Sunday 28 February 2021

The Story so Far

The Union fleet so far....

....and their Confederate opponents 

As I am now at a convenient point between building bathes of ships I figured it would be a nice idea to hold a mini review of the fleets so far. Seeing them deployed in all their glory is incredibly satisfying and I really feel as though this time around I have a struck the right balance between the all important look and the practical requirement of being table top gaming pieces. There is a lot more mileage in this project and indeed, the other naval projects I have touched on in previous posts. The Russo Turkish War for one with an expanded Russian fleet and with a Royal Navy squadron thrown in for good measure. I have looked at the fleets for the War in the Pacific and more recently those for the Lissa campaign - for which the Turks would also need an expansion to the models I plan to build.

In the interest of tackling something else though my next building programme after the ACW will probably be for Madasahatta. I have a hankering for some early 20th century naval action using a fusion of the old and the new in terms of ship types. 

For now though, the focus is and remains the ACW and so posting pictures of the models as they roll off the production line is an important way for me to maintain the enthusiasm - which so far is showing no signs of flagging!

Saturday 27 February 2021

The Only Way is (U.S.S.) Essex....Part 2

U.S.S. Essex. The domed cupola came from a Mastermind set with the peg snipped off. I use the black and white pegs from the same game for hit markers.

 Some excellent news. My Warbases order is in the post so work next week can resume with more paddle steamers. The Union timberclads and the U.S.S. Benton will have to wait a while as that particular order is now in the Warbases queue. No problem there - I have plenty of other stuff to be getting on with!

U.S.S. Louisville at the top, U.S.S. Essex in the centre and the U.S.S. Carondelet at the bottom - soon to be joined by the U.S.S. Benton

The U.S.S. Essex was around twenty five feet longer than the City class but looked a whole lot longer, due in part, to the length of the casemate

I finished the U.S.S. Essex and am rather pleased with how she turned out, especially with the curved casemate. She looks quite intimidating but in reality was relatively lightly armoured and certainly under gunned. For all that she saw plenty of action. She will operate alongside the pair of City class gunboats - U.S.S. Carondelet (red funnel bands) and the U.S.S. Louisville (green funnel bands) - and the great bulk of the U.S.S. Benton when she is built.

On with the next batch - and the small matter of a campaign to fight!

Friday 26 February 2021

The Only Way is (U.S.S.) Essex

 The U.S.S. Essex - with a casemate that seemed to go on for miles....She was longer than the city class by around 25 or so feet but seemed larger than that, in part I suspect because of her long but relatively lightly armoured casemate.

A view from the stern. Note the rounding of the casemate. The two box like structures at water level are in fact the heads!

The river ironclad section of my Union fleet will not repeat the heady days of my previous collection - I had built around 12 of them of various sorts - and instead will be a rather more modest four vessels. I have already built a pair of city class gunboats and will adding a U.S.S. Benton and the subject of this post, the U.S.S. Essex.

The challenge with building this model is the curved end of the casemate. All of my models that feature casemates are essentially square or rectangular - I have not tried any of the Confederate octagonal types - as these are easier to build. I wanted as Essex to a curved section had to be fashioned. I had built the Essex previously so the technique I used was the same as previously only on a larger scale.

Balsa wood is your friend in this case and so I glued two section together - fortunately this was the same height as the casemate - and marked the top and the bottom with semi circles of the desired size and then got to work with an emery board. The results you can see for yourself came out rather well.

An aerial shot showing the extra length of the hull compared to the City class gunboat

A closer view of the stern and the rear of the casemate.

A view from the bow. The domed cupola was also going to be a challenge but I made use of a plastic marker from the game Mastermind with the peg cut off!

All being well she should be joining the rest of the collection over the weekend but the Benton will have to wait until I can get the template from Warbases, along with the parts for the three Union timberclads.

Previously I had said that I would be adding a further dozen models to the collection but this is now looking like it will be slightly more than that. I don’t mind though as I would rather get the collection as complete as possible whilst the mood is on me. I keep expecting to hit a wall but so far, fingers crossed, I have been enjoying this too much to be overwhelmed!

