( ok technically its a wooden or tinclad ship )
Well I tried something over the last couple of evenings that I haven’t done for a long while and that was scratch building, and it was a lot of fun.
I have a few ACW ironclads which I use for Blood Sweat & Iron, but I am a little lacking in wooden ships, mainly river steamers, so things like paddle steamers with rear or side paddles are the ships that I would like to get.
Well the way things are at the moment buying more is not an option, so I decided to try and make one to see how it would turn out.
I have seen a few others on the internet made by other gamers and they looked excellent, mine didn’t need to be that good ( and probably wouldn’t be ) mine just needed to be good enough to use in my games.
So what was I to try first?
One of my favorite ships in my collection is one I got from Peter Pig ACW range a while back and that is the USS Signal, so I thought that this ship would be a good starting point.
There are a couple of rear wheel paddle steamers on the internet that this ship could possible be so if my build turns out ok it will get used.
Ok I will apologise to all the history buff’s out there, I know they are all different but my games are meant for fun not to portray historic realism, but having said that looking at the pictures of the USS Signal I see that the Peter Pig one is only similar and not accurate.
Any way back to the build.
First off I made the hull of the ship out of plastic-card this I found was a little bit too thin so I added a thin layer below to raise it up slightly, this gave me the basic shape to build on.
Then came the main section of the ship and this was made out of a piece of balsa wood, which I made some dents into to give it a similar shape the model I was copying.
I am not sure what other people do when they use with balsa wood in their models as obviously this wood can be really soft and fragile, well the method I use to fix this little issue is by using Super Glue.
I add a few very small drops of the glue to any surface that is exposed and liable to be squashed or damaged by handling, I find that the glue forms a really hard surface on the top layer of the wood making it safe to easily take the roughest of handling, even from the biggest roughest wargaming fingers! 😉
But always remember to add any detail to the surface before adding the glue as it will be extremely hard to add it after the glue has set.
Next I added the roof plate made from plastic-card and then the small square buildings on the roof made from tiny pieces of balsa wood, again adding super glue to make these hard.
I then added a small sloped section to the front of the ship and then made the paddle wheel.
The wheel was made out of three pieces of balsa wood as the first attempt turned out too small so I added two small strips to make the wheel bigger.
Once this was dry I cut to the required shape and then added the small strips of plastic card to make the paddles.
This was then stuck into position at the back of the ship.
Then came the bit that clearly shows my lack of skill in the art of scratch building, the small sections on the sides that make the supports ( not 100% sure what the exact term or name is for these )
But if you look closely you can see that they are not all the same size which is very annoying, but I did find that trying to get these all the same size and neat was really really frustrating.
When cutting the thin strips from the card I found that it curled slightly and as I cut small pieces from this strip I found that I couldn’t get them all the same size! 😢
I am not sure how other people manage to get tiny pieces all the same size.
I then added two funnels to the front, these are from cotton bud stems, the plastic ones, these are hard to find lately as most cotton bud stems seem to be made from paper now, although I also find that old ink filled plastic tube from inside a biro work well for this type of tubing.
So that was the basic build of the ship itself, then all I did was add the water effect to the base with Liquid Green Stuff and let it dry.
Then it was just down to painting and this is the finished ship…
Well I think that if you don’t look too closely it looks ok, and I will have no problem using it on the table in my games now that it has been painted.
Next on my list will be to try a side wheel paddle steamer although this maybe a little harder to do as I don’t have any actual small models to follow ( I have one or two large side wheel paddle steamers but I need a few smaller ones ) so it will have to be done from pictures on the internet.
Ships more like the General Earl Van Dorn or the General Sterling Price or even the Colonel Lovell, these smaller ships are missing from my forces and I think I may have some fun building them.