capture the overall look of the Jacobean style. As I mentioned in a previous post, some details had to be omitted due to being too fiddly or delicate for a gaming model. The roofs with the variegated shades of brown and brick-red tiles typical of the period worked. So did the classic 'crow-step' gables.

The chimneys are a bit oversize to give the impression of imposing height to the structures without adding to the tabletop footprint. Antique white craft paint represents the pale limestone used by the architects of the time for window bays and porches, and to pick out the edges of walls, gables and chimneys. I painted the porch columns and entablatures in white so they stand out a bit more.

Next up I'll make a gatehouse or two for the walls I made earlier then I'll get it all on the table for an actual wargame.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Touch of the Jacobeans

The late medieval/Tudor house is finished, so I thought I'd add some more up-to-date buildings to the ECW village in the shape of two Jacobean houses. The style preceded the ECW by a couple of decades or so, and look quite different from the half timbered/fachwerk* style of the previous century.

I've got the bulk of the painting done, settling on the characteristic Jacobean warm orange-red brick. It's a little too hot in appearance, so I'll probably tone it down a bit with a yellow-brown wash. The window bays and doorways are antique white as these were usually built from pale coloured stone.

Just the windows and doors to do. I'll omit the style's more fiddly detail since these are working models for the gaming table.

Speaking of gaming... I hope to run a solo ECW game sometime this next week. My table has been up and ready for months yet I haven't played a game on it. With luck and a following wind, I also hope to visit family and friends in Britain either next month or November, at which time I'll retrieve a load of figures, models and books which have languished in storage since I emigrated. 

*No, not a 1980's German technopop band. Rather the German name for the half-timbered style.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer scenery

Time flies. It's been over a month since I last posted. Summer seems to get so busy, especially when trying to keep a new garden alive during a prolonged hot dry spell. Even so, I found a bit of time to make some more N scale/10mm scenery. The primary use will be for ECW, but it'll also serve for AVBCW.

First up, the edifice I keep thinking of as The Big Hoose. Don't ask me why, as my games aren't set in Scotland. Perhaps it's because I've been listening to The Doings of Hamish and Dougal lately!

The house is a Tudor style affair with three jetty floors and dormer windows. I made the footprint about the same as other buildings in my collection so as not to take up too much table gaming space, but it's taller (second only to the village church in height) so it'll be more dominant in the wee community. Once painted it'll be the main residence in the village, perhaps the home of the laird - er, lord of the manor. The chimneys are Hirst Art blocks. I worked mostly using half-inch foam core with hot glue and Aileen's glue, with card for the roof. A thin coat of spackle over most of the walls and roof gave it a bit of texture.

Next up is a barn. I have enough houses so a few more agricultural buildings are needed. Again I used Hirst Arts blocks, this time for the main structure. A couple of two inch blocks and two angled pieces make the walls and eaves. The texture looks like clay cob or rendered whitewash in this scale.

A card square does for the peaked roof and the barn doors. I may make it a thatched roof.

I thought more walls wouldn't go amiss so I made these from corrugated card and a few minutes with a hot glue gun. They're all ready for painting and ground work.

The lower level walls (left) will surround the churchyard. I would like to make gravestones and tombs in such a way they won't obstruct figures deployed in it. Perhaps something two dimensional would do the trick.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Card shoe

A card shoe is a game accessory I've meant to make for some time. Too Fat Lardies rules sets mostly use event and order cards for game play. When placed in the slick plastic card sleeves these tend to slip and slide all over the place if brushed accidentally during a game. That's why I got to work with my Hirst Arts molds and made a card shoe to keep them neatly stacked and ready for use.

Pulp Alley also uses a card activation method. PA games run for a maximum of seven turns (it's normally six, but the game is extended by one turn if an extra turn card comes up). I fixed a row of holed blocks along the centre row with a bead for a peg to keep track of the turns during a game. There are nine holes in all should another set of rules require the players keep track of more turns.

The photo below shows the shoe in use with turn cards (left) and special event cars for my home brew Colonial variant of Sharpe Practice.

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.


home page uniques
Fishing Rods