Sunday, September 18, 2016

I built a boat.

It was a rough start to the month, but one of the ways to keep the black dog at bay, is to keep doing things that make you happy. Gaming does that for me.   I determined that, apart from snuggling up with my wonderful wife this weekend,  I would build something - but what I wasn't sure. 

Then Malc Johnston over on The Wargames Website, posted the second part to his Trouble on the river Liu River 1900 series, and there was one of the simplest little gunboats I have ever seen.  Even I could do that! So off to the man cave I went.

HMS Demetrius

The Story of the Demetrius

The HMS Demetrius was originally the SS Demetrius the result of a failed private commercial venture to modernize grain shipping on the canals of Mars. One Thomas Pincham, of the automated loom threader Pinchams, fancied himself an off-world Brunel and invested his fortune in transporting a small single screw steamship to Mars. A devotee of ancient Greek culture, he christened his endeavour Demetrius or The Servant of Demeter, goddess of grain. Pincham had visions of his ship sailing up and down the canals, unfettered by wind or flood, delivering the harvest of the fields to the cities of Mars and of course their British advisers. Where trade lead, the Empire followed! Accomplishing this first required many trips and naturally massive transportation charges as each etherliner had limited space for mercantile cargo and that was at a premium price. The parts of the SS Demetrius arrived in fits and starts. Each shipment was placed in what was supposed to be a secure storage yard until assembly could begin.  

...or is it Detritus? 
Sadly this was not to be. Due to varying capacity on the etherliners then in service, parts were shipped according to their size and weight rather than their ability to be joined up in any coherent fashion with the components already landed.  Over time, the costs mounted siphoning away the Pincham fortune into the ether eddies of too many interplanetary voyages.  Finally though, the last item on the last manifest was checked off and using the dregs of his bank account, and rather too many loans, Pincham could get to work.

Only, the storage yard was not as secure as might be hoped and some of the local workers found the temptation of so much refined iron irresistible.   Several major and many minor components had disappeared over the back fence only to resurface as unrecognizable tools, jewellery and trinkets in the local bazaar. Pincham was devastated.  But fate was not done with him yet and the final blow fell - the customs man arrived with a very large and very unpaid bill for duties owing on Steamship (1) parts and accessories. With financial ruin certain, Pincham could not also face the social opprobrium of debtor's prison.

Fortunately for Pincham, if not for Mars and the Empire, it was at this moment that Oenotria decided to flex her muscles and attempt to force the Earthers out.  Steam vessels of any variety were desperately needed. The boilers and machinery of the Demetrius were not suitable for airship use but the vessel itself could be useful for control of the canals. Pincham magnanimously and patriotically, offered the Demetrius to the Government for the price of his customs bill with a bit left over to support him in at least comfort, if not the luxury he had once been accustomed too. His one requirement being that the ship retain her name as a symbol of "A great British mercantile dream now lost to the savage winds of war!" This was agreed to and the ship or her parts at least, were signed over to the Imperial authorities. Pounds in hand, and reputation mostly intact, Pincham left the planet without delay and disappeared into middle class obscurity.

It was now that the Royal Navy, her engineers and their civilian counterparts arrive to take stock of what they had bought. One less polite senior engineering rating remarked:
"It's not a ship! It's a f______ pile of c__p!  I've scraped things better able to float off the bottom of me boot! HMS Demetrius eh? More like HMS Detritus I say!"

The name stuck. It took many months and much improvisation but the HMS Demetrius was finally launched and placed into service. Her work on the canals was initially uneventful but recent attacks from the shore and air and have required that the original wooden wheel house be replaced with an armoured one. Because of  the lack of armour plating, Martian concreted armour was used instead giving the structure the look of a pillbox.

Build Notes

The Demetrius is quite literally made up of bits of scrap wood and MDF from the workshop. Malc's build  showed me that you can get a good result from simple materials. The smoke stack top and base are parts of a small decorative wooden apple drilled out to take a length of dowel I already had on hand. The galley chimney is spent .40 brass I picked up at a range years ago. The superstructure is glued and screwed and set back from the deck edge to allow a single rank of figures on either beam and a standard artillery base fore and aft. The armoured wheelhouse is a Type 22 pillbox that didn't print as well as I would have liked. I located it off centre to add a little visual interest even though an off centre weight his high up is generally not a good idea.  All it needs now is a coat of paint and some deck cargo for cover, and it's off for action on the Martian canals.


Michael Awdry said...

What a splendid build! She is already coming along nicely, well done that man.

J Womack, Esq. said...

An excellent start, and a fun narrative.