Sunday 10 February 2013

Cowboys And Engines

Hi, All!

Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe proudly surveys the engine room.

Work on Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe's Hydraulically Motorvated Sextudpedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile continues apace with the addition of a massive wheel and chain, and the beginnings of the engine room floor.

Chain and spiky-wheel-thingummy

While organising my mountains of junk the other day, I came across a somewhat spiky wheel and a loop of metal chain. "Uncanny!" thunk I, "These are exact replicas of the chain-drive components of an 1878 Hydraulically Motorvated Sextudpedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile Engine! What luck!"

Chain, cog and wheel are laid out, and a rough schematic is sketched. From here, it is a relatively simple task to build a working structure.

Modfication of the wheel and cog begins. Of course, many rivets will be added later.

As luck would have it, the chain was a great length for the engine room without having to figure out how to take it apart, and I also found the original plastic cog to join it. I set about designing the componentry...

The engine is placed on a sheet of foamcore and the engine room is designed around it. At this stage, some changes are to be expected - this is just a guide for me.

A simple foamcore trench is constructed and the machinery is balanced in place to check it all fits.

I wanted the chain drive to be located in a trench in the engine room floor. For this purpose, I had to start designng the final layout of the engine room and cut a framework from foamcore. The final piece will start on the lowest of the three decks of the walker, while the chimneys tower above everything.

The trench is constructed and detailed with rivets, door and rounded channel (cut from a cardboard tube). A piece of balsa wood is inscribed and stained as floorboards.

The painted trench, in place and about to be closed-in forever. As with other parts of this model, some details may never be seen again.

With little more detailing than hundreds of rivets required for the machine parts, I decided the trench should receive a fair share of my attention. I constructed it as I would any other room of the vessel, applying panels, rivets and a bulkhead door. These are all in keeping with the design of the core room from my earlier posts. A balsa wood floor maintains the quasi-Victorian feel of the vehicle. (For the balsa detailing process, see my Old West Building Tutorial.)

Spiky wheel, rivetted and in place.

Cog and chain. The already dark metal chain had to be painted as dark metal so it looked real. Funny old world, innit?

Chain drive in place beside the engine.

The whole engine. Getting bigger every day...

From this point, it was just a matter of knuckling down to some serious rivetting. And I mean serious, folks! I can tell you, the glue-induced headache I developed over the next few hours required no fewer than six pints at the pub before it started to fade... Oddly, it was back this morning...

From above.

With rivets in place, it took a very short time to daub the components with paint and put it all together. And I have to say that I had my doubts right up until the final moment. Should I have painted the spiky wheel red? Are there enough rivets? Well, I needn't have worried. I'm really pleased with how this has turned out!

OK... Time for today's Rivet Count...

In an epic rivet cutting and gluing session, I added a massive 634 rivets to the wheel, cog and trench, bringing the grand total for the walker to 3,184 !

I shall soon pass the 3,630 of HMSW Gargantua... and I haven't even finished the engine room! And just in case you are having trouble picturing the eventual size of this vehicle, the picture below shows engine room and core room laid out relative to each other. Bear in mind that the core room will sit at the centre of the walker...

Engine room and core room. The dot in the middle is Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe.

"But wait!" I hear you cry, "What does any of this have to do with cowboys, Colonel?" Well, calm yourselves. There's no need for shouting. I shall explain...

Texas Ranger, with greenstuff goggles and a Flames of War British HMG.

As a little but of fun on the side, I decided to muck about with a Copplestone Castings Texas Ranger I'd had lying around. I liked the minature, but he never really struck me as 'Wild West Enough', having a tie and a slightly modern looking gun. Some time ago, I'd thought of giving him some sort of jet pack and got as far as sculpting some goggles and replacing his gun, but no further.

Inspired by bits of plastic, I started afresh.

Wings are drawn.

The first step was to re-pose the model and make a flying stand from a washer and a pin. I then laid the miniature on an offcut of plastic and constructed a wing framework.

The wings take shape. An engine is thrown together out of offcuts and rivets are added (of course!)

The plastic structure was cut out, all as one fairly fragile piece, and details were added. Carefully bending the plastic structure a little at its joints, I then cut pieces of brass foil into membranes and glued them into place one at a time, allowing the tension in the brass to spread and shape the wings further. This achieved an animated pose I wasn't expecting - and was very happy with!

The finshed wings. Simple and effective.

With the wings built, I made up some greenstuff, sculpted straps onto the miniature, and re-sculpted his tie to be flapping in the wind. A couple of beads and a piece of a plastic press-stud completed the gun. A bead and a blob of greenstuff made a nice little control rod in his left hand, to be joined to the engine wth a piece of guitar string.

Wings and miniature together. I didn't like the gun at this point - I wanted something  less like a machine gun.

Then he just had to be painted. This was also quick and simple, using mostly inks as usual.

Finished. And ready for action!

The wings and engine.

The finished gun, complete with a somewhat frightening chemical magazine... Because chemical weapons are ok, so long as they belong to the good guys, right?

Et Voila! Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Tex Wingspan - The Flown Ranger! Fun, isn't he?

