Friday, February 28, 2020

A Lazy Man's Half

let the rigging begin!
a bit of stretched sprue and some superglue

       Fighting a bad cold and having shoveled my sidewalk I determined that I had seen enough of the outside world for a day. I decided to get a cup of coffee and get back to work on the ironclads. The models were all based, the bases painted and wakes touched in so all that remained was glossing the bases and rigging the ships.
        Looking for the biggest bang for my buck I decided that I would gloss the monitors first then get on with rigging and glossing the sailing vessels. I grabbed my trusty (and almost empty) bottle of Future floor wax (I understand that it is now marketed under the name Pledge floor gloss) and set about adding a shine to my monitor's bases. This went by very quickly which left me with no options aside from settling in and starting the rigging process.
       Being a coward I started with the New Ironsides, she had started life as a full-rigged ship but went to war with nothing but truncated masts used for signalling. This was easy and quick and I was getting back into the groove. Next I did a couple of schooner-rigged paddle-wheel ships. Feeling that I had gotten a handle on thing I started on the Alabama. And suddenly I remembered why I had sworn never to do another square-rigged ship ever again! Even with the vastly reduced rig that I put on the model it took forever and I had bits of stretched sprue glued to all of my fingers before I was done. The model does seem to have turned out fairly well but I'm not looking forward to the second half as they are all in need of extensive rigging. I should have stuck with monitors and Confederate battery ironclads.........

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ironclads based and waiting for rigging

       I found myself planning to start the rigging when it occurred to me that I really had ought to base the models before I went down the rabbit-hole of rigging. That way the models would be presentable for the convention on the 7th of March, you know, just in case I didn't get done with the rigging by then. Not wanting to wait for special ordered laser-cut MDF I just grabbed a sheet of artists matte board, a straight edge and my matte knife and got right to work. I tried to make the bases big enough to ease handling without overcrowding the tabletop.  My main objective was to protect the fragile masts and rigging so I made the bases wide enough that I can pick up the model without grabbing the  upper works. I used a toothpick to spread a thin strip of Liquid Nails to form the wake of the ships. A quick coat of Americana "Uniform Blue" and things were in order. I will use white paint to enhance the wakes and then a heavy coat of Future floorwax to gloss the water area then I'm off to the races with the rigging.

A Visit to Tennessee, CSS Tennessee that is........

the shape is very simple, all flat surfaces

       In my usual dilatory way I didn't get around to ordering a CSS Tennessee from Thoroughbred until this morning. Even with the usual fast service from them I was worried that the model wouldn't arrive in time for me to get it ready for play in ten days. Just to be on the safe side I decided to scratchbuild a model out of matte board and balsa. This was greatly eased by the primitive design that most Confederate ironclads followed; a greatly elongated hexagon for a hull plan and a truncated pyramid for a superstructure.
       I found a drawing on line and printed it out in scale to use as my "master plan". The smokestack is a bit of bamboo skewer and the gunports are rectangles of index card. I smoothed out the balsa using wallboard compound and scribed panel lines into the surface with an X-Acto knife when it was all dried. A thin coat of superglue covered the whole surface to harden it and I added a couple of lifeboats that I highjacked from another kit to provide a little eye-candy on a very plain model.

the wake is just Liquid Nails teased out with a toothpick

the foredeck should have a pair of ventilators, 
but I'm not going to try that in 1/600 scale
with a wash of black and the base finished,
 it is usable if not up to the standards of the other ships

       I'm really hoping that the kit I ordered gets here and I can find the free time to get it convention-ready, but now I have a back-up plan just in case.

ACW Naval Action Rules and Templates

                      These are a set of rules that I photocopied out of an old Wargames Illustrated or Miniature Wargames magazine simply ages ago, I can't find the original magazine article but I do know that Andy Callan is the author of this little gem. I take no claim or credit for these, all I can say is that they are a jolly fun set of rules that we have enjoyed for decades. Of course as the years passed I have made some modifications to the rules. If these are improvements we will set that down to happy circumstance, if they have failed the fault is mine alone. At the end of the rules I have included some worked-out ship data cards and a set of blanks templates that can be used to make new ones.

Monday, February 24, 2020

A Dozen Days Left...

ten ships in need of at least standing rigging

       So I had a couple of hours free and I decided to finish off building and painting the Thoroughbred 1/600 scale ironclads for the Battlefields convention on the 7th of March. This went much faster and smoother than I had thought it would and I now find myself with twelve days to go and just bases to to do........except there is the Siren call of rigging. Basing these models should only take an hour or so which leaves me thinking that I can find the time to rig these little beauties. I still have miles of stretched sprue from rigging the 1/700 Black seas boats........hmmmm.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

HUGE SALE AT SQUADRON.COM $100 off Vallejo paints sets

       Just popped into my email this morning this huge sale Vallejo paints sets $100.00US or more off, plus lots of other great deals, take a look!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Paint It Black! Black as night.......

