Thursday, 19 November 2009


Another few hours free today, between the housework and getting the child to and from school... So naturally I broke out the casting tools and metal and had another bash.

After the success with the cavalry command the other day, mostly due to the new heavy duty elastic bands, I thought it might be worthwhile to have one last crack at the Artillery crews. I am glad I did because I was able to save myself a lot of money. I had given up and was going to purchase four guns and crews from Irregular Miniatures, who do a nice range of 42mm Marlburians that seem to go quite well with these PA Home-casts. But at £7.50 a shot, that was going to be expensive and was a last resort. I already had eight PA guns cast up. It was only the problems with several of the crew moulds that looked like forcing me along the purchasing route.

But today my sense of optimism was borne out, and I managed to get a very high success rate from all the moulds. I did reduce the crew size a little, from six to five, to leave out the most problematic figure. I also decided that four guns was perhaps too many for the force sizes likely to be on the table, so dropped the total guns to three per side.

I have also decided to drop the total number of Cavalry squadrons from three to two per side, and am toying with the idea of dropping the Infantry regiments from four to three. Grenadier regiments will stay at two and I shall increase the Light Infantry contingent by one regiment, for a total of two per side.

I have certainly decided to drop the Foot regiment size from 25 to 21, including the Colonel.

Overall the changes won't really make much difference to the number of castings I have to produce.

And finally, I managed to find an interesting little gem on eBay the other week; The Battle of Fontenoy, by Charles Grant. It was one of a series of books written to provide background on battles for wargamers and modellors. It dates from around 1975, and I look forward to starting it tonight in bed, with a cup of hot chocolate by my side.


Stokes Schwartz said...

Hello there Christine,

Wow, looks like you've been busy! Lots of shiny new castings to paint. Are you opting for more or less historical uniforms, or will you go the fictitious route? Nice find of Ebay there. Hope the book is as enjoyable as I suspect given that it's by Charles Grant Sr. Have fun!

Best Regards,

Stokes Schwartz

Poacher said...

Thank you, Stokes... !

The uniforms will be totally fictitious, and I shall be guided by whatever colours I feel look prettiest. :-)

I have posted a few shots of my first regiment back in October, along with some "templates" for two others units.

As for The Battle of Fontenoy, I am actually very surprised that this book is not more in demand.

Written a few years after The War Game, it actually carries on from Charles Grant's ideas in that book, and expands and elaborates on them.

The updated Fictional 18th Cent. campaign ideas are VERY good indeed.

And of course it is all written with that wonderful sytle and humour that Mr. Grant was famous for.

So an under-rated book and, after reading it, one which I feel readers of The War Game might consider possessing for the sake of completeness.

abdul666 said...

Bonjour Christine,

The Battle of Fontenoy is indeed the natural complement of The War Game -the first War Game Companion, actually.
Unfortunately Fontenoy as a wargame is not illustrated by actual photos (otherwise, as a fan of 'true' Lace Wars, I'd it rather than Bunker Hill in The War Game!): I wonder if C. Grant actually played it? Probably, since his son used the setting / layout for the very first of his Scenarios.

Eagerly looking forward to discover more of your armies in their painted splendour!
I'm curious: as for the "templates for 2 other units" I spotted a 'red' infantryman with blue facings, what is the other? The artillery in grey?

What rules will you use? After perusing both, and a few experimental 'tries' (with minis from another period) I feel Grant's rules vastly superior to Young's (Charge!) ones, except for the artillery -I dislike templates, and Young's approach is more consistent with the treatment of musketry.

Of course you are quite impatient to have your armies cast, but as a form of respite / refreshing change (and gain the encouraging feeling that you are progressing in several directions at once), are you already toying with ideas for the campaign background? Your regiments will gain Battle Honours on the tabletop, but you could already workout their 'profiles' while devising their uniforms: both approaches may be mutually inspirational and stimulating.

Merry casting!

P.S.: If I may... this post is not 'labelled', someone discovering your blog in years to come could miss it, specially if, with time, you'll deal with other wargaming periods here.

Poacher said...

I have been lazy on the labels, Jean-Louis.... I often fill them in later. But thank you for the reminder.

Yes, I am taking a small break from casting for a bit, and what little spare time I have is now being given over to painting more of my Spencer Smith and SAE ACW figures.

