Monday 31 March 2014

A sticky problem ...

Yesterday my wife and I bought some varnish with which to paint the wooden window sills in the conservatory. As the varnish had a drying time of eight hours, I decided to wait until late last evening before I applied it to the window sills. I reasoned that this would give the varnish to opportunity to dry overnight.

I was wrong.

When I woke up this morning I checked the varnish ... and it was still very, very tacky. I had forgotten that overnight the temperature had dropped, and that I had removed the old wall heater from the conservatory when I decorated. As a result it was never warm enough overnight in the conservatory for the varnish to dry.

My solution was to put one of our very effective convector heaters into the conservatory to blast the temperature up to a level where the varnish would begin to dry ... but four hours later I am still waiting for this solution to work.

In the meantime I decided to have a shower. (I am off this afternoon to a meeting of my London Lodge and needed to have a shave and a shower before going out.) At first nothing was wrong, although the water was a little on the tepid side. However, halfway through the shower the water went cold ... very cold, indeed ... and it did not warm up again. Still covered in lather and dripping water I walked downstairs to the kitchen and checked that there was nothing wrong with the combi boiler. On the face of it the boiler was functioning normally (the water came out of the hot tap in the kitchen as normal), but when I returned upstairs to continue my shower, the water remained cold.

I switched to the bathroom, where I managed to have a very quick – and hot – bath. I then went back down to the boiler and checked the pressure. It was a little low, so I re-pressurised the system, but this had no effect on the supply of hot water to the upstairs shower room. At this point my technical expertise ran out, and I have now booked an appointment for an engineer to visit tomorrow morning. Hopefully he will be able to fix whatever the problem with the boiler is.

I wonder if the varnish will be dry by the time he arrives.

Nugget 270

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the original of the next issue (N270) to me yesterday, and I intend to take it to the printer tomorrow. I hope to collect it from them on Friday and to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by the following Monday.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2013-2014 subscription year. It is still possible to subscribe, and this can be done online via the Wargame Developments website. Please note that the subscription costs rose with effect from the beginning of the current subscription year.

Sunday 30 March 2014

Red Napoleonic uniforms ... and the Salic Law of Succession

Probably the most memorable thing about the uniform worn by the infantry of the British Army from its formation until the end of the nineteenth century was its red coats.

But during the Napoleonic period the British infantry were not unique in wearing red coats. I knew that besides the British it was worn by the Danes and the Swiss ... and I also knew that the King's German Legion wore almost identical uniforms to those worn by their equivalent units in the British Army. What I had forgotten until I re-read Blandford's UNIFORMS OF WATERLOO IN COLOUR was that a significant Hanoverian contingent took part in the campaign ... and that they wore British uniforms.

That set me thinking. Could I use some of my British Napoleonic wargames figures to represent Hanoverian units? My researches seem to indicate that this would be quite feasible as long as I am satisfied that the uniforms will not be 100% accurate.

Ideas of campaigns set in Northern Europe during the early 1820s where the forces of Prussia, Brunswick, Hanover, and the Netherlands vie with each other for control of the region immediately sprang to mind ... but for the moment that is what they must remain, ideas.

The linked histories of Britain and Hanover lasted from 1714 – when the Elector of Hanover (Georg Ludwig) became George I of Great Britain – until 1837, when – according to the Salic Law of Succession – the new Queen of Victoria of Great Britain was unable to ascend to the throne of Hanover and her uncle – the Duke of Cumberland – became King Ernest Augustus I, Elector of Hanover.

If the Salic Law of Succession had not pertained in this instance, Victoria would have become Queen and Elector of Hanover ... and the subsequent history of Germany might have been somewhat different.

An interesting 'what if ...' to think about, eh?

Spring forward

Overnight the UK moved over to British Summer Time ... and guess who forgot to adjust all the clocks before going to bed!

The cat woke me up at what I thought was 8.00am ... but when I got up I realised that it was really 9.00am and that somehow I was already running late. The old adage 'Spring forward, Fall back' is a great way to remind yourself when and how to adjust your clocks and watches ... but how do you adjust your internal, biological clock? 'Spring forward' is hardly an apt description of the way I feel this morning!

