Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Friday, October 29, 2021

Pirate Ship Build - A closer look at Sophie's Revenge

As I mentioned in the acquisition post I definitely want to do more than just paint the Sophie's Revenge. I want to add at least a small amount of rigging, do some interior detailing and put it on a base.

I think the base will be relatively straightforward. Sophie's Revenge is already a waterline model so it will just be a matter of creating a big enough base to show off a little wave action. There are probably a dozen videos on youtube describing how to do that.

I think the rigging will be relatively straightforward as well, and its perfectly acceptable to have sails still furled when the ship is underway. Leaving the main sails furled also leaves the deck cleared for action. I think it will need a lot more deck "furniture" as well, especially more belaying pin racks.

Separating the decks is the issue. The bulk of the ship was assembled at the factory and it looks like it should come apart, I just need to figure out what kind of glue was used and maybe I can find a way to dissolve it, hopefully without destroying the plastic. I need the sides to remain in place so the interior can be detailed, like cannons in place with the appropriate ropes and fastenings, gun ports that can be opened that kind of thing.

And then there are the masts. I think Reaper made the right decision by supplying abbreviated masts, anything taller would really just be in the way of using it and storing it. I was originally thinking that I would need to cut holes in the deck and extend the masts to their full length as one piece but that would make it difficult to lift the decks off to get below. Instead I just need to model the masts in the appropriate locations rather than cut through the deck.

Here are a couple of pictures just to show what the obstacles are:

Sophie's Revenge is, more or less, a galleon. This section here would be the quarters for the commissioned officers and the Captain's cabin. On top of that should be the navigation room but that section is a bit abbreviated on the Revenge. I can either leave it as is or figure out a weigh to increase the height of the navigation room and add a ceiling in the Captain's cabin. This whole section comes glued together from the factory and consists of at least 8 pieces, excluding the gun port covers.

A look at the inside of the Officer and Captain's quarters. Its pretty bulky here on the inside, which is good. There is plenty of plastic to work with. You can see the indentations for the stairs that lead up to both the quarter deck (bottom of the picture) and the poop deck (more to the top of the picture). The poop deck would be above the navigation room which in turn is above the Captain's Cabin. The large circular spot in the center is were the magnet for the mast is located. I though I would cut through the deck at this point and extend the mast down into the new hole and then do it again to go through to the gundeck. Instead I'll just model this portion of the mast. In theory the ship's wheel would be in front of this mast in the quarterdeck and the ropes to the rudder would be running through this portion of the of the commissioned officers' quarters.

A closer view of the rear cabins

This shot is looking underneath of the main deck. Here is another mast location plus some of the supports for the main deck. Again we have the issue of the gun deck walls being attached to the bottom of the main deck rather than to the gun deck itself. I would need to add more support beams and ribs and of course what ever else you would find across the center of the deck. Lots of possibilities if I can separate the walls from the deck and glue them directly to the gun deck. I counted 12 separate pieces for the this section, assuming I didn't miss anything and I'm sure I have.

Here is Sophie's Revenge straight from the box. A few small boats would be in order and the cargo loading area needs to be opened up. Probably will just cut that all out and rebuild it in either plastic or wood

With the rear cabins removed. What I want to do is just being able to remove the quarter and poop decks and leave the walls and model the mast where it would come through in that area.

Then down to the gun deck, a lot of possibilities here if I can disassemble the gundeck walls from the main deck.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Cartoon Wednesday


Game Design Thoughts - Reference Materials... Again!

Three more books arrived for the 18CO project; one on railroads in the northern part of the state and two specifically on mountain passes.

Railroads of Northern Colorado is well done, but it doesn't really help me. I was hoping for something a bit more in depth on railroad construction and I didn't really get that.

The two books on passes are a different story. The first one "The Passes of Colorado" is excellent so far the only thing it seems to lack is actual latitude and longitude coordinates. There are some rough maps so I should be able to figure out where things are. "The Colorado Pass Book" is not as extensive but does provide coordinates so it will be a good back up for the first book. Looking forward to taking some notes!

Acquisitions - Sophie's Revenge from Reaper Miniatures

Scourge of the High Seas! I have acquired a Sophie's Revenge from Reaper's last kickstarter. This is pretty much a complete fantasy as far as pirate ships go but its going to be fun game piece. To be honest I haven't been really excited about anything miniature related for sometime but this one has so much potential that I might be willing to put everything else aside for a bit and start work on this huge ship. 

Let's unbox this conglomeration of plastic.

Pretty well packed. My box has a hole in it from shipping but no damage to the ship. That's all I really cared about.
The ship right out of the box

With the poop deck and cabins removed

Down to the gun deck. I already see a problem here as the side planking is attached to the upper deck. Will make it hard to detail correctly. I might try and cut the side walls off and glue them to the gun deck. Looks like pretty major surgery.

Bags of parts

Followed by a pile of cannons, 20 in all.

They don't look to bad with the rest of the barrel slotted into place.

