Sunday, 20 October 2013

Fun with foam

I started building up the works between the guns rather like the hills between the positions at Fort Fisher. Since I have three gun positiions, the left flank will have a hill attached and the right will have a small hill section that can be set next to one, two or three sections of the gun positions.

The transition between two sections is formed of two layers of the pink foam, and will be faced with card cut to an exact profile.  This will allow the sections to be placed next to each other in random order with a smooth transition from one to the next.  The foam here has been rough cut with a utility knife and hot glued in place.  Once the hills have been "bulked-out" in foam I will take my hot-wire cutter to do the basic contours, followed by a 'surform' tool and some filler.

((I am finding Blogger to be annoyingly un-coperative these days. I am due for a computer upgrade, and perhaps a new OS and and maybe Chrome will sort it out.))

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Progress on the guns!

Finally have some progress on the HBG gun carriages and gun positions.  The barrels have been cast in Alumlite.  See the previous post or my flickr page for the details of the mould.  Not the best or highest tech mould making, but I got a couple guns out of it to use.  The brown spots are Tichy Train Group rivets, drilled and glued into place. I have a little do-dad for each gun for the elevating mechanism.

When I was building the carriages I made a flat out of art board to set the various elevations of the platform. The pivot was the highest and there are two steps for the runners and the wheels.  Here I began work on a gun position. There will be three gun platforms, with sand/turf hills between each rather like the land wall at Fort Fisher.

So lots of work to do yet!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Spanish Destroyer Furor in 1/600 scale

One of my other goals has always been to do a naval game. I have finally settled (well, for now...) on the Spanish American War, using the lovely 1/600 Age of Ironclads from Old Glory.

Old Glory does most of the major ships, but at Santiago de Cuba in 1898, the Spanish had two large "torpedo boat destroyers": Furor and Pluton. A third similar boat,Terror, was not up to the Atlantic crossing but would be available for a 'what-if ' encounter.  Furor and Terror were "Furor-class" and would be very similar. Pluton was apparently a newer "Audaz-class", but there seems to be some confusion as to the picture records of these ships. Google or Wikipedia the ships and you can find some side views, and I found some photos of a model of Furor. Since I was building in 1/600 scale the 220 foot boat comes out to just over four inches, so a 'general-arrangement' is good enough for my purposes. As always, feel free to research and include as much detail as you like.  But at some point your are going to have to start cutting some plastic!

This photo shows the basic structures of the ship. Behind is a downloaded profile, scanned and set to scale. I can measure directly off the drawing onto my stock to build up the model. I started with a wooden plug carved to the basic hull shape.  I then glued down a piece of Evergreen scribed stock for the decking and edged it with Evergreen strip for the sides.

Its not a big boat, just over four inches. The gun decks, cabins and stacks are bits of Evergreen detailed with scribed sheet and strip stock.

The torpedo tubes were a bit of suitable diameter sprue left over from a model kit.  The ships boats were carved from laminated 60-thou sheet.  A basic boat shape is easy to file out and I scalloped the topsides to similate tarps over the boats. The guns are bits of styrene rod. It appears the Furor did not have shields in front of the guns, but at this scale the little bit of plastic looks more gun-like with a small shield. The front gun here has a shield the back gun has yet to be completed.

Bay Area Yards makes ships boats and some guns in lead for its 1/600 ACW range. I have some of these but elected not to use them for this project.

I think this will be a fun period to game, and perhaps more importantly to build some model ships.  In reality a decrepid Spanish fleet was hammered, virtually annihilated, by the superior American navy.  On paper: if the Spanish could have mustered all their ships around Cuba; if the Spanish ships were outfitted like the specs said they were (some did not have their main guns fitted); if the Spanish navy was up to the task...

I am also not sure about the 1/600 scale.  Santiago de Cuba was a fairly limited engagement close to shore, but at 1/600 it will still require a lot of space. The ships however are lovely and great models from Old Glory.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Fortress Guns

I've hit the doldrums with the painting on the sling cart; first when deciding on colours; and then doing the actual painting.  Artillery and wagons are kind of finicky to do the wood work and then all the add-on metal bits.  I usually hit a a point where the lovely all-white styrene masterpiece is a mess of colour and sloppy details waiting to be cleaned up.  I often have projects sitting for days with little progress.  (To be honest projects usually sit for months or even years...)

So to fill in the time I finished up the 30-pounder Parrott gun. (Named for the inventor--Parrott--two T's.  Not a gun to shoot tropical birds, with or from!  As in Parrots--one T.)

This gun is based on historical photographs and is scaled to match the Perry 24Lbr on a heavy carriage.

I've also started on some work for three "metal" fortress carriages.  I'm thinking of a position similar to the two-gun emplacement at Fort Moultrie (Google is your friend!).  These are based on a variety of similar guns still extant at various east coast Civil War forts.  They are scaled for the  "Less so HBG".  And now as I look at the carriages in "the white" I may leave one empty to suggest a use for the HBG and the sling cart.  I will either have to mould and cast some additional gun tubes or if I decide I only need one more, may look at scratch building a second barrel. (Maybe a really big Parrott?)