Thursday 25 February 2021

Next Steps and Old Friends

Now that is a blast from the past.The above models are currently listed on eBay by their present owner and these were part of the first batch of ACW models I built around 8 or 9 years ago! Time has not been kind to them and I noticed a few missing funnels and a few knocks. I used to base these on clear acrylic and they were built to fit within a Hexon hex (4” across the flat sides).

 It has been back to the drawing board (actually a desk but you get the drift) with the ACW naval project as I sat down and drafted the plans for the final batch of a dozen or so models. The ‘or so’ is telling as at the moment the Union will be getting at least eight more ships! Despite my original intention of trying to stick to generic ship types I have weakened over time and so representations of specific historical vessels have crept in. The new batch will be no exception as I shall be adding the U.S.S. Benton, Essex, Tyler, Conestoga and Lexington as well as others whilst the rebels will be making do with more paddle steamers and an unarmed blockade runner. I shall throw in some smaller gunboats to both sides for good measure.

The plans for the three Union timber clads - the measurements are all in the email I sent to Warbases.

Fixtures and fittings - an idea for a deck mounted gun carriage with the barrel being made from a filed cocktail stick. I thought about using the Peter Pig 1:600th scale guns but they do not look right.  The semi circles are for smaller paddle boxes and the octagonal bases are for pilot houses.

The hull template of the U.S.S. Benton and yes, she was a beast! The remainder are some smaller hull templates.

Those lovely people at Warbases are quite used to my scribbling and accompanying emails with measurements although how they translate it is beyond me!

The picture at the top of the post I found on eBay yesterday (type in ironclads under wargames and you will find the listing) and it brought back some memories I can tell you. I built around fifty models - largely from Balsa - and the collection was exclusively river based with no monitors as I struggled to make a decent turret! I only ever got the ironclads painted before disposing of the collection. On balance I think I prefer the newer versions.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Messing About on the River

I am very much looking forward to running a solo ACW naval mini campaign using By Sea and By River. Note that all of Mr Manley’s excellent naval rules (covering most periods) are available from the Wargames Vault 

Well the models are built and ready for action, a few games have been fought, the rules are progressing nicely so what now? A campaign of course! I had always intended to use the ACW collection on a campaign footing with the ultimate extension of this being the Americanisation of East Anglia and its coastline for a kind of ‘imagi-naval’ set up. This will be a large undertaking for sure and my recent games using some of the settings demonstrated that to do the idea justice it would rather more setting up than I envisaged. I am not averse to this but I wanted to try something on a smaller scale - as much as a learning tool as anything else. 

Enter stage third left Mr David Manley.

As well as being a Bon vivant, wit, raconteur and a throughly top bloke his passion for all things nautical and his prodigious output of naval rules makes him very much a ‘go to’ resource whenever I have a particular waterborne itch to scratch! By River and Sea is the second supplement to his hugely successful Dahlgren and Colombiad ACW naval set and includes not only every ship specification you could conceivably need for the period but also two campaign systems. There is the full traditional multi player option and, of much more immediate use for me, a solo system, the title of which I have used for this post.

This is something I am keen to try out and at last I have the models I need to do so. I can use my block armies for when the land side is involved and some of the paddle steamers can be pressed into service as supply transports (note to self: I need to build some of these, along with barges and tugs).

I am torn as to whether or not I should Dahlgren and Colombiad or my own rules for the tactical side - I will look more closely at the campaign rules to see how specific they are and what changes I may need to make.

Naturally the progress of this adventure will be reported via the blog so in the meantime I shall crank up the purple prose generator (audible groans ensued....).

Tuesday 23 February 2021

The Rogue’s Gallery....The Final Part

The two newest additions - the rebuilt C.S.S. Manassas and a generic large casemate ironclad.

Previously the sole representative of the type was the model at the top of the picture. It is large, too large really, but will still serve when I need a monster ironclad! 