The massive anchor comes in three pieces

Lids for the gunports

The figure head, there are six pieces. The legs are a separate piece and there is another interior piece to hold them in place.

Deck pieces. Will have to add a lot more or its going to be a very open deck.
Crows' next platforms

tops of the masts, they are abbreviated in height, probably a good thing.

Mast Components. I might rethink how these will actually be attached. As it stands each mast has a magnet in the base and there is a matching magnet in the deck to hold it in place.

Of course I have grandiose plans for this one. It will get its own base so it can be displayed in the appropriate watery environment (something I also plan for the USS Arizona).  I would like to work in some additional interior detail but the decks are put together the opposite way I need them to be. That will definitely take some major surgery to re-work so I may have to rethink my approach on that. I would also like to include a certain amount of rigging, which would mean the masts would not longer be removable.

Will definitely require some thought before I move forward with construction.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Game Design Thoughts - Reference Material...Again

I have found that lately I have moved away from the majority of the reference books that I thought I would need for this little project. My initial thoughts were that books on specific railroads would be the most useful. In fact most of those books don't really include the kind of information that I'm looking for in regards to actually building track through the Colorado Rockies.

While books like the "Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad" by M.C. Poor are full of detail and pictures and can be quite dense they often skip over the parts I'm most interested in which at this point is which passes did they survey and how did they determine what might be possible and what was not? I know that finances often played a large part in that determination. In theory you should be able to get a train over almost any pass if you have the money to do it. A nice theory which definitely does not define even begin to reflect reality.

My next reference foray is from a slightly different direction, mostly accidental googling. I found some references specific to mountain passes in Colorado that, at least the description say, include historical notations including if the pass was surveyed by a railroad. That's the theory part I'll know when the next deluge of books hits.

The best book so far is "Colorado's Mountain Railroads" by Robert A. Le Massena (Sundance Publications Ltd 1984). It includes a synopsis of just about every railroad that was built in Colorado, including timelines for each of them (some are quite short). It has helped bring about a fuller picture of the interactions when between the various railroads and how ownership of a railroad could have significant impact on other multiple lines. A few examples of this are the formation of the railroads like the Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf and the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison. Both of these were created by small Colorado railroads that were controlled by the Union Pacific Railroad and both of these were still controlled by the UP, until the UP went into receivership in 1893 at which point these were railroad conglomerate were appointed to different receivers and then were later bought and consolidated as the Colorado & Southern RR which was not longer under UP control. Initially the C&S was an independent line until it was purchased by the CB&Q in 1908 although it continued to operate as the C&S until 1982.

Or another interesting fact. The Denver & Rio Grande Railway was only part of the system envisioned by General Palmer. He also owned the Denver & Rio Grande Western which started building from Salt Lake City to the Colorado border. While both were controlled by Palmer, at least initially, they were two separate corporate entities. And to add further confusion to the mix the Rio Grande Western was also controlled by Palmer but was yet another corporate entity distinct from the first two, although eventually all three would be merged together. The are a myriad of reasons for why things were done this way but in the end it all comes down to finances and they very much robbed Peter to pay Paul to get there.

So while I wait for better information on mountain passes I'm trying to work my way through the labyrinth of financial shenanigans that could take place in the game!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Something Else Finished - A record month so far

Yes, the tea rack is finished and currently holding jars and cans of loose leaf tea. I'm pretty pleased with it, there are a few mistakes and some things that could have done better but it still looks pretty good.

For the final finish I sanded the components before I assembled them, much easier to do that way, working up from 120 Grit to 400 Grit sand paper. Very much worth the effort and its not a huge item so it wasn't terribly time consuming to do. I then followed it up with two coats of Danish Oil, Dark Walnut which really brought out the beauty of the Tzalam wood that I used for it.

I'll probably build another one to fix the mistakes but there is no rush to do that, its getting the job done and most people aren't going to notice the mistakes.

She likes her loose leaf tea, the tea bags are for me!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Its that time of year! 2021 Christmas Card

This will be the fourth year that my wife and I will be designing and printing our own Christmas cards. Its definitely something that we look forward to doing each year despite the amount of time it takes. We are not going to tackle a multi color, multi plate card this year! While last year's card turn out pretty good, in the end it was a little nerve wracking and took even more time to finish.

We are going to go back to a single color block this year and I have finished a couple of sketches for the design. Take a look let me know what you think of the two concepts and if you are from Colorado do you recognize the peak.

Quick sketches from this morning. Just have to pick one and then I can refine it for printing. Both of these have far to many very fine lines for printing purposes. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Game Design Thoughts - Mountain Passes revisited

Warning this rambles more than a little bit

While I still feel that ignoring  mountain passes, even in an 18xx game, shouldn't be done. Yet I can't ignore how restrictive that makes the board. Will a restrictive board, from the viewpoint of laying track tiles, be fun to play on? Will there be a reasonable replay value?

