Wednesday 22 May 2024

A new map board.

My current campaign map board is a pin board which is hung on my wargame room door. It is 900mm x 600mm and it isn't quite big enough. Cue the map board saga....

A couple of months ago I decided to buy a bigger campaign map board. After much thought I finally plumbed for a magnetic whiteboard over a pin board and decided to get the biggest one I could store (1200mm x 900mm). My first thought was to wall mount it (in the position it now occupies but at the height of the pictures above it) and initially that's exactly what I did. Unfortunately, when stood in front of it in this position it was very difficult to view - the distance between eye and board being too short. Consequently, I had to come up with a different solution. 

The map board still needed to be stored here because its the only free space large enough to accommodate it but it needed to be made moveable. So I decided to make a baton with wooden pegs to support the board at the bottom, and use magnets and wall mounted metal plates to hold it against the wall at the top - an unclip and shift affair. 

This is only a plasterboard studding wall. It has just two batons behind it (one at each end) and I wasn't sure that a single screw at each end of the baton would be strong enough to securely hold it in place over time (the board is quite heavy), so I decided to drop the baton to the top of the skirting board; the skirting board supports the baton and weight of the whiteboard along its entire length: it's much stronger.

When in use, I plan to put the whiteboard up in front of the figure cabinets, at the other end of the room, supported on my trusty Black & Decker Workmate. 

As some may have noticed, in the comments section of the previous post, I have been working on version 2  of my Peninsular campaign rules because, against expectations, version 1 is proving to be 'the campaign without end' and better victory conditions needed to be formulated to inject better defined strategic goals. However, the basic campaign system works well and the Peninsular campaign is one I fully intend to run again. Hence the new, much bigger and improved map and magnetic counters for it.

The counters: 

These are (weather/divisions/holding box) 18mm round magnets which came as a sheet. They have a self adhesive side. 

I magnetised up some tiddly winks with white labels for other counters/markers using bits cut from what remained of the round magnet sheet after the round magnets were removed. 

3mm magnets painted with enamel paint as markers and left bright metal for use as 'paper holders' complete the mix, except for a bunch of old red and white magnetic draughts/checkers (not pictured) from a travel game which I'm not sure I have a use for yet.

A bigger board allows for a bigger map; a bigger map allows for bigger counters/markers; bigger counters means they can store a fuller ID. 

These 18mm diameter magnets are divisional ID markers; they are 2mm thick and, although they stick to the map pretty firmly, are very easy to move from place to place. When I bought these I thought that they might stack one on top of the other but they don't stack very well at all.

I decided to colour this version of the map using paint pens. One thing we noticed when using the black and white map was that major rivers, as a possible defence advantage, were often missed. 

Overall, a larger map, with larger counters/markers should make the campaign easier to follow. 

The use of magnetic counters was the chief reason for swapping to a whiteboard: Pins damage both map and board - magnetic counters, as you can see, damage neither.

Anyway, I like the magnetic whiteboard campaign map solution very much and, if you are planning a wargame campaign, I would definitely recommend you consider it.

Monday 20 May 2024

The Haru-pa-kaut

From Wikipedia: Heru-pa-kaut – A mother goddess with a fish on her head.

When at Partizan yesterday, speaking to a few old friends (who I haven't seen for ages) about current projects, I mentioned the Heru-pa-kaut, the latest addition to my 'terrain pieces'. I thought I'd done a post about the Haru-pa-kaut but, looking back I find I haven't. What I did, for reasons I no longer remember, was to simply load up a bunch of photographs and add them to an old previously existing post - so it was probably missed by almost everyone.

Anyway, here she is: The Heru-Pa-Kaut, my first Nile paddle steamer for my adventures in Sudan.

This model basically follows a design I found on quindia studios blogspot. That model was made by extensively converting a plastic kit to make a model for 28mm gaming. When I first found this post my plan was to simply copy what he had done; then, I found out the model price; then, the Yorkshireman in me came out and I decided to go for something scratch built. The linked quindia studios post is definitely worth a visit - if only to show how much better some people are at modelling than I am - his model knocks the socks off mine. Thank you for your inspiring post, Quindia Studios.

Anyway, here is my version, made on the cheap. It's the first boat (outside the odd 1:600 galley) that I've ever made so everything was done on the fly and, outside of the basic design, it was very much an organic process from beginning to end and, until quite far in, I wasn't sure if it would come off.

What's the first thing I chose to make? The boiler. 

Why? Because, I figured, if I can make that I can probably make the rest. Turn around, touch the ground, spit....

The boiler is made from mounting card, thick paper, buttons and a couple of shields, more or less. The funnel is a plastic pen. The body of the boiler is thick paper shaped over internal mounting card ribs/fins. The ribs also serve to form the boilers legs/ and ends. Everything else is just applique work. Buttons were used because they are pre made perfect small discs, as are the shields. The riveted plates were a new discovery on my part: I cut pieces of thin card, placed them on a cork board and poked holes through the card with a thick pin - causing the card to burr on the reverse; then I put PVA glue into the holes to hold the burr in shape before gluing the plates onto the boiler, with burrs (rivets) outward. 

