Monday, 4 February 2008

Using a delay timer (as suggested by Jim) has improved my photos a little as can be seen below. So I'll be getting a tripod asap to see if that removes the remaining bluriness. Frederick's demotion to an officer of dragoons is more or less complete. Two coats of varnish, and some metallics and he's done.

There's one detail that's confusing me here. Bleckwenn shows the officer's coat without turnbacks, Dorn & Engelmann with. It was convenient to keep Frederick's turnbacks on the figure so that's what I've done. But I am wondering which is right, or if one depiction is on parade. the other on campaign.

Two squadrons of Willies Cuirassiers have arrived in the post, occasioning a few circuits of delight, running around the room like an excited two year old. Having decided to go for extra detailing, I've decided to drop my normal practice of painting by unit, and paint half a squadron (just four troopers) at a time. I'm trying to make things easier for myself because my limitations as a craftsman are becoming apparent.

Metal is supposed to be an inanimate substance. It should not have a will of its own. So the memories of my struggles against it would seem to be the stuff of nightmares, if it weren't for the physical evidence on the table in front of me. My attempts at modelling are proving more than a little frustrating. Replacing the cast reins with wire ones will serve as an example.

Shaping the droop of the reins then hammering the reins flat after and then cutting to length gives me a good start, no problems. Then there's a bit of a fiddle getting them to sit on the figure. The short rein goes into a hole drilled into the horse's teeth, roughly where the bit would be. The long rein (yes I don't know the correct equine term for bridalry, but then many readers won't either) goes from a hole drilled in the bottom rear of the horse's bridle. I try to fix them in place by soldering, and that's the part where the problem starts.

I am not a good solderer. I haven't done it before so that's no surprise: the way you get good at something is to do lots of it. But I think my poor handling of the soldering iron exacerbates the other problems.

Firstly, I seem to lack the required number of hands. One hand for the iron, one for the solder. At this point I find myself envying the Goddess Kali, she'd have the extra hands needed to hold the two bits you are trying to solder together.

Then, solder itself possesses abilities that I had thought were unknown to science. The ability to ignore gravity and run upwards for one. I can spend ten minutes trying to get solder where I want it to be. Then the reins move out of place; an event observed by the solder which will then quickly go where the reins once were, just to annoy me. If anyone uses solder, do they glue the components with superglue first? I'm not sure if its a good idea to use chemicals near where you are going to apply a hot iron.

Despite the frustrations, I am having fun with it all, and better still I am learning a lot as I go. Saturday was best of all: made all the better by being able to listen to Flashman At The Charge on BBC radio while working. MacDonald-Fraser's version of the Charge Of The Large Brigade was particularly amusing, although I'm not sure my new dragoon officer appreciated the joke.


DC said...

RE. soldering - i feel your pain. Last year i bought a specialist adjustable low temperature iron for white metal, together with a variety of tips and all the necessary gubbins - spent about 70 quid. So far have converted about 4 figures successfully...8-(
I find a vice helps provide a third arm, but i could still do with a fourth.
I have tried super-gluing pieces in place before soldering. The glue does not melt at low temperatures (100 degrees-ish) but doesn't do the final bond any favours.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Your "dragoon officer" looks absolutely splendid, I must say.

As for the lapels, I know that not all regiments were the same . . . and even within the war, not even the uniforms of a regiment always remained the same.

I would simply elect (as you did) to paint what the figure provided.

-- Jeff