Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Diversionary Tactic

 

Work, my final dissertation, and family needs are combining to make sure I don’t have a lot of time for anything else at the moment, and therefore was short of blogging material this week.

Fortunately Japan Railways have come to my rescue by running some very unusual diversionary train workings in the last few months, featuring my favourite Japanese locomotives dragging freight trains across the central mountains in Japan and along the west coast to avoid a section washed out by a typhoon. Normally these are seen lurking in monotonous industrial zones so it’s a change to see them in a more attractive corner of the country.

According to Wikipedia these locomotives are 18000mm/55′ long and a somewhat lardy 2951mm/9.5′ wide, which works out as 327mm long and 53mm wide, or about 1′ by 2″ in my chosen scale of 1:55, or ‘Seriously Massive’, especially as the first model of the Körschtalbahn is likely to be about 2m long at the most, meaning the locomotive will be at least 1/6th of the length of the entire model railway.

On the other hand, I could cheat.

It seems there’s a long tradition of model makers playing fast and loose with scale to make a prototype fit a model, and some companies have been known to make a locomotive 10% under scale so it fits with other models. If you do this with a DD51 it makes for a slightly more manageable 47mm wide and 294mm long. Still a right beast but it would at least fit under bridges.

Of course that assumes I manage to get my sorry behind into gear to make one at all. Currently my progress on all fronts is a bit slower than this:

Advertisements

Finally all 196 pieces of the uprights are together, the uprights are in place and not just that, they are in fact upright.

Mostly. If you don’t look too hard.

It took several evenings to achieve this, making 1 or 2 uprights per evening. It turned out that the blocks I’d carefully glued in ready to hold the uprights were not as accurately placed as I’d thought and I had to use several 0.3mm pieces as packing. Of course the packing pieces turned out to be too thick, so they needed to be sanded back, checked, sanded a bit more and then fitted.

Now they still aren’t perfect but they’re passable from normal distances and angles, so I’m calling it good.

Next we have detailing, painting and weathering which means I really need to decide what colour it is going to be…

When we last looked at the wood wagon I was about to start building the uprights that are fixed along both sides of the chassis. Of course when I say “about to start building” I actually mean “about to start making loads of excuses to do it later” because of course, that’s what I proceeded to do. It wasn’t the thought of the 192 tiny bits that was putting me off; more the idea of trying to make them look vaguely similar.

Eventually I realised what most readers undoubtedly already know: templates are the answer. Make one template, fit each part in it, cut along the template or attach the next bit in the right place and move on. No guessing, measuring or aligning by eye, not even much thinking in fact, just repeat the same thing a few dozen times.

I started with a simple set of templates to make sure all the uprights were the same length, then another for the tiny cross pieces… and then things got out of hand and I made a template for pretty much every stage of the build.

It worked pretty well too, although we’ll ignore a certain amount of fiddling about at some stages (note to self: if you’re going to make a template to drill holes, it helps if the holes in the template are in the right place…) On the other hand, I’ve had plenty of practice in filling, sanding, and redrilling holes. Now I have a stack of finished parts that you could almost swear looked the same.

All I have to manage now is getting them consistently upright on the wagon itself.

Obviously when making silly adventure tabletop games, sooner or later you are going to have some swashbuckling pirates, because, well, what would be the point otherwise? To fill this role we have “Captain Betsy Miller and the Aroura Crew”. All of my characters have names from real historical people, and the real Captain Miller lived in Saltcoats in Scotland between 1792 and 1864. She was the first woman sea captain in the UK to be certified by the board of trade, and frankly her life could be a pulp story in itself: she gained a reputation as an excellent shipwoman who could handle her brig in the most adverse conditions and would sail in weather no other captain dared face. As a result she commanded a great deal of respect from her crews. She didn’t stop sailing until she was seventy years old, when she handed over to her sister.

I’ve mentioned before that I prefer female characters to be fully clothed and shaped like normal humans, so to make Miller I took another ‘female head’  and did some rather dramatic surgery on a “Merchant seaman” I had to hand.

 

After the leader, each league in Pulp Alley should have a sidekick, not quite a legend in their own right but a legend in the making. On a Aroura this is John Macpherson, who, helped by a ‘telescopic sight’ made from a bit of brass wrapped in some plastic is the crew sharpshooter, can hit a stick at 100 paces sort of thing…

I’m normally only allowed one sidekick, so the next level is the ‘allies’. I have three in this group, and have done terrible things to the fabric of the space time continuum to bring three people who lived at different times into the same team, but that’s nothing compared to the surgery required to make another “merchant seaman” into “Juana Ramírez”…

Finally, the dog who will be a trusty follower for the crew, as soon as I’ve painted him anyway. ‘Togo‘ was an Alaskan husky and sled dog, and was lead dog on the longest and most dangerous 1925 Serum run to Nome, Alaska transporting a Diphtheria antitoxin to prevent an epidemic in the town.