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sling Cart--Ready for Paint!

Some detailing on the sling-cart with Historex parts, some brass wire loops, a fine chain and some thick tape for banding.  Ready for paint and final assembly.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Quick update: The Sling Cart

Here are a couple details of the sling cart. I cut up the Historex kit to make the parts of the sling cart and will use more parts to dress it up.

On the odd chance you have not come from one of the two following sites, if you have an interest in gaming or military miniatures you really need to check out:


I also have a Napoleonic siege gun and limber, and for now I will be using this limber to match up with the sling cart.  The gun and limber is scratchbuilt from Evergreen plastics, a wooden dowell and some brass wire. The horses were done in green stuff using a ground down Essex horse as a dolly.  I had a few of these cast for my own use and they also feature on my Union pontoon wagons.

...and my old friend the Redoubt 28mm VMI cadet is shown for scale.

Check out the ACW, Extras, Regiment packs.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Sling Cart Part 2

Well, I'm cheating.  I was looking through my big box of plastic bits and came across some Russian kits of 54mm artillery.  There were a couple of nice big wheels that would be perfect for the sling cart. There are several internet images of various sling carts, so I think there would have been a variety of wheel types, such as:
I also recalled I had an old Historex kit of a Gribeauval caisson. This had three larger wheels that were more suitable.  Since I wanted four similar size wheels, I would need to scratch build one more and add the reinforcing spokes to two of the wheels. Here is the basic Historex wheel with a Perry 24lbr and a redoubt VMI cadet for size:

Here are the two wheels modified to add an extra spoke in every other pair of original spokes. These will be the wheels for the front half of the sling cart:

And showing the wheels and the HBG the sling cart will be carrying:

And an unfair question: These are the back wheels and one was scratch built. Which One?

Hard to tell with a low-res internet picture, but the left was scratchbuilt. I think it will pass with a bit of paint!
Also progressing on the big Rodman.  I will use this gun for the sling cart and am planning a slightly smaller one for a sea-coast position.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Some ships...

I started building some 15mm ironclads to a roughly 1/120 scale.  At one inch equals 10 feet, this makes them just a little small for 15mm but large enough and realistic enough to pass.  I did not want to make ships that were cartoonish.  So a 200 foot monitor style ship is 20 inches.

The 'hull' is a sheet of 1/4 inch bass wood. sheathed in Evergreen scribed sheet.  The deck was carved into alternating plates--actually engraved as I used my Dremel and a small grinding bit. The turret was formed from card board rings and a band and sheathed in 20 though plastic sheet. Rivets are Grandt Line or Tichy Train Group model railroad rivets, drilled and placed by hand.  The stack is an Evergreen tube.

The steel ruler in the background is 15 inches. The wire cage above the turret is brass, built separate from the turret on a jig, and held in place to be soldered.   It was then attached to the top of the turret with small bits of Evergreen tube to form feet and hold it in place.  A future project maybe to vacuum form an awning for the top of the turret.  This ship will be USS Montauk, a Passaic class monitor. Passaics had one 15 inch and one 11 inch gun.  Conning tower is the cupola on top of the turret.
CSS Arkansas.  Similar construction, but casement is a styrene box from scribed sheet. Boat davits are brass wire.  10 guns of various calibre were carried.

Stern view of Arkansas.  Only base colour so far. She may have been muddy brown in colour to match the muddy river. I have some small plastic ship's boats, and will sling two here and Montauk will have one on the back deck.  CSS Arkansas was based on web images as no actual photos exist. Some reconstructions show it with verticle sides.  I liked the boat-like stern and the angled sides make more sense to me.  (Wargaming is after all history not as it was but as it should have been!)

USS Shamrock is a union "double ender". The boat had a large gun fore and aft, paddle-wheels amidship and a bridge and rudders on each end. It was literally double-ended and could travel either direction with ease.  Some models show what looks to be furled sails on the masts. I don't believe these boats were intended to be sailed. Some images  do show some sort of canvas on the masts. I believe these were canvas duct work that was used to vent fresh air downward to the below-deck spaces.

Each end of the double ender had an 11 inch gun. The circular rails were used to shift the gun from side to side and to pivot the gun when firing out the side ports. I don't believe the guns could shoot directly fore and aft.  The gun would pivot on the front point of the carriage and ride on the semi circle rail. To change to the opposite side, the front pin was unlocked and a rear pin was set (at the intersection of the semi-circular tracks. The gun would then swivel around the full circle, to be locked on the opposite side.  Several smaller deck guns were carried. Four life boats were also mounted two each side just fore and aft of the paddle-wheels. (Or fore and fore or aft and aft as there really was no fore and aft!)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Ships vs Shore Part 1

One of my ongoing projects has been a 15mm ACW ships vs shore project.  I have been lucky enough to visit several ACW forts along the south east United States coast, and I have been collecting 15mm figures and lots of big guns! I am not sure where this project is heading, but I plan on eventually doing a very large game, perhaps on a gymnasium floor.
This is a large rifle at Fort Fisher in North Carolina.  Described as a 6 3/8 inch rifle (Old 32) it forms part of Sheperd's Battery and faces the landward approach to the fort.  Presumably the hill on the right of the gun  would protect the position from fire from ships off shore. This view would be directly towards the ocean.