Perhaps things will get better as the day progresses.

I hope so. I really do hope so.

Saturday 29 March 2014

You win some ...

I have been waiting for some eBay auctions to end ... and I have been lucky enough to win a number of items including enough figures to add a further French Line Infantry Regiment, a French Artillery Battery, and two British Line Infantry Regiments to my collection of Napoleonic wargames figures.

I hope to win some further items over the next week or so, and then I can start the process of basing the figures and writing some draft rules. After that, the battles can begin!

4 - 3 - 2 - 1

With all the decorating I have been doing over the past few days, I have had plenty of time to do some thinking about how I want to organise my collection of Napoleonic wargames figures into units. When coupled with my thinking about a grid-based set of early nineteenth century wargame rules that I want to write, I have come to the following conclusions:
  • The units will be organised into four, three, two, and single figure-strong units. (Four figures per infantry unit, three figures per cavalry unit, two figures per artillery unit, and one figure per commander and their staff.)
  • I will use the nomenclature of 'regiment' for infantry and cavalry units and 'battery' for artillery units.
  • Units will comprise figures that are in the same pose (e.g. standing firing, kneeling firing, advancing, re-loading … with the figures in less active poses being used to form second-line/reserve units [see units marked with * below]).
  • Each figure will be individually based so that it can be removed from the unit to show unit degradation due to combat.
  • I will use supernumerary figures (e.g. musicians and/or officers) to indicate elite units. (These will be the first figures removed when the elite unit suffers casualties.)
  • My rules will use the Combat Dice from the COMMANDS AND COLORS: NAPOLEONIC game to resolve combat.
  • My rules will have some command restrictions built into them. (Either I will use the cards from the COMMANDS AND COLORS: NAPOLEONIC game or the dice from RISK EXPRESS or the 'Pips' system from DBA/HoTT ... or something that resembles one of these systems.)
With these ideas in mind – and with the additional figures that arrived recently in the post – I have reorganised my collection of Napoleonic wargame figures into the following four 'armies':
  • French:
    • Infantry: 13 Regiments (1 x Guard Grenadiers; 5 x Line Infantry; 6 x Light Infantry; 1 x Militia Infantry*)
    • Cavalry: 11 Regiments (5 x Cuirassiers; 2 x Carabiniers: 2 x Hussars; 2 x Lancers)
    • Artillery: 6 Batteries (2 x Horse Artillery; 4 x Foot Artillery)
  • British:
    • Infantry: 11 Regiments (4 x Foot Guards; 2 x Highland Infantry; 2 x Line Infantry; 2 x Rifles, 1 x Highland Fencibles*)
    • Cavalry: 4 Regiments (1 x Life Guards, 1 x Dragoon Guards, 2 x Light Dragoons/Hussars)
    • Artillery: 4 Batteries (1 x Horse Artillery, 3 x Foot Artillery)
  • Prussian:
    • Infantry: 7 Regiments (6 x Line Infantry; 1 x Landwehr Infantry*)
    • Cavalry: 5 Regiments (3 x Dragoons; 2 x Hussars)
    • Artillery: 1 Battery (1 x Foot Artillery)
  • Allies:
    • Infantry: 4 Regiments (2 x Belgian Infantry; 2 x Brunswick Infantry)
    • Cavalry: 1 Regiment (1 x Dutch Carabiniers)
    • Artillery: -
I have quite a few ‘spare’ figures that will be used to form additional units as and when I can purchase more Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic wargames figures via the Internet.

Friday 28 March 2014

Some more Blandford colour series books

Whilst writing my earlier blog entry, I looked along my bookshelves and noticed several other non-uniform books from the Blandford colour series. These included:
Over the years these have all proved to be very useful and they – along with my Ian Allen and Osprey books – form the very important core of my collection of reference books.

The new conservatory floor is down!

The floorer laid the latex foundation for the new conservatory floor yesterday, and this morning he returned to lay the new vinyl flooring we chose. He finished at 1.30pm, and the results were even better than we had hoped.

We should be able to begin moving some of the furniture back into the conservatory tomorrow ... once the glue has properly 'cured'.

