Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Limbering Up

I like the looks of limbers from the Horse and Musket eras... I really do. And yet, they seldom appear on my tabletop. There are a number of reasons for this. First, they take up a lot of space on the tabletop. In some ways, that is an advantage as it better reflects the actual footprint of artillery units in the field (and perhaps even more so, on the march). They also take up quite a bit of space in storage, which has no advantages at all that I can think of!  They are also rather expensive to buy, and something I don't enjoy painting very much, especially the draft horses to pull them. Providing a 1:1 supply of Limbers to artillery units becomes especially demanding of painting time, space, and money as one's collection grows. Some wargamers really especially seem to enjoy collecting these pieces (I'm thinking of you in particular, Joe!).

   In any event, as I was completing my new Wagons (se the previous post) and looking for my od wheeled transport, I re discovered some French Napoleonic limber units that I had largely forgotten about.


A couple of my very old modified Limber units after a stay in Rehab, and with basing upgraded


Here's the rather unloved starting material. Even these pics are a partial upgrade, as I have just painted the edges of their artist's matting board bases a dull green, to eliminate the white edges that show up much more in pictures than they do in actual use. 


 IIRC these are "old" (Pre 1972) Minifigs. To decrease the cost and painting, I had taken the four horse teams and broke them up to form 2 horse teams (Not correct, no gun teams used less than 4 horses, but I think they look fine to me aesthetically), and used some French Chasseur a Cheval castings as limber riders (never mind the lack of proper horse tack on them!). A single one of the set is "new" Minifigs, with the correct horse and rider but still reduced to a pair of horses for the team. Many are just a pair of courses, with plans to add separate limbers to them. However, I could never find any manufacturer that sells limbers without the teams (of 4 or even 6 horses. I have toyed with the idea of scratch building some limbers for them, but always wind up stymied by the wheels. So these limbers have lugubriously languished in limbo for long decades.

As the painting was pretty basic, dating back to my early years in the hobby, I gave them a coat of acrylic varnish followed by a heavy application of acrylic "magic Wash", followed by some touch up of some of the straps, etc, and black lining of some of the white horse tack, followed by an overcoat of acrylic spray varnish. Certainly an improvement over the original paint jobs!


  I then flocked the bases in a fashion similar to that which I had just used on my new wagons - very fine "earth" flock down the center, and fine "soil" flock for the ruts. 


For the edges of the "roads", this time I used my beloved "Alpine Meadow" flocking mix instead of the tufts and grass blend flock that I used on the wagons, mostly because it was cheaper and faster. 


So, here's the lot of the refurbished Limber units - all eight of them. After I took this picture I realized that I hadn't painted the wheel rims brown on any of the limbers, and I liked the look on the sole limber where I had done so years ago, so I went back and painted the remaining rims.


Two of the "limber" units still lack actual Limbers, although your eye misses that pretty easily.  I still like the reduced horse team look... and the reduction in horses to buy and paint! As the "new" Minifigs limber's base was already flocked, I didn't update it; I may rethink that. That's my effort at "Rehabilitating the Past" as Jake calls it on his own blog


I will have to see what I can do about finding or scratch building a couple more limbers to complete the unhitched teams. I also have a brand new, unpainted  (4-horse) Limber form Sash and Saber that could be added to these. Regardless, "Wheels" seems to be the theme for the Month of January here on the blog... and I am not nearly finished with it yet!

18 comments:

  1. I share your sentiments. Limbers are a necessary evil and I hate painting them. In 28mm, they take up a lot of real estate on the gaming table and a wad of cash from the wallet!

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  2. I love to see limbers and caissons on the table, you have reminded me I need some for my Prussians Peter šŸ˜³ nicely done!

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    1. Thanks, Paul. They really are much more of a rehab job than anything else. Still, with the touch up and enhanced basing, I'm a lot more likely to put them on the table.
      Good luck with the Prussian Limbers!

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  3. Now we just need to get you some extra horses....;-)

    They do look good. Glad they got some lovin' there, Peter.

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  4. I too have always thought that painting limbers and caissons is one of the most thankless tasks. Many seem not to want them "cluttering" up the table, and I can never shake the feeling that I could be painting the mounts for another cavalry regiment when I am doing three or four of them. They do look good though, and I believe serve to impart a feeling of completeness to any project.

    Given that they were usually stationed not too far away from a deployed battery they represent a fair bit of dead ground, it is a wonder more rules don't take this into account and insist on their being there as a no-go area behind a battery, or to increase the amount of time required to limber up prior to the battery's movement if they have been deployed too far away.

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    1. As much as I dislike painting them, they do add to both the look of the game and realistic space requirements for batteries. We'll see how long it takes me to get to that Sash and Saber Limber and team!

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  5. Nice mid life upgrade! I'm a two horse limber guy too though I enjoy painting them. Its a space thing for me. I cringe when I read rules that dispense with them, its just not right! Any way I managed to get extra limbers to go with my spare riders by buying a bag of Minifig (15mm) spares on EBay and after post looking for a source on TMP a nice manufacturer PM'd me offering to break up some sets.

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    1. Hmm, that's a thought to inquire direct if they'll sell limbers with 2 horse teams, or without the teams. Good idea!

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  6. There really is nothing like limbers and you have done a great job on them. When I sold my 28's the limbers were tough to let go

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    1. Thank you, John. I'd say the upgrading took them from "eyesore" to "presentable", LOL!

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  7. You've done a nice job on your refurbished figures, and resisted the urge to repaint which seems to be what I end up doing and in my case still being disatisfied! I got wheels from irregular minatures, I guess the shipping would be expensive for you but they were reasonably priced
    Best Iain

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    1. Of all the items in my collection, Limbers and their teams would be the LAST thing I'd ever repaint, LOL! This spruce up job was reasonable - took an afternoon to do the whole thing.

      Good lead on the wheels - I'll keep them in mind!

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  8. I also use two-horse limbers (though I do have a few fours). I use the old Musket Minis 15mm (same thing is available from Stone Mountain) ACW limbers for Napoleonics. They aren't technically correct with the ammo box, but they look the part, are relatively compact and only have two horses. The limber riders aren't any good for Nappies, but I use the auto-pilot approach you use for your wagons -- someday I'll add riders! I also often paint them a neutral gray and use them for any army as needed. A sort of limber "motor pool" if you will.

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    1. Good ideas! I have to say that part of the fun of Napoleonic limbers is the crazy colors (same as for artillery itself) - Olive green French, Yellow Ochre Austrian, Apple Green Russian, Medium Blue Prussian, etc. The (usually somber) uniforms of the train personnel aren't necessarily unattractive, either.

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  9. Useful and beautiful on our tables...even if not always a pleasure to paint! Nice job anyway Peter!

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