I started a sand fort project designed to depict a large sand mound and gun positions. The basis is green florist's foam, and as this pre-dates my hot-wire cutter, it was glued down with hot glue in various layers and carved to shape with a knife and "Surform" tool.

Two views of the cardboard and foam sand fort. The ruler is 15 inches, and the highest gun position was about 3 1/2 inches. 

I planned to use my dyed wood technique to stain strips of balsa to line the roadways and create a palisade around an upper and lower gun position.  The size was determined by creating a reasonable slope for the ramps up to the guns.  An internet check of sand forts (Google is your friend!) shows some were very steep. Presumably they would have to haul very heavy guns up very steep inclines.

The final two views show a couple coats of the sand texture paint as used for the brick texture on my Salem Church model.  In this case the sand could probably used as its natural colour.  It was planned to have a palisade around the base of the central mound.  At this point hoverver I just wasn't enamoured with it.  The model did not survive our recent move.
I suspect there will be a project in the not too distant future to revisit the sand fort. I am also toying with ideas for a masonry fort. Maybe something modular?  Somewhere in the boxes I have a modular Vauban type fort for 25mm games. It is decidely not Civil War-ish, and is fodder for future blogs. Next time, a look at a couple 15mm ACW ships.

Rodman 10 inch guns look out over the St Mary's River at Florida's Fort Clinch. There is a fascinating history at this very well preserved fort, but its ownership was never contested by fire.
Pulaski however took the full brunt of the Union rifled artillery:

Fort Pulaski, near Savannah in Georgia. Plenty of model building potential here!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Salem Church in 28mm

Our group briefly discussed a Salem Church scenario, and we checked our various collections for a suitable church. Since nobody had one, I decided to cobble one up...quickly...
Luckily there is a great resource for actual plans of the church via the Library of Congress:

I started off with approximate dimensions and built a 'semi-scale' model.   If I had wanted a more detailed model, and wanted to spend a bit more, I would have used brick-textured plastic.  This model is in what I know as show-card, which is matte board or art board--smooth surface cardboard about 1/16 of an inch thick. Details are balsa.
Since I was not using any brick textured material, I placed some thin card "brick" randomly about the surface to be highlighed when painted.  The rest of the brick areas got two coats of stone texture paint. I believe this came from the Michael's chain of craft stores in North America. There is a variety of particles in the paint which give a pleasingly even textured surface. Colour choice is limited, and the light colour I am using is not very opaque. You could put a base colour down if you are not intending to paint the surface after the texturing. There are a couple of other shades of this available.
There used to be an alternate brand of this type of paint that had some very nice brick and stone colours.  This other type had a variety of particulate and was very nice as a final coat. It sadly is no longer available. (Too bad as I would like to add some bits to my fortress and would like to match the colour!)
The next photo shows the window frames painted and the shutters assembled. The shutters and the upper vent on the door-wall were made by gluing strips of thin balsa in a wide staircase formation.  This was then cut into strips and framed up with more balsa strips. Tedious, but fairly effective. (You can choose to work neater and more precisely than I did!)

Finally, some colour.  The roof was painted black before the tiles were added and then several coats of black to even up the surface. The brick work got a couple coats of "Terra-Cotta" and the brick detail was picked out by varying the shade of the Terra Cotta with red, browns and buff.  Then it was given a light drybrush with dark grey, buff and then just a little white to dust up the finish (tones down the red-orange of the brick) and to even it all up. Tacked on the shutters with some white glue and a few touch-ups (trying to remember all along that this was supposed to be a quick model!).

The last step will be to add some mullions to the windows.  I plan to draw them out with white pencil crayon on black or dark blue construction paper and tape them inside the window frames.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The General's Office Wagon

Here is the "finished" version:

Just some highlights on the tilt and the curtains. I printed up some period maps and Harper's Weekly newspaper pages from some web images for the maps and office debris. The seated officer and chairs are from Old Glory's Union camp pack.

There is a sheltered inner office at the front of the wagon.

And a bed in the wallpapered chamber in the rear. I may add some details to the interior and will add some further ground cover when my other projects are completed.  That way I can "even-out" the textures and materials of the ground cover. One idea I am toying with is to hang a corps flag off the backside of the wagon. This side is not shown here, but it is pretty 'blank'.  Here is a flag sculpted out of green stuff. We'll see if my eyesight holds and my hand is steady enough to do a corp symbol and number!