The revised C.S.S. Georgia. The hull is slightly longer than previously and based on the original plans the fore and aft deck angles start further on from the casemate rather than at the edges. The result is far better balanced looking. 

The top model was my original ‘proof of concept’ experiment with the Dremel. The smaller of the two is far better looking, has more detail and is closer in scale with the rest of the collection

The two trimmed ironclads, again they are far better balanced looking compared to previously

A top down view to give you a better idea of sizing.

 Done. Finished. Game over. This phase of the ACW building project has now ended! The tweaks have been, well, tweaked and the two new builds are ready to take their places in the Confederate order of battle. I feel relieved to have gotten to this stage as the collection is nicely rounded and indeed, if I stopped here then I would still many hours of enjoyment from what there is. I shall be adding more models and the appropriate lists are being made. For now though, I want to spend some time getting the rules into order as well as giving the man cave a long overdue spring clean.

An unsung but vital part of my building project!

Before closing I would like give a mention to a very special part of this project. The commitment to the cause was absolute and the service provided gallantly lasted from the first model until the last when, due to having exhausted their supply, it expired.

I am of course referring to the tube of Loctite super glue that has lasted me throughout the building process of 28 models without drying out!

Gone but not forgotten....

Monday 22 February 2021

The Rogue’s Gallery....Part 3

 It really did not take long to get these up to this stage. I am very pleased with the revised C.S.S. Manassas and my trusty Dremel has done it again!

This will be the penultimate post in this sequence. I spent some time today working on the last three models of the refurbishment phase and I have to say that not only am I really pleased that I have spent the time doing so but also that I am delighted at how the models have turned out.

The new version of C.S.S. Manassas looks far better - both in respect of size but also of detailing - you can see her alongside the original test version. 

The modified hull form for the C.S.S.Georgia looks a whole better proportioned - the plain part of the hull will not be painted as that is where the casemate will be located.

The additional ironclad for the Confederates looks better proportioned as the ‘star turn’ of a scenario rather than the current incumbent that will instead be saved for special occasions due to her size.

This means that the collection will now sit at 25 models but is in a far better shape than previously. The minor tweaks and additional build have made a whole lot of difference to the overall look of the thing and so it really feels more like an end of sorts.

Once the above are painted (which I shall finish tomorrow) I can draw a line under this phase and spend some time working on the rules and planning the terrain items I am going to build - a well as making plans for the final batch of ships.

The Rogue’s Gallery....Part 2

The story so far. The two ironclads in the centre have been trimmed from their original length (note the plain template alongside as a comparison) and after a fresh lick of paint now look far better balanced. The C.S.S. Georgia is now in her floating battery configuration and I still need to think about the hull form. On the left are the hulls of the new ironclad and the new C.S.S. Manassas currently under construction.

With a certain amount of trepidation I set to work with the previously discussed modifications and construction plans for the ACW naval project. The two ironclads that were being shortened - by 1/4” and a  1/2” respectively worked out really nicely and I so pleased that I did this - the blank hull template alongside then shows the original length. The models now look far better balanced than previously and being different sizes is no bad thing either. Most Confederate ironclads were ‘one offs’ so at least the size differential is historically accurate even it the models are not!

Removing the casemate from the C.S.S. Georgia was not too difficult but had to be tackled very carefully. I was concerned about how well the casemate would hold up under pressure but given the quantity of glue used on the inside it proved to be surprisingly robust!

You can also see the new hull size for the C.S.S. Manassas and the other larger ironclad is also under way. I am still undecided about the hull for C.S.S. Georgia so will think about that once the others are taken care of.

I have to say that I feel a whole lot comfortable with the models now so it was definitely worth spending some time on them.

Sunday 21 February 2021

The Rogue’s Gallery

Only the model on the left will be unscathed - she is only there as a guide as to the size I will be making the new version of the C.S.S. Manassas.

