Jump to content

S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876) of the Imperial German Navy by wefalck – 1/160 scale, when first commissioned

Recommended Posts

  • 3 months later...

I hope everyone made it safely into 2017. Now that various toolmaking and machine-building projects have been completed I am returning to SMS WESPE after a long break.

First I had a look at the box with the parts already made to aid my memory a bit:




Also, the building-log proper is a great aid in recapitulating what has been done already. I hope to be able to report soon here on real progress ...

Edited by wefalck
Link to post
Share on other sites

Amateur, the decks are all plated and originally were covered in a paint mixed with cement and sand to give more grip in wet conditions. Some parts were later apparently planked to improve the climate of the accomodations underneath, although various contemporary pictures taken late in the life of the class still show the plating. Most models erroneously show planking on the aft deck and linoleum on other parts, which probably was never used on these ships. The foc'sel was always planked in the characteristic radiant pattern that seem to better resist the stress of the gun-blast than the usual parallel pattern.

However, I will come back to the decks a bit later, as I was bothered by some chicken-end-egg problems in construction, when I left off.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Gentlemen, for the encouraging words :10_1_10: .




I am now catching up from the point, where the log had been interrupted, namely from post #51.


The gears were cut from brass stock in the milling machine with the help of direct dividing head and different division plates. The shape of the teeth is not exactly correct, because I used a disc-shaped burr as cutting tool. However, at this module (0.06), where the teeths are merely pitched 0.1 mm apart, this is hardly noticeable. The gear wheels are parted off from the stock on the lathe. The gear segment that will be attached to the barrel was produced in the same manner.









Cutting the gears for the gun elevating mechanism using different division plates


Cut-off wheels before further machining


to be continued ...

Link to post
Share on other sites

To get away abit (sort of) from all that intricate micro-machining and to see something grow, I turned my attention to the skylight above the officers' quarter in the back of the boat.



Skylight above the above officers’ mess (Laverrenz)


It was, as other skylights, constructed again around a little block of Plexiglas™ that was milled to shape.





Milling to shape a small Plexiglas block


The panelling was constructed from various layers of 0.4 mm thick Pertinax. For sanding the edges square the then newly constructed micro-grinding machine came handy.



Grinding square edges on the micro-grinding machine


On the prototype the upper part of the skylight could be lifted off and the coamings of the hatch had half-round trimmings around. For this something half-round of 0.4 mm diameter was required. Short length of half-round wire was produced from lengths of 0.4 mm diameter copper wire that were stuck onto a piece of aluminium that was milled flat in situ to ensure an even thickness of the half-rounds.



Milling half-round profiles from 0.4 mm copper-wire



Grinding 45° bevels onto half-round 0.4 mm copper-wire


I am not absolutely happy with the result, but one has to consider that the skylight has a footprint of only 7 mm by 8 mm. Perhaps I should have another try with shop-made photo-etched parts to be designed for the purpose.


The skylight before painting


To be continued ...

Edited by wefalck
Link to post
Share on other sites

Mad-man had another go ... :piratetongueor4:


... and turned his attention back to the hull and its superstructures. All surfaces that would have been iron plating, will be covered in thin sheets of Pertinax. The necessary holes for portholes and other opening will be drilled or cut out before the sheets are fixed. In this way the barbette was lined with sheets of Pertinax as was the deck-house.



Deck-house covered in a thin sheet of Pertinax


The decks on the prototype were iron plate and this plating was covered in oil-paint that was mixed with sand and cement in order to provide a certain corrosion resistance and above all a better grip in wet conditions. A modelling plan drawn by Wolfgang Bohlayer shows wood on some decks, but evidence that since has become available shows that this was not the case. Also, linoleum decking apparently was never used on these boats.