An oldie but goldie ...

I am old enough to remember when the number of uniform reference books available for wargamers to use was extremely limited ... and then Blandford began publishing their very useful colour series books.

The first one I bought was MILITARY UNIFORMS OF THE WORLD IN COLOUR (Written and illustrated by Preben Kannik, translated from the original Danish by John Hewish, edited by William Y Carman, and published in 1968) ...

... and over the years I bought many more of their books, including:
Of these WORLD UNIFORMS AND BATTLES 1815-50 is proving very helpful at the moment.

It is a source of inspiration with regard to the possible uses to which I can put my expanding collection of Napoleonic wargames figures.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Some more thinking about my collection of Napoleonic wargames figures

The recent arrival of the parcel of Del Prado 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic wargames figures has given me the opportunity to reorganise some of the 'units' in my collection so that the figures that make up each one are in the same pose.

This may sound a little odd, but I have always had a preference for single-pose wargame units whenever it has been possible. I like the uniform look that results from this approach ... and I find that it helps me to identify individual units on the tabletop.

I also like the figures I use to have an 'active' pose. For example I prefer to use figures that are advancing or firing, and to avoid ones that are marching or reloading. I tend to use these latter poses for units that are assigned less active roles such as garrison or reserve troops.

Yesterday's parcels

My wife and I had a very busy morning (first the floorer arrived to lay the latex foundation for the vinyl floor he will lay tomorrow and then we went to IKEA at Lakeside to order the fitted cupboards we are installing at one end of the newly refurbished conservatory) and it was not until the middle of the afternoon before I could open and enjoy the contents of the two parcels that arrived yesterday.

One was from Amazon, and contained a copy of Ian Hernon's THE SWORD AND THE SKETCH BOOK: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF QUEEN VICTORIA'S WARS.

The book was published by Spellmount in 2012 (ISBN 978 0 7524 6598 2) and is a brief history of the major wars that the British Army took part in during the reign of Queen Victoria. It is lavishly illustrated with pictures taken from the pages of publications such as THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS and covers the following conflicts:
  • The Afghan Wars
  • The Opium Wars
  • The Sikh Wars
  • The Crimean War
  • The Indian Mutiny
  • The Abyssinian Expedition
  • The Ashanti Wars
  • The Zulu War
  • The Anglo-Egyptian War
  • Khartoum and the Sudan
  • The North-West Frontier and Tirah
  • The Boer Wars
Having already read copies of Ian Hernon's trilogy entitled BRITAINS' FORGOTTEN WARS I can expect that this book will be a pleasure to read and and a source of campaign and scenario idea.

The second parcel contained a number of painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures from the range that was originally sold with the part work about the Battle of Waterloo. These are exactly the same as the figures that I already own, and these additional figures will enable me to 'raise' the following 'units', each with a strength of four figures:
  • Two French Infantry Units (One Line and One Light)
  • One Brunswick Infantry Unit
  • Three Prussian Infantry Units (All Landwehr)
I have bids on some further groups of Del Prado figures maturing over the next few days, and with luck I may well be able to increase the size of my collection by quite a few 'units' within a couple of weeks.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

More paint, paint, paint

I started putting a second (and later, a third) coat of paint on the walls of the conservatory at 8.30am, and other than a break for lunch, a couple of stops for a drink, and a trip to the local decorating supplier for some more paint, I was 'at it' until 6.45pm. I then took a break for a brief rest and dinner, and by 8.30pm I was back in the conservatory painting the skirting board. This took until 9.30pm, when I finally finished for the day.

During the day several interesting parcels arrived in the post, but by the time I had finished painting I was too tired to open them. I have that pleasure to look forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Paint, paint, paint

I began painting the walls of the conservatory at 9.00am ... and finished applying the first coat at 5.15pm. Other than a short break for lunch, I have been painting all the time, and now I feel exhausted and ache all over.

