Thursday, 21 March 2013

Steam Contraption Thingie

Thanks for those who got in touch with me with suggestions when I said the other day that I wasn't quite sure what to do with the steamtank  I'd acquired.  Thanks also for not pointing out that it's not a steamtank, but a steam-armoured-car!  For reasons I'll explain in a minute, I'm now referring to it as the Steam Contraption.

As I've made my mind up, and as it's actually almost completed, I thought I'd do an update.

The illustration from the manufacturer's website

My first thought was to see what (ideas I could steal from the Internet) inspiration I could get from other people's efforts.  As you see above, Ironclad Miniatures have gone with battleship grey with a brass dome on the boiler.  Although I like the brassiness, I'm not too keen on the grey, so I carried on looking.

Most people seem to have gone for generic tank colours, in either green or desert shades.  I didn't want to do this, as it seemed a bit too modern, post-WWI and, dare I say, it Real World.  There is also a tendency amongst some to add mud and rust 'to give verisimilitude'.  Now mud is fine (even the horses pick up mud, after all), but in my world there is always a Jimmy-Number-One in the Naval Brigade or a BQMS giving merry hell to the poor sod who lets his kit stay dirty.  Rust would give them apoplexy!  [In defence of Maud in the picture below, the concept there is that she belongs to an irregular faction in the Very British Civil War of 1938.]

These are some of my favourites from what I was able to find.
Top left is HMLS Suffolk from Victoria's Boys in Red, bottom left is Maud from Heredforshire 1938 and
bottom right from Tobsen77.  Apologies to the owner of the WWI camo pic - I didn't note where it was from.

 But I wanted something a more Steamy and Victorian - I suppose a little more brass-goggle-ly.

I had a little look at some pictures of Late Victorian artillery pieces, but that only confirmed my impression that they came in a nice shade of gray-blue (influenced by the naval brigades?).  Not impressive enough for my purposes!

At this point The Wife said "You have to consider what your purposes are.  What would it be used for?"  "Exactly," I answered enthusiastically  "a paint-job that's geared towards battling Martian tripods in Berkshire isn't going to be much use on the return leg on Mars or fighting Selenites on the Moon..."  At this point I saw the look She was giving me (she believes that wargaming should be demilitarised) and decided not to expand on my conceit of an Italy where the Risorgimento didn't take place, the Papal States survived, Cardinal Manning was elected Pope Charles and then sent the Swiss Guard to participate in Scramble for Mars.

"No," She sighed "is it like a tank, or more of a traction engine?" 

This got me thinking.  Steam-tank was out and  the Steam Contraption Thingie was born.  I'd already toyed with the idea of Flying Scotsman green with brass, so I agreed with her that a VSF Admiralty would consider camouflage "damn'd un-British and underhand!".  We had a look at traction engines and decided that they were just the biscuit.

I quite like the paint-scheme of the one on the right, but when I tried my Vallejo 'Hull Red' it came out more of a mucky brown.

I'm afraid that because of camera difficulties I'm going to have to do 1,000 words rather than a single picture, but to cut a long story short, the Steam Contraption (and here you may have to refer back to the pic at the top of the page) ended up painted black.  The boiler dome, door fittings and window-frames are in brass.  Having done that, we decided (by now it was 'We' making the decisions!) to go the whole hog and pick out the rivets in brass (though I've never seen the Golden Rivet).  The wheels have followed the traction engine model and are in red (though I'm a little undecided on this).  She is still armed, and the Maxim is in gun-metal.  The result is quite pleasing.

The Steam Contraption Thingie has developed a personality, and consideration has to be given to naming her.  Any suggestions anybody?  I think The Empress (of Mars?) is suitably grandiose.

One of the off-shoots of this is that The Wife, who is interested in Steampunk and tolerates my miniatures being on the kitchen table, has had a look at VSF modelling.  She is suitably taken aback by Colonel O'Truth's blog and this morning found us discussing his method for hand-producing rivets!  "You should start saving bits of boxes and packaging rather than throwing them away" She said, frugally.  So I told her about the gash bin in the shed that contains all the things I've salvaged from the re-cycling pile.

I fear there is no hope for us and we will soon be as mad (though not as talented) as the Colonel!


A little bird tells me that the Victorian army used steam contraption thingies in the Boer War.  The Fowler B.5 Armoured Road Locomotive was designed and built by traction engine builder John Fowler & Coof Leeds.  The armour proved a success (most of it was canabalised to make armoured trains), but as a practical vehicle the Fowlers were limited by their large consumption of coal and water, and the fact that they had no off-road capability.

The Fowler armored road train of 1900
A Fowler Armoured Road Locomotive

A model of the Fowler is produced by Old Glory in the States.  It looks as it could be interesting, though the front wheels seem odd.
Old Glory's Fowler

All this serves to remind me of something I thought about the Empress earlier today though: she really could do with a tender.

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