Engraving plate-lines and planking seams


As the model will show the boat in its original appearence, the plating was reproduced by engraving fine lines into thin sheets of Pertinax. All decks, including that of the barbette will covered in this way. The exception is the deck above the foc'sle that has a cover of planks, presumably to reduce wear, where the anchors were worked. This planking was laid-out in a radiant pattern, which seems to have been more resistant to the gun-blast than the more common parallel layout. The planks were also reproduced by lightly engraving the plank seams. In reality these seams would have been more or less flush with the deck, depending on the temperature and humidity, but a light engraving adds some life to the appearance.



Engraved rear-deck plating and planking for the foc’sl


to be continued ...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I gather Pertinax is one of those trade-names that has become a generic term, such as Hoover for the longer vacuum-cleaner ... In German the generic term is 'Hartpapier' i.e. hard-paper, which is paper impregnated with a phenolic resin and cured between steel-plates or -rollers to give a very smooth sheet of even thickness. The thicker varieties are best know as base material for circuit-boards before epoxi-resin took over the market. It is essentially paper-reinforced bakelite.


I like it, because it is much stiffer than polystyrol/styrene and it does not contain softeners that can diffuse out. However, the material is very brittle and one has to careful, when working with it. Its hardness allows it to be sanded easily (as opposed to Polystyrol) and it can even be polished.


The downside is also that it gives off phenolic fumes, when it becomes hot during working.

Edited by wefalck
Link to post
Share on other sites

Continuing with the barbette: the floor of the barhette is partially covered in planking, presumably to protect the armour-steel deck underneath from the damage that might occur, when the heavy shells are handled. The steel deck underneath and in front of the barbette armour-belt is slightly sloping to deflect incoming enemy-shells from the ammunition storage-rooms. Within the barbette this is filled with timber to make a level floor.







Three different contemporary drawings showing the barbette


The interpretation of the various items that can be seen in the contemporary drawings is not straightforward. However, one can see a hatch that gives access to the crew's quarters (where also the hand-cranks for turning the gun-carriage is located). Then there is a round hatch for hoisting up the charges from the powder-locker below and a square hatch for hoisting up the shells. From the drawings it appears that these hatches were covered in steel-gratings. There is a further hatch with a double-lid that, according to a hand-written notice on one drawing is a man-hole leading to the ante-room of the shell-locker. However, as it is not drawn in the cross-sections we do not know its height. There are also a couple of racks for shells and some other rack-like features, the purpose of which I do not know - perhaps for tools needed in handling the shells. Unfortunately, there are no photographic images that show the rear of the barbette.  Stairs leads down from the bridge into the barbette. In addition two ladders allow quick access from the deck.



The barbette with various items of furnishing


The floor of the barbette, which apparently did not have any camber, was built up from two layers of Pertinax one representing the steel-plating and engraved accordingly, the second cut out and engraved to represent the wooden flooring.





Milling and jig-drilling operations on the new micro-mill


The construction of the various hatches gave the opportunity to test the just finished micro-milling machine. The man-hole cover was milled from a small block of Plexiglas. The machine was also used as a co-ordinate drilling machine for getting the holes in the rack in one line and evenly spaced.



Collection of hatches for the barbette (the grilles still have to be straightened)


To be continued ....

Edited by wefalck
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 11 months later...

It has been almost a year since the last post. I have been too busy business-wise and been side-tracked by various tool-making projects, which seem to be easier to do with the frequent interruptions by business-travels. There has been some small progress, however. Though this was not easy, as I have been struggling with the possibilities of the available materials and with my own skills. The 1/160 is pretty small, if you have set yourself the target to put as much detail into as one would do in say 1/96 or even 1/48 scale ... One of my struggles has been to produce acceptable ladders, on which I will report in the next post.



The officers’ mess skylight produced previously did not turn out quite to my satisfaction. It was not as crisp as I had wished. It was build up from layers of bakelite sheet around a milled core of acrylic glass. The mouldings present on the original were simulated by 0.4 mm copper wire milled to half-rounds. This all entailed messing around with cyano-acrylate cement, which is not my favourite and at which I am not very skilled.