I had hoped that I would only need to apply one coat of paint to the walls, but it became apparent by midday that several of the walls and the newly plastered areas are going to need at least a second – if not a third – coat. I cannot do any more painting tonight as dusk is approaching and I need natural light in order to make paint. This means that I will have to try to complete painting the walls as early as I can tomorrow so that I can paint the skirting board before the floorer arrives on Thursday to latex the floor, prior to laying the new floor on Friday.

Monday 24 March 2014

Preparation, preparation, preparation

After our return from the re-cycling centre and the local branch of Lidl, my wife and I spent most of the day preparing the conservatory for painting and for the new floor to be laid. All the holes and cracks in the plasterwork were filled and sanded ... and then given a coat of PVA. This acts as both a sealant and a primer, and should ensure that when the paint is applied, it will easily 'grip' the plaster.

Once that was complete the woodwork was lightly sanded and wiped over with a tacky cloth. The cloth both removed the dust and cleaned the woodwork. The floor was then swept and vacuum cleaned to remove the dirt, dust, and general debris that remained after the removal of the carpet and the underlay.

The conservatory is now ready to be decorated, and with luck I should be able to start early tomorrow morning ... and finish by late afternoon.

I've always wanted an airbrush ... and now I have one!

I have always wanted to own an airbrush ... and now I have one!

This morning – on the way back from our second trip of the day to the re-cycling centre with a carload of carpet, underlay, and gripper strip – my wife and I stopped off at the local branch of Lidl. Amongst the 'special offers' on sale was a complete airbrush set (including an electric compressor) for £49.99.

Over the years I have thought about buying an airbrush several times, but the cost of the compressed air canisters or the compressor I would need always struck me as being more than I was willing to pay ... but this 'special offer' was too good to let pass.

The airbrush set includes:
  • A singe-action airbrush gun with adjustable paint flow volume
  • An airbrush hose
  • A measuring pipette
  • Several glass mixing containers
  • A range of six basic colour paints
  • Paint thinners
  • A compressed airhose
  • Three valve adaptors
  • A low-noise air compressor
  • A three-year manufacturer's warranty
I have no idea how good an airbrush artist I will be, but my mother was – in her day – an expert and used it to 'touch up' photographs and to produce artwork for film posters. (During the late 1940s and early 1950s my mother worked for the company that distributed Warner Brothers films in the UK. Amongst the 'stars' that she met was Ronald Reagan ... and somewhere in the family archives there is a photograph of the two of them shaking hands.)

Sunday 23 March 2014

Thinking about my collection of Napoleonic wargames figures

When doing something tedious - such as taking up a carpet, underlay, and gripper strips - I always find myself trying to occupy my mind with thoughts about wargaming. Today those thoughts were about my collection of 25mm/28mm-scale Napoleonic wargames figures ... and the need to base them as soon as I can. Furthermore I decided that I ought to give some thought to both expanding the collection and using them.

It just so happened that during a break in my labours I happened to look at Ross Macfarlane's BATTLE GAME OF THE MONTH blog, and read an account of his latest battle ... and was struck by the thought that my collection of Napoleonic wargames figures would be more than suitable combatants for such battles. Ross's battles and campaigns take place between a pair of imagi-nations (Oberhilse and Faraway), and as I have a penchant for imagi-nations, it would be interesting to develop some fictional simulacra of France, Britain, and Prussia ... and - as I have a few suitable figures - Netherlands/Belgium and Brunswick.

I don't know if I will ever act upon these thoughts ... but it will give me something to think about as I continue decorating our conservatory.

Getting to grips with the problem

I have just finished taking up the carpet, underlay, and gripper strips in the conservatory. The latter proved to be very difficult to remove, and I now have bruised and scraped knuckles and numerous small puncture wounds all over my hands.

I am now behind my planned schedule, and will not be able to get all the rubbish I have 'generated' to the local re-cycling centre before it shuts ... and until I have I cannot continue with the preparations I need to complete before I can decorate the conservatory.

Luckily I allowed for this sort of eventuality, and I intend to dispose of the rubbish early tomorrow morning so that I can continue with the necessary preparations during the course of the latter part of Monday morning and during the early afternoon. I may even manage to start painting before it gets too dark to see what I am doing. (There are lights in the conservatory, but experience tells me that painting under artificial light often leads to mistakes being made.)

