Thursday, April 30, 2015

Aerial Flyer - On to the paintwork

A short bulletin on bit more progress made today...

All the main structural stuff is done. The bomb racks and ventilators are in place. The railings will come next, followed by the Nordenfelt guns and the 57mm Rotary Cannon. I've already begun painting the hull black. I made a flight stand for it this evening which helps the painting process. The liftwood/Corbamite panels underneath will be a bronze-brown colour.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tale of the Tail Plane

Monday was one of those annoying days when nothing seemed to get done. Today was much better. I made some more progress on the Aerial Flyer, and the last major components are underway.

Here we see, in their various stages of completion and/or painting, the tailplane with gear box and drive shaft in place; the propeller (with the red boss, bottom); bomb racks (standing on edge, just above propeller); ventilators (to the left of the bomb racks); three-barrel 57mm Rotary Cannon (on the splint of wood to the right of the bomb racks).

The tailplane is basswood, cut and sanded to shape. I glued it in place with epoxy adhesive for speed and strength of bond, reinforcing where it joins to the fins by drilling holes and inserting two pins through each. The drive shaft and propeller boss are more resin Hirst Arts castings drilled to accept a length of brass tube to act as the prop shaft. The gearbox is a confection of plastic card and cardboard. Rivets were, of course, applied copiously...

I intend to wrap thin plastic card around the joints of the propeller blades to reinforce the join and hide the ugly brass tube connecting them to the boss. More rivets will be applied then it'll go into place. The ventilators and bomb racks will be glued in position once they're painted. Onward and upward!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Boiler, Funnel & Nordenfelt

No, it's not a team of legal eagles. Just an update on the Aerial Flyer...

The boiler is in place. I intend to put a guard rail or some kind of surround encompassing the cylinder. From a realistic point of view you don't want someone to fall on a red-hot boiler if the Flyer makes a sharp maneuver! The funnel is stepped. This is made from a section of plastic tube cut with one end at an angle to rake it aft. The deck house roof is now glued on and the whole undercoated. The colour scheme follows that of Queen Victoria's navy. I've yet to paint the window surrounds brass, but the rivets are in place. I also shortened the mast by about an inch and a half as it was too long. I'm debating whether to paint the rivets around the deck house shell brass or leave them be.

A side-trip to the project was the construction of a pair of 3-barrel Nordenfelt guns. These are simplified versions slotted in position on either sponson as an option to the aerial torpedo tubes. I noticed the tall jar in the Hirst Arts inn accessories mold bore a strong resemblance to the solid brass pintel mounts used aboard Victorian warships - so I cast a trio in resin and that's what these became.

I drilled holes in the top of each jar to accept a short length of brass tube which I glued into place with epoxy adhesive. Once set, the jars are turned upside down. The guns are lengths of plastic [ section trough and rod. I figure since the vessel will be working in three dimensions some means of elevating/depressing the barrels would be necessary, so I mounted the whole on a spherical bead to represent a kind of ball mounting. A cut pin glued into the hole acts as control for the training mechanism.The photo below shows something of this, along with the signal flag locker in the deck house.

The bow gun is something of a problem. The two Riveresco guns I was thinking of using have large gun shields as part of the model, and they're way too large for the bow position. The helmsman wouldn't be able to see past it! I decided instead to scratch-build something like a Hotchkiss 57mm rotary cannon.

I think this is a sufficiently big enough sod-off type weapon for an Aerial Flyer...

Next up will be the tail plane, the last piece of major construction, followed by the propeller, propeller shaft and gearbox, and the boiler surround in whatever shape I decide. After that, it's down to painting in earnest.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Strangler Vine

I made more progress with the Aerial Flyer these past couple of days, and a new post with photos will be up tomorrow. In the meantime I can recommend a good book...

The Strangler Vine by M J Carter is a novel set in 1837 when the East India Company was expanding into the sub-continent. I got it from our local library on Thursday and am already halfway through. It has an engaging plot featuring one Lt. William Avery, a West Country lad freshly arrived in Calcutta and still wet behind the ears. He's teamed against his will with Jeremiah Blake, a secret agent who's more secretive than most. Their mission is to trace the whereabouts of a controversial author, and the trail takes them deep into the hinterland and a brush with the notorious Thuggee cult. Recommended.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Resin d'ĂȘtre

On with the Aerial Flyer project and the reason for the resin pun-foolery.