       Nope, not the Rolling Stones song (which is a pretty good song but not the subject of this post)

there is something about he fluorescent light that penetrates the 
gray paint and black wash to bring the tan primer back to the surface
(at least in the photos, they look fine in person)

      OK, so I was griping about everything being black. It isn't exactly true, but darned close. On the other hand it certainly makes it easy to get stuff finished. This afternoon I assembled and painted these little beauties; the Monitor, 2 x Roanoke, Milwaukee, Passaic. They were painted the same way as the last batch; light khaki spray primer, a couple of light coats of medium gray then a couple of washes of black. I still have to go back and pick out in pure black the gun muzzles and the deck fixtures. The white turrets on the Roanoke models is suggested by the instructions from Thoroughbred and I don't know enough about the period to argue with the fine folks who produced these kits. After this I just have a few side-wheel double-enders and a couple of steam frigates. The jury is still out on the issue of bases. There is a lot of fragile mast and yardarms on the sailing vessels.

the growth in size in just a couple of years is stunning;
the Monitor (far right) 1861 next to the Roanoke (three turrets) 1863

not pretty ships but there is something brutally honest about their appearance

Thursday, February 20, 2020


I haven't glued the masts down just yet there are some deck details that still need gluing in place

       Having assembled some of the ship models I took a try at painting them. I must admit that I was somewhat intimidated by the level of detail on these kits but after I had gotten started it turned out that they were an easier task than I had anticipated. My biggest beef is that there was apparently only one color for ships during the Civil War; black. Sure, sure, there is the odd bit of brown decking or the occasional splash of white but overall these are dreary things to paint. Seriously, how many shades of dark gray are there?  I guess that I will get used to it eventually........

then there is the question of bases, on models this large I hesitate to add bases
 but there will be a fair amount of frail masts and rigging when these are done

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ironclad Madness

this batch consists of New Ironsides, Dictator, a CSS gunboat and the CSS Alabama
and two turreted ships being built for the CSA Navy but seized by the British 
government before they were turned over to the Rebs

       So I signed up to run an American Civil War ironclads game at Battlefields (7MAR20) and until yesterday I hadn't even opened the packages. Needless to say I have procrastinated beyond all reason. I started assembling them just last night and was surprised at how well thy went together. The quality of Thoroughbred models are simply stunning, especially when you consider that a good many of the sculpts are twenty plus years old! No CAD or CinC work here, these are the product of old-school craftsmanship at its best. I shot a coat of primer on the first batch this morning and hope to have them painted tonight so that I can get started on the next group tomorrow.

one of the trademarks of Thoroughbred minis is the perfection of the casting,
 even on tiny parts there is no flash and barely the trace of a mold line 
NOTE; They are primed in a medium tan color, I have no clue why the photos are that odd olive color

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Rules are made for breaking........right?

        I have made it a rule over the last couple of years not to buy more figures than I have painted. By the by and in large I have conformed to this rule. But (and there is always a but, right?) I was at FlintCon perusing the flea-market of wonderful minis on offer when my eye caught a largish box of Thoroughbred 1/600 scale ACW ironclads. I have always loved their models so I was inexorably drawn toward the innocuous cardboard box, as I peered in I saw that the box was nearly full of these little beauties. As I stood, deep in thought, the owner leaned in close to me and said in a conspiratorial tone, "They are more than half off". I felt my will begin to waver as I reached for my wallet, then saw it collapse entirely when he suggested "I can do a little better than that". Moments later I was the happy owner of a box brimming over with superb models.

mea culp, mea culpa
my penance will be to assemble and paint these excellent models

        I find myself the proud owner of the following  ship kits; Milwaukee, 2 x Roanoke, Sassacus, Hartford, New Ironsides, John Paul Jones, 2 x HMS Scorpions ( a pair of ships that were built for the CSA but seized by Britain after they were launched), 2 x Mohican, Confederate Gunboats, CSS Alabama, Passaic, Monitor, Floating Battery, Dictator, Five-Gun Fort. My main concern is that they will all end up being painted black which would be a rather drab look.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Convention Report, Flintcon 2020

       Well, FlintCon has come and gone, and a great time was had by all. Despite snow and slippery road conditions more than 200 gamers showed up and packed the two halls set up for the convention. All proceeds go to the school programs and the door and kitchen were staffed by parents of the students, they were most cordial and helpful through a long day. This is a very well-run (thanks to Rod Cain, who is a seemingly tireless organizer) convention that exudes a warm and friendly atmosphere. Once again the flea-market had many wonderful things, I broke my own rule and bought a couple of dozen Thoroughbred ACW ironclads at a great price (so much for my "no new minis, no new periods"  rule!). The food was good and plentiful and located just down the hall between the minis games and the Pathfinder area.

         Kudos to Rod and his cheerful helpers!

the gymnasium was pretty well filled all day long

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Great Resource

I find it odd that 400 years ago they could drawn better maps than most
 modern history books can manage, all without satellite imaging

       Everybody who knows me is well acquainted with my interest in maps (some might even call it an obsession). I have a large collection of maps, I draw maps of my own and i just love websites that have cool old maps, from back in the day when true artists created them. A friend of mine, Joe, pointed me at this beauty; George III may have been mad but he had one heck of a collection of maps! Take a look at this site. It loads kind of slow but it is well worth the wait, by the way, get a comfortable chair you are likely to be shuffling through this for a while.......I was poking around for two hours before I even noticed.

A Change of Pace

the future is plastic!
these figures really deserve a better painter than I am 

      I was getting my stuff together for Flintcon after spending a week working on terrain projects and stopped to look at the 28mm Greeks that I had assembled for the Paint & Take table at the show.  I was once again struck by the excellent detail and proportion of the miniatures (Victrix makes some lovely stuff!) and I just couldn't resist trying my hand at just one of them. I decided to narrowly limit my palette and to try to paint the figure as fast as possible. I have always found painting a bit of a drudge particularly if there are a large number of figures involved so I wanted to see just how fast I could get one figure up to a decent table-top standard.