Monday 16 March 2015

Making Life Complicated

Hi, All!

Jeeves sneaks away to the engine-section-starboard-for'ard-mid-deck gallery for a swift tipple...

I have had something of a busy week with Lord Smudginton Smythely Smythe's Hydraulically-Motorvated Sextupedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile this week, putting in around twenty-three hours of work this weekend alone!

The rear gable is built and fixed into place.

It all started innocently enough, working on a couple of the items I had resolved to finish - namely, the rear-end gable of the barrel vault roof, and four little ladders for various parts of the engine room. But then I went and got ambitious...

Ladders are constructed from plastic strips, marked at intervals for regular spacing of the rungs. And a little hatch - for later.

An unpainted ladder is checked in place.

I just can't help myself sometimes.

I won't go into too much detail about the barrel vault gable here - it was constructed in the same way as the one I discussed in last week's post. This new one is slightly less ornate, lacking the decorative discs and boasting only 193 rivets...

Four finished ladders in their final positions inside the engine room.

The ladders were simply constructed from 2mm strips of plastic board and 12mm lengths of rod. Each was checked in its position to ensure fixings were at the correct heights, before painting them and gluing them in place - the work of maybe an hour or so. They can be a little fiddly at times.

I also started messing about with severed reptile heads. After all, it's been lovely weather for it...

The first of many trophies are prepared for display.

I have decided that a large portion of the mansion section will eventually house a trophy room, full of Lord Smudgington Smythely Smythe's bizarre souvenirs from his many foreign jaunts (see also 'pillage'). The first of such treasures are three huge reptile heads, which His Lordship's trusty manservant Jeeves has lovingly scrubbed clean of plasma burns, stuffed and mounted on wooden plaques. All of these began life as horrible cheap plastic toys, at maybe a couple of dollars each. Amazing what a lick of paint can do!

The starboard corner is aggressively modified.

And then, I had an idea.

The mid-deck gallery is designed and pieced together.

I mentioned last week that I wished to add further detail to the deck section in front of the engine room, and also that I had decided that a row of portholes to depict the mid-deck was simply not enough detail. I have resolved, therefore, to depict the outer-mid-deck sections as open galleries with handrails to match the top deck. Doors and portholes within these new details will be lit from behind, hinting at further goings-on deep inside the vessel.

A hole is cut through the top deck, checked against the new detail below, and a trim is built for the edge.

I started with the Starboard front edge of the engine section, and decided to link it to the the top deck with a stairwell. This gave me the opportunity to add more pretty brass hand-rails!

The gallery - riveted and painted, waiting for a roof, hand rail and lamp post.
During this process there was a lot of checking, rechecking, modifying the existing model, rearranging, checking again... and a little bit of grumbling. Particularly when it came to soldering the LEDs. I hate soldering.

Stairs are constructed.

The walls, hand rails and other details all follow the same configuration as those of the top deck, so it was a good job I'd noted down measurments such as porthole sizes and heights from floor level and so on in my trusty notebook. There is a lot more of this to come!

The unpainted stairs are checked in place. They also have to be checked against the hole in the ceiling. I have yet to add the lamp post.

In building the stairs I had to be precise. I decided to set them at an angle of 45 degrees because it's fairly simple to work with. I planned and cut all the components at once before gluing anything, and was careful to make sure it all sat properly. One thing to be aware of with this kind of thing is that the stairs should not be made to the height of the deck alone - they have to also take into account the thickness of the ceiling and distance to floor of the deck above. This in turn effects the horizontal length of floor space required. These stairs ascend 56mm, and therefor take up 56mm of length on the floor.

The painted stairs and trim with hand rails added.

It's not as complicated as it sounds. Promise.

The ceiling is cut and detailed. A miniature structural I-beam helps to add stability - for real!

Where it got a little tricky was when I got to the ceiling. As the mid deck is now open, the ceiling is visible, so a detailed piece was needed. This meant that the gallery had to be painted and finished, the stairs glued in place in the correct position to correspond with the upper deck, the ceiling added, the required electrical wiring soldered and tucked away, then the whole thing positioned under the top deck, and finally the trim put in place... And by this point my hands were shaking, following the consumption of over two litres of coffee...

The enclosed mid-deck gallery, about to be put into place.
 ...And suddenly, there it was... Done!

All in place and looking great! From above.

I have to say, I am absolutely thrilled with how this bit turned out, and rather than being daunted at the prospect of more such pieces along both sides of the vessel, I am looking forward to seeing it take shape. It's a lot more work than a simple row of portholes, but this kind of creativity, design and challenge is what this hobby is all about for me.