Significant progress to report! The deck house is more or less complete and the mast's ready for stepping. Two Riveresco portholes can be seen in the after part of the deck house. I'll put some kind of glazing in them before gluing the roof in place. I've first got to paint the inside area where it can be seen through the doorways. I'll also glue some thin card over most of the fore part of the deck house structure to represent light armor plating. It gives a better surface for the '3D' paint to grip to when it comes to riveting.

I used the Hirst Arts Small Pipe mold #321 and the Inn Accessories mold #59 to cast some component pieces from resin. These are aerial torpedo tubes, boiler caps, bomb racks, drive shaft and ventilators. The photos show the rough layout of what will go where. The model is sitting on a plastic bag to protect the underside.

I embedded short lengths of aluminum tubing in the middle of the long pipes while the resin set so they would be firmly fixed. These go into the tubes drilled in the deck earlier. These are an optional fitting; the sponsons can also be used for Gatling or Nordenfelt guns when I get around to making them.

The bomb racks are the bottle racks from the Inn Accessories mold. When I first saw the component I did think it looked rather like something off a World War One airplane. I'll site these on the edge of the deck either side of the boiler as shown, probably with some kind of control mechanism. This will allow the Flyer to drop lumps of explosive nastiness in its wake without interfering with the propeller, or the racks suffering any back-blast damage from the torpedo launchers.

The ventilators are the elbow bends from the pipe mold. I was going to use the Riveresco type but I think these look more appropriate to Victorian SF. A small pipe cap atop the deck house serves to ventilate the commander's cabin. The little shield on the glacis plate is from the inn mold. I'm going to take a leaf from the modern Royal Navy's book and paint a ship's crest on it. The inn mold also has a nice little two-sided piece that can be either a chest of drawers or a cupboard. I'm thinking of taking a resin cast of it for use as a signal flag or arms locker for inside the deck house.

From previous experience I find it's best to leave cast resin for a while before attempting to paint it as it allows volatile elements to evaporate from the surface. Otherwise the paint tends not to stick. Once I've glued the boiler casing to the caps with epoxy glue, I'll give all the resin pieces a good going over with spray undercoat.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Beginning the Deck House

After gluing the decking onto the Aerial Flyer yesterday I was relieved to see it hadn't warped too much overnight. A sanding-down fixed most of the problems. Those small gaps that are left will disappear with a thin coat of watered-down spackle, which will also give the planking a scrubbed look suitable for a well holy-stoned Naval deck. I did intend to build the tail-plane after this but will leave it for last.

I drilled a half-inch-deep hole in the deck of each sponson, put a blob of glue in each and inserted lengths of plastic tube until they sat flush with the deck, ready for the pintel-mounted weaponry to sit in. With those done, I moved on to the last major part of the construction - the deck house.

I made the angled inner supports from craft sticks glued directly to the deck, with shorter lengths for fore and aft bracing. The walls are basswood. It's light and, with the bracing to back it up, strong enough for the purpose.

The windows are a composite of materials. The first step is a blob of diluted Aleen's tacky glue, colored with a little sky-blue acrylic paint and smeared to give the impression of reflected sky. Sections of clear acrylic plastic were stuck on this while wet, and frames of thin card glued on top. These will have rivets applied later. On reflection (pun not intended!) I should have painted the frames before putting them on. Ho hum. When it comes to painting the Flyer I might make them bronze or brass. We'll see how it goes.

The next step will be the after end of the deck house and its roof.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Deck the Hull

A little more progress on the Aerial Flyer...

I used a spot of hot glue under each plank to hold them in place whilst the Aleen's tacky glue dried. The weather is cool and damp today, which seems to be slowing the drying time. Some of the wood is also warping a bit. I'll leave the whole thing to dry with a weight on it overnight then set about it with sandpaper to even it off. Only the sponsons remain to be done. The tail-plane will be next.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Upper Deck - Ready and Waiting

I made a little more progress on the Aerial Flyer today, after a bout of gardening and shopping before the rain came in.

