Thursday, 9 February 2017

Generic pontoon wagon

At Derby last year I asked Martin over at War Bases if he would make a pontoon wagon to add to his excellent range of wagons and carts. I quickly got the impression that this request was just one more in a very long list of requests and I felt quite sorry for him.

Anyway, when I got home I decided to have a bash at building one of my own, or at least I would do the next time I saw War Bases at a show to purchase a wagon to base it on. I wanted something that I could use for lots of periods so I decided not to try and make a copy of any particular design. The best way to do this is to find a picture you like, store the image in your head, then leave a suitable gap before making a similar one of your own. I looked on Google for some inspiration and thought the ones with a trestle were probably the most 'pontoon wagon looking' of the various designs. That was in October 2016.

At Vapnartak York (first show of 2017 earlier this month), I visited the War Bases stand and bought a Peasant Cart 1 and a couple of cart horses. I said to Martin, at point of sale, with a wink "Pontoon Wagon": He gave me a quizzical look. The wagon was £3, the horses were £4 - cheap as chips. 

With a few bits and pieces from my bits box, I had everything I needed for a simple pontoon wagon.

Less some planked decking, which I omitted to add, I built the cart as standard. 

I put the planking to one side for use later. I did use the centre plank to add strength to the model and save the bother of cutting off the tabs; when the model is finished you will not be able to see this plank.
Next, using a couple of War Bases window frames that I had lying around (left over from a previous job), and some off cuts from the wagon sheet, I made a couple of trestles and glued them to the cart's front and rear cross pieces.
The unused planking for the wagon's deck, along with a few lengths of balsa wood sheet cut to a similar size. 

These represent the planks that would be used to construct the deck of a pontoon bridge. I have no idea about pontoon bridge construction - a plank is a plank as far as I'm concerned.
 glued the planks onto the deck of the wagon, making sure not to stack them too evenly. 

'Higgledy-piggledy' sometimes works best on small models; in reality the planks would be stacked much more neatly but doing that on a model this size might make them look like a solid block. 
The pontoon. I have no idea if it is the right size, but it looks about right.

This was a simple balsa wood construction. 

A few minor gaps on the underside (where the angled fronts joined the bottom of the pontoon) were filled with Milliput. Gaps in the interior of the boat, in the same place, were disguised with cross pieces; a few more 'crosspieces' and some uprights were added to disguise their true purpose and give some interior detail. 

Tip: Balsa wood is too soft to sand well. Always undercoat with a hard drying paint (enamel or household undercoat) before this is done.

The wagon, apart from some sanding of the shafts (where the horses go) to make them less square edged, is completed. 
The painted wagon. 

The planks are a lighter shade so that they contrast with the wagon. The higgledy-piggledy stacking can be clearly seen - I think it adds to the effect.
I painted the outside of the pontoon grey for no other reason than to provide a bit of contrast. I have not glued it on. 

I have made another five pontoons (still to paint) for my pontoon bridge project. I will buy another wagon to transport one of them - my pontoon train will be two wagons.

Another shot of the wagon, this time with the pontoon removed to show its interior detail. 

I like the War Bases horses too. Normally I would use Front Rank but these will do nicely. They are well proportioned and paint up well.

Job done. I hope this post proves useful.


Jim Duncan Wargamer said...

Spot on conversion.

Paul O'G said...

Cracking job indeed!

marinergrim said...

excellent. But you just know that Warbases are bound to launch a version of their own now they've seen yours.


Thanks guys.

I hope so. The market needs a good pontoon train and bridge in MDF.

For 'once in a blue moon' games, I think MDF (or scratch built) is the only affordable solution for most of us. They are just too expensive in white metal - lovely but, hard to justify when other more generally useful toys are also needed.

Colin Ashton said...

I like it Jim. I too hope Martin launches an mdf pontoon train to bridge a definite gap in the market.

tidders said...

Very nice conversion work, great little pontoon wagon and a super pontoon.

I was going to build my own, but got lazy and used the one from Reiver castings - it comprises wagon, 2 pontoons and 4 horses all for £11 (item AP21). They also do nice pontoon bridge sections and ramps (see

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Very nice!

Phil said...

Creative and great job!

rct75001 said...

Great work on it.

Gonsalvo said...

Very well done. Something like this has been on my "to do list" for at least a few decades now!