The deadline for completing the decorating is Thursday, which is when the floor is going to be skimmed with latex prior to the new flooring being fitted on Friday.

An early start for a Sunday morning

By accident rather than design I awoke early this morning, and although it is Sunday – a day when a bit of a lie-in is almost compulsory – I decided to get up and start work on some of the preparation work I need to do before I can decorate the conservatory.

My primary task was to begin the process of filling in the holes that – over the years – have been drilled into the walls. All the old rawlplugs have now been removed, and each of the holes has had some filler pushed into it and the surface roughly smoothed off. That now needs to dry before a final skim of filler is applied in about an hour or two. When that has also dried, I will smooth out any irregularities with some abrasive paper and a block.

My next task will be to begin removing the old carpet, underlay, and gripper strips ... and I suspect that that will take me several hours. I will then have to take the whole lot to the local re-cycling centre (the new name for the local authority depot where rubbish is sorted and disposed of) before it closes late this afternoon.

Luckily there will be a few points during the day when I should have the odd hour or two to do some modelling, and with luck I may well be able to make some progress with constructing and detailing some of the buildings I will need for my L-shaped built-up areas.

Saturday 22 March 2014

I have been to ... the Daily Mail Cruise Show, Olympia

My wife and I decided to have a break from the conservatory, and spent this morning at the DAILY MAIL CRUISE SHOW at Olympia. This was held in the same hall as the WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? show we went to just a month ago, but the atmosphere was very different. Whereas that was rather frantic, the CRUISE SHOW was far more relaxed ... and somewhat less crowded.

Most of the major UK-based cruise companies were in attendance, including P&O Cruises (who were launching next year's cruise brochure, pride-of-place being given to their new ship, Britannia), ...

... Cunard, ...

... SAGA, ...

... Azmara Cruises, ...

... Avalon Waterway Cruises and Viking River Cruises, ...

... and MSC Cruises.

We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours at the CRUISE SHOW, and came away with lots of ideas about what cruises we would like to go on in the future ... but we resisted the temptation to book anything at the show as we like to spend some considerable time thinking about which cruise to book before we do so.

Friday 21 March 2014

New Conservatory Roof: The next step

Now that the new roof has been installed, the conservatory has to be decorated. But before we can begin decorating, the new plaster has to dry out, any holes drilled into the existing plasterwork have to be filled in, the existing carpet has to be removed, and the paint bought.

This morning I began filling in the holes, but some of them were so deep that they will need several applications of pre-mixed plaster to make sure that the walls are smooth before I can paint them. This afternoon my wife and I drove to Chatham Maritime Retail Centre to look for a new electric radiator for the conservatory ... and came back with the paint we will need to decorate the conservatory!

With luck the plaster should be dry enough to paint on Sunday. Removing the carpet should not take too long, but the gripper strips that hold it in place might prove to be somewhat more difficult to take up as they have very sharp (and dangerous) spikes along their top edge.

I don't know if I will have enough time to do any modelling whilst the paint and plaster are drying ... but with a bit of luck I should be able to do some.

Thursday 20 March 2014

New Conservatory Roof: Day 4

As all the major structural work had been completed yesterday, today the workmen concentrated their efforts on all the numerous but small tasks involved in finishing off the job. This included:
  • Completing the boxing-in of the pipework
  • Installing a new down pipe from the gutters
  • Clearing away any plaster that had been damaged during the installation
  • Making good the plasterwork
  • Removing for disposal all the old windows and polycarbonate roof sections
  • Removing for disposal all the rubbish that had accumulated during the installation process
They had completed this by 5.30pm, and after checking that the work was completed to a satisfactory standard and in accordance with the contract, it was 'signed off' ... a day earlier than expected.

At the end of Day 4, the conservatory looked like this:

The only thing that they had not been able to do was to install one new double gazing unit above the French doors. This had not been ordered and delivered, and someone will have to return to complete that part of the installation in due course.