By no stretch of the imagination could I be described as a perfectionist. I am though, a great believer in the old saying that ‘if it looks right then it probably is’ (if indeed that even is an old saying!). There are some models in the Confederate fleet that have been putting a burr under the proverbial saddle so to speak for some time - and this is situation that I will need to address.

Working from the left of the picture above the second ship along is the C.S.S. Manassas. I built her very much as an experiment as I was trying out my Dremel. I am very pleased with the end result but she is too long. Ideally she needs to be about the same size as the smaller model on the left. I thought about refurbishing the existing model which would mean cutting the hull down by around 3/4” and then shaping it. The problem with that is that I have hull detailing that would then be too close to the stern as well as a funnel that is too tall. On balance it would be easier to build a new model which is probably what I shall do. 

The two ironclads next to the C.S.S. Manassas both have the same problem but fortunately it is relatively easy to fix with care. In each case there is too much aft hull so the models look unbalanced. This is easily rectified by trimming the aft hull. It will mean that the two ships will be of different lengths - the ship with the flag on her stern needs rather more trimming than the other. They both need cutting back and then painting (in one case a new flagstaff will be needed) but other than that it will be easy enough to do.

The final model - C.S.S. Georgia - I have really grown to dislike. The problem is that the forward portion of the casemate intrudes too far onto the foredeck. I am tempted to remove the casemate and refix it to a larger hull template. This will be fiddly as my casemates are not designed to be readily removed! The alternative is to scrap it an build a replacement which on balance may prove be the easier option.

A nice model but too large - currently her casemate towers over the main deck of the U.S.S. New Ironsides! She will be used a Confederate super ironclad as required.

Finally, I need to build a sensibly proportioned large ironclad as the current largest model is too big compared to the others. It is not so much the length of the hull it is the height of the casemate. 

Now this may seem like nitpicking on my part but I am pretty sure that all of us can relate to something in our respective collections that just does not sit right and jars on the eye. I now have two models to be refurbished, two to build from scratch and one that may be able to be saved. None of this will be problematic and certainly the models I have are good enough to use but this little ‘tweak’ will make all the difference.

The U.S.S. Galena. Now that I can shape hull sides I will make a better version of her with her distinctive curves. The above can be repurposed and yes, I have a cunning plan in mind....

From the Union side the only model I have any issue with now is the one based on the U.S.S. Galena. Historically she had a very pronounced curve to her hull sides which I can now model using the Dremel. There is no hurry for this though and in any event, if needs be the model I have can always be repurposed.

Saturday 20 February 2021

Intermission: The End of Act One

For the Confederates we have the C.S.S. Missouri, a generic side wheel ram and the C.S.S. Little Rebel - I have yet to assign new names to these bearing in mind they are ‘based upon’ rather than strictly accurate.

The Union has gained a pair of City class gunboats, a generic side wheeler and a pair of Ellet Rams - these also need to be christened.

 I have finished the current batch of models for my ACW naval project and whilst it is an end of sorts it is also a kind of a beginning in that I now have a much clearer idea of the final shape of the collection. I am really pleased with how this has turned out so far and with a few little tweaks it will where I want it to be.

The collection has kind of grown beyond the original plan and it will, in its final version, be roughly twice the size I intended but there is a logic behind it, aside from the fact I have really enjoyed making the models! There were a number of facets to the naval side of  the Civil War - the actions on the rivers, the coastal war and the fighting on the high seas in pursuit of Confederate commerce raiders and blockade runners. There are different types of ships in use from purpose built warships to converted civilian vessels pressed into service, all of which played their part. To be truly representative a collection needs to reflect this variety or rather when you are in my world it certainly does!

My rules and gaming space (usually a 5ft by 3ft) works best with around a maximum of a dozen ships on the table. So having two fleets of a dozen ships each means that I have a workable surplus of models to work with which translates to table top variety. Were it not for the diversity of types in use - from river paddle steamers to ocean going ironclads - a dozen models per side would be fine but I am looking at broader horizons. Essentially this means I need to have ships for use in various theatres - from the swampy bayous to the high seas via the coast.