The top deck by night, with a glimpse of the mid deck.

Gas lighting illuminates the stairs.

So once again, it's time for the Rivet Count!

This week I have added a nice pile of 802 rivets, bringing the total so far to:

12,119 !

I now expect the final count to easily exceed 50,000... Trying not to think about it...

All is peaceful.
As an aside, I have been asked to show sketches of the final project. So here is a recent one.
This is a concept only - as I have shown in today's post, I am designing this monstrosity as I go, and anything could happen!

Lord Smudginton Smythely Smythe's Hydraulically-Motorvated Sextupedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile - concept.

Wow - this has been a long blog post! It's time for my beauty sleep!

An officer takes his ease in the glow of a lamp post.

Much more to come -  thanks for reading.

All the Best!


  1. "Awesome" is a much-abused word ... but I cannot think of another at this moment that comes close.

    Are you sure you're still taking your medication? Hmmm??

    But well done sir!

    1. Thank you my friend! Such kind words are what keep me going on those long, rivet-infested nights!

      I think I'm still taking my medication, but the label's come off, so it could be anybody's!

  2. Absolutely amazing! When you finely complete this project, it will be something you can proudly pass down through the generations. Remarkable!

    On a slightly less awe inspiring note, have you got any secret little tips you could pass on to a fellow kitbasher about how you affix your rivets? I'm forever glueing them to my fingers & basically everywhere else their supposed to go instead of the model......I get there in the end, but by Christ it's a painful process!


    1. Thank you. I'll be sure to warn my children.

      I apply my rivets with a fine steel knitting needle. I apply glue where I want to put the rivet, touch the glue briefly with the end of the needle, and then pick up the rivet with my now sticky end, before dotting it into place. This makes it east to get into an up/down application routine - essential when you have thousands to get through!

      My fingers never touch the rivets.

      Hope that helps.

  3. I'm very intrigued by your lighting. I'm thinking of adding interior lights to a couple of the buildings in my town of Calamity. Where did you locate the on/off switch and the power? How did you go about making the lanterns?

    1. Hi Kris.

      So far, there isn't a switch - I'm using a battery pack and some crocodile clips. Eventuall, I will locate the batteries (and switch) either in the lower deck of the machine with a removable panel, or in the terrain board on which the walker will be permanently housed.

      The flickering LEDs can be found at Evil Mad Science:

      As for how I make lanterns, have a look at these earlier blog posts:

      Glad to be of assistance, my friend!

  4. Wow, wow, wow and even more wows!

  5. Yeah. That is just brilliant...and bonkers.

  6. I hope this will be entered in competitions when it's finished, it'll be too good to keep at home! When you spend all weekend working on 'hidden' detail...


    1. I have panic attacks just imagining how on earth I'd ever transport this monster...

      But maybe.

      Thank you.

  7. One can only look on in stunned amazement...

  8. OUCH! I think my jaw unhinged when it dropped. What amazing work! Your dedication to the minutae is astounding.

    1. Thanks Terry.

      It is truly satisfying to receive the accolades of my fellow hobbyists here in the safety of my blog.

      The rest of the world thinks I'm an obsessed nut job!

  9. I am awestruck- keep up the splendid work!

  10. You still have your Mojo goin'!

    1. I should bally well think so! Thank you, old bean!

  11. The lighting gives a wonderful atmosphere to the scene. I can imagine the murmur of polite conversation on deck, the clink of glassware and crockery as evening refreshments are taken, all accompanied by the gentle hiss of steam and a mild rolling motion as the machine makes its way across the savanna.

    Excellent work, as always!

    1. Thank you AJ! I often imagine such things as polite conversation and refreshments... Mainly because I don't get out much! These rivets aren't going to count themselves, you know!

  12. Wow! You're back with a revenge! Absolutely, incredibly marvelous work of art, dedication and love.

    1. And revenge is a dish best served with rivets, my friend!

      Thank you. Kind words.

  13. This is so wonderfully, amazingly bonkers that you'll both go mad from the effort and be appropriately rewarded by Her Majesty with an OBE! Huzzah!

    Yours in a white wine sauce,

    1. I'm glad you think so, Paul! Many others might argue that I've already gone mad, just thinking about building this bloomin' thing!

      Huzzah to you too, Sir!

  14. Have you thought of curving the ends of the banister rails on your stairs? ("I'll try anything to delay the completion of the Hydraulically-Motorvated Sextupedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile" - The Nefarious Doktor Nefarious)