EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The 3rd R or Whittling as a way of Coping with Naval Reductions

Ever since I built HMS Reuse & Recycle, I've been aware of various design short comings. The most critical is that they need a minimum of 12" of sea room to not look silly.  Once upon a time I had thought of producing such a thing, or of borrowing an idea from Joe Morschauser and creating a mobile sea platform at table height which could be moved around the table with the ships on it. Neither of those is likely to ever come to be with the result that I am reluctant to make as much use of these steamers as I might.

A less important failure is that they don't look as much like a lake steamer such as HMS Experiment  as they might.  In particular, I had been unable at the time to scrounge suitable materials for twin smoke stacks so ended up with one over size one but I also messed up by making the whole deck as wide as the paddle wheel housing. This was due partly to lack of tools and ideas but mostly to mis-interpreting one of the interior illustrations in Guns Across the River. Having been watching the toy ship building on various blogs but especially Bob Cordery's HMS Empress, I decided I ought to be capable of doing better.  So I sketched out a template and compared it to a river section. A 6" length looked like it would fit while the beam had to be as wide as an infantry stand but need not be wider.

 Of course building meant not only making a design but scrounging materials. My eye fell on the existing fleet, I would have to decide what to do with my existing steamers. I don't have enough storage to lightly hang on to things I don't foresee using and the existence of a steamer that would fit on one of my rivers and look like maybe it could turn around at a wide spot would mean that the old ones would probably  never be used at all. Looking at the Reuse and the Recycle soon led me to the logical conclusion to "Reduce" them!

The sister ships HMS Recycle after refitting and HMS Reuse waiting for her turn.      

A little experimentation showed me that my new design could be cut from the existing hulls without dislodging the paddle wheel housings. The house wouldn't be exactly what I had in mind but, "close enough". I was once again bemoaning my lack of a band saw but having recently read about the creation of a tree on Steam Steel and Torpedoes, realized that I don't really need one, just a work bench, clamp and a coping saw. OK I don't have any of those either but I'm planning on a work bench and I'll be very surprised if a coping hand saw isn't cheaper than a band saw so it may be in reach. In the mean time, I had a hand saw, an exacto knife, some sand paper and my wargames table. I cut the deck down, whittled a rough curve then sanded it, added dowelling funnels with stay from wire, and a wheel house froma  scrap of wood. Belatedly I realized that sanding the wood and sealing it would have improved the finish but there we are. Two hours later, HMS Recyle emerged from drydock, refit complete and looking better than ever.  Eventually the Reuse will also be refitted but for now the Recycle will do.

It was only after she was ready that I realized that the reduced Recycle could now do double duty.


  1. Excellent Ross! Your modelling is a constant source of inspiration.

  2. Hi Ross,

    Very nice indeed! Now that is a novel way to solve a problem and no mistake! I like the names - very appropriate!

    All the best,


  3. Splendid models thanks for posting them!

  4. Ross Mac,

    I think that your remodelled ship looks great ... Not only smaller than the original, but also better looking.

    All the best,