Monday, January 13, 2014

How to: Barges From Date Trays

We are glad to announce a nice illustrated barge tutorial created for Wargame News and Terrain by the very talented and seasoned wargamer and scratchbuilder Alan Martin. The creation of this tutorial was inspired by a common packaging item: Dates usually get sold in shallow Styrofoam trays in supermarkets. I was just about to throw one in the bin, when I thought it looked like it could be used for a hull. The ends are rounded, so I thought the most likely candidate would be a towed barge. If you wanted to take the easiest route, you could just paint it brown, but the addition of posts at the bow and the stern makes a lot of difference for very little work. 

 First cut a couple of notches in the lip of the tray, one at each end, to take the posts.  

Make a card template for the posts, holding the tray in profile against card to get the right shape. Using a template makes it easier to cut further posts beyond the first, because you only have to cut the template once and then just have to lay the card against the balsa. 

I make the template 3cm from top to bottom – but check it against the height of the tray, just in case they come in different sizes.

Cut a strip of balsa 3cm wide to match, Thickness of the balsa you use is up to you – I used 7mm thick to make it look good and sturdy. Lay the template against the balsa and mark where to cut the balsa. 

Cut out two posts, one for each end. 

Using Styrofoam glue – PVA might be ok – to attach the posts.

Paint it brown – I use a cheap tube of Crawford & Black Burnt Umber rather than expensive miniatures paints, obtained from a discount stationery/bookstore here in the UK called ‘The Works’.  Before painting I mix some pva in to the paint. I think it will make the finish tougher, but It may not serve any purpose. Paint it along the length of the hull rather than side to side – I think it gives a better effect. Allow it to dry, then choose what you fill it with. 

It could be used to transport troops – here are some Zanzibaris ready to be taken upriver for a slave raid, or more commonly goods. 

To accompany some filled barrels and a basket from commercial sources, I have make some bales, along with a couple of piles of bricks to be taken up for a building project somewhere. 

Further suggestions:

These could be used as pontoons for a pontoon bridge, although you would need to put a block into the middle of the boat to rest the bridge on – the foam sides won’t be strong enough. 

You could scribe planks in to the surface of the foam to improve the effect – the trick is to get them parallel – but I wanted quick and easy. 

By cutting a strip from the centre of the tray and sticking the side together you could create a more pointed profile suitable for other boats. Cutting the height down as well might create good canoes. A block of wood stuck to the bottom could enable a mast to be mounted. The only restriction would be your imagination. Tutorial by Alan Martin.


Andrew McCory said...

Ooh, I did something similar a long time ago, a six cannon gunboat with a single mast. Very nice.

Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...

Hi Andras, Glad it's appreciated as Martin Alan did a great job with creating this useful tutorial. Nice idea about adding some cannons!