Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tilting at Windmills

(With apologies to Miguel Cervantes [and Gordon Lightfoot])

This is the tale of my own Quest to construct some central European windmills, for use in my Ligny games at Historicon next month, and beyond. I got the first materials (and inspiration) for this project back the beginning of April, as I detailed in a post then - 1/4" thick foamboard, 7/8" round wood dowel. I already had a bunch of Craft sticks (Popsicle sticks) which I planned to use to make the "boards" of the windmill.


Some googling turned up a great site about windmills and their preservation from Estonia. This type of mill is a Post mill, and was common well into the 20th century. The earlier blog post I cited in April was also a major inspiration and partial guide. 


I laid out the plans for the main building of the windmill on stiff card. I decided on the main frame being 120 x 60mm. This proved to be rather large, so a second was constructed only 90 x 60mm.  


I cut the card out to make templates for the windmill construction. Those parts were then traced out onto the foam board, and cut out with an Xacto knife. 



My first try I went for a corner/angle construction, figuring it would be stronger and hold square better. I allowed for the thickness of the foam board properly with the base...


but forgot that it would skew the eaves of the roof unacceptably.


The pieces were held together with white glue and pins.  After this quick trial assembly I decided that the skew was too great (I might reuse the structure for something else), 


and re- did it with the pieces all squared off symmetrically, and at the same time did the second, shorter version as well. 


A standard home drill was used to make a 3/8" hole for the windshaft - I use the drill to also partially drill through the opposite side panel to make a place for the 3/8" dowel to seat as well. 


At this point, it became clear I needed some additional pieces, so back to Michael's (with 40% off coupon - they have amazing online coupons all the time) and the local hardware store for some 3/8" Fender washers, 3/8" hardwood dowel, and some assorted Balsa pieces. 


Also some 6" x 6" clear pine from Michael's to use as the base for the Windmills

Windmill buildings, with test positioning of the 3/8" dowel and washer.


The 7/8' dowel was sawed off (rather crudely using a saber saw and vice) at 60mm, sanded, and mounted in the center of the base board with epoxy. This will form the "post" of the that the postmill will sit upon. 


The Craft sticks were cut into 60 and 30mm lengths and glued on "bricklay" pattern, plus some custom cut pieces for the eaves. I used wire cutting pliers to to this cutting, which worked very well. Door is thin balsa wood, and the door frame and window frames were added with more craft stick wood.


View showing the windshafts added. 


Dilute white (PVA) glue was brushed all over the project after it had dried for added strength. 


The supports for the post were added to the bases using the 1/2" balsa (cut with saber saw), and glued on with epoxy. I did this with 45 degree cuts.


 Here I made an error by not ensuring the foot print of the supports would be inside the footprint of the shed's base. Oh well, too late now! The sheds were epoxied to the post and supports. 


Prior to assembly, everything was sprayed with black primer, followed by Walmart economy black spray paint. (Walmart check out dude to me; "Wow, I don't think I've ever seen can of spray paint for 99 cents before!")


While at Wally-Mart I picked up two more items. I had been pondering how to make the arms and vanes of the windmill itself. Above are two packs of assorted square hardwood dowels (about $1 each), and the tough nylon lattice used for rug hooking projects. 


The sheds, posts, and supports were dry brushed with first a yellow brown craft paint, then CC  Cadet Grey.


The base will be finished last. 


I wound up making the arms of the windmill by using epoxy to attack 4 x 1/4" square wood dowels to the 3/8" fender washers. This was both less strong than I wanted for the long haul, and wobbly on the wind shaft, so a second washer was epoxied to the other side of the 4 dowels - much better! The arms were 120mm long for the tall windmill


and 90 mm for the shorter one. 


The vanes were cut out of the nylon rug hooking lattice, spray painted black,  and attached to the arms with epoxy. The lattice of the vanes was then dry brushed with Cadet Grey ( a very flat light grey with no blue tone at all). 


I painted the arms (and washers) of the windmill a light red brown for contrast to the shed.


I am going to leave the arms of the windmill unglued  to the wind shaft to allow easier transport. They are pretty sturdy, and when they are inevitably struck by the "Hands of God" during play, I'd rather have the arms knocked off the shed (and easily put back on) than knock over the hole structure!


At this point, they are still a bit of a WIP (windmill in process). I need to add a small porch and ladder on the door side of the mill using balsa wood, and then terrain and finish the bases. That shouldn't take more than a day when I have a chance, and then I'll post some more pictures of the completed project!


