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Topic review - 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)
Author Message
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Thank you ! Yes challengly small ...


Freeing Ports

Originally I had planned to surface-etch the lids and the frames on the inside of the bulwark. The drawings for the masks were ready, but I never got around to actually etch or have the parts etched. Since I now have the laser-cutter, these parts were cut from printer-paper (80 g/m2 = 0.1 mm thick). With a width of the frames of only 0.5 mm, the surface-etched rivets may not have come out anyway. The same for the rivets on the hinges of the lids. At least not with my somewhat primitve home-etching arrangement. If I had etched the parts from 0.1 mm nickel-brass, the overall thickness would have been reduced to a more correct 0.05 mm (= 8 mm for the prototype).

The lids have no latches to lock them and the ports no bars across them to prevent items or people being washed over board. This makes their construction simpler.

Papers, even the smoothest ones, alway have a certain surface-roughness, at least compared to the bakelite of the bulwark. Therefore, the chosen paper was soaked in wood filler and spread to dry on a thick glass-plate that was covered in cling-film. The latter allowed to remove the paper without it rolling up. The surface was then smoothed with very fine steel-wool. The lids were cut from the thus prepared paper, but it needed several trials to find the right cutting parameters in order to arrive at parts of the correct dimensions. This is a disadvantage of such simple laser-cutters and their software. As the material is practically free, this is only a nuisance, but no other loss. Also the etching may not work out right in the first go, which may mean a considerable loss of money and time, if the process had been outsourced.

Laser-cut lids for the freeing-ports

Unfortunately, it does not work for very small parts with the paper prepared as above. It turned out to better for the very small parts, including the frames, to cut them from unprepared paper. Perhaps I should switch to dark paper. Due to its lower albedo (reflectivity) it absorbs more energy from the laser. Unfortunately, all the coloured papers I have come by so far are quite rough on the surface.

I cheated somewhat for the freeing-ports. As I was afraid that I would not been able to cut them out cleanly and evenly, I abstained from it. Also, the bakelite-paper used for the bulwark for reasons of stability would have had a scale-thickness of 64 mm, when looked on from the side. Therefore, frames and lids were glued flat onto the inside and outside of the bulwark respectively. I hope one will not notice this too much, once the stanchions are in as well.

Frames and lids were glued on with zapon-lacquer. Little laser-cut rectangles of 0.3 mm x 0.5 mm were stuck onto lids to simulate the hinges.

Installation of frames and lids

To be continued ...
Post Posted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:35 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
oh boy, oh boy, oh boy... a real gem, a very small one...
Post Posted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:15 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Thank you :thumbs_up_1:



The steering-stands consists of two pillars supporting a pair of wheels. These pillars were somehow bolted to the deck, but drawings and photographs do not show how it was done. On the model this detail will be barely visible, as the lower part of the columns will be hidden by the gratings platform.

The grating actually were photo-etched a long time ago. However, I did not like the rounded-out corners, which are due to my somewhat primitive etching process. Therefore, I cut the gratings also with the laser from Canson-paper. By playing around with the settings of the laser-cutter, I managed to produce reasonably square field and sharp corners. The fields resp. the ‘laths’ are only 0.3 mm wide and the grating is 0.3 mm thick (0.3 mm in 1:160 scale is equivalent to just under 50 mm for the prototype). I would have found it impossible to produce a grating in these dimensions prototype fashion.

Steering-stand gratings: Image as input for the laser-cutter

The gratings are made up from two layers of paper 0.15 mm thick each. Imitating the prototype to some degree the lower layer only had transversal laths. Both layers were glued together with lacquer. The transversal reenforcing bars are built up from three layers of paper and glued to the gratings again with lacquer.

The platforms are raised above the deck by four short columns that were turned from brass rod. They were slotted for the reenforcing bars on the micro-mill.

The steering-wheel pillars were designed on the basis of the photographie showen earlier and what can be deducted from the lithographs. There is a pole protruding from the front pillar of the stand on the bridge, the function of which is unclear to me. It may have supported an indicator for the rudder or just the lanyard for the steam-pipe. The only known photograph that shows a boat before the armoured command tower was installed is too grainy from the printing grid (it is only known from a publication) to allow to discern such details.

Steering-wheel pillars: JPG-Image as input for the laser-cutter

The pillars where built up from three layers of Canson-paer, which allowed to represent the cannelures. The pillar appears to be rather thin, but this is how it is drawn on the lithograph.

