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.

3 comments:

Michael Awdry said...

I am really enjoying this A.J. I love to see how people put things together, always inspirational.

joppy said...

I love Victorian rams, even though they weren't really practical once ship speeds meant they could be avoided easier. Although HMS Dreadnought did use hers on one occasion! Reference the turret fixing. Could you run a bolt through the hull to the turret top, disguising it as some sort of sighting hood?

A J said...

Thank you, gentlemen, it's nice to know my efforts are appreciated. I do enjoy model making, and don't do nearly enough of it by my book.

Joppy, yes, the steamship ram had its day, and quite a short one it was. I didn't know Dreadnought used hers in anger. That must've been something to behold!

I'm thinking of using a small bar magnet for the turret, but your suggestion sounds good too, especially disguising the top as a fire director cupola. Thanks for the idea, I'll think on it.

 

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