Monday 1 April 2013

Givin' It More Gas!

Hi, All!

Night time on board the walker.

I hope you've all had a great Easter weekend with plenty of unhealthy things.

I decided to dedicate my time off work to making some good progress on the engine room. And so I did. Unfortunately, the work I embarked upon was so detailed and fiddly that when all is said and done, it doesn't really look like much at all...

The walls are cut out twice to give inner- and outer-pieces.

One of the problems I knew I would have to deal with sooner or later was how to hide the wiring for my LED lanterns when putting the lanterns on walls which could be seen from both sides. Thus far, the core room and the engine room had been easy, as I wasn't showing what was beyond the walls... But now I was faced with the upper level of the engine room - outside which is the main deck.

Lanterns on the interior starboard wall.

The answer was obvious - but presented challenges. The wiring has to be hidden inside the walls. The difficulty here is that even an extra milimeter's thickness represents 60mm of iron in real life. I would have to keep the cavity within the walls to an absolute minimum depth.

The reverse of the interior starboard wall, before being closed in. In this case, I experimented with guitar string - but it proved very difficult to solder so I chose to strip copper wire from its insulation instead.

I elected to construct the walls from 0.5mm plastic board in three layers - inner and outer walls and a largely hollow layer as a cavity. (This would also enable me to lay the acetate sheeting for porthole glass within the walls, rather than trying to stick circles inside the portholes afterwards).

The finished interior starboard wall. Now to finish the exterior...
So began a complicated process. Each wall had to be cut twice, making sure portholes and doors lined up perfectly. Lanterns had to be constructed, pushed through the wall, soldered to stripped copped wire (insulation made it too thick) and then the walls had to be closed up...

All this and rivets too!

Soon-to-be lamp-posts are wired.

I didn't want the lanterns outside on the deck to look the same as those inside, so I designed a 'lamp-post' look. Here, I was able to run one insulated wire inside the post and a thinner bare wire behind the post, in a slot I created on the surface of the wall.

Lamp-post takes shape.

This is obviously easier than hiding wires inside walls, and it looks nice and bulky too. I added a little round bead to each lamp-post to finish the top of the tube nicely, and painted the posts in with the rest of the wall.

Outer port (above) and starboard (below) walls. A dirty wash of black and rust ink has been liberally applied to the starboard wall. I will highlight over this fairly heavily.

Speaking of painting, it has been suggested by some followers of this project that the machine doesn't look dirty enough - and I agree. I started out wanting a clean and shiny look, but for realism, dirty would have been better. Sadly, I have decided not to try 'weathering' the interior of the engine room - the likelyhood of ruining the paint job and/or damaging the model is just too great. BUT... I have decided to make sure the exterior looks nice and gritty.

Pens are butchered... Don't worry. I've kept all the useful bits.

The finished coach-lantern.

Once the painting was done, I finished off the lamp-posts by cutting the ends off some pens and gluing them over the LED to create a coach-light effect. I think they look sufficiently different to the interior lights.

The starboard wall, in place.

The starboard wall from inside - wired and working!

Now the first finished wall was glued into place, having made holes for all the wires, and it was back to the soldering iron... sigh...

I suppose I should give you all this week's Rivet Count...

Having finished the starboard wall inside and out, and half of the port wall, I have added a total of 636 rivets since last week, bringing the total so far to:

4,559 !

Not bad...

Anyway, suffice it to say that I got bored of rivets at around about 600, and turned my attention to the front wall of the engine room.

The front wall is started.

I wanted this to be a little different to the other walls,  and to fit in with the huge glass dome I will shortly be constructing over the engine room. I also wanted to to leave plenty of glass through which the engine may be viewed.

Rectangles quickly become arches.

In Victorian manner, I deemed that the big windows should be arched. I have lots of curvy off-cuts from stamping out porthole frames which were perfect for filling in square corners to create arches...

The exterior front wall, waiting for rivets and lamp-posts

This wall will also have lamp-posts and an interior lantern, so it was constructed in layers, also incorporating two large pieces of clear acetate as glass. By building the wall up from differing strips of plastic, I was able to create a dynamic and interesting design with very little hard work. All that remain to be added are a few hundred rivets...

The front wall, unfinished, propped in place.

The engine room.

So there you go! The starboard wall is done, the port wall just requires a couple of hundred rivets and some paint and the front wall is nearing completion. Now I'll have to decide what to do at the back of the vehicle!

By lamplight, the front wall looks almost done...

Albert Finch, of the Bank of London, scrutinises his investment.

More soon!

The engine room by gaslight.

All the Best!


  1. It's not often that I use those confounded Americanisms but "OMG" springs to mind everytime I see the next bit of progress on this model.

    Obviously it varies depending upon what you are doing but what thickness of plastic sheet are you using?

    1. Thank you.

      Crass though it may be, OMG will suffice...

      The bulk of the model so far has been built using 0.5mm thick sheet. I find this is nice and easy to work with, cuts with a clean edge, is easy to hole-punch, and of course, it's cheaper than 1mm!

      Additionally, working on a scale of 1:60, a single thickness of 0.5mm represents 30mm in real life - more than an inch of steel! Any thicker would start to be too bulky.

  2. My goodness Colonel, I think I'm falling in love with your creation - a thing of beauty and no mistake. Those atmospheric shots at the end - just wow!

    1. Thank you, Michael!

      It is praise such as that which keeps me going when the pile of as-yet-unglued rivets seems insurmountable...

      Of course, I won't be building a cute face onto this one!

  3. The work might be fiddly, and not easily visible after completion, but it's all part of the detail that make this such a splendid model. The photos show how the lighting really comes into its own. I'm looking forward to more. :)

    1. Thanks, A J!

      Yes - I'm thrilled with the way the lighting has turned out so far. Well worth the fiddly bits!

      More very, very soon. I promise!

  4. This labour of love will no doubt be of particular interest to the Esteemed Gentlemen at the London Institute for Amazing Rivetted Creations. In the meantime allow me to tip my hat to your resourcefulness and pour you a generous G&T for your inspirational work Sir!

    Yours in a White Wine Sauce

    1. G&T Sir? I'm more of a port man meself...

      My thanks. I'm starting to see rivets in my sleep, so it had better all be worth it!

      Glad to inspire!

      All the Best!

  5. If you are not careful, Colonel, this device is gonna work! Beautiful modeler's workmanship! This is where I come to be reminded how much I don't know about building things.

    1. You're too kind, Jay!

      I don't know much either - I'm making all this up as I go!

  6. I am beginning to wonder how many times I can keeping adding the word 'speechless' to this series of blog updates? Clearly not nearly enough!

    1. Thank you, Scott.

      It really is about time you came over for a beer and saw all this stuff for yourself!

  7. As I've said before, museum quality. And who looks at a pen tip and thinks "ooh coach lights"? Mad Genius, you are.

    1. Museum quality? Me?? Are you calling me a relic, Sir?

      Doesn't everybody look at pens and see coach lanterns? How odd...