There’s another team before I’m finished, but it’s time for some railway model making for a bit…

 

 

Production line

This project seemed such a good idea at the time: it’s a flat wagon, with pointy bits on each side. That was it: dead simple. What could go wrong?

I never learn.

Remember the model is loosely based on this wagon. Very loosely, admittedly, but it still needs to have enough of the features of the real thing to be vaguely recognisable as the same type of wagon. This means I need to make some vague representation of those double uprights and the big bolts holding them in place.

So I made a sketch, and used this to build a ‘prototype’. It looked awful. I scrapped this and tried again, this time looking much more at the photographs as I worked.

This one was much better, the only problem was that having finished I realised I’d have sixteen parts for each upright. Sixteen. And 12 uprights.

I did some sums…

I repeated the sums because I’m rubbish at maths…

I gave up and did the sums on a calculator*: 16 x 12 = 192 little bits of plastic, which need to be the same, or at least close enough that they appear the same.

Something tells me I may end up putting this off for a while.

*Yes, really that rubbish, or out of practice. On the other hand I can design a quite complex project in my head and see it in 3d from any angle: swings and roundabouts.

 

Out of my league?

More silliness this week: I’ve been working on our pulp Alley models. Pulp Alley is a set of rules for a dice based tabletop game loosely based on the ‘Pulp’ books and serials from the 1930’s and 40’s. As you can expect, they are often rather silly in nature. Airships are often involved. And ridiculously improbable robots. And wait until you see the steam powered monowheel I’m building…

But I digress. In order to play games we need several leagues of five or six swashbuckling adventurers. This is what I like about the game: rather than mass armies of anonymous cannon fodder, which I never felt comfortable about in my war gaming days, each league is made up of individuals. This sits better with my tree hugging pacifist hippy nature. Also, it is a lot cheaper.

The first league, “Captain Erwin Von Witzleben’s Hohenzollern Guard” has been largely painted for a while now, and the final job was making the cards for each character. These are necessary because each one has different strengths and weaknesses and there’s no way you can remember them all. I will return to this subject at a later date.

The “Hohenzollern Guard” never existed by the way. Hohenzollern was a tiny state in the south of Germany, in what is now Baden Württemberg. I imagined the Hohenzollern Guard as a sort of French Foreign Legion/Swiss Mercenary type of army organisation, which can turn up in any kind of exotic location I want, by saying they were ‘hired’ by local authorities to keep order/guard a military installation/steal artefacts from the ancient and mysterious temple, et,c

The Hedgehog logo, by the way, is because I decided the Hohenzollern Guard would be based in the Hohenzollern village of Igelswies. “Igel” is the German word for Hedgehog, so obviously, once I’d found this out, it was inevitable this would be part of the badge, because then every time I used the models I could utter the immortal phrase “The Igel has landed…”

I did warn you it would get very silly…

*It still has it own railways though. I posted some videos about those here.

Hit the deck

Huzzah and three rousing cheers, the deck is completed.

The boredom factor was dealt with by the discovery of the excellent “Revolutions Podcast” which I recommend to anyone with a long and repetitive job to do. As an added positive I learned a lot of new things about the revolutions of 1848 and 1871, which I’m sure will guarantee me plenty of personal space at any future parties.

During the celebrations* surrounding the final decking piece being fitted I remembered that this was supposed to be an operational model, and that I therefore needed to fit bogies that could rotate. This caused an extra problem: I use nylon press studs as pivots, and I needed a good three millimetres clearance above the hole. This wasn’t a problem on the van because you basically have the entire van interior to hide the stud, but on this wagon I’d forgotten to take that 3mm into account.

Adding 3mm below the frame made the wagon sit too high.

Eventually brain engaged and I realised that if I made the connector for the stud 1mm from the underside of the deck, I could make a recess in the deck itself to give the required clearance for the bogie to turn.

This being a high precision engineering job I used the digital method: I put my finger on the top of the deck and twisted a drill bit from the other side until I could just feel the movement through the plastic.

This is why I will never be an engineer.

I tested the theory by stealing the bogies off the big van. The turn all right but then I discovered the bogies will be trapped between the side bars. It looks like I’ll have to use large radius curves, or possibly smaller bogies.

*One large glass of Ginger Ale and a whole slice of cake: Never let it be said I can’t have fun.