The axle of the steering-wheel rests in bearings that are clad in brass or bronze. A piece of 2 mm brass rod was bored out for the round heads of the pillars and then a thin disc was parted off. For further machining the discs were held in special insert collets with a low recess turned into the front (so-calle jewelling collets, used by watchmakers to machine watch jewels or bushings)

Machining the bearing caps in a 'jewelling' collet

The profile on the front was turned with a small boring tool and the dome-shaped cap over the axle was formed with a cup burr, as used by jewellery-makers to round off wires.

Shaping the covering cap of the wheel-axle using a cup burr

The caps are actually only segments of a disc and were milled of on the micro-mill accordingly.

Milling of the segment-shaped caps

All parts were glued together using lacquer

The individual parts of the steering-stands

Steering-stand on the bridge loosely assembled (a 1 €-cent coin for reference)

To be continued ...
Post Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:58 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
splendid and fine work...
Post Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:05 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Steering-wheels, third edition

A colleague challenged me to turn the brass reenforcement rings. I took up the challenge and bored out a piece of round brass stock to 6.8 mm and turned down the outside to 7.2 mm. From this tube with 0.3 mm wall thickness slices of 0.1 mm thickness were parted off. After a few trials to get the settings right this worked fast and repeteable. The rings were deburred on 600 grit wet-and-dry paper, ground finely on an Arkansa-stone and polished on a piece of paper with some polishing compound.

The new steering-wheels, above the brass rings

As it would have been very difficult to remove the old rings from paper from the wheels, I used the opportunity to produce a third edition of the wheels in which I left out one of the middle layers. The second edition was actually slightly too thick. Using the tried-out cutting parameters and now with some practice in assembling them, the new wheels were ready soon. The brass rings were glued on with lacquer.

The freshly cut wheels (I use a roof slate as cutting support)

The axle including drum for the steering rope were turned from brass.

A pair of steering-wheels provisionally assembled and the component parts

The wheels will be spray-painted painted all over and then the paint rubbed off from the brass rings. This will nicely simulate the rings let into the wood as per prototype.

To be continued ... hopefully soon ...
Post Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:31 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Steering wheels

The WESPE-Class boats had two sets of steerings wheels, the main one on the bridge and the emergency one in the stern. Both had double wheels that worked in the traditional way on drums and ropes. There is a rather good photograph of the emergency steering position, which allows to deduct the details of the wheels.

Emergency steering position in the stern

After some tests with the laser-cutter, I finally chose 120 g/m2 Canson-paper, which is 0.15 mm thick and has a smooth surface. It cuts well with the laser-cutter, as it is not ballasted with inorganic material, such as barytes.

Some trials were needed to determine the right cutting parameter combination of contrast, laser-power and cutting depth. One should assume that for a simple B/W-picture the contrast should be 100%, but somehow changing the contrast setting changes the width of the cuts. For this reason the final dimensions of the parts depend on the contrast setting.

Laser-cutting is contactless and the cut-out parts are not moved during the cutting process. Therefore, it is possible to cut them out completely and in contrast to the photoetch-process they do not need to be attached to some frame.

When designing the image with which the laser-cutter works, one needs to consider all these factors that sometimes can only be determined by trial and error.

The laser-cut parts of all four steering-wheels

The wheels are built up from several layers in order to simulate the joinery work and to arrive at the necessary 3D-rendering. Two core parts are thickened by two more layers the outline of which was drawn a bit smaller to simulate the profiling of wheels and handles. A further layer on each side simulate the rim and hub. The individual layers were cemented together with zapon-lacquer, which impregnates and stiffens the cardboard. Unlike many other glues this lacquer only forms a very thin layer, not adding to the thickness of the wheel, and the parts can be adjusted, as long as the lacquer has not dried.

Assembled wheels before finishing (the grid on the cutting mat has 5 mm spacing)

Handles and spokes where ‘rounded’ with some thinned PVA glue applied in several layers.

The prototype steering-wheels were re-enforced by brass-rings screwed on each face. My intention was to make these rings from real brass shim (remember: only real metal looks like real metal ...). However, I did not manage to cut so narrow rings from 0.05 mm brass-shim. In the end, I cut the rings from cardboard. They will be covered, after the wheels have been painted, in in gold-leaf.

