Tuesday 26 March 2013

Bravely Soldering On...

Hi, All!

The engine room by gaslight...

This weekend I had fun with a soldering iron. Kinda.

Little flickery yellow LEDs. So glad I found these!

This is an unusual thing in wargaming - even for an oddball eccentric such as Yours Truly, and I have to say that I have never really liked soldering. I'm not very good at it. Nevertheless, if Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe's Hydraulically Motorvated Sextupedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile is to have nice flickery lanterns, it falls to me to make 'em work. Dunnit?

Little plastic pegs and pieces of plastic board will soon become lanterns...

... See?! Told you! Now they await paint and some of that electric magical physics-type stuff!

The technical bit...

The LEDs I am using actually flicker randomly and give a lovely candle/gaslight-like glow. I've wired them all in parallel to avoid Christmas Tree Syndrome (one blows and they all turn off) because once the model is done, I won't be able to replace them.

An unpainted lantern is tested.

In addition to making the lanterns, I placed LEDs behind the portholes in the bulkhead doors, and an extra one inside the furnace (tinted red for a darker glow). Between the core room and the engine room, I now have seventeen working LEDs. I hope to use at least a hundred in the completed vessel...

Painted lantern, installed and working in a darkened room. I'm really happy with this effect!

I've actually blown a few in the testing process (vitally important to use the correct resistor - thanks, Notorious Greg!) so I may have to order more. The plan is to have a light behind every single porthole (there will be many) along with lanterns all over the place. I may even add more to the engine room before it is completed.

An LED is sprayed with matte varnish and dipped in red ink before being wired and mounted in a plastic tube...

...and inserted into the underside of the furnace.

I have also been designing the Victorian-style glass dome and upper level of the engine room. The dome will be based on the work of Joseph Paxton, who built the Crystal Palace, amongst other things. Lots of iron, rivets and glass, in a nutshell... The dome will be removable, so making it nice and sturdy is going to be a challenge.

A single solitary sailor stands vigil by the actual-size plan for the engine-room dome.
The dome, somewhat stylised. In this concept drawing, much of the lower wall is also glass. This will keep the engine and lighting visible.

As you can see, this is not going to be a small piece. It will have to be constructed from a number of layers of plastic strip, rod and clear acetate, all painted and glued together in the right order. Making it strong and durable, and a perfect fit for the engine room may be tricky.

Any guesses at the rivet count for this bit?

The last bit of handrail.

Handrail in place, looking cool under moody lighting!

As for the Rivet Count this week, I've hardly added any! Each lantern has a paltry 2 rivets and I finished the last bit of handrail around the chain-drive, bringing me to a pathetic 24 for this week's total!

So: the total for the project so far is now 3,923

I know - not enough. I'll try harder next week! Promise!

Engine room and core room, wired and powered.
The core room, looking somewhat sinister!

The chain-drive pit s lit from above.

The engine room may need more lanterns...

I hope you're enjoying this project as much as I am. More very soon!

Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe, looking rather dramatic!

All the Best!


  1. Wow this is turning into a simply mind blowing project! looks outstanding. I try to avoid the old solder iron myself as I have a habit of badly burning my clumsy fingers.

    1. I know what you mean, Smillie! I hate hate hate soldering. Many a swear was swore...

      Glad you're impressed, though - that's what it's all about, after all!

  2. Slightly disappointed by the distinct lack of rivets ;) but that model is a thing of beauty, the new lighting looks fantastic. Can't wait to see the dome in place (with even more rivets!).


    1. Thanks, Matt!

      I'm hoping to make a start on the dome this weekend (long weekend for Easter - what could be better than gluing rivets on stuff?)

  3. It's an elegant piece of work - or more like art! The lighting really breathes life into it. I've seldom handled a soldering iron, but I see your point - it's no fun. I attended a panel at EctoCon (Ghostbusters fandom) in St. Louis last year which taught me the technical side. Your example shows what can be done. Thanks for sharing!

    1. A J! Good to hear from you as always.

      I suspect I might be quite good with a soldering iron by the time all this is done.

      Glad you're enjoying this one. More soon!

  4. Enjoying every update of this awesome project.


    1. ...Exactly as I had hoped, my friend!

      Thank you Hugh.

  5. The lights are fantastic, Colonel!

    1. Jay!

      Thanks - I'm really pleased with them. The engine room needs more but the core room looks awesome - if I say so myself!

      Many, many more to come.

  6. This raises it to an even higher level of utter awesomeness!

  7. Wow, its all coming together really well. Of course you will now have the clever bit if hiding the batteries and wiring!

    I concur with the soldering being a pain, it a 4 hand job! I know you can get one of those multi-crocodile clip holder thingies to help with soldering jobs, but I do it so rarely I never bothered... of course every time I do have to I wish I'd bought one!

    I was looking at my Prussians the other day, and had been pondering re-basing them on the 30mm bases from Westwind for EotD, but the thought of trying to squeeze them aboard this growing masterpiece has me deferring the idea for now...

    Back to the lights - as you wont be able to replace them, whats their typically operating life? I presume heat isn't an issue with them either?

    Keep up the good work that man!

    1. Hi Scott! Sorry I didn't make it to your place this weekend!

      All my minis are on 20mm round bases or smaller, if I can manage it. I'm making walkways 30mm wide, so 25mm would be a comfortable maximum size.

      And you might want to think about assault troops...

      The LEDs should last around 20,000 hours of use. And I ran them mounted through paper for hours as a test - no heat issues. I may get through a few batteries...

      Keeping up the good work, that other man!

  8. Only 20,000 hours? Sheesh - that means the lights are going to fail halfway through the first game.

    1. Only if you take your usual time deciding which troops to sacrifice first...

  9. This looks like it belongs in one of the displays in Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Alternate science and industry maybe, but hey still museum quality stuff!

    1. Thanks, Papa!

      Chicago's a fair trek from here. And I don't have a suitcase big enough...

  10. I see now that the walls are painted...It must have been the photographic light causing my misconception. As always a stunning piece of work. Oh for some space in my next abode so might be able to make stuff....not that it would be anywhere near that quality

    1. 'Ello again, me old mate!

      Thanks for being stunned. I like you better that way.

      My place is tiny too - and I expect to be moving to a tinier one soon! But who needs a dining table when you've got rivets? And I built Leadwood on my bed at my last place...

      The trick is to buy really small bottles of glue.

  11. Replies
    1. Thank you, Christian!

      However, pleased as I am that you are stunned, I recommend you un-stun yourself immediately. There could be nefarious foreign types lurking about...