BTW, the Grenadier in red actually has light green facings. I did initially toy with sky blue facings but it just did not look right, so I used Goblin Green instead.

Yes, I do agree that Fontenoy would have been nicer with photographs. Several of Charles Grant's other books lacked them too, but his text is always a delight.


Ross Mac said...

Hi Christine, I have just discovered your blog and have been enjoying a browse back through the 40mm casting project. I've done a few of these myself, a joy & a frustration, I've heard suggestion that atmospheric pressure and humidity play a role in sucess rates but remain convinced that it has something to do with the phase of the moon and the alignment of various stars :)

I notice that the perpendicular drill hole is the only venting that you mention. Have you ever tried venting with channels cut with an exacto knife or scalpel? It has made a huge difference to several of my molds.

Anyway your new troops are a joy to behold. There some shots of my own at
just scroll down to th PA pictures or NQSYW label (Not Quite the SYW)

Also like the fictional moderns. Have you seen Bob Cordery's Wargaming Misceellany Blog? He has been looking at a fast simple game inspired by Joe Morschauser old 1892 rules.

Thanks for sharing.

Corporal_Trim said...

Hi, Christen.

Like Ross, I just stumbled across your nice blog and empathize with your PA casting travails. I completely argee with your observation regarding the ease of casting the the new "round" figures vs. the old "flat" ones. Certainly I've found the old ones to be no worse. Really, it's the cavalry that kills me (that and the guns casting a few spokes shy of a complete wheel). S935 in particular is maddening, I like the pose but have never once gotten a successful cast with it. His sword usually turns out as a knife, or at best a gladius !

And your choice of PA for fictional armies is a wise one. While I like Holger E's sculpting style, his heavy emphasis on the uniquely-styled GNW Swedes resulted in figures that uncomfortably straddle the GNW/WSS & WAD/SYW eras, stylistically not working entirely well for either (except specifically as 1700-1720 Swedes). But as fictional troops, who the heck cares.

I'll be following your project with interest.

Best regards,
Steve Cady

Ross Mac said...

Hi Steve, I'm not sure about the Netiquette in the Blogsosphere of responding to a comment on someone else's blog but hopefully of interest to all. I had the same problem with the sword on this figure and was contemplating pin swords but by cutting narrow (triangular profile) vents to the blade have been able to overcome it and am about to start painting a 9 man squadron of the same.

Poacher said...

I have no problems with others asnwering third party comments..

Yes, I did try cutting vents on a couple of my 25mm Fantasy Army moulds a long while ago, but found that drilling a minute hole was just as effective and damaged the mould less.

As I meant to sell most of them on afterwards, this was an important point.

I found that the best way to cast the cannon wheels with the spokes intact was to drill a tiny hole about half way up each spoke, in one side of the mould. That did the job perfectly. 100% success rate after that. :-)

Likewise, drilling a small hole at the extremity of long items like swords or muskets also worked really well.

I find that, once properly vented by whatever means, most of my failures are due tio inconsistent clamping (usually too tight), incorrect metal temperature or poor pouring technique. In the latter, a failure to ensure a steady, fast flow often gives the metal enough time to cool, and thus stop flowing in the mould, before it has filled an extremity.

Ross Mac said...

I'm with you on the pressure. I have some clamps supplied by Reb Castings in the US that are about perfect. They look like something from an ordinary hardware store but all the ones that I have bought locally are way too strong and I have to resort a selection of rubber bands at times. I also have a melting pot with spigot which provides a nice even flow....until the spout clogs up ... sometimes nothing can beat a ladle and a sure hand.

I have occasionally drilled through, esp on spokes where there really is no other good answer but haven't used it much and wonder about the boards shutting the airflow. I have heard of people cutting vents on the outside and drilling through to prevent that. I think I'll keep the drill holes in mind next time I have a tricksy mold.

1st real snowfall of the season here, if only I were home, it'd be a perfect day to be inside casting!
Cheers, Ross

Archduke Piccolo said...

Charles Grant's 'Fontenoi' is a very fine book for wargamers, and yes, its one lack is photos of the game. However, I have seen photos of the game elsewhere, in either 'Military Modelling' or 'Practical Wargamer'. It was, of course, one of the early scenarios in C.S.Grant's Wargames Scenarios...