Monday, October 6, 2014

This time it was on purpose; 28mm tramp freighter

     I posted about my 15mm tramp freighter a while back and received some very kind input. Some folks asked if I would go over how I built it. Well, I had no need of another 15mm tramp freighter but I did have use for one in 28mm. The techniques work for both scales so please bear with me. My techniques are very imprecise, few measurements and a lot of eyeballing it so you won't find exact templates or such. I started with one of my stock blue insulation foam hull blanks that I cut a long time ago, it wasn't very well done and had been sliced in half for a different project that stalled. This is what I started with;

the beginning;
 a hull, some card-stock and my bags of "odd shapes"

I make deck houses from blocks of blue-board or
the neat little paper-mache boxes you can get at Hobby Lobby or Michael's
at time I will just make deck house for later use, I'm that kind of nerd

one of the most useful  of the "odd shapes" is for smokestacks;
old pill bottles, breath-mint tubes and vitamin-drink containers are a good source

after I had hot-glued the hull back together I started working out the layout of the ship

to hide the gap from the repair joint I decided to plate the deck,
normally I scribe planking on but this time she has a plated deck
lots of wood-glue

wet an old paint brush and spread the glue evenly as you can

the press a sheet of index-card down firmly on the glue,
this will buckle from being wet on one side only
I simply wet the exposed side as well

I use a 50/50 glue water mix for this
(I also add a bit of paint so I can see where I have already applied the mix)
 the glue adds strength to the card

while that was drying I covered one of the blocks of blue-board with card as well,
true to form I traced the block onto the paper instead of taking measurements

this was also attached with a mixture of glue and water

spread the glue with an old brush,
this kind of work will ruin  them pretty quick so don't go high-end

the deck house ready for some detail
doorways made from zig-zag folded card
glued in place layer-by-layer,
I thought of making them able to open and close
but reconsidered that foolishness
hinges, fold a bit of heavy card and the press the crease firmly,
then straighten it out
cut next to the fold about an 1/8 inch on either side
cut the stick into square sections, the crease looks like a hinge
add the hinges to the door, Ta-Da!!
after the glue dries you can add rivets to the hinge-plates for even more detail
the Captain tries out the proposed pilot-house set up and is well pleased
liquid T-shirt paint, get the "puffy" kind, this is my source of rivets
taking another look at the layout, notice that I have already riveted the smokestack while I was waiting for other things to dry
beginning to plate the hull,
due to the inclined stem a more involved approach is needed,
first fold a sheet of card in half
line it up so the crease is fitted to the stempost
and the lower corner is even with the bottom of the hull
carefully mark the inside where the deck and the sheet meet
then mark lines parallel to the deck line,
the upper one at shoulder height for you minis and the lower one even with your model's waterline, after cutting test-fit
to ensure that the sides were the same I folded a sheet of card in half and drew the panel onto it, when I cut out the plate I automatically make a matching one for the other side of the ship, an old pill bottle provided the graceful curves
the sides of the hull ready for cutting,
the crease is at the top so that it won't show up on a part
Bingo! two identical hull panels
test fitting them to the hull
flaws resulting from operator-error with the hot wire
can be covered up pretty well with card
like this
the stern got the same sort of treatment as the bow,
upper and lower line show where the card touched the hull
my high-tech way of making shoulder-high railings
connect the dots to get the rear gunwale height
cut and ready to go
well almost, I added more curved cut-outs,
mostly because I thought they looked cool
gluing things in place
a good soaking with the glue mixture prevents warping and hardens the card.
straight glue is applied directly to the blue-board
and then spread around using the mixture
bow and side-panels in place
then the stern is added
the bridge work is a bit of foamcore
more test-fitting, this takes the place of careful measurement in my approach
 and seems (to me at least) to save a lot of time
the dreaded "Shiv", my custom-made port-hole cutter,
actually nothing more that a bit of brass pipe with a button taped to one end
and the other sharpened on some sandpaper
more of my high-tech method for setting portholes to the right height
a quick poke-n-twist with the "Shiv" and I popped in some Reviresco portholes
(I simply refuse to go to the trouble of making my own portholes when these are available and very affordable)
I hot-glued the deckhouse to the hull and then the bridge to the top of the deckhouse, normally I would use wood glue but I was in a hurry so I risked an encounter with my nemesis, the finger-burning monster seen in the background,
miraculously I escaped uninjured
I then glued the pilot house in place
hatchways were made from double-thickness of heavy card
framing was added from strips of card
simple but effective
more strips were added to the hull
rather than cut them to measure I let them stick past the edge of the hull
 and then trim them back
the sternpost is added
then several more, after the mixture dries they are trimmed back with shears
I hot-glued the smokestack and other deckhouses in place
the hatches I glued down with thinly-spread wood glue,
it is surprising how fast that stuff sets up!
straight pins form the stanchions for railings
and thread ties it all together
(sorry about the pun)

     This whole process took about three and a half hours, split up into three blocks with intervals of waiting for the glue to dry. The next step is painting it. I am tending to the traditional black hull and white upperworks but I am open to suggestions.


  1. Absolutely brilliant. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow - all that in just three and a half hours - very impressive.

    I also have a similar relationship with my hot glue gun

  3. 3 1/2 hours? I can add my amazement to that, It looks great

  4. Well, the hull, pilot house and smokestack were all prefabricated so you can add another hour for them, plus this isn't my first rodeo, check in "Adventures in Blue Board and Foamcore" at the top of the blog for other ships I have done.

  5. Thanks for the walkthrough. That is very useful.

  6. Anton. What is the best glue for attaching wood to plastic card. I found some 1/48 LCVP made of pre-cut laser wood for the structure and pre-cut plastic for the hull. Need a good glue to hold the plastic to the wood. White glue and super glue don't work. Hot gun?

  7. Anton
    Almost forgot. Thanks for making a target for my U-boot!

  8. Did you try Gorilla brand superglue? That stuff will stick a shadow to melting ice! Failing that I would go with hot glue for big stuff and the dreaded 5-minute epoxy for smaller things. Try sanding the plastic very lightly to key the surface for the glue, that might help as well.

    Odd that you should bring up the U-Boat, I just was reading Q-Ship vs U-Boat by Osprey.......many ideas rambling through my head right now! I was on the brink of building a conning tower for a U-Boat, thanks for reminding me that you already have one.

  9. Love that! Some really useful tips!

  10. Do you every sleep? Great work as always...

  11. Thanks for sharing this! Love the rivet advice. Made some 28mm boats in a similar fashion for my Battle of Lake Tanganyka.

  12. Wow, what great and speedy work. With a bow like that she must be made for rough seas...

  13. U-boot.
    88mm deck gun
    Single or Quad 20mm Flak Gun
    Conning tower is a separate piece. Have bridge crew, gun crews, and a weak platoon of Mountain Troops with rubber boats for a landing party. Hull is depicted as floating.
    Think evil.

  14. Great step-by-step illustration! I look forward to the finished figure!