The idea was to produce the rings on the lathe. To this end a dozen small squares of brass-shim were glued together and stiffend by squares of 0.5 mm bakelite. A central mounting hole of 2 mm diameter was drilled through the package and mounted onto the lathe on arbor. The package then was turned to the required outside diameter. The 1.5 mm thick package then was transfered to a ‘wheel-chuck’ on the watchmakers lathe. However the attempt to bore out the inside diameter did not work.

The next step will be the construction of the steering-wheel stand

To be continued ... hopefully soon ...
Post Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:25 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
There are some really delicate parts lined up now, such as the frames for the freeing port along the bulwarks. My original thought was to have them photoetched from 0.1 mm brass. However, given the difficulties I had in creating good, dense etching masks, I thought of trying a different route and something that is less messy. Laser-cutting seemed to be an interesting proposition.
So I got myself a new little toy at 100€ incl. shipping. Toy is perhaps an adequate description for these small compact machines that are now on the market. Their design-purpose probably is to mark merchandise with a burnt-in logo etc. For this reason they are mobile, so items of any size can be marked by just putting the little (15 cm x 15 cm x 15 cm) box on them. Their power is limited, 3W. A mechanical resolution of 0.05 mm is claimed, with a diameter of the laser-spot of 0.1 mm. The engraving area is 53 mm by 53 mm. The software driver works by converting the images into bit-maps and then it runs them down line by line. I should try to find another driver that uses vector graphics, which would speed up the cutting process presumably.

KKMoon-Lasercutter with a 3W laserdiode

The software allows to adjust various parameters, including the contrast of the image, the power output of the LED, and something called ‘cutting depth’, though it is not clear what the latter really does. The focus of the LED can be adjusted manually to allow for materials of different thickness, but it is difficult to judge, whether really the minimum of the spot-size has been achieved.
Given the power of only 3W, there are limitation to what materials can be worked with. The cutting resp. engraving effect depends on how much energy is needed to burn or vaporise the material. Paper works well, but a 0.4 mm cardboard seems to be the limit. I did not have much success with white styrene, only some light surface marks resulted even at the highest settings. Hard paper (phenolic resin impregnated paper) would have been my favourite material, but apart from the strong smell (the fumes are also not terribly healthy) a 0.2 mm thick sheet was only cut half-way through. Semi-transparent tracing paper does not take up enough of the energy and remains untouched. A sufficient optical density is required in order to absorb the energy and burn/evaporate the material. Strangely enough, the laser left quite visible marks on the piece of roof-slate that I used as fire-proof protection under machine.
Converting a drawing into a cut-out piece is not quite straightforward. I first had to work out a way to scale the bit-map and JPEG images that I created from my CAD-drawings. The solution was to draw a box around the graphics to be exported, measure this box and then to scale the exported drawing in Adobe Photoshop to a number of pixels the resulted in the box of being of the desired size when laser-cut. The resulting scaling factor was 1 mm = 20 pixel, which was indeed the claimed resolution of 0.05 mm.
On an image everything that is black will be burned away and everything white will remain. However, simply converting the CAD-drawings into images resulted in too narrow/small parts due to the fact, that the each burnt point has a diameter of at least 0.1 mm. Therefore, it was necessary to adjust the sizes of the areas to be burned away so that the remaining parts have the desired dimensions. The effect depends on the burning parameters and on the material. So, unfortunately, each new material and new part will require a certain amount of trial and error.
I tried my luck on another set of very delicate parts, namely the steering-wheels. They have an OD of just under 12 mm. Turning the complex shape of spokes of 6 mm length appeared to be daunting task, even if one could have perhaps made the handles and the spokes themselves in two parts. The laser-cut ones look quite good after a few trial runs, but I have to see, whether I can build up enough thickness from several layers. Cutting them from 0.4 mm thick cardboard was not fully successful.

Laser-cut steering wheels of 12 mm outer diameter

I just wanted to share the first experiences with this new workshop toy and trials will continue.

To be continued soon(?) ...
Post Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:31 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Yes, I brushed the paint all over the Plexiglas part and then lightly touched the faces again with the milling-cutter, so that the paint would remain only in the groove milled into the edges.

I am using the excellent metal paste made by the Czech company AGAMA: I read a very positive review a few years ago and then happened to be in Prague shortly thereafter, where I bought their whole suite of pastes at a very favourable exchange rate. They are really good.

Unfortunately, the German product 'Standard-Gold' has been discontinued years ago. When you stirred it and then let it settle again, the tiniest particles floated on the surface and when applied to a polished plastic surface, they looked like 'metallised' plastic parts (e.g. bathroom fittings). It's a pity that sometimes really good products are discontinued ...

