Monday, October 29, 2012

Fort William Henry Project Update - Fort Complete!

Fort William Henry is complete.  I might go back and add a few rocks and a British Flag at some point but for now the fort is complete with sturdy base.  I've left the fort separate for now so I can more easily store and transport it as a whole.  I put an MDF backing on the rear of the base to protect the foam - the sand should protect the top of the foam well.  I'm afriad the model is a big drab ... the only color really comes from the grass.  I'm starting into painting the fort guns ... I figure once they are on it and the crews are done that should help brighten things up.

Don't mind the mess ... I haven't cleaned up the garage/game room for a little bit and all the sanding of plaster and MDF has left a real mess (along with all the other crap I have laying about).

The rear span is just about five and a half feet long with the forward running sides measuring about four and a half feet each ... this sucker takes up some space ... can't imagine if I did the whole fort where I would put it.

I hope you've enjoyed the series about the fort.  I'll being doing a post or two on the French artillery position and engineering trenches as the next projects for the LotM scenario.

I'm about to hit a bit of a rut however ... Tuesday is my wifes birthday, the next day is Halloween, then from November 4-8 I'm in Las Vegas for work quickly followed by Dublin, Ireland from November 11-17 again for work.  Then it's Thanksgiving in the US ... fortunately I'm off that week so I can clean up the place for that and perhaps get a game in or at least make some progress on my projects.  I'm also expecting to have my next wave of FIW painted by then along with some Bolt Action stuff (1000pt starter armies for British and German).  For any regular readers fear not --- I'm going to attempt to queue up some articles I can post while I'm travelling.

Best regards,


Friday, October 26, 2012

French Artillery Position

While waiting for the glue to dry for all the sand on Fort William Henry I decided to get a start into the French artillery position/redoubt that will face the fort and host the mightly French 24 pounders (four of them to be exact).  I'm still waiting on additional gabions to arrive from Front Rank (they've been dispatched and should arrive this coming week) but I have enough to get a start. 

Up first was figuring out how big each gun platform should be.

The general idea was to have a cascading platform for the four guns that was "dug" into a small hill.  I used the normal blue foam, MDF, mapboard and balsa wood (dowels and planks) to build out the structure.  I used the Tippi foam cutter once again and was very pleased with the results.  For the foam I cut out the general shape then used sandpaper to smooth it all out.  Lastly I applied plaster (still drying in the picture) to grade the hill some more.

A little sanding after the plaster is dry and the hill is ready for sand ... although I'll hold off until I build out the front of the gun positions with the gabions.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fort William Henry Project Update #6

The end is nigh!  I've made major progress on the base and the palisade fence is complete.  I little bit of sanding left to do with the foam edges then it is on to sand and paint.  I've got lots of left over tree bases from woodland scenics so I'll be using those as stumps around the open ground on the base (with some rocks).  The Tippi foam cutter did the trick and was awesome for this project.

Unboxing the Tippi foam cutter.

The Tippi foam cutter with all the blades that are included.  I used the wide round blade for the trenches.

I put the fort down on the foam and used a black marker to outline it and mark the trench area.

First trench with some sanding done.

Showing the "first cuts" with the foam cutter ... it takes a few runs to get the trench deep and wide enough.

Foam glued to the MDF base.  Note the total area was larger than the standard MDF/foam size so the ends and "front" are additions to the main piece.

Starting the palisade fencing.

I used a dotted line to guide the fence line.

Fence complete.

The next update will be the last as I will be done --- and I hope to wrap this up within days ... I still have some time today to get some more done and I figure a couple of weeknights should about do it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

4Ground WW2 Buildings

While I wait for my foam cutter to arrive I decided to start in on some of my 4Ground buildings I've picked up for my 28mm WW2 gaming using the Bolt Action ruleset.  I say "WW2" in the title since that is what I'm using them for - but just as it says on the 4Ground website the buildings were common from the 18th century onward.

I bought my buildings from Warlord Games and I have the following:

(1) Detached House 1
(1) Damaged Detached House 1
(1) Right Hand Semi 1
(1) Mid Terrace 1
(1) Damaged Mid Terrace 1
(1) Left Hand Semi 1
(2) Damaged Left Side Semi 1

There is no damaged "right hand" semi -- you just use the damaged "end terrace" (Warlord Games calls it this) or two of the damaged left side semi as it is listed on the 4Ground website (turn it around for the right side of the row).

I must say that overall 4Ground has created a top notch, nay, spectacular product line here.  Pre-painted (not costing thousands of dollars) with interior details and functioning doors.  They look good in the pictures and I'm happy to report that they look even better in person.  For the price, which isn't that much for scenery, it is prehaps one of the best, if not the best products available for this period today. 

Now I'm going to nit pick a bit here around assembly but don't let that detract from the awesomeness of this stuff.  This is about as close to lego as I think we'll get for a quality looking piece of terrain.

As each building contains instructions with pictures I'm not going to show the entire process here.  I'll try to give you a feel for the assembly of the buildings and cover any "gotchyas" that I came across while assembling the detached house and damaged detached house (which is as far as I've gotten at this point).

Detached House 1

First I'll have to admit to being impatient.  You really should use standard PVA or "white" glue to assemble the buildings.  I used super glue but you have to be extremely careful with for a couple of reasons:
  1. Super glue dries quickly and some of the parts need a little coaching so you need to move very fast while not damaging the parts.  If the glue dries before you can get the parts in place you are going to have a bad day as the MDF will separate when you try to correct the mistake.
  2. Glue on your fingers that hits the painted parts will either pull the paint off the MDF or leave a big ugly glue mark that you can try to scrap off if you so desire.
So, in short, if using super glue be careful (duh).