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 372

Early this afternoon the Post Office delivered the latest issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Graf von Sutherland: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts: Be prepared for low flying Tsukumogami by John Treadaway
  • Flagstone fleets: Naval wargaming on the patio by Phil Dutré
  • A trader among us: Observations from an invisible presence by Helena Nash
  • Salute Twenty Fourteen Show Guide
    • Welcome to Salute 2014
    • Sculpting Commander Maud: Creating the Juno Beach Master by Michael Perry
    • Painting Commander Maud: Applying colour to our show figure by Kevin Dallimore
    • Commando forward!: Recreating the relief of Pegasus Bridge by David Barnes
    • Lest we forget: WWI was not what you think it was by Alan Patrick
    • Salute 2014 Games
    • Salute 2014 Plan of the Show Area
    • Salute 2014 Traders
    • Pelennor fields forever ... : Lord of the Rings at Salute 2014 by Peter Merritt and John Treadaway
    • Barbastro 1837: Whatever happened to the first French Foreign Legion? by Chris Thompson
    • Salute 2013: Painting competition winners
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Salamanca's siren call: Part 6: melee and morale by Henry Hyde
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
Although this issue is dominated by the pre-show coverage of Salute 2014, this is more than just a glorified show guide. The articles that accompany the Guide could easily stand alone, and are well up to the magazine's usual standard ... in other words, excellent.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

New Conservatory Roof: Day 3

Despite our concerns that the tarpaulin might come adrift during the night, it was still in place when we got up at 7.30am.

The workmen arrived a little later than usual this morning (at 9.05am) as they had to stop off on the way to our house to collect some materials that they needed. They worked extremely hard all day, and by the time they finished at 4.15pm they had completed most of the boxing-in around the pipework and had installed all the new glass roof panels.

The conservatory now looked like this:

They hope to finish the installation (including making good the plasterwork) by the end of tomorrow, and if they do they will be one day ahead of the projected schedule.

L-shaped built-up areas: A progress report

Whilst the workmen have been removing the old conservatory roof and installing the new one I have not been idle. In fact I have been using some of my time to begin work on a number of basic buildings that will be used to create several L-shaped built-up areas ... and here are the results:

The buildings are as yet unfinished, but it is possible to see that they have been constructed using a 'sandwich' of thin plywood (for the outer 'skins') and basswood (for the 'filling').

I have yet to add roofs to any of them, and I will probably not do that until they have been fixed to their bases. In the meantime I am continuing to build more basic buildings, and have two more almost complete and another two in the early stages of construction.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

New Conservatory Roof: Day 2

Work started at 8.45am this morning, and by midday – when my wife and I went to Bluewater shopping centre – the workmen had made considerable progress with boxing-in the soil pipe, outflow pipes from the bath and shower rooms, and the overflow pipe from the first floor bathroom.

Whilst we were out they managed to install some of the new glass roof panels, but further work was disrupted by a sudden and violent thunderstorm. The wind was so strong that it moved some of the uPVC panels that were being stored on the lawn, and when we returned home at 3.30pm the workmen were trying – without a great deal of success – to rig a tarpaulin over the girder framework for the new conservatory roof. They even used rolls of lead flashing to weigh down the ropes they were trying to use to hold the tarpaulin in place, but these were not heavy enough to do the job. In the end they managed to fix the tarpaulin in place using a combination of weights, large clips, and ropes ... but if there is another storm it is very likely that the tarpaulin will be blown away.

By the time the workmen left at 4.15pm, the conservatory looked like this:

Assuming that the weather does not get any worse, we expect that the rest of the glass roof panels will be installed tomorrow.

Austro-Hungarian Battleships

It is often forgotten that the Austro-Hungarian Empire had a small navy, and that it played no small part in the naval side of the First World War. The existence of the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the Adriatic was always a threat to Italy and – to a lesser extent – to Britain's control of the Eastern Mediterranean and its access to the Suez Canal.

The Austro-Hungarian Navy had a number of battleships, and these are described in Ryan Noppen's AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN BATTLESHIPS 1914-18. The book was published in 2012 by Osprey Publishing as part of their 'New Vanguard' series No.193 (ISBN 978 1 84908 688 2) and contains a number of excellent colour illustrations by Paul Wright.