Talking about gilding: as a natural scientist I have been aware of and actually used gold-sputtering of specimens for examination under a scanning electron miicroscope. Last year I ran into a British gentleman at the great shipmodelling meeting in Rochefort (France), who used this technique to gild 3D-modelled and -printed sculptures for a Georgian navy model. He is lucky to have a son, who works at Imperial College in London and who has access to a sputtering facility. Not cheap, the technique though. I wrote an article about this gentleman and his model in the LOGBUCH (the quarterly of our German Association for Shipbuilding History).
Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:41 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
The brass paint is indistinguishable from the brass parts; did you mill the excess paint ?
Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:08 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Thanks, gentlemen !


SMS WESPE was originally equipped with three binnacles, one on the bridge, the mother-compass on a sort of pole in front of the engine-room skylight, and the third one in front of the emergency steering-wheel at the stern. In the 1890s a fourth binnacle was installed on a platform atop the engine-room skylight, but is left off here. As SMS WESPE was built in 1876 the original binnacles lack the conspicuous compensation spheres, that were only invented in the 1880s by Lord Kelvin. Also other type of compensation gear is not visible on the lithographs and the earliest photograph. A photography of the early 1890s shows a much more substantial binnacle in front of the emergency steering-wheel, which preumably now houses the compensation gear and also sports the compensation spheres. Originally, the compasses must have been illumanted by petroleum lamps, but from the lithographs it is not clear, where these lamps would have been attached. At least there are exhaust funnels on top of the binnacles, which have disappeared in later photographs. This seems to indicated that electrical illumination might have been introduced, when a dynamo was installed on board in the early 1890s for a search-light.

The binnacles as they appear on the early 1880s lithograph

For the model the individual binnacles were redrawn from the lithograph in order to serve as a basis for working sketch to guide the lathe- and mill-work. One needs to keep in mind that the total height is somewhere between 10 and 15 mm.

Redrawn binnacles, broken down into individual components to facilitate machining and painting

The columns presumably were made from mahagony and were turned from brass rod before being transferred to dividing head on mill to cut the octogonal shape.

Milling the octogonal section of the binnacle columns

The actual compass was made, as usual, from brass and so on the model. Body and funnel did not provide a particular challenge, not considering the small size. To the contrary, the glass hood with its narrow frames of perhaps 15 mm width on the original. The body was roughly turned from Plexiglas and then transferred to the mill. Here the octogonal pyramid was milled. Using a 0.3 mm ball-head burr narrow grooves were cut into the edges and these grooves filled in with brass paint.

Set-up on the micro-mill to shape the octogonal pyramid of the glass hood

Milling the faces of the octogonal pyramid

Cleaning up the faces after painting the edges

Once the paint had thoroughly dried, the faces were very lightly milled over, which resulted in sharp narrow brass strips at the edges. This is a technique that I copied from making engraved scales.

Each binnacle is made up from four parts

Originally I had the crazy idea of placing a miniature compass-card underneath the Plexiglas hoods, but even without it, assembling the binnacles was fiddly enough.

The binnacles provisionally assembled, pending the painting of the stands (apologies for the poor quality picture and the missing match for scale)

To be continued soon(?) ...
Post Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:45 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Wow! Your model of the EOT is very small! Nice work.

I seem to recall reading somewhere (on this Forum?) that the Engine Order Telegraphs on the first US monitoes (USS Monitor) had a horizontal display.

Post Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:41 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Very nice work :thumbs_up_1:
Post Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:18 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Sorry, they were linked as https, as some other fora require. Corrected.
Post Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 3:19 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote

The images do not show for some reason.

Post Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:51 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Thanks, DrPR !


Engine-Room Telegraphs

On the ‘official’ lithograph of SMS WESPE from the early 1880s an unsual form of engine-room telegraph was drawn. It has a horizontal dial. In the earliest known photography of the ship during fitting-out, the telegraphs had not yet been installed.
A short while ago I discovered during a visit to Oslo in the Norsk Maritimt Museum a very similar telegraph on display. Unfortunately, the legend is not readable on my image. I seem to remember that the inventor or patentee was named. A search on the Internet and in my library did not produce anything, so I would be grateful, if anyone has an idea, who the inventor or patentee might have been.

Horizontal engine-room telegraph in the Norsk Maritimt Museum, Oslo

The telegraph was redrawn from the lithography in order to serve as a working drawing with measures to guide the lathe operation.