Other than glue all I really needed was an exacto knife ... not because I had to cut anything but rather to help position parts in areas my big fat fingers can't fit.  For the non-damaged versions of the houses you can use a rubber band to wrap around the four walls when completing each floor.  This is critical if using PVA glue but far less so if you are using super glue.  Regardless, I had a rubber band just in case.  You can see below the tools that I used are ready for action.  It helps to have a small rag or paper towel to wipe away excess glue.

I didn't take step-by-step pictures of this building.  I knew I was going to muck something up so I figured I would get through it and show the results.  I'll list out the issues I had as I went along.  Here are the completed pictures after I was done.

That is a ladder in one of the rooms ... to get to the attic.
As you can see, the interior detail is excellent for wargaming.  It isn't cramped with details that will get in the way.  The structure is clean and the rooms are defined.  The staircase is just plain awesome.  After assembly I was left with some parts on the sprues that I couldn't figure out what they were intended for in the assembly. 
These four sprues have a "sliver" each of an extra part visible in the middle of the picture above.  They are not labelled (as the others are) and I couldn't determine what the heck it could be used for on the building.  Not critical to the end result but a bit of a mystery (I'll have to email 4Ground to ask them).

The brick parts above are a lovely touch --- you don't have to use all of them --- you can, or just use some (or none).  The two - what I can only call "window frames" (?) fell into the same category of not being able to figure out what the heck there are or how they fit into the building.

The garbage pile after assembly.

The first page of assembly instructions.  Lots of pictures with accompanying text.  My grips here are that the pictures are not numbered (although they follow a progression) and the text above and beneath the pictures is a "run on" description of what to do at a high level and isn't tied specifically to specific pictures (the general area around the text, but no specifics).

The general assembly process flows well, however some of the details are missing and the resolution of the pictures is insufficient to make a determination.  Fortunately my son was playing with his magnifying glass at the time so I borrowed it and made a best guess after experimenting with the parts in question (more to come on this in a sec).
If you have any level of modeling skills and can follow instructions you should really be just fine ... yes, you'll have to think about of couple of the steps, but for the most part the components only go together one way --- so if you are forcing it you should verify you are doing it the correct way.  That aside, watch out for the following:
  • Some of the pictures are actually "split" pictures showing two sides of the same object.  Because the background is the same and both sides of the object are very similar it is easy to mistake it for a single part and get confused looking for something that doesn't exist in the kit.
  • The orientation of the floors (after laying all the parts around the sides in one step) changes between pictures and the way the parts were shown (the sides they were on) in one picture may not be the sides they are used on in the next as the floor orientation has changed.  Look closely at each picture.
  • I haven't confirmed this absolutely - but I think some of the parts pictured in the steps had labels that didn't match the labels on the sprues ... but it wasn't a big deal as it was easy to figure out which ones you needed based on the picture.
  • When you are assembling the staircase --- don't put the very last part on (the one that sticks up into the second floor) until you complete the interior walls as that part will get in the way of the interior wall sections (prior to them being installed).
  • The doors all look the same but there is a mix of some that are "hinged" on the right and some of the left.
  • The door knobs look a bit like a "U" - you can't tell in the pictures how to attach them -- the open end of the U slides into the gap in the door (wrapping around the door itself).  See below for an example of a "completed" door.
Damaged Detached House 1

I figured now that I had put one of these babies together I was all set ... no screw ups this time ... but alas, my arogance did leave me in one pickle (the staircase ... wait for it). 
I started with opening the bag and pulling out the instructions ... so far so good on this one.
I sorted out all the parts by their "type" or colour.

This little part broke off --- don't be alarmed ... it is supposed to come off and is an area that will show brickwork.  It isn't necessary to keep it on for the assembly of the walls.

The first floor.  The painted sides face outwards as these are the exterior walls.  You'll see interior walls attached later.

In the non-damaged version this is the point at which that rubber band would come in handy --- not something you can do for this one due to the gap in the structure.

Here you can see the completed outside/inside walls.  The outside walls use the 3mm MDF while the inside walls use the 2mm MDF thickness.  What is very slick about this is that not only are the inside walls now also painted but the glue (glue lines) is hidden between the outside and inside walls.

See that little part that broke off prior to assembly didn't matter - filled with brick once the interior side of the walls were done.

At this point you work the interior walls and staircase.

You start with the staircase.  It goes together quickly which is very nice.  My forthcoming boneheaded move involved the top stair - which you can see at the top of the above photo.  That top stair actually sticks up into the floor of the second story.

I assembled the stairs completely (note that the instructions don't show the top stair attached at this point ... for good reason ... but I'm a pro now so I don't need to do that ...)

I proceed to slap the staircase into the first floor ... I'm rocking now ... or so I think.

Oh shit.  I have to put a wall behind that staircase that must be anchored into the outside wall.  Since yours truely put that top stair on that is now impossible.  I had to rip it off (the glue wasn't completely dry) and do the inside wall then get the top stair on quickly before the remaining stair glue dried and cause a "hump" under the part.  Note to self --- follow instuctions no matter how experienced (ha! - I've put a total of one ... yes one of these together at this point) you think you might be at something.  Ok, moving on ... lesson learned. 
In the picture above you can see the completed first floor.  The other floors all follow the same process.  You can see the completed version below, with attached debris that is provided along with the building kit.

This part, although the instructions show you how to make it, don't tell you where to put it.  I tried to figure it out but it remains a mystery --- another question for 4Ground.
That is about it without making this a small novel about putting something togther that comes with instructions.  Next up I'll be picking away at the six remaining buildings I have while I wait for my foam cutter to resume my Fort William Henry efforts.  I'll say that it takes about 1.5-2 hours per house when you are paying attention.
Until next time - happy gaming!