I have read all of the comments I can find about the CO 18xx (Rock & Stocks) and I'm not sure that it even came up as a design element, although 3 tunnel companies were originally included in the early drafts and were eventually eliminated because no one used them. The question that comes to mind is that board may not be restrictive enough, especially when you see the amount of track that is seems to be laid in northwestern Colorado. Where is the compromise point?

Let's take a look at just a small area of the map and you can see how much is going in this portion of the board. I did expect this area to be more or less the center of the action since it includes Denver.

A little description. The multi point starts represent the passes. My first thought is that they should be located on the hex sides, so Tennessee pass needs to be moved a little bit. The red line, more or less, represents the continental divide, which is what most passes cross or tunnel through.

The big problem hex is the Golden hex. The area actually includes three major towns; Golden, Blackhawk/Central City and Boulder and four passes, one of which I haven't included (yet?); Rollins Pass, Loveland Pass, Argentine Pass and the missing pass is Berthoud. Of these four passes only Rollins pass was actually built over. Geographically all of this fits in one hex. The reality, on the ground so to speak, is that three of the passes can only be reached through Clear Creek Canyon which the Colorado Central (along with a couple of others) built through going west as far as Silver Plume (a little farther than that but close enough). Rollins pass was reach through South Boulder Canyon (kind of, sort of) between Golden and Boulder on the front range. Loveland, Argentine and Berthoud passes all would need tunnels built (long ones) to keep the grades at reasonable levels. Rollins Pass was actually crossed without a tunnel but that trackage was considered temporary while the Moffat Tunnel was being built (The tunnel construction started in 1923 and was completed in 1927, and the first train passed through in February 1928. It is the highest railroad tunnel in the US at 9,200 feet and still 2800 feet beneath the surface and 6 miles long). Even if the hex is reduced to two passes its going to require a special tile to represent the difficulty

Let's take the hex apart:

1) The first difficulty, three towns occupy the hex at the current map scale. I think Boulder can be safely eliminated, it was never on a major railroad route. Boulder sits in a rather steep valley at the base of the foothills making it difficult to serve by rail. Golden must be there even though its right next to the Denver hex, at the very least from an historical context and if the Colorado Central is used as one of the railroad charters then this would be its home hex. Blackhawk and Central City are strictly gold mining and can be represented as a resource providing revenue. It might need a custom tile.

2) The second difficulty, mountain passes. In the ground scale four passes could potentially occupy this hex with only three sides to work with; Loveland, Argentine, Berthoud and Rollins. Loveland Pass and Argentine Pass, if built, would to the west eventually into the same valley leading down to Dillon (they would roughly meet at Keystone Resort). Berthoud and Rollins pass take you north to Steamboat Springs. Rollins Pass is the only one that could be crossed without a tunnel (although that added 27 additional miles to the mainline, along with all the problems associated with trying to cross mountain passes in the winter). I think I could, in theory shift Argentine pass to an adjacent hex from looking at a map. But it still leaves the problem that Berthoud and Rollins would both need to use the same hex side.

3) The third difficulty revolves around trackage rights. For the moment lets just ignore the hex difficulties, and look at those. In most 18xx games track is really controlled via stations at cities and if you can trace a legal route to it you can use any track on the board as long as it connects to at least one of your station tokens. That rule should still hold true for the Colorado board, the difference is you need to determine who can use a pass and how to mark it. For example If the D&RG builds over La Veta pass (which is down south) then only the D&RG can cross it. However the D&RG should be able allowed to award trackage rights to other companies (either subsidiaries that it owns or those companies owned by other players). At the moment I'm thinking that every pass should have its own tile and every company should have an additional set of "control" tokens, to go along with their station tokens, they would be used to signify which company owns the pass crossing. But then the dilemma is how to show which companies have "trackage" rights over that pass.

Another situation, relatively common in Colorado history is two railroads banding together to form a railroad specifically to build through a particularly difficult stretch of terrain. The railroads would share trackage rights and, almost inevitably, one of the parties would buy out the other, usually when the partner when bankrupt). The more I think about it the more I like the idea of trackage rights if I can come up with a simple mechanism to reflect it. I could envision a game where the need to build track gets as cut throat as the financial side of the game. 

Ideas are still swirling.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Something Finished!

Well, its not a game design or a miniature or anything truly cool like that. However, I did manage to finish a mobile stand for the new lathe. With this finished I can get our assembly table back and do the finish work on the tea rack. Nothing spectacular but any progress is good at this point.

All the pieces cut and ready for assembly.

Legs assembled and attached to the top. All joinery is with screws and glue. This is my first piece using pocket holes.

Pretty much complete at this point. Main brace and the floor braces are in place.

Flipped over and added the wheels. 3" wheels with locks.

Lathe mounted up and the stand rolled into its home. We can work right here in front of the window or move it out to a different spot. Its a rather brute force approach but it gets the job done till I can build something better.

I need to take a grinder to some of the screws that went all the way through. I couldn’t find any 2” pocket hole screws and the 2 1/2” are bit to long. But at least we can use the lathe now!