Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The "Silk Dress Balloon" Gazelle

Unlike the US, the Confederacy had no Access to a lot of White silk so used Coloured silk from a Dress maker supplier. Silk because it´s light and they then covered it with varnish to make it gas tight. 
Link to a pic of the fabric used to make the Gazelle. I went for a Overall colour as it´s a model, not an historical Repro.

How to
High density foam..the type used for cladding houses. Cut it into 2 blocks. Make sure the blocks are a lot bigger than the size of Balloon intended. Stick the 2 blocks together using toothpicks. 
The Basic shape is created with a sharp carpet knife. Basically hack away, removing Corners first until you´ve got the desired shape.
Always cut away from yourself as occasionally you´ll hit a toothpick which, with a bit of pressure, will cut through but  when it gives,  the blade slices through the foam behind it at Speed. Not good if any part of your anatomy is in Close proximity to the blade. 

Take both halves apart, remove the toothpicks  and hollow out the inside. This reduces the weight, not by much but better than leaving it solid. Leave about 1cm aorund the sides ..too thin and it makes it difficult to fit together
When that´s finished, glue with PVA. I used  toothpicks shoved into the sides to pin it tightly together Fill any holes with wall filler and when dry use sanddpaper to smooth any edges.
Jam something up the vent end as  holder for painting and later modelling stages. I used a thin rounded metal file..being a file it has a better grip on the styrofoam than say a pen or paintrush handle

Next bit, after the paint has dried..adding the ropes. Basically, I don´t try to  over think it. 4 Need to be roughly evenly spaced at 90° to each other for attaching to the basket  but the rest are basically added "more or less"
I´m sure that they could be added so they create an even finish but it´s for wargaming and not a Display Piece so the General effect is what´s wanted...well, at least in my case.
Looks horrible eh? The PVA dries clear and adds a bit of a "it´s been painted with varnish to make it gas tight" effect.
The basket.
How big? I´ve made mine so that it´s 1.5 cm´s high and each side is 2 cm´s across. It Looks comparitvely bigger than how the baskets look in the photos but I have to consider the bod´s base.
Basically thin Card marked out, folded and glued into shape. Acrylic paints for the design...which btw,  I´ve made up but kept it similar to the Union Version.
When painted flrist wire (0.8mm) can be added. Just lie the basket on it´s side, add two rods to the bottom two Corners using a thick sausage of PVA.
When totally dry, turn the other side face down and repeat. The two previous rods Need supporting but to do that, just push a Piece of blue foam that´s been cut to size under them.
When totally dry, I left them overnight,  bend the rods, at about 3 cm´s or so just above the basket slightly outwards. Then bend the top ends, again at about 3cm´s, at more or less a Right angle inwards. Stick the ends into the ballon at equal (or nearabouts) spacing between the hanging ropes,  into the balloon. They won´t need glueing unless they were bent too far outwards. 
Turn the balloon upside down and place it in the pot. Using florist wire, create a square and attach it where the wires bend slightly outwards (Just above the Basket)
Glue with cyonate and leave to dry before attaching the hanging ropes.
The stand. Mine is made using a cork Coaster. After creating the winding gear using a bit of sprue and some basic triangles cut from a CD case, add 3 lengths of florist wire at equal spaces...for those who want to be exact......….120° apart.
Bend 1cm  of the top of each wire  so they end up horizontal. On top of them glue a square of thin Card that´s the same size as the Bottom of the Basket.
Paint all the wires as rope.. A mix of mid Brown, black , White and yellow seems to come close to looking like rope. You Need to Experiment with the mix but who cares wether it´s too White or Brown or whatever? 

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Rubber Ducks - A Warning!!

There they are, bobbing in the bathtub or sitting next to the soapdish, wearing, similar to you,  nothing but a smile. Nearly everyone and that´s the clue, nearly everyone has one somewhere in thier living space. Big ones...small ones...ones that squeek when squeezed. Mainly yellow but they come in a wide range of colours and guises, Santa Ducks, Cowboy ducks etc. All cutsie but....do not be decieved. When there´s enough of them, when there´s one duck for each Person on the planet, this friendly Little chap...
....will turn into this ! A hunchbacked Horror!!!! A belly hook and three claws per arm for gouging and tearing! This Thing will hunt out your soft areas for burrowing into to form a nest with ensuite larder.
Be advised...The day will come so don´t Keep them in your bathroom,especially in or  near the  foot end of the bath!!
A happy day out Floating your ducks? Yeah right! Think again..it´s an Invasion!!!!
Photo by Andreas Schwarzkopf

Saturday, 27 April 2019

American Civil War Observation Balloon (pt2)