Next up: More on the engine room and Professor Shandy Tanglefoot's Over-Compensatory Death-Ray of Doom!

Tex Wingspan takes to the air!

All the Best!


  1. This is such a fantastic build. I look forward to seeing each stage. Keep up the good work and rivet cutting and gluing :-)

    1. Thanks, Gharak!

      Another post in a few days... Wonder how many rivets I can manage...

  2. Excellent as usual, Mon Colonel!

    The sheer size of the thing, as indicated in your pic of the relevant positioning, is amazing.

    I'm looking forward to seeing some of the living quarters. You must be already casting your eye round for household objects to turn into miniature Turkish rugs, elephant foot umbrella stands, aspidistra plants, Chinese lacquer screens, and other such Victorian bric-a-brac.

    1. Thanks, Arteis!

      Yep - this getting rather large. I'm estimating the overall deck size at approximately 1200mm x 600mm, give or take a mile or so. Nevertheless, on a scale of 1:60, this makes the vessel about the size of a fairly big ship, so although it's unusually large in wargaming terms, the model isn't unreasonable in terms of realism...

      Or at least, that's my excuse - and I'm sticking to it!

      The mansion part of the vessel will be decorated very much in the manner you describe... but I'll be keeping my ideas to myself for the meantime!

  3. Amazing! you really are a genius sir.

  4. Great work at the factory, Colonel! Your spikey-gear-thing is a brilliant find. And to envision it as part of the VSF engine room assembly is even more brilliant.

    Up up and away! Tex is a super idea. Great job, Sir. I don't know what you are drinking before going to bed at nights...but keep it up!

    1. Hi again, Jay!

      Yes - I was very pleased to find the spiky thingy. I wanted a flywheel or some such thing, but I hate constructing wheels, so it was a lucky find!

      Very glad you like Tex, too - although as to what I am drinking before bed, I'm afraid I rarely remember...

  5. Wonderful progress Joe, most impressive.

    On a practical stand point, whilst these creations are wonderfully detailed, it occurs to me the issue of model placement and ease of movement around the structure, especially if the player is having to reach over the structure?

    I realise these two rooms will be central and probably the less well traversed of the structure, so figures will be moving aroung typically in the more open areas of the beastie.

    But still, thought I might give you heads up, and stop you going into such detail over the whole, that it just about becomes unplayable!

    Its always the issue I have borne in mind building terrain - you want it to look as good and real as possible, but sacrifices may need to be made to fit and move the models easily!

    Love the cowboy conversion! I would be inclined to hide the metal pin, with a clump of lichen/foliage, or maybe some smokey jet trail?

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Valid points, Scott.

      The engine room is being constructed with a fair amount of space - some of the walls and the whole roof will be removable.

      The core room will never be touched - it is just a pretty detail. It will be permanently glassed in.

      Movement around the vehicle will only be represented on the main deck, inside the mansion, engine room and bridge and possibly one or two other areas as they develop.

      I'm very much keeping game-play in mind, which is a contributing factor to the size of the vessel, and the reason that I have not compacted things as one normally does when building a vehicle for game use.

      Glad you like Tex. I wondered about ways to hide the pin, but painted light blue, I don't think it stands out too much. Might have to build a few more flying machines!

  6. By Jove! I take a bit of a sojourn from checking out your blog thingy over the Summer and look what happens.Simply rivetting.

    The depth and breadth of your genius is stagggering, you really are frightfully clever old thing.

    1. My humble thanks, Old Chap. But does genius have to be measured in depth and breadth exclusively? I was hoping for a little more height. I stopped growing just short of six foot, don'cha know...

      Now stop holidaying and pay attention! This stuff is serious!

  7. Oh my! I come back online after a couple days castle-touring to find yet another amazing addition to the Beast! Excellent find, Colonel, and it shows what serendipity can do for the earnest modeller. I love the Texas Ranger, too.

    I've had a thought - when it comes to building the control room, a Babbage Difference Engine might be necessary to help the crew handle the machine. For game play, it'll be a fine objective for the players to reach and/or attempt to control. Maybe you should look out for a few small watch components? ;)

    1. I think I went to school with Earnest Modeller. He smelled of glue and had a backpack.

      Great minds think alike, Old Boy! I was already considering various Difference Engine possibilities. I've got various little cogs and such like lying around already but could do with more. Still, I'm a long way from that end of the walker!

      As I write, I have put down floorboards in the engine room and permanently glued down the engine itself. Walls, coal bunker and other details very soon...

  8. I like the Flown Ranger. If you had filed off the tie below the knot and given him a fly away tie, that would have put it way over the top.

    1. Hi Elderac!

      Glad you like Tex. He's a new favourite of mine, I think.

      So, as I filed off the tie below the knot and modelled a new one in place..? I played with the idea of a scarf, like the joke ones you can get with a wire in them. Too far? Hmmm.

    2. That's what I was thinking. I didn't notice that detail on my first look. Well done indeed.

  9. Re: the Flying Cowboy: Yes, I'll have a round ten of these, please.

    1. Squire Womack! Howdy do?

      I knew you'd like Tex! I think I'll make a whole squad, including an Apache scout.

      What say you, Sir?