Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A River Runs Through It -- ALMOST!!!

It was a busy Summer here at the Maiwand Day House.  The 3 kids were busy, my wife was busy, and -- between work, family, and the dreaded JURY DUTY -- I was very busy.  The only one not too busy was our dog, Sam (who I happen to have a 28mm version of for use on the tabletop).

But I'm happy to say I wan't been TOO BUSY to keep working on the Logar River terrain boards for my Charasiab layout.

As already seen on this blog, the two 2'x2' square boards are pretty much done, except for pouring on several layers of the all-important clear resin, but for those who may be interested, here are a ton-and-a-half of pics showing how they first got built...

Before you look at them I should say I made some BIG MISTAKES on this project, first and foremost among them being moving forward with the supplies I had on hand, specifically: 1/4" thick molding which I ripped down to 2" high and then proceeded to use for framing these boards.

I cannot emphasize enough how WRONG-HEADED A MOVE this was!!!  Please, please, please, do not do this yourself!!!

What I should have done -- and what I have since done for building the 6'x2' Kabul River board for the other end of this lay-out -- was to go out and buy some 3/4" thick molding for the same purpose.

As you can probably guess, the tolerances when working with 1/4" thick material are slim to minimal, and considering that I don't have anything close to a wood-shop at home and that I am no cabinet-maker -- in fact with apologies in advance to any and all cobblers who might reading this, my father (of Blessed Memory), who was a somewhat accomplished cabinet-maker, would have referred to me as a "shoemaker," in the worst sense of the term -- it was an extremely more difficult process than it would have been if only I had gone out and bought some appropriately thicker framing material.

But it turned out okay in the end, PLUS I SWEAR I LEARNED MY LESSON and will never again attempt anything so stupid, even though I have a stack of matching pre-cut 1/4" river ends sitting in my office.  I will -- not -- use -- them -- ever!!!  Only the nice thicker pieces which are SO MUCH EASIER to frame up!

Anyway, now that that's out of my system, please enjoy what follows!!!

The first step was to mock up the path of the river with some Miniature World Maker latex river sections...


Then I laid out a pair of 2'x2' blue styrofoam boards...


...and marked off 6" wide river paths terminating at the center of the boards...




One board's river channel flows straight, the other makes a 90-degree turn like the real Logar River at this spot on the map...




Next came the start of my demise, though I did not know it at the time...

I wanted these boards to have wooden frames to better protect the resin river edges.  I should have gone out and bought some 1" thick -- or at least 1/2" thick -- battens or moldings for that purpose.  Instead I used the material I had on hand, which was 1/4" thick molding.  In the event, this left me with such small tolerances -- or "room for error" -- it made the build process from this point on much more difficult and frustrating than it should have been.

If you plan to build similar terrain boards, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND using a thicker gauge of wood for the frames!

First I had to trim the 2'x2' boards to make room for the width of the wood frame.  Since the frame pieces were only 1/4" thick, this meant trimming 1/2" from two perpendicular sides of each board.  I did this using a pair of clamps and a pair of yardsticks to create a cutting guide and then slicing the foam off with a sharp kitchen knife...










Gang-cut by taping the frame pieces together with masking tape before putting them under the scroll-saw...


 



With the 30-degree river ends cut out, the framing continues...


Now it's time to dig out the river bed itself.  I started with modest corner cuts at the edge...








With the river channel successfully removed, it was time to add the "secret ingredient" to help visually tie these river sections into the hills that would be sitting nearby in the Charasiab terrain lay-out -- namely, some wood-chip rocks...



When the hills were laid out atop the bare boards, I marked some spots to add rocks to the river-banks to visually tie them in with the rocky hills that would sit nearby...


Now it was time to choose some good wood-chips and then dig out some styrofoam so they could be securely planted into the banks of the river channel using the standard HOT-GLUE GUN...












As always I used a hot-glue gun to glue the wood-chips to the foam boards and also to each other...


A view of the 4 quarter-inch thick (ugh, what a mistake!!!) wood pieces which together would make up the frame that would keep the ends of the resin river secure, as well as the foam edges on all four sides of the board...






Satisfied with the rocks, it was time for me to start building the frame itself.  To help with this I bought four "corner clamps."  They may sound cool, but in fact they were inexpensive and built to use on light-weight picture frames.  Due to some limitations of their design they were not the panacea I was hoping for.  Still, I'm glad I bought them and they did come in handy...





























The Logar River 90-degree turn board, with the base-boards for what will someday become the "Khairabad Marsh" somewhat haphazardly lying in the foreground...


Trimming frame pieces down to more exact size...





Digging out the river channel for the 90-degree turn, which was somewhat more difficult than the straight piece...




In fact, carving out the curved channel was so difficult I went to my local Hobby Shop and bought a Hot Foam Carver.  This actually did help give me a good start to the most difficult part of the curve... though in the long run I ended up using my trusty manual-powered carving tools for 90% of the job...

                                               















Next up, adding a handful of wood-chip "rocks" to the riverbanks, to help them blend into the overall terrain layout by tying them into the look of the nearby "rocky wood-chip" hills...








Trimming one edge of the 2'x2' board down to a clean 1'11-1/2"x1'11-1/2"...

(ARGGHHH -- it was enough to drive a non-cabinet-maker such as my self quite MAAAADDDD!!!!!  I hereby promise myself I will NEVER AGAIN build any terrain board frame out of 1/4" thick wood!)






Strengthening the glued corners with tiny nails...



As you can see below, close to splitting, but thank goodness, not too close!


A convenient product placement shot...


The 90-degree curve foam board sitting atop the straight board with wood-frame attached...




Gluing the last corner together...



Bracing the complete frame with masking tape around its foam board for it to dry in proper place...


Then finally nailing the corners...



Combo of weights and clamps to fasten the frame to its MDF baseboard...






The 90-degree turn river board ready to add a few rocky wood-chips...









Placing some small "rock formations" so they line up with the pair of "conical hills" in position for the Charasiab terrain lay-out...



































Rocks added to the pair of Logar River boards, which are now ready for Wood Filler to seal the channel cut into the foam and also add some patches of smooth texture before gluing ballast and pebbles onto the surface...






WHEW!!!

Stay tuned for my next post which will see this pair of 2' sq. boards textured and painted...