Tuesday 13 March 2012

Bazalgette Light Armoured Perambulatory Contrivance

Hi, All!

Well, it's time for another bit of VSF nonsense. So without further ado, let me introduce:

The Bazalgette Light Armoured Perambulatory Contrivance

In 1856, Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891) was commissioned to redesign the London sewers - no mean task - and although he rose ably to the challenge, there were certain elements of the job he found rather distasteful. 
Thus it was that in early 1857, he unveiled the Joseph Bazalgette Steam Driven Wading Suit - a small, one-man vessel capable of carrying him in comfort and with clean, dry shoes throughout the vast network of stinky tunnels that had become his Big Job.
It was while clanking his way through the foetid labyrinth of Putney that he encountered the now infamous Putney Sewer Trolls. Armed with only a scented handkerchief and an iron 250 horsepower right foot, he sent the blighters packing all the way to Mayfair, where their howls and moans attracted the local constabulory.
Needless to say, the Daily Telegraph's report of this heroic feat drew the attention of the War Office and Bazalgette was afforded a brief respite from his backed-up work load to design a similar vessel for use by the military. This took a while, with many adjustments and perfections to be made - and much rising stink from the abandoned and unfinished sewers - until in late 1862, William Cubitt, Lord Mayor of London, protested to the Palace that enough was enough and Sir Joe really ought to get back into his element. Resigned to his responsibilities, Bazalgette handed over the new machine to The Right Honourable Sir George Cornwall Lewis, Her Majesty's Secretary of State, and clanked off back into the poo.

Or so I've been led to believe.

"Steel Warrior"!? Oh, well. Got to be good for something! (shown with a Copplestone naval officer)

While browsing the local cheap bits and pieces shop with my daughter the other day, I came across this somewhat familiar-looking character. "Blimey," thought I, "If anyone needs more rivets, he does!" And for only $3 who could blame me?

So began the gutting and rebuilding of the "Steel Warrior" (hmmm?)...

The toy's guts are hacked out and a Black Tree Miniatures Gatling gun crewman is fitted for size. (Albeit with his boots cut off...)

At first, I admit, I was going to do the stick-rivets-on-and-put-a-bloke-in-the-head thing. But I realised that there was room in the body for a driver -and even with rivets, the smooth curves of the superhero would just be too, well... smooth and curvy.

Backplates glued in, green stuff fills gaps and smooths cuts and the driver is tried in place again.

So I got a bit brutal, hacked out the guts, and started gluing bits of stuff on...

The cockpit. Much of the detail will not be seen once the driver is in, but I'll know it's there! Mwah ha ha!

Because I intend to close-in the driver with a glass canopy, the first thing to do was complete the cockpit. I added plates at the back, detailed them with rivets and a guage, painted everything, added conduits and a union flag and stuck in the driver.

Driver in place, complete with magnifying scope and a chain-pull-thingy. His legs will eventually be hidden behind an instrument panel.
The model is posed. The base is heavy enough to support a lot of weight above and will be disguised later.

Once this was done, I attached the legs, poured superglue into the joints and stuck the whole thing to a base I had weighted down with a washer and a small bearing. These will be sculpted over later.

The boiler starts to take shape. Buttock-cogs are added - essential, really!

Next, I turned my attention to the engine. Really, this just sort of grew as I stuck on first a boiler and a chimney and then other bits and pieces where they looked right, including a rudimentary hatch for the gunner up in the head. He, too, will be closed in with glass.

More details are added. Cogs adorn the hips.

A twin Gatling gun will replace the left hand (the toy's hands were far too 'fleshy') and a mechanical claw will replace the right.

Hand-made twin Gatling gun and the toy's left forearm.

Finally (so far) I added cogs and pistons to give the legs some form of believeable(!?) driving mechanism. I will treat the arms and ankles similarly.

Pistons drive the legs. I plan to add to the ankles and arms in a similar manner.
So there you are.

I'll post more as the suit takes shape.

All the Best!


  1. Impressive scratch building there, look forward to seeing this finished!

    1. Thanks, Smillie. I'm looking forward to it too - this one's a bit fiddly!

  2. Oh good grief! He is off again. Don't you pause between builds just to admire and relax?

    1. Of course I do! I had a nice cup of tea...

      But the security of the Empire is at stake! No rest for the wicked...

  3. A new little (as compared to Gargantua) jewel!

    1. I hope so, Abdul! Let's see how this one turns out!

  4. My word Sir! Truly inspirational work, really looking forward to seeing this one develop. Love the driver's cab details, especially the Union Jack!

  5. Thanks, Michael! I'll try to keep it interesting...

  6. A nice cup of tea is rocket fuel for any Englishman! Nice to see Sir Joseph's more obscure work (and I don't mean obscured by sewer fumes) getting an airing.

    1. Yes. He was quite a guy. Notoriously bad at finances, though. Never got used to dealing in increments... quite the opposite, in fact!

  7. This is what happens when clean-limbed, right-minded British scientists get involved with Progress! Just one cup of tea, and he is refreshed and working on a new challenge! Is it any wonder why the Empire spans the globe? I suspect your name will come up at the New Year's Honours.

    Truly, an amazing spectacle. How do you find the time to do all of this amazing work?

    1. I wouldn't know about right-minded... But I have washed me 'ands!

      How do I find the time, Old Boy? Um... Let's just say I tend to obsess. And I don't get a lot of sleep.

  8. OMG! I think my poor troops are going to be paralyzed with fear when that thing walks onto the table... with cries of "Gott im Himmel" and a cloud of dust disappearing into the distance...

  9. You say that this unit was build in 1862. The Gatling was patent in 1862, in USA service 1866, German & British 1879. Plus at this time the best steam engine was a Double-expansion Beam engine with 100 psi (Pounds per square inch) only.

    1. And in all your research, you never once found a description of my machine?


      Next you'll be telling me I made the whole thing up!