So, the Bamboo stick worked but wasn´t quite what I had in mind, it didn´t have that air of feasabilty so....
Using three Strands of  Florist wire.
The winch was made with bits of CD casing, a thick bit of sprue and Florist wire for the handles.
The strand of Florist wire going to the basket is attached to the winch with a hole in the sprue. 
The other two wires are attached directly to holes in the base  next to the Posts. The tied off rope created with bits of Florist wire. 
The balloon sits a bit lower than with the Bamboo stick but, even though it´s not accurate in the way the actual Balloons were let up and pulled down,  the end effect is slightly more believable. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

American Civil War Observation Balloon

Historical innacuracies aside..it turned out alright
Close ups of the balloon.
Nope, I didn´t paint the lettering etc..they are print outs.
 The Pilot

I tried using a Party balloon covered with paper mache =  Fail!
Then a lightbulb covered with paper mache = Fail!
Solution = hardfoam shaped with a stanley knife, rubbed down with sandpaper,  then cut in half, hollowed out to reduce weight, then glued back together. 
The weight still remains an issue. I tried a couple of things to "suspend" the balloon but the only thing that worked was a thinned down bamboo skewer. Still a bit thicker than I´d planned. 
"What, there was a plan ?? !" .....I hear myself say 
I´ll hunt about to find something ..or some other way* to suspend it but for now,  it´ll do. 
Thaddeus Lowes Hydrogen Generators ,
To give him his full Name, Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe. The above link leads to the page on his Generators but the whole site is dedicated to the man. Worth a read IMHO.
Made from a hardfoam core with Card planking, copper wire and the corresponding insulating plastic for the pipe work. Vents on the tops made with  screws, Wheels from the bits box.
The wagons etc are a bit chunkier and bigger than they would have been. I could have spent a bit more time measuring things up  but it was a quick "do this Project or Forget it" Job.
I´ve had it in mind to make an Observation ballon for a while now and any fiddling with exactness would have burst the bubble of enthusiasm.

Basic info on Ballooning during the ACW.

*Even as I wrote the above I thought of a way to suspend the balloon with thinner and  closer to scale  material. :-)

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Body Strippers - Valdemar

A set of bods (VA174) showing what happened after and in a lot of cases, during, a medieval battle.
"Frank! This one´s a wriggler ! Give him the chop!"
The "Total Body" Strip
Mixed in with previous "Battlefield casualty" bases. The Background doesn´t fit that well to the foreground but it´s a Change from my usual black backdrop.

A brilliant Diorama by a brilliant Diorama creator...look HERE for the "Sound of Silence" The video has to be watched to get the titel of the Piece.

@ Hightower. If you see this, I´ve tried recently to comment on your blog but it Comes up "only admin can post comments" Something to do with the Settings?

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Medieval Lifeboat - Zvezda

It actually comes as part of the Zvezda Crusader Cog, shown, as per instructions, placed upright on the deck with the oars etc inside but IMHO, it looks a bit too modern (17th century?) to be a medieval rowing boat let alone a "lifeboat". There´s a few contemporary Images about of medieval boats. like THESE, which. although not a definitive list, Shows much simpler versions than the model
Also, life being cheap, would Medieval ships actually carry lifeboats anyway ? I can´t find any mention of them anywhere.
I could have added it upside down and hide any of the "modern" Details  but I thought that would be a waste so it can go towards the Bodstonian * world.
The rigging was made up, I found several different rigging versions so went for my own.  The  pulley is from a 1/100 scale ship set.

*I know I know...it´s been bloody ages since anything happened there.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Crusader Cog - Zvezda

Well, I waited for a few years and then two turn up within a month.
The Zvezda Cog is basically the same as the Revell cog except it has a different stern,  prow (prowsprit) and has the addition of a crows nest.
The crows nest made adding the rigging a bit more difficult than the Revell Version but after a lot of cussing I got it done.
The cross Comes as a Transfer but I painted it on
"At Sea" pics
Crew (21 Bods ) is made up using  bods from Valdemar, Ceaser, Airfix and Pegasus

Tom Tiddler
Both ships together "the start of your very own fleet mate"
The Revell Cog has a new Crew member
There´s one or two Errors in the instructions.
Adding the prowsprit means the Forecastle cannot be fitted until the hole in it´s deck has been slightly widened. The prowsprit could be fitted alongside Fitting the Forecastle but painting it afterwards would have been more difficult.
There´s no instruction on rigging the odd winch type thing attached to the crows nest. The holes for the hoop attaching the rope from the "odd winch Thing"  to the deck are missing on the actual model but shown in the instructions. No probs to drill a couple of holes but still odd as you have to guesstimate where to put the hoop.
The ladder for accessing the Forecastle is way to wide to fit the hole and had to be drastically trimmed down.