The underside got a dose of Pledge polish by way of varnish to seal the cardboard. I did toy with the idea of painting it but decided in the end it might get scuffed-up during the upper deck building process. With all that part of the vessel finished, I turned my attention to the top deck.

First up will be decking. I found a pack of craft sticks for 75c in our local Goodwill store yesterday, which will be handy for the job. Before this I planned to use basswood, but it's a soft wood and I want something more durable for a surface which will have figures placed upon it. I'll score planking into the individual sticks before gluing them in place. Once this is done the deck-house, boiler and gearbox will follow. I'll install a few portholes in the deck-house too.

Speaking of which, some time ago I bought a consignment of the excellent ship fittings produced by Tin Soldier. These include railing posts, searchlights, portholes and classic-pattern ventilators, some of which will go on the top deck. An even longer time ago I bought some naval artillery from the sadly now-defunct London War Room. A nice big gun of some kind will go on the fore-deck. I used the Nordenfelt and Hotchkiss rotary cannon on another project, but I think I can scratch-build others if necessary. An idea for aerial torpedo tubes as an alternate weapon system is also lurking in the shadowy corners of my mind.  

I might crack on with a bit more work on this today, starting with the deck planks. Details and photos to follow another day.

Friday, April 17, 2015

And Now for a Word from Our Sponsons...

It's a beautiful day here in NW Ohio. The temperature has climbed above 70f for the first time here this year, and I have the man cave windows open so there's no problems with stinky adhesive fumes - except the Aerial Flyer has progressed beyond that stage for now. After a good session working in the garden, at least I can enjoy the cool breeze as I put in some work on the Flyer.

The distinctive gun sponsons are now attached and the sides of the hull plated. Now it's on to a riveting performance...

There are some who prefer to cut individual rivets from plastic rod, applying them one at a time to their model. The effect can be spectacular - see Colonel O'Truth's page for an amazing model in progress.

Not having that kind of superhuman patience, I prefer a shorter, easier method...

I did the entire underside of the Flyer in less than ten minutes using a brand of acrylic paint called 'Scribbles 3D paint' (also known as 'Puffy' paint, I believe). It's available in most craft stores and gives a nice raised surface that sets as-is. The bottle has a fine nozzle for an applicator, giving precision in applying blobs of paint wherever a rivet should go. A bottle lasts for ages. I bought the iridescent Golden Brown (which looks bronze to my eyes) over three years ago and there's still plenty left.

The paint doesn't take long to dry so I've left it to do so before I rivet the sides of the hull - otherwise (being me) I'll inevitably put my fingers on the wet paint in a fit of absent-mindedness and smear it.

This next move will pretty much finish the construction of the underside. The next stage will see the beginning of the top deck. More plastic card; more stinky glue. I just hope the weather holds up...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Aerial Flyer - Lower hull construction 3

Some more progress...

The strut from the deck house to the tail plane is now plated, the forepeak is in place, and I've begun to apply the trim to conceal the joins in the deck house plates. As I mentioned before the Humbrol polystyrene adhesive gives off nasty fumes, so I'm limited in how much time I have to work on this before the yodeling wombats try to run me over in their muscle cars. I've got to get a fan or something to disperse the glue fumes...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Aerial Flyer - lower hull construction 2

Further progress on the Flyer underside today. The tail plane mounting is more or less done, and the strut connecting it to the ventral deck house is halfway there.

It took a bit of work with basswood, the hot glue gun and a healthy dose of Aileen's Tacky glue to get the tail plane solid enough to work. I'm going to cover the main face of the strut with plastic card 'plank' panels to represent the liftwood/corbamite bars. Once this is done more plastic card will be used to laminate the underside, and I'll add trimming to the deck house to cover and reinforce the seams before I turn my attention to the top deck.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Aerial Flyer - lower hull construction 1

A little more progress with the Flyer. I adjusted the template to make the flight stand socket.

It's an inch thickness of foamcore reinforced with a section of thick plastic drinking straw and plastic card. An angled strut will run out from here to the tail plane, which will be on the right of the picture. This should theoretically put it on the balancing point for the completed model. The lower deck house isn't glued in place yet. This'll be the next job.

