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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Form of Kabul River

Many of you will be familiar with the Kipling poem "Ford o' Kabul River".  I've been a Kipling fan since I was a boy, so despite the fact that the tragic river-crossing which befell the 10th Hussars on  March 31, 1879, cost the lives of 19 officers & men and later inspired Kipling's haunting verse, occured five months before the battle of Charasiab... I still couldn't resist the title tie-in for this blog post.

Here's a LINK to the poem in full:


...and here's a LINK to a very interesting page devoted to the tragic incident over at Garen Ewing's Second Anglo-Afghan War web-site:


Moving on to the matter at hand... for the last two months or so I've been working on the 6'x2' Kabul River board which -- hopefully in the not-too-distant future -- will lie on the far West edge of my 6'x12' lay-out for the Battle of Charasiab.

Considering how busy I've been with work and family, two months really isn't too bad.  All that remains to complete it is gluing sand and pebbles onto the ground surface on either side of the river and then painting the board.  Once that's done this board will have caught up with my previously built pair of 2'x2' Logar River boards, which will mean I'll FINALLY be able to mix and pour the resin and really finish these rivers!

Here's my usual overabundance of pics obsessively documenting the process of drawing, carving, framing, gluing, adding "rocky" wood-chips, and finally puttying the board...

(1)  Consult Google Earth for map of Kabul River in the area of the Charasiab battlefield...

(2)  Copy the path of the River onto the surface of the 6' board...

(Here's the 2'x6' sheet of double-tempered hardboard)

(3)  Transfer river outline from one board onto the other...

(A NOTE OF EXPLANATION: I first drew the river onto the foam board BEFORE I had trimmed it down from 2' wide to 22-1/2".  Since I didn't want to have to trim foam off two edges instead of only one, this meant re-drawing the river onto the other side of the board.  I was very happy with the way the river looked, so instead of redrawing it from scratch, I traced it onto a sheet of white craft paper, then cut it out and used it as a template for redrawing the river itself.  A lot of arguably needless effort but I was happy with the results.)

(A MORE POSITIVE NOTE OF EXPLANATION: the reason I had two boards instead of one is at some point months ago while carving a one-inch deep river channel out of a two-inch deep sheet of styrofoam insulation board, I realized it would be much easier to use two one-inch thick sheets of foam and simply cut the river out from between its banks and then glue them onto the second sheet.)

(4)  Cut the river out from between its banks...

(NOTE: first cut goes right down the CENTER, 
second two cuts -- one on each side -- along 
the INNER EDGE of the river-bank slopes!)

(With the banks separated, cut the slope along
DIAGONAL connecting base of slope of with top of slope...)


(5)  Glue river banks on top of second 6'x2' foam sheet...

(Explanation in advance: I had already cut a pair of 3/4" thick pine moldings to size to frame the two 2' long river edge pieces.  Originally I thought I'd just use them and leave the rest of the styrofoam board edges unprotected, since that's how I'd built all 6 of the Maiwand boards.  But... the more I thought about it the more I thought these river boards are a different animal and are taking so much time and effort I should probably frame the entire 6'x2' board with wood, same as I had framed the two 2'x2' boards with wood all around, so... I bought some more 3/4" molding...)

(6)  Rip 3-1/2"x3/4" pine molding down to 2" height so it matches depth of styrofoam, cut lengths to frame board, counter-sink screws, glue and screw frame pieces to Masonite baseboard...

(Finally, one 3/4" thick framed river box...)

(7)  Measure, mark, and TRIM foam boards to fit frame box...

(8)  GLUE into place...

(9)  Add "rocky" wood-chips (using a HOT GLUE GUN) to help blend the river into the nearby rocky hill rest of the overall terrain lay-out...

(10)  With the "rocks" in place, break out the Elmer's WOOD FILLER to putty over the exposed river channel, bind together the wood-chips, blend them into the foam, and add some patches of texture to the ground cover on both sides of the river...

Only downside, if there is any, to the fully wood framed 6' board is that it is a bit heavier than it would've been with the wood frames only at the short ends where the river runs out, but overall I'm still happy I did it this way.  I'm already halfway done with a "compromise" approach I'm using for the 6'x2' plain flat ground-cover board I need for Charasiab, which I'll blog about some time in the future after it's all done, meanwhile...

NEXT UP:  Gluing the sand & pebble ground-cover onto this Kabul River board...


  1. Possibly the most idiot-proof walk through I've ever seen. Even I could follow this! That's an excellent piece of work.

  2. The sheer scale of this project always amazes me - stunning Sir!

  3. An inspirational project. So many good ideas.

  4. Fantastic! Looking forward to seeing the next steps.

  5. A great how-to! I'm looking forward to seeing this develop.

  6. Excellent walk though.. Well done.

  7. Thanks very much for all the positive comments, gentlemen!

  8. Ethan, another Awesome WIP! I think you can never have too many how to pix. I love your use of Google Earth for your research. Your step by step use of every day DIY products is inspiring. I continue to be amazed at your woodworking and terraining skills. I look forward to moving troops around this hallowed ground.

  9. That is the most amazingly thorough how-to that I have ever come across! Well done. You deserve a medal (at least a DSO), and your "tag" is certainly appropriately chosen! ;-)

    Best, Simon

  10. Fantastic write up and I agree with all the comments just posted. Alway a follower of your post....champion stuff

  11. Thanks Jeff, Simon, & Vinnie!

    Happy you're all enjoying my "Mad" river construction project. Today (officially yesterday) was Thanksgiving here in the USA, and one of the many things I'm thankful for is that people still read this blog of mine, so thanks again for taking the time not only to stop by and read but also to leave a comment, which I truly appreciate do appreciate -- and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to one and all!

  12. Thanks Smirnoff! My dad, of Blessed Memory, enjoyed your namesake!