Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steampunk ship construction

I think I will do this post a little backwards.  Start with what is completed on the ship to date, with the engine, the ray gun and the two bayonets (picked these up at a tag sale, they are from the Indian wars right after the civil war, thought they would look good here, will actually come out of the side a little lower than they are here) just sitting on top for some perspective.  Obviously a great deal is to be added to the top, as said, from the steam engine forward will look very much like the TP Baracuda and all the drive pulleys, belts, etc have to be added to the back as well as a great deal of trim out.  I figure I am about half way finished now.  Anyway, here are the pics, if you want info on the details, it will be below them.

The bottom is close to finished.  Several guns and details have to be added, and where the rear drive wheel joins has to completely reworked.

The hardest part was getting the paint right on the bottom.  Went through about six applications before settling on this one, and it may change again.  Anyway,  I had the frame built and the wheels attached and it was time to make the shell of the bottom.  I used the hoops I had picked up and put ribs all along the bottom.

At this point I was thinking I would cover them with this thick fiberboard.  I tried it and didnt like it.  I realized quickly it would never form correctly over the ribs.

I realized I would have to go back to basic boat building design to get the curve and shape I wanted.  Using basswood, I cut strips and covered the ribs.  I prepainted them with what I thought might look good.  The shape came out fine, but I wasnt happy with the look.  I added some details of things coming out of the side, fueling pipes, couple of cannons or whatever.  These get changed later again.

Ok, wasnt happy with the body, but let it simmer while I worked on the nose of the shell.  I had a what I think was an old planter, some kind of resin material, had some nice designs on it and I had thought for some time it would be the nose of the shell, and that possibly it would have a drop down door and a brass cannon I had would roll out.  I attached it as the nose and it looked good, but I realized it was not large enough for the brass cannon.  So back to the drawing board and the parts bins.

I had 20 heavy spacers I had gotten from ebay that I intend to use as the side top cannons, there would be 18 of them eventually, so I had two extras that I could use for the nose guns.  I cut and hinged a drop down section, mounted the gun barrels, and added some rangefinder lenses I took out of a Polaroid land camera.  I found when it closed that the support chains snagged, but adding a spring pulled them back fine.

So now I had the guns mounted and they would close fine, but now I needed a way for them to be opened and closed by the crew.  I ran a small rope to the back of them and down through the bottom of the nose and built a pulley with a spoke wheel attached to a spindle made from lamp parts, a chain running from the rope through a small block and tackle.  Turning the spoked wheel lifts and closes the entire gun setup nicely.

Next was the cowcatcher.  I bought some 1/16 by 1/2 inch raw steel strips and hammered and bent them into the shapes, ground down points and mounted them on a grooved board with large brass screws that once held my sons bunk beds together.  I cut a round section of wood, cut a groove to hold the tops of the metal strips and it was finished.

At the same time, I rebuilt the front wheels, lengthened their base and trimmed them out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Steampunk ship wheels, frame construction

So now I had one of the back pieces for the top of the ship, a rear wheel drive to move it, tracks and trestle for it to sit on, but no ship.  It took a long time for me to come up with the simple solution needed for the internal frame.  I had some general ideas on the wheels, the medium brass ones I knew would work in one way or another, I had bought 6 sets of train wheels on my trip to Litchfield that were the correct size for the track and I had some smaller train wheels that I knew would be in the front behind the cowcatcher.  I had a hazy notion of how I would probably attach all these, and finally came up with a design that would incorporate those ideas.  In the end it was quite simple.  A strong center board running down the bottom of the length of the deck.

I had also been thinking a lot about how I would frame out the body of the boat, get that even somewhat circular shape around it.  Driving to a tag sale one Saturday, I was thinking that maybe Michaels would have basket material that I could bend around it and decided to go there after I hit the sale. (always looking for those odd parts)  The first thing I saw in the driveway was a box of hoops, all different sizes, they were embroidery hoops--perfect.  I bought the whole box for a song and half of one is what you see in the front of the above picture.  More will show up later.

I made a frame for the small front train wheels and attached them to the ship frame.  Later that design was totally changed.

Now I was ready to attach the main wheels.  I had done a basic layout earlier.   You can also see some of the steam engines that I had been thinking of using.

I propped up the frame and decided this would be the way it would be assembled.

I had figured out how I will attach the front wheels and the center group, but hadn't figured out how to attach the rear brass ones.  I had an old pair of wooden crutches I was going to throw away.  Looking at them I realized that if I cut off  the part that went under your arm it would be the perfect size in length to hold the wheels with the crutch turned upside down.  This is the result.

Next were the main center support wheels using the six sets of train wheels.  Dowels were used to make posts going to a small beam across the wheels.  It came out like this.