This is a worthwhile addition to my collection of naval books, and although it covers little that is new to me, it is a very handy one-volume guide to the Austro-Hungarian Navy’s battleships.

Monday 17 March 2014

New Conservatory Roof: Day 1

The workmen arrived on site at 8.45am ... and by midday the old roof had been removed and work had started on the structure that will support the new glass roof. The structure has a metal box gully at either end which acts as both a gutter and roof support. A metal girder has been installed above the existing windows, and a further girder structure has been fitted to the back wall of the house. These have been joined together by two substantial girders and a number of smaller girders which will act as glazing bars for the new glass roof.

The only major problems so far have involved the existing soil pipe that runs down the back of the house and the outfall pipe from the first floor bathroom. In the case of the former, the girder structure that has been fixed to the back wall of the house has had to be fitted around it. In the case of the latter, the plastic outfall pipe had cracked and was leaking, and a replacement had to be bought and fitted.

The workmen finished work for the day at, and when they left the conservatory looked like this:

Please note that there is nothing wrong with my camera. The blue plastic tarpaulin the workmen had laid over the empty roof space made everything inside the conservatory look very, very blue!

Getting the 'sandwich' right

Despite being very busy I have still tried to make time to continue to develop a satisfactory method for modelling L-shaped built-up areas ... and I think that I have now cracked it.

The buildings are made from a 'sandwich' of basswood between two outer layers (or 'skins') of thin plywood. The door and window detail is cut into the thin plywood, and then one of the plywood layers is glued to the basswood 'filling' using PVA-based wood glue. The plywood and basswood are clamped together using bulldog clips, any excess glue is wiped off, and the clips are not removed until the glue has dried. The other plywood layer is then glued onto the reverse side of the basswood.

Once the glue has dried the basswood is trimmed so that it is the same size as the plywood layer or 'skin'.

The advantages of this method are:
  • The plywood is stiffer than thin basswood or balsa wood, and is less prone to warping ... although holding the components in place with bulldog clips until the glue has dried is still essential.
  • The plywood is stronger than thin basswood and balsa wood, and is much less likely to split when the windows and doors are being cut out.
  • Finer detail (i.e. smaller windows and doors) can be cut into the plywood than can be cut into the thin basswood or balsa wood.
  • The PVA-based wood glue is easier to use than superglue or UHU. The former cures very quickly and allows no time to correct any errors whilst the latter is prone to 'stringing'.
The disadvantages of this method are:
  • The PVA-based wood glue takes longer to dry than superglue or UHU, thus increasing the time it takes to produce a single L-shaped built-up area.
  • Plywood is much harder to cut into with a craft knife than thin basswood or balsa wood.
The advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and I think that this will be my preferred method for modelling my L-shaped built-up areas from now on.

New Conservatory Roof: Day 0

I managed to take some photographs of the existing conservatory roof prior to the arrival of the workmen who will be removing it and installing the new glass roof.

The existing roof looked like this:

Sunday 16 March 2014

Argh! Don't you just hate it when that happens?

I was just beginning to unscrew the screws that attach the worktop in the conservatory to the wall battens and draw unit that supported it when the rechargeable battery on my electric screwdriver died. I now have to wait until the battery is recharged to complete the task ... which will take about an hour. As a result it looks as if the conservatory will not be cleared until it is dark ... and I took all the light bulbs out of the light fittings in the conservatory earlier today!

Don't you just hate it when things like this happen?


Conrad Kinch has recently described how he stores his wargames figures and terrain, and it made me think about my own storage 'solutions'.

In fact my storage comes in four main types:

  • IKEA wooden draw units (mostly used for storing painted Megablitz units, model buildings, model ships, and model aircraft)

  • WESTON see-through plastic boxes (mostly used for storing smaller Hexon II terrain items and trees)

  • Plastic compartment boxes (used for storing modelling paint, paint brushes, and tools)

I used to use A4 box files for storing my painted figures, but since I 'discovered' the 'hobby trays' manufactured by REALLY USEFUL BOXES I have gradually replaced the box files with a combination of 'hobby trays' and 4 Litre REALLY USEFUL BOXES.