The original lithography and working drawing

The whole telegraph seems to have been made from brass and accordingly the model was turned from brass. The indicator arm and follower were made from flattened brass wire and the ‘wooden’ handle built up from PVA glue.

The two engine-room telegraphs at their place

SMS WESPE had two telegraphs, one for the starbord and port engine each, of this early twin-screw naval vessel.

To be continued soon(?) ...
Post Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:48 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote

Excellent work! I have enjoyed following this build.

You are quite right about macro photos being very unforgiving. After doing my best work I am sometimes humbled by the nasty details high resolution macro photos reveal.

Your work is very clean!

Post Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:53 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
A belated Thank You !


After many trials and tribulations I completed the awnings over the hatch that leads down into the the deckshouse. Such hatches were protected by railings made from polished brass tubes with connectors cast in brass. The railings had sockets into which arched awning stanchions could be fitted. The hole arrangement could be dismantled in order to be able to cover the hatches in very bad weather. The old photograph shows a similar arrangement on an austro-hungarian warship of the same period. The contemporary drawings of SMS WESPE show such quite complex hatch-cover.

Hatch and its cover on board of an austro-hungarian warship of about the same period

I first attempted to turn the stanchions from brass wire or small brass nails, but both materials turned out to be too soft given that they are 5 mm long with a diameter of only 0.3 mm. Even my sophisticated steadies didn’t work. In the end I had to fabricate them from 0.3 mm with 0,5 mm sections of 0.5 diameter brass tube slipped over them. The upper connectors were cross-drilled in the dividing head on my micro-mill for the 0.2 mm horizontals. I also attempted to turn 0.7 mm diameter knobs to fit onto the stanchions using a specially made cutting bit. While they turned out reasonably well, it proved impossible to fit them – I lost them faster than I could make new ones ... the knobs are simulated by tiny blobs of of white glue, painted in brass. Acceptable at normal viewing distance, but pretty awful in close-up photography.
Attempts to provide the stanchions with sockets for the awning-stanchions failed and I simplified the construction by just making a wire-loop at the end, that slips over the stanchions before the knobs were made. The knob in the centre was turned and cross-drilled.
The hatch-coaming was fabricated from two layers of bakelite so that it would rest on the deck. The corners were drilled 0.3 mm for the stanchions.
Assembly proved a major challenge for my patience and took me several evenings. Luckily, SMS WESPE has only one such hatch cover. The whole structure was assembled using lacquer. It would have been better to solder it, but I wanted to keep the polished brass appearance – nothing looks more like metal, well, then metal ! Nevertheless, I have some very good metallic paint made by a Czech company ( that was used on the knobs.

The model representation. The hatch is 7 mm x 11 mm – close-up photographs are unforgiving

To be continued soon(?) ...
Post Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:05 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
For some inexplicable reason I did not notice this work in progress; excellent results!
Post Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:46 am
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Thank you :jump_1:


There are two jacob-ladders on each side of the hull, a wider one underneath a door in the bulwark and a narrower one a bit forward. The steps probably were made from wood and had slots towards the hull to prevent the water from collecting there and to prevent the wood from rotting.

Milling of the steps for the jacobs-ladders

The steps are made from 0.8 mm thick Plexiglas® and the slots milled in. The sheet then was sanded down to the width of the steps and the ends rounded. Then individual steps of the right thickness were cut off on the lathe set-up with a mini saw-table.

Steps ready for fitting

Unfortunately, the steps could only be cemented to the hull using cyanoacrylate glue, there being no positive locking. A bit of cellotape provided a guide for alignment. Nevertheless, the procedure was a bit nerve-racking.

Jacob-ladder on port

Jacob-ladder on starbord

Further, fairleads for the aft mooring hawser were installed. These were made from oval rings of copper-wire. The rings were formed over two 1 mm-drills taped together, cut off and closed by silver-soldering. The rings were sanded down to half their thickness and one each of these rings cemented to the inside and outside of the hull. The hole was drilled out and filed to shape.

Fairlead for aft mooring hawsers

To be continued soon ...
Post Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:38 pm
  Post subject:  Re: 1:160 S.M.S. WESPE Armoured Gunboat (1876)  Reply with quote
Very impressive... as usual : the real quality shows whan you can't really tell the scale with the photos, such is the precision.

In your case it could be as well 1:72 or 1:48 than... 1:160 !

very inspiring, thanks !
Post Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 9:34 am

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