Procrastination is the enemy of all wargamers and I suffer from it, the maybe tomorrow I’ll get this finished syndrome. Part of the reason that I started this blog was an attempt to push myself into the virtual corner so that I committed to get things done. It’s a bit early to see if that has worked. I started my new dirt roads over 6 months ago and it stalled as I got side tracked onto other projects or work/life got in the way.
I learnt this particular method from one of the other members of my local wargaming club, for those interested I have been a member of the Nunawading Wargames Association since I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne almost 5 years ago.
Neil showed me his roads that he made a couple of years ago from what we call in Australia, Chux Cloth and cheap water based calking compound. I was very surprised as they are very hard wearing and flexible to boot. 6 months ago I re-purposed a pack of chux that my wife had bought during the weekly shopping and I had a bunch of very cheap calking compound that I bought from our local hardware superstore (Bunnings) that was left over from another project.
I learnt from a previous project that the real success was not putting the compound on in one thick layer but rather spread a thin layer on first to fill the fibers and create a layer that the thicker top layer could bond to more successfully and the end result was more flexible.
I used 4 tubes of calking compound to create the base for the roads and after they had dried I cut them into the various shapes with dressmakers scissors, it handled like thin rubber, which is what it was I suppose.
That was 6 months ago, they stayed in limbo until last week. My old roads where made of 3mm ply and for some reason warped. However I was never particularly fond of them but never really got around to making replacements as they were good enough. We used them during a series of WWII Malaya games and both me and my long suffering opponent John got rather annoyed with them as they never sat right and to be honest looked a bit amateurish.
On Christmas Day I dragged them out of storage while the rest of the family lay in a food coma and started to paint them. Unfortunately family commitments dragged me away from them until today when I was able to return and finish the painting and flocked the edges and such.
The other measure of success is cost. Commercial road systems can cost rather a lot of money. I built about 6 meters of road in 28mm scale for about 25 dollars not including my time which was roughly 7 hours. The packet of Chux was $3.00. The calking compound was $3.50 per tube, I used the cheapest I could find, and I used 4 tubes so $14.00. I used cheap artists acrylics at $3.00 per tube and I went through 2 tubes – $6.00 and a very small amount of flock, maybe 2 dollars.
Total painting time was about 3 hours. If I had started and worked until the job was done the total time was about 7 hours, not including drying time for the calking compound. I think there is a lesson here. Will I learn from it, I hope so!!
I am fairly happy with the end result and will use the same technique to make a modular cave system for my kids D&D campaign and some tarmac roads for some reason that I will justify later. It occurs to me that I could use a stamp to impress cobble stones into the calking compound while it is still wet, something to ponder on. Hopefully I will get these done fairly quickly, at least quicker than this lot!