Suddenly the twelve ship fleet seems a little on the modest side so I will need to add some more! I reckon another dozen models will ‘scratch the itch’ but the important thing is that I do not need to hurry to build them so in a sense the pressure is off to a degree.

Just because I can below are pictures of both fleets.

The Union fleet....

....and the Confederate.

Going forwards

There are a few models that are going to be refurbished and in one case replaced. The two Confederate casemate ironclads are going to have the aft deck trimmed. I am also thinking about the C.S.S. Georgia (top right) as I have never been keen on the hull for this. I will also be making another C.S.S.Manassas as with the best will in the world the model I have is too large although in my defence it was only an experiment - a test bed for my Dremel.

I have really enjoyed building and using these models and am sure that I will get further use of them in the future. For now though, I need to finish the rules and take care of some terrain ideas I have as well as planning the next phase.

All good fun though!

Thursday 18 February 2021

Deep Space and the Martian Defence Force (MDF)

Something a little different but at a bargain price - check out the link below to the website for some better pictures. The company also has a pretty good range of MDF scenery as well

 Work on the ACW ships is moving along and four of the eight are ready to be assembled, flagged and varnished. They will be up on the blog when they are all finished and I may even hold a mini review of the entire collection but that will for a later post.

In the meantime though, I picked up a copy of TT Combat Space Swarm and the first expansion set that goes with it. This is something I have had an eye on for sometime and at just over £13 for the two sets including postage represents a real bargain. The game is starship combat using two fleets of MDF spaceships with the largest types being around 2” long. You get two fleets in each set, each of 12 ships, and these are in three sizes, frigates, cruisers and battleships. the base game comes with the following:

Rule book

Range ruler

Turning Widget

6 d6 (3 red and 3 blue)

48 game tokens

24 ships and flight stands. 

I reckon that represents outstanding value and the rules themselves look good fun. One of the problems I have always had with space starship style battles is that the models seem to get bigger and bigger so having fleets where the largest ship - the battleship mentioned above - is only two inches long and also that he game is designed to played on a 2ft square area certainly gets my vote. I may well slip this little ‘Ooh shiney’ mini project in once the ACW ships are finished.

Oh dear....

Something else I have been thinking about is revisiting Frank Chadwick’s Victorian Science Fiction Space 1889 universe - specifically Sky Galleons of Mars. I have a hankering for some Colonial 15mm set on Mars and with some scratch built fliers - occasioned by having just watched the Disney John Carter film and reading Edgar Rice Burroughs books of the same. Warrior Miniatures have just launched a rather nice looking 15mm Barsoomian range with some British Victorian infantry included. The Portable Victorian Science Fiction Wargame even....Who knows?

Given my current liking for all things MDF it did not take a great leap of the imagination to come up with the Martian Defence Force as being a good name for a Victorian garrison on the red planet....

Well it tickled me anyway.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

The Magnificent Seven (Err Eight...)....Part 3

All undercoated and ready to paint - five for the Union and (now) three for the Confederates.

 A day of work based priorities so aside from the two coats of undercoat on the models (including the flagstaffs) no real advances on the painting front although I did sneak another ship into the line up. The Confederates will be gaining the C.S.S. Little Rebel (commissioned in my Confederate set up as the C.S.S. Small Secessionist) which was a cotton clad ram that formed part of the River Defence Fleet. The eight models you see above will take the project total to twenty four models once they are painted. I then have a further twelve to build for the ACW but that will then be it and I can then get on to the Russo Turkish War.

It is moving along quite nicely.

Monday 15 February 2021

The Magnificent Seven: Part 2

Ready to paint - assembled and sealed and awaiting their undercoat and finish. Note the newly shortened bow section of the two city class gunboats (bottom left).

 Due to the celebratory nature of this weekend - birthday, wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day - I was not able to get very much done on the ship building front but today I was able to spend an hour or so assembling the ships you see above. These are now sealed and ready to undercoat and paint. The main task was applying gun port and hatch covers - these are 5mm squares of card - and across the seven models there were over 70 of them....