Officers’ mess skylight milled from a small block of acrylic glass


It then occurred to me that much of all this could be milled from a solid piece of acrylic glass. One has to start from a block that envelopes the maximum width and depth, including the mouldings, and then has has to plan strategically which layers to mill off until the desired shape appears (reminds me of the joke, where an old lady asked a sculptor during an exhibition whether it was difficult to sculpt a lion – the artist replied: not really, madam, one takes a big block of marble and knock off everything that doesn’t look like a lion ...). The mouldings were left standing as square protrusions. They were rounded off using a draw-plate fasioned from a piece of razor-blade and held in a pin-vise. The half-round notch was cut using a thin cut-off wheel mounted on an arbor in the milling machine.



Micro-drawplate for half-round moldings


It is, of course, not possible to simulate panelling by this method. However, some parts can be left standing and the other completed with thin styrene-strips. For reasons of material stability, I am not such a big fan of polystyrene, it becomes brittle with age, but it has the advantage that it can be ‘welded’ onto acrylic glass or onto itself using dichlormethane. This results in invisible bonds and you cannot smear any glue around.



Trial of milling out skylight window-frame


The next challenge were the protective grilles that were laid into the wooden frames above the actual skylight glass-panes. The bar of brass or bronze had a diameter of less than a centimetre, which translates to something like 0.05 mm on the model. However, the thinnest brass-coloured wire I could find had a diametre of 0.1 mm, so is slightly oversize. Recently I came across molybdenum wires that are readily available down to diametres of 0.02 mm ! It seems that they are used in the repair of mobile phones, to separate the front-glass from the LCD-display. I obtained a selection of sizes, but have not worked with the wires yet. The wires are supposed to be tough, so I do not know how easy it is to cut them to length.




Spool of gold-coloured molybdenum wire


I tried various methods to construct the window-frames with exactly spaced out bar. In the first instance I tried to mill-out the frame from a thin piece of acrylic glass. Evenly spaced notches for the ‘bars’ were milled with a pointed engraving bit. However, I did not manage to get the edges and corners as crisp and clean as desired.



Milling notches for window bars




Placing wires as window bars


I then wanted to construct the frame near-prototype fashion. To this end I drilled holes for the 0.01 mm wires into the edges of 0.5 mm by 1.0 mm strips of styrene. It proved difficult, however, to align the four parts of the frame well enough.



Drilling frame for protective bars


In the final version I welded 0.25 mm thick strips of styrene onto the milled acrylic glass body of the skylight. The block then was presented at the correct angle to an engraving cutter in the milling machine and the notches for the wires cut. In the next step the wires were glued into these notches, which was a major challenge – for the steadiness of my hand and my patience ...



Built-up frames




 In situ milling of notches for wire bars


The frame was completed by another layer of 0.25 mm styrene strips. As the total thickness should have been only 0.4 mm, the excess was sanded off on the milling machine. Finally, the edges were trimmed to size and rounded with the draw-plate described above.



Sanding frames to scale thickness


The officers' mess skylight will receive an outside protective grille on the basis of an etched part.



Completed skylights for the pantry (left) and the officers’ mess (right)


To be continued ....


Edited by wefalck
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the kind comments :)


I am shortsighted (+4 something), so when I take off my glasses, I get a sort of 'loupe' effect immediately. For many tasks, particularly those involving machines, I am wearing just a pair of protective glasses. I also have set of protective glasses that are magnifying (factor 3) and for really small work, where I need to see in 3D, I indeed use an 'optivisor', but don't find it very comfortable.


Some years ago I purchased a set of frames with little telescopes attached to it, of the kind dentists or surgeons use, but found that the field of vision is too small and the working distance to wide in order to work comfortably when sitting at the bench. I gather they are designed for towering over the patient while standing up ... so I don't really use them.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, gentlemen, for your kind comments and 'likes' :D




There are numerous ideas for constructing ladders or stairs for shipmodels. Together with gratings, this seems to be something that pre-occupies the the mind of shipmodellers. Perhaps because spacing saw-cuts evenly is a challenge with hand-tools. Having machines with tool-slides, controlled by spindles with graduated dials, at one’s disposal takes away most of that challenge, at least in theory. It seems logic to transpose the common techniques for making ladders just to a smaller scale, say with thinner saw-blades to cut slots into the spacing device.