A little Gordon Lightfoot - perhaps my favorite of his songs!

32 comments:

  1. Very nice work, creative and impressive...

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    1. Thanks, Phil. It was based upon the 15mm windmill featured in my April post.

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    1. Thanks, Phil #2! :-)

      I think it will look even better with the final bits added.

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    2. yep I reckon so... ;o)

      I'm not to sure but didn't Blucher had his horse shot from under him during the battle of Ligny 1815 near a windmill?

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    3. There were two windmills on the Battlefield at Ligny (which was much larger in area than Waterloo), so there was [probably a windmill in the background somewhere when his horse was hit (and Blucher narrowly missed being captured by the French) - one wonders what would have happened then?

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  3. Agreed. The use of the nylon mesh is a brilliant idea too. I've filed that away for future use myself.

    Best Regards.

    Stokes

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    1. Thanks, Stokes. It is the same material that I used for the ratlines on my 1: 1200 Napoleonic ships.

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  4. Wow they look great, what sort of time did it take? Hmm I wonder if I can find that mesh here in NZ.

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    1. Thanks, Mark. It's more of a work in stages over time than anything. About an hour to cut out and glue the sheds. Dry at least overnight. About two hours each to cut and add the "boards" to the sheds. Dry overnight, then paint with dilute PVA. About an hour to do the posts and supports for the two sheds, and epoxy. Spray painting and drying - mostly waiting for paint to dry. An hour to dry brush the two mills. About an hour to make the arms and vanes, with 2 separate epoxy sessions ( I did all of the epoxy work in two big sessions - one to assemble the posts and supports, and part 1 of the arms and washers; two to finish the arms and washers and attach the mesh, and at the same time attach the shed to the post and supports.

      The mesh should be avail;able at most craft type stores, or I am sure you could order it. It costs about $2 for a pack of ? 6 sheets. It took less than half a sheet for the 8 vanes.

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    2. Thanks hugely for the information Peter!

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    3. You're most welcome, Mark!

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  5. All I can say is amazing, I wish I had the patience for a project like this. Came out very nice.

    John

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    1. All *I* can say, is that I could do it, *anyone* could do it! :-)

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  6. Peter,
    Looks like you had fun.

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  7. They look great! I went the lazy way, and bought mine all painted a few years ago from Warlord ;-)

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    1. The ones I saw were very expensive, especially by the time you added in the shipping!

      *Checked Warlord - $128 US each, plus shipping... and out of stock. Eek!

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  8. Lovely bit of modelling Peter and a fine step by step to boot.
    Windmills in Progress... droll, very droll!! :)

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    1. Glad you appreciated the modeling... and the word play, James!

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  9. You might also look into using photos of boards (barn siding etc) and printing it out and just gluing that to the foam. I've had success with that before for stone and brick. The board "textures" are often already available on free sites on the Internet. The pictures can be scaled up or down as needed. Just a thought.

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    1. That could certainly be done, but I really wanted the wood texture - and honestly, it wasn't that hard to do. Balsa strips could also have been used.

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  10. Excellent how-to, and an outstanding product. I am impressed.. as always.

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    1. Thanks, Jake! I took my inspiration from the 15mm version I referenced earlier.

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  11. That is a nifty project for your 100 Days games. Very thorough step-by-step tutorial with outstanding results.

    Good job!

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    1. Thanks, Jon. I am, hoping that it will really "place" the table at Ligny!

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  12. Lovely work on these, Peter. I think they will come in very handy, particularly as they feature in quite a few European battles. One of my favourites is the story in Michael Leggiere's book of how Bernadotte and von Bulow nearly came to blows in a windmill during the 1813 campaign.

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    1. Thanks, Lawrwence. Yes, a windmill was a feature of the battle of Lutzen ()hat's the Guistavus 2 Adolphus battle of Lutzen in 1632), and numerous other European battlefields ovber the centuries. I've wanted a windmill; for some time ( i have a peninsular one, but not really suitable for central Europe), so Ligny gave me a good reason to finally make them!

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  13. Very nicely done Peter, I have an old HO 1 I was doing but the bottoms edition is far to modern, I'll maybe rip it off and do what you have done here. Nice music!

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    1. Thanks, paul. I have domne more work on them, and should have them completel;y done within a week or so.

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