Since the underside of the main hull isn't visible during gaming I opted to 'plate' it with cereal packet card. I'll glue the deck house down then add the main part of the tail plane and the strut before laminating the underside with more card to represent metal hull panels. There will, of course, be rivets...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ventral housing under way

A little more progress on the Aerial Flyer today...

I cut the main hull out of half-inch foam core. Decking and such will come later, but for now it's mainly to provide a reference point for the deck house and ventral housing.

The latter is now under way. I used the templates to cut sections of "planked" plastic card, as shown in the lower part of the photo. The planks will represent the bars of liftwood/Corbamite metal that gives the vessel its lift.

The ventral housing is now more or less done. I miscalculated one segment of the whole - the stern area - so I'll cut another one tomorrow. The seams will have strips of thin plastic card over them, dotted with rivets for that VSF look. I'm packing up for today, though. I'd forgotten how stinky the Humbrol polystyrene adhesive is!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Aerial flyer templates done

We've had a few days of high wind in this neck of the woods which caused some damage. Thankfully the winds dropped overnight, leaving us with a nice sunny day and a chance to make a few repairs and get some seeds in the ground. Once all that was done by this afternoon, I made a bit more progress with the Aerial Flyer project by cutting the templates for the deck house.

This is the last batch of templates required, and the last time I'll go cross-eyed and sprain (my non-mathematical) brain working out the angles for this vessel. Matters weren't helped by the protractor I bought to replace one lost during our house move. The thing is marked with increments of 10 and 5 degrees, yet not single degrees of arc! I bought the thing without checking, because of course I assumed a b#%%!y protractor would be normal, with all degrees marked out, a fallacy I held on to until I got it out to use!


The deck house will be tall and wide enough on the top platform to take one figure, and I'll place ladders up both sides for access. Next up will be to use the templates to cut out the construction materials. At the moment I'm thinking of using half-inch foam core for the body of the vessel, with basswood for the main decking. The difficult angles of the ventral area and deck house will need basswood and/or plastic card, possibly on a foam core... er, core.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Aerial flyer update

Some more progress toward building the aerial flyer. I wasn't happy with the first batch of templates I cut out for the under-deck housing so I did another set which looks better. Next up was the main deck template...

...which comes in at three and three quarter inches wide by twelve and a half inches overall length from bow platform to tail-plane. I got an idea for aerial rocket tubes/torpedo launchers as an alternative to the side mounted gun platforms. I'm going to jigger the design and see what works after I've made templates for the deckhouse.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Math and I are Not Friends...

...but I have made a start on cutting templates for the 1/64 scale Space:1889 aerial flyer. My Google-fu is weak today; I couldn't find any detailed plans or templates online so resorted to using the Mk 1 Eyeball on the design in the book and this plan...

The lower section looked the most complicated part to work out, so, on the principle that it'll get easier from there on I started with that.

The templates are cut from cereal packet card, and I've taped them together temporarily to check the alignment. There might be a bit of adjustment to do. The next step will be to make templates for the main deck and deck house before cutting the components from basswood and foamcore. I have some ideas for deck fixtures and fittings but more of those later.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Happy Easter!

* * *

Coo! I see it's been a while since I posted anything here. Going to SF cons, writing novels and getting ready for art shows takes up time. Even so, I'm keeping up to date with what's going on in the wargames blogosphere. 

For those who like their VSF - and who doesn't? - take a look at the esteemed Colonel O'Truth's gigantic work, Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe's Hydraulically Motorvated Sextupedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile. It's a work of model-making art! The good Colonel has almost finished the engine section, and will move on to the mansion section next. I admire his talent and perseverance!

Looking at that beast of a model has got me thinking of starting a VSF project I've had in mind for a few years, but on a much smaller scale, namely a Space:1889 aerial flier. Something like this...

I have a few ideas in mind, and a bit of time before Marcon in a month (it's worth checking out - it's a chance to meet great people in SF fandom. Eric Flint and Vernor Vinge will be guests of honor). I'll see what I can do with that idea.  I also hope to fight the next Chain of Command action in my VBCW campaign. Watch this space...


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