Preparing a spacing device for stairs




However, the sizes of the materials to be used in itself poses a challenge. Treads in (wooden) stairs are typically 25 to 30 mm thick, which translates to roughly 0.2 mm in the 1:160 scale. The stringers of stairs may be somewhere between 40 and 60 mm thick, which translates into 0.3 to 0.4 mm on the model. The treads are usually notched into the stringers, so that the outside of the sides are smooth. This is a technique that would be very difficult to reproduce at this small scale because milling notches 0.2 mm wide and 0.2 mm deep into material that may be as thin as 0.3 mm is practically quite difficult to do consistently. The other difficulty is to cut the treads to exactly the right lengths. This problem also appears, if one tried to simply butt the steps against the sides for glueing. The clean glueing, without fillets appearing, also was a challenge, at least for me.




Cutting notches for treads into stair-stringers of bakelite-paper




Initially, the material of choice was bakelite-paper, which is very stiff, but rather brittle at a thickness of 0.2 mm and has attracted all the issues mentioned above. I then tried polystyrene, which is much less brittle, but also much less stiff. It has the advantage that it can be glued, or rather welded, using dichloromethane, allowing nearly invisible joints between close-fitting parts. While all these properties are useful, the styrene proved to be too flexible to be sanded to size on the milling machine, compared to the bakelite-paper.

After various trials the most promosing method for stairs that emerged was the following:



1. cut strips somewhat wider than the stringers of the stairs from 0.2 mm bakelite paper.

2. arrange these strips in a pack on the micro-vise; count as many strips as needed for the stairs, plus a few spares, and a couple of sacrificial/protective ones at each side of the pack.

3. push the strips down into the vise and then sand them as a pack to equal width.

4. incline the vise to the angle of the stairs and cut slots at the required distances with a fine-toothed saw-blade of 0.2 mm thickness.




Cutting slots for steps into stair-stringers of polystyrene




5. cut strips slightly wider than the width of the treads from 0.2 mm bakelite-paper, clean them up and round one edge slightly.

6. cut the treads slightly longer than the final length from those strips.

7. take two stair-stringers and insert the treads, which should be a tight fit, with the rounded side first.

8. adjust one side so that it is straight and the steps are only protruding slightly – everything should be square, of course.




Glueing together the stair components




9. infiltrate thin cyanoacrylate cement into the slots and let set thoroughly.

10. adjust the opposite side to the right distance and repeat as above.

11. nip-off excess tread material on the outside.

12. file the outside of the stringers flush with a diamond nail-file and/or the disc sander

13. glue a second layer of 0.2 mm bakelite paper to the outside of the stair-stringers




Sanding to thickness the stairs




14. transfer to the vise on the milling machine, slots down, and sand down the stair-stringers to just above the steps.

15. turn the stairs over and sand them down to to the scale width of the stringers.

16. sand the stair-stringers to the required thickness.

17. clean-up all burrs etc.

18. the stairs are now ready to be trimmed to length.



Selection of stairs (not yet trimmed to length)


I have tried to follow the same procedure with brass-sheet and soldering, but using bakelite-paper gave crisper results. Perhaps one should have etched the components and then soldered them together, as I had envisaged at the very beginning. This would have allowed to hold close tolerances of the individual parts, requiring less clean-up. However, I found setting up the etching process to onerous and also wanted to see, whether I could fabricate the stairs usind classical workshop techniques.

The hand-rails and other fittings will be produced later, together with the railings, as they will be very delicate.


To be continued ... soon ... first I have to go to Helsinki on business – and to have some Rudo-steak, now that Christmas is over ;)

Edited by wefalck
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...