Monday 31 December 2018

Boiler's In The Bag

Hi, All!

Since it's the holidays, I've had plenty of time to progress with my steam-powered stargate project.

Steam powered stargate, starting to take shape...

Having made reasonable progress on the gate itself, I shifted my attentions to the boiler and chimney. And, as I've been out of practice for a while, I referred back to my earlier HMSW Gargantua project from time to time...

The boiler from HMSW Gargantua.
The boiler is a real back-to-basics model, made from the old classics of a cardboard tube (from Christmas wrapping paper) the lid of a wine bottle and various scraps and off-cuts. It's important when working with rough materials such as these that you keep in mind the end result, as things can look pretty scrappy until the paint goes on. It's easy to get disheartened.

A base of scrap card, a piece of cardboard tube and a bottle top. Hi tech indeed!
A framework is quickly put together.

"Chin up, old chap," I said to myself, "See the shape - not the materials!" And sure enough, it started to come together.

The basic structure. A red button joins the furnace to the boiler.

Details start to be added. Another stone base is fashioned from card.

As I was basically making a modified version of the Gargantua boiler I'd already invented, this piece wasn't particularly taxing. Indeed, the danger was that I found myself rushing it - and I may yet add more details. Of course, there will be plenty of rivets!

The main boiler details in place. I may still make changes.

Additional details are added.

Finally, having reached an almost-done point, I set the boiler aside for a bit to come back to it later. I find that this is a very useful practice, as you tend to notice small errors and areas for improvement when you come back with fresh eyes.

So the chimneys got some attention...

Details are slowly added to one of the chimneys, which is mounted on a plastic board block and cardboard stone base.

Firstly, I decided that although the effect of two chimneys 'framing' the approach to the gate was quite cool, it wasn't right. The machine only needs one chimney. Also, the candlesticks were just a little too curvy in places.

Masking tape fills the curves...

So I ditched one candlestick, and carefully filled in some of the curves on the other, also adding some banding in places, using slim strips of masking tape wrapped around and around until the desired thickness was reached.

Starting to look much better!

I had also built blocks for mounting the chimneys. these are supposed to be iron, but the detailing I'd added so far wasn't right. So I needed to make a few changes. Simple 4mm strips of plastic easily changed the appearance to something more machiney.

Having fun with this one!

So there you go for now... Next up are the stairs and walkway that will lead into the stargate, more work on the gate itself, and of course, plenty of rivets!

All the Best!

Saturday 29 December 2018

Step Inside...

Hi All!

Candlesticks and a great big copper thingummy? This modern technology stuff is truly baffling!

Since I appear to have come out of retirement, I thought I should dig through my various boxes of accumulated bits and bobs, to see what I could find and get going on a new project.

And blow me down if I didn't find a big coppery magnety transformerish thingumabob.

A Mark XII thingummy. Obviously.

"Gadzooks!" I exclaimed, "It's a miniaturised steam-powered stargate! I wondered where that had gone..."

And so began a new build...

For this set-piece, I will be creating the stargate itself, a couple of chimneys, a boiler, a plinth for the gate and a stair and gantry. And a plethora of tubes, pipes, cables and so on.

The rough layout is mapped out.

I shall start with the gate and plinth.

The thingummy on its own is a fantastic bit of work, with loads of iron and exposed copper - but the plastic insulation, dirty string and bits of insulated wire had to go. This took half an hour or so. What bits of plastic I couldn't remove were then hidden behind strips of black card.

Plastic insulation is removed to expose the copper beneath.

The plinth begins.

The plinth is a lid from a clear plastic box, adorned with bits of card and plastic board. This makes it strong enough to take the considerable weight of the gate. I gradually added details such as loops to anchor cables to the gate later on, and cut a stone base from some thick card.

Stones are cut randomly, freehand.

The plinth and base.

Loops on the plinth and stargate will be joined by cables later.

As I was working on the plinth, I was also adding panels to the outside of the gate - rivets will of course be applied later! I also created a circular framework for the rear of the stargate, as the copper wire on this side was a little dented and damaged from removing various electrical components.

Panels of black card are added.

A plastic frame is quickly constructed.
So there you go for now... I'm heading back to the table to carry on with this one! The gate should be done fairly quickly and I can move on to the other components. Watch this space!

What an exciting pile of discarded rubbish!

All the Best!

Thursday 27 December 2018

Still Floating Around...

Hi, All!

Returning slowly, but in style...

Remember me? Good grief! I thought I'd take a short break from all this blogging stuff and I'll be damned if it didn't turn into three years!