The funnels, pilot houses and paddle covers for the ironclads I will paint off the model so that the top deck is easier to paint. I have yet to tackle the flagstaffs but these are easy and quick enough to do.

The one problem I did have was with the two city class gunboat models. My standard hull template has too fibre a bow and it just looked plain around for the stumble looking ‘Pook’s Turtles’ so I carefully lopped a quarter of inch of the bow and made for a deeper curve. The result looks far better and captures the squat look of the original.

I should have these finished in two or three days all being well.

Friday 12 February 2021

The Magnificent Seven

I would say that is my weekend planned but for the fact that tomorrow is my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary - no to mention Valentine’s Day on Sunday! At least they are all ready to go and aside from adding the gun ports and deck hatches are very easy to put together.

 Pictured above are pretty much all of the component parts for my next batch of models for the ACW - seven in all. There will be three casemate ironclads and four side wheel paddle steamers. Most of the parts are fairly obvious - paddle boxes, hull, superstructure funnels, pilot houses and a bag of hatch and gun port covers. The latter are very small - 5mm square and 1mm thick - but are really useful in finishing off what would otherwise be a bare expanse of deck.

On the right hand of the pictures you can see a variant of the original method I used to build paddle boxes on my first batch of models built some eight years ago! It works just as well but the new layered method is far quicker. As I typed this I realised that I have not yet drilled the holes for the flagstaffs - so guess what I will be doing next!

Thursday 11 February 2021

Back in the Building Groove

The first of the next batch of models - and not one I had planned to build but needs must when the Dremel drives....

 The revised order to Warbases is in and with what material I have work has resumed on the ship building front. By dint of improvisation my planned six models has grown to eight - I tried a little experiment that worked out rather well - which gives a little more weight to the respective fleets. I am now building a further four ironclads and four side wheelers with each type being split equally between the fleets. The Union will be getting a pair of city class gunboats and a pair of Ellet rams whilst the Confederates will be getting the C.S.S. Missouri, a couple of side wheelers and the ship that is the subject of this post - the C.S.S. Manassas.

As usual this is my ‘based upon’ or ‘purely representational’ interpretation rather than being an exact replica but I am rather pleased with the way she has turned out. Let’s be honest, she is not the most challenging of models to make but I was uncertain of how to get that curve to the hull. Enter stage, third left - my Christmas present of a Dremel 3000. By using one of the sanding heads I was able to get a pretty good curve effect to the hull which is made up of two layers of 3mm thick MDF. The gun hood forward came from a bamboo barbecue skewer, the deck detail was made from card, the funnel from dowel rod and the flagstaff from a wooden cocktail stick. 

The Dremel was really handy for this model and now that I can shape curves it means that some models that I would not have attempted are now feasible. French and Russian pre dreadnoughts spring to mind as well as some other, as yet unmentioned ideas....

The model has the wrong shape of hull, the curve is probably not enough and she is too large compared to the rest of the collection. She may also have sported two funnels rather than one. Having said all that she is close enough for my needs and besides, she does have that certain whimsical bonkers look about her! 

As far as the name is concerned I have decided that she will be commissioned as the C.S.S. Molasses.

A Sailor of the King

H.M.S. Scarborough in her tropical scheme of white with a buff funnel

The ship’s company

My grandfather - Petty Officer Alfred Charles Crook

 My late grandfather on my father’s side joined the Royal Navy in 1919. He eventually left the service in 1945 - he was due to leave in 1939 but for obvious reasons this was deferred  - with the rank of Petty Officer. He certainly appears to have gotten around and served all over the world - from home to the Far East although as yet I cannot see if the Mediterranean featured. I have most of his service records but trying to decipher some of the penned commanders, dates and titles etc is not easy! He seemed to have alternated between shore based duly and then being assigned to various ships has required. In no particular order he served at various times during his career on HMS Quillian - a Q class destroyer, HMS Manxman - the fast minelayer, HMS Marshall Soult - Marshall Ney class monitor, HMS Cyclops - a fleet storage ship, HMS Leamington - ex USS Twiggs a four stacker and HMS Scarborough - a Hastings class sloop. The shore stations he was based at, again at various points in his career, included HMS Pembroke, HMS Tamar II and HMS Wildfire.