Next, of course was the wheel, shown next to the lower hull without it's sides.

Now, unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the wheel under construction (to be honest, I wasn't sure the first method would work and was concentrating so hard to make it work that it slipped my mind to). However, although a little time consuming, it proved to be a pretty straight forward way to do it. Here's how:

First, using a compass, I drew concentric circles on mounting card to form the hubs and rims for each side of the wheel. I needed four hubs and two rims. There are two hubs for each side of the paddle wheel, an inner and an outer, but only one rim for each. 

Whilst doing that, I did a copy of the hub and rim, as the wheel would look, on a separate piece of paper. This drawing of the wheel would be used as a bed on which the outer wheels could be constructed. I drew a line across the centre of this wheel then, using a compass, divided the wheel into sixteen equal segments - the spoke positions. Now, I did this without thinking because it's generally the method I use to equally divide up a circle but, looking at real paddle wheels, a lot seem to be twelve spoke so perhaps a protractor (and 30 degree segments) might be a better way. Anyway, I did what I did. Also, its on this piece of paper that you need to decide where the water line is and mark it on (you will use this to cut your rim and spokes at the water line), and draw an inner 'hole' on the hub around which your spokes will sit (the spokes cannot go to the very centre of the hub - because they have width, they won't fit).

After very carefully cutting out the mounting board hubs and rims with a very sharp 10A scalpel blade (I used a new blade for each rim), I took a hub and rim, laid them on the 'construction' sheet, which was pinned to a cork board, pinned them in place and cut the rim at the waterline. Then, I PVA glued the spokes into position using tweezers. Then I glued on the inner hub to secure the lot. When dry, I unpinned the now constructed side of the wheel and repeated the process for the other side of the wheel. 

After the wheel sides were done I glued the axle into place - this was made using a length of plastic pen. Now the exact width of the paddle wheel was known I cut out my mounting board paddles and glued them on. Afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised by the wheel's strength, and even more surprised at how good it looked - for a wheel made out of card, by me.

Two notes on the spokes: 
1. Spokes need to be accurately cut to length and need to be long enough to protrude beyond the rim to hold the paddles.
2. I made my spokes out of 'sealed' mounting card - sealing thin strips of card keeps them together and adds strength. To seal a strip of card I rub liberal amounts of PVA up and down it between my fingers. Then I hang the strip dry. The photographed strips are not spokes, these ones are thicker, wider planks that were used later, but the sealing process was the same.

Next up came the engine room (and cabin?). This was a simple mounting card construction with thin card applique: All self explanatory. 

The hull sides (thin card) have also been added to the MDF main deck. The main deck is propped up on supporting platforms of MDF and card (off-cuts) to give it 8mm of height above the waterline. This was the simplest way to get the main deck up to the right height.
Only the wheel arms and drive rods need to be explained. The wheel arms (held to the boat with blue tack at this point) are plastic tea spoon handles. The drive rods from the engine room are Warbases Napoleonic French limber poles (off cuts from another project - never throw stuff away!) 
Another shot of the boiler, now half painted, and the engine room. At this point everything is still separate parts -  nothing is glued in place, I'm still not sure where it all fits.
At this time I decide to do 'etched decking'. I was planning on doing applique planking but this felt an easier, quicker solution: This thing has been time consuming enough already. I also did the water work using thick (old) emulsion paint at this point.
Now I've built the wheel house (as per the engine room), added a rail to the upper deck and a low bulwark to the bow. Things are stuck in place and most of the painting has been done. 

The rail posts are steel tacks drilled and glued into the upper deck and the rail is sealed card. 

The water has been painted and I've added some sponge 'froth' at the paddle end. I used yacht varnish to 'gloss' the water - I hate the stuff because it takes ages to dry, and I mean days!

So the basic boat is done. She looks pretty good to me. 
Most of all, I like my paddle wheel - look how it churns that water. But, the Heru-pa-kaut doesn't have the Sudan look. For that she needs to be armoured.
You cant beat a bit of improvised barricade: Barrels and crates required. Barrels are Renedra plastics; crates and sacks are home grown. I've since added several more sacks because the barricades didn't look right, none of which are pictured I'm afraid.
And of coarse, improvised armour of stout planking and old boiler plates. The planks are sealed card strips - the card strips pictured above, if you remember. The boiler plates are cut up Perry plastic bases with some holes drilled through.
She has a flag, God bless her. The main pole is a tube and the flag is removeable so she can change sides. At some point I'll over paint the flag for better impact and do a Mahdist one at the same time.

I'll leave you with some shots of the almost finished boat. 

I say almost finished because, as I said, I added more sacks (I bought some new Milliput), added better (wire supported) smoke, and added her name plate. Her name plate is positioned above the windows of the engine room - so that the Thomas Cook tourists know they are getting on the right boat.