First of all, let me thank everyone who sent emails and inquiries over the last couple of years regarding my whereabouts, health, etc., or expressing their wishes that I should continue with my creations and this blog. I hope my latest piece will satisfy you all!

"Oh, get on with it, Colonel," I hear you cry...

Concept sketch.

Just like most VSF/Steampunk enthusiasts, I had often toyed with ideas for an airship of some description, but it was always just another idea on the list until a friend commissioned me to make one for him. "Rivets and stuff?" I mused, "For money? Good Lord!"

So dusted off the old tools, replaced all the paints that had turned to plastic in their pots, and got on with creating.

Two steel light shades provide the main structure.

The first question I had to address was how to make the balloon - how big, how to get the right shape, and also because I'm incapable of keeping my mouth shut if an idea is trying to get out, I'd suggested that, "Wouldn't it be great if I built lighting into it too...?"

Bloomin' idiot!

Plastic board completes the shape, while a nice chunky computer fan adds a rear propeller.
Low voltage wires are installed to hang the model from, as well as providing power to hidden LED strips. A broken LED lamp and a golf tee become the nose cone.

I looked at various options and finally settled on two light shades joined together, exactly how I had created the rocket ship in my last post. However, this combination alone wasn't quite right as it didn't really allow for large cabins/gondolas, etc., so I added a collar of plastic board in between them. A big fat computer fan (no, not Nigel...) was added as a propeller. The base of a broken LED lamp became the nose cone.

Side gantries are constructed.

Now it was time to add the interesting bits.

I started with the side gantries, which I constructed from plastic board. The wood work was textured using heavy sandpaper, then planks were defined by scoring/scraping with a knife held at 90° to a straight-edge. Ping-pong balls were cut and poked through holes in the end panels to create domes, and finally the port-holes were made from disposable contact lens cases.

Let there be light!
I had wired LED strips in place earlier. The gantries were laid on over these and... OOPS! Everything glowed! Planks, metalwork, the lot! I realised that it would take far too many coats of paint to cut out the light that was diffusing beautifully though the white plastic - so I poured myself a wee drink, took a breath, and pulled it all apart again.

The basic structure complete and card bands glued on. As you can see, light is still getting through in some areas at this stage.

Oh, well. It's a learning curve, innit?

The answer was to line everything with black card. Or, in the case of the bits I hadn't built yet, to make them from card first, then finish them with plastic. Windows were made from acetate sheet, frosted by sanding it with very fine sandpaper.

Rivets! Rivets, I tell you! Hahahahahaa!

After that, the rest of the construction was fairly straightforward - and it wasn't long before I was gluing on rivets! Just like old times...

A bridge provides a nerve-wracking means of moving between the fore- and aft- gondolas...

The model starts to look nice and solid with the generous application of rivets...

Somewhat comically small wings provide a means of steering the vessel.

A bottle cap adds an extra touch to the rear propeller.

Needless to say, this took some time... Until, finally, I was ready to start painting the bugger!

I didn't want to use dark, heavy colours for this one, and I knew I wanted lots of copper. So I started with a brown undercoat everywhere, then applied base colours for wood, copper, steel and canvas.

Base colours go on. I'm not bothered about tidiness at this stage. Everything can be fixed later and windows will be scraped clean. 
Wood tones were finished first.

Copper is tidied up, the windows are scraped clean, and the model starts to look finished!

I admit, I started to get a bit excited at this point, as it really started coming together. I was particularly pleased with the wood tone.

Once the painting is done, handrails are added to the bridge...

...and the rear balcony.

Grey and silver highlighting gives a nice feeling of weight to the engine block.

Once all the colours were on and mistakes corrected, I finished off the woodwork by washing with dark brown ink, then highlighting with an almost fleshy sand tone. The copper paint was generously daubed with chestnut ink. This was messy, thank to the rounded shape of the balloon - every stray drop ran for miles! Consequently, the canvas had to be painted and repainted until it was nice and white.

Nose cone detail.

Very interestingly, the constant painting, repainting and highlighting of the canvas actually resulted in a rough canvas-like finish! An accident? Or sheer genius? Hmmm... Probably the former!

And all of a sudden,  there it was! Done!

Rivet count on this fine fellow..
1,866 !

Atmospheric, innit!

Light through the small windows in the cabin doors nicely illuminates the bridge.

The rear balcony.

Night flying!

Wish I owned one of these...

Sailing away to new adventures...

I hope you've enjoyed this post! I'll try to bring you more in the not-too-distant future!

All the Best!