His period of service on HMS Leamington coincided with the fateful decision given to the convoy PQ17 to scatter in July 1942. At the end of July 1942 he was moved off HMS Leamington and his commanding officer described his service as “Very satisfactory”.

His entire record records a succession of ‘satisfactory’ or ‘very satisfactory’ and although I do not remember him (he died when I was two or three) by all accounts he was a dapper, well dressed and fastidious man.

The main reason for writing this post is because aside from having his service records I also have an album compiled of photographs taken when he served aboard HMS Scarborough on her cruise of 1934. There is around a hundred pictures or so therein and below is a selection of them showing the Royal Navy between the wars.

The route HMS Scarborough took during her spring cruise

Depth charge and gunnery practise - not sure what the chap holiday going the large ball thing is doing! Note the cruiser HMS York

The inevitable ship’s cat!

More exercises

HMS York dressed for a reception and a naval delegation

Full parade and the ship’s cat with a friend

Spot the dignitaries!

One of the ship’s boats from the German Light Cruiser Emden

There are a lot more pictures of various aspects of the cruise - lots of ports and approaches to them, shots of the landscape from the sea and of various other ships - either in port or at sea. There are a number of pictures of the ‘crossing the line’ ceremony as well as various concert party style antics. I must take the time out to look into these in more detail as the collection represents a fascinating glimpse into the life of a sailor serving on a Royal Navy warship during peacetime.

I do not remember my grandfather but having these items of memorabilia in my care as his oldest living male descendant serves to give me an insight, however slight, into one aspect of his life.

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Paddling about

The top model used a 3mm thick MDF off cut for the outer layer of the paddle box backed by balsa wood sanded to the same shape. The model below shows the new method with carefully cut custom MDF pieces from Warbases.

 Part of my Warbases order consisted of some laser cut pieces to be used to make the large paddle boxes seen on some side wheelers operating along the rivers during the ACW. I came up with idea - which is rather nifty in my opinion - so that I produce numerous copies of the same design. It has worked out very nicely although I managed to mess up the order and only obtained sufficient to build three ships whereas I wanted to build six! 

Note the three parts at the top of the picture that form a single paddle box. For this particular model the superstructure is fashioned from a single Jenga style block sawn into shape and with a 3 1/2” by 1 1/4” hull shape 3mm thick

My original ACW models used an outer layer fashioned from the top of a craft stick backed up with balsa woos that was sanded to follow the shape of the harder wood. It worked well enough and so I tried similar for the larger sized models I am now building but it seemed to be a lot more work so clearly a speedier solution was needed.

I opted to use MDF simply because I had some off cuts from the hulls I had shortened that were coincidentally the correct shape and size. It was an obvious step from this to having the requisite pieces laser cut, thereby ensuring consistency of shape and size.

The above illustrates the paddle concept in action - all that is needed now is for them to be glued into place. For convenience I may well paint these before the final assembly so as to avoid any awkward interior corners!

Warbases only work with 2mm and 3mm MDF and the gap between the superstructure and the paddle box is 5mm so for each paddle box I needed three pieces - a larger outer piece of 3mm and two smaller inner pieces of 2mm and 3mm. These smaller pieces are also 3mm shorter than the outer piece to allow for the hull which is 3mm thick. The pictures of this in practice are probably rather clearer than my written explanation!

A mock up of a small river paddle steamer built using the paddle box method described. This is probably not the final configuration of this particular models as there are a few other bits and pieces that need to be added. 

Due to having rather messed up my Warbases order - my own fault entirely - I will now only be able to build three paddle steamers rather than the six I planned although having said that I may look at stern wheelers as an alternative....