Still, like the Revell Version, it´s a nice kit...so now the hunt is on to increase the fleet....maybe :-)

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Hanse Kogge - Revell

My main historical period of interest but something I´ve been putting off for a Long while now for a couple of reasons.
1. Ships ? I like the look of  sailing ships but why would I want a medieval ship? I can´t think of any Scenarios I can put one into.
2. The size of it. I´m more used to quick and small Projects. Could it hold my interest Long enough?

So why build it at all?
1. It was there. It´s been sitting on the shelf for years taunting me.
2. I´d got into a modelling Doldrum (wordplay intended)  Nothing painted for weeks so decided to go for something that was in line with my interest but way more complicated than I´m used to.  I ignored the  "what Scenario would it fit to?" and dived in (another dreadfull pun?). Either it would get me back to actually painting anything or it wouldn´t. It worked. During the build I painted the RedBox Crossbowmen who´d been sitting on the Workspace, based painted but gathering dust.
Close ups with Crew and Cargo
The Build
EEEEEEK!!! There´s loads of it and it´s feckin huge!!! A veritable sea (pun intended) of plastic!!Way bigger than anything I´ve tackled (pun intended) so far.

Stage one, the hull. It has to be the waterline Version...I´ve little  use for a medieval cog but absolutely no use for a full hull Version of one. 
After all the time spent in the box the hull appeared to be a bit out of line. In the instructions (added at the end of the post)  it says add a strengthening part (G3) but I left this until the ends had stuck.
Addition of the strengthening plate and decks. According to the instructions..I´ve skipped a couple of stages. The Addition of G3 pushed the hull into shape. Previously it didn´t have full contact with the Floor, light can be seen under the hull in the above pic but not in the one below.
Again, I´ve gone ahead of the intructions and built the upper decks. They are dry fitted as I think painting will be made easier with them loose.
A few other bits put together, winches, mast and block and tackle made ready for painting.
 I´ve drilled holes in the "Knees" so rings can be added for Holding Cargo.
First layer of paint added. Acrylics, chocolate Brown with a bit of black added.
Another thin layer as above  and loads of dry brushing later.
Cargo rings added. These were made by wrapping 0.8 Florist wire around a 1mm nail, then the resulting eyelets worked with fine nose pliers. The camera Settings were set too high so the upper deck colours seem brighter in the pic than in reality
Windlass for the sail roped and attached. Now the Wood effect Looks too dark! I´m obviously no expert with a  camera. The hoops that hold the rope (next to the hole to take the mast) are, OOB, plastic but I´ve replaced them with 0.8mm metal ones.
Flag, Capstan  and Anchors attached. The flagpole is supposed to be attached on one side of the deck but it looked better in the middle. I had to make some more eyelets to hold the support ropes for the flagpole and instead of simply wrapping the flag around the post I stitched it on.
I´m not sure how the ropes would have been attached to the capstan, the instructions are vague showing only one anchor rope being attached,  so the solution, wether it´s correct or not,  is mine.

The sail. The canvas area was a doddle to paint, masking tape  to get the lines,  cross cut from masking tape but it wasn´t all plain sailing (another pun ?) The ropes and the spar were fiddly. Getting the painted ropes to match to the thread took a bit of Trial and error. It looks (both in the pics and real life) close enough so will have to do. 
Rigging finished. One tip. The bits that end up load bearing (when Tension is added to the ropes) like cleats, rings etc  Need glueing with second glue. The normal plastic cement isn´t up to the Job.
I made the ropes using darning thread. The thread was too thick but had 6 Strands which, after cutting a length I divided into  into two lots each with three Strands. This was then run over the top of a prittstick two or three times,  twisting it as I went. After  1/2 an hour the strands had fixed together but the thread was still pliable..an earlier attempt using PVA made the thread stiff.
The Crew.
Well, most of the Crew..a couple more were added and I decided against one of them in the pic. A mix of Italeri, Zvezda, Valdemar, Strelets and Orion.
 Stowage, various bits and pieces.
The Basing
At the start of the build I was nervous as to wether I could get a half decent finish..the same goes for the basing but worse as this is a completely new Thing for me.
I pondered what to use for the base...something strong, not too thick and not prone to warping. Plexi glass. Ok, the Surface needed Scratching up to give decent enough adhesion and time will tell if it holds but it´s a first go at it so....
Big blob of acrylic sealant in the middle, ship plopped on top. Plaster of paris added in Basic wave shapes........
...after drying, a couple of layers of toilet paper added with thinned down PVA. Then the painting with  acrylics, black with blue and a touch of green..then two layers of gloss varnish

A bit blurry here and there, different light Settings  and tipped on thier sides but someone may find them usefull.
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3 
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7

What did I learn ?
It takes time to build such a Thing. The instructions have to be ignored, following the stages as they are written would mean inacessable Areas that Need painting. Small parts Need glueing with Second glue if they are to hold.
Was it worth making ?
Yes...and I´ve gone and got me the Zvezda Crusader version to build 😊