Sunday, 7 April 2013

No Longer Toothless Tigers!

Lots of business trips recently with more coming up in the future, which unfortunately will conflict with at least one of our club gaming days.  But I've still been finding time for hobby stuff.  Mostly an hour here and thirty minutes there, but so long as it keeps the fires burning that suits me fine. 

For some time now we've thought that some serious French heavy cavalry would be just the thing for pounding Matt's British infantry into a redcoat purée on the tabletop.  Sada has a bunch, and I've also had some for a while- a whole boxful of heavy cavalry from Front Rank.  So I recently decided that it would be a good idea to drag them out of storage.  In terms of our Black Powder games I found that I have enough for one regiment of Cuirassiers and two of Carabiniers, at twelve figures a regiment.    

You would think, seeing as how much we are all into Napoleonics, that I would have dragged these out long before now.  The problem was that they would need a lot of work.   

I first bought these a very long time ago, so they are older models made from a much softer metal than what Front Rank uses now. Over the past ten years they have been languishing in my closet, packed in polythene bags, all lumped together and squeezed into a cardboard box with other heavy boxes placed on top.  

So when they finally saw the light of day, I found that many of the swords had been twisted around and had broken off, others were clearly about to break off, and most of the those that remained looked not so much like swords as they did short whips made from soggy spaghetti.  Not a great loss as the swords seemed much too short anyway, but I hadn't really a clue on how to repair them.  

I did try using dressmaking pins à la Peter Gilder.  But after turning out a few, I found they looked too much like delicate rapiers rather than heavy cavalry sabres.  So I never did go much further with them.

Not too long ago, I read somewhere on TMP about someone who had replaced broken swords using steel hair pins. It seemed a good idea, so I "liberated" a pack of hairpins and decided to give the idea a go.  I found that they worked very nicely indeed.
Officer of Cuirassiers with his new sword
It was a bit laborious, as the steel is quite hard and much more resistant to file and cutters than is white metalBut this makes for robust swords that will stand up to any amount of handling on the tabletop.

After cutting a hairpin to length with a good, fairly "butch" pair of wire-cutters, I then had to file it into shape by working a tip and edge (not too difficult) and notching the other end of the sword with a file to make a tang.  

The tang had to be long enough to fit into a hole that I had drilled through the miniature's fist to receive it.  
Drilling was easy, I've done this many times before and have got it down to a fine art.  Trying to file the notch and forming the tang was a real pain.  The hairpin sword is of course small and thin, and was hard to fit securely into a vice.  

Eventually I gave up on the vice, and just held the sword between my fingers while I worked it with a rat-tail flat file- at the cost of mangled fingertips and nails. 

Nevertheless, it was all worth it, and made for a very secure fit using a gel cyanoacrylate instant adhesive.  It all got easier with practice, although it would probably be even a lot easier if I used a Dremel tool. 

I have just finished replacing the swords of the Cuirassier figures, and have to admit they look a lot better and more imposing. These swords are sharp, straight, and will be pretty much indestructible. 

I made them a tad on the long side, but this will add to the psychological  effect on their already terror-stricken foes.
I discovered that somewhere along the way during the course of two house moves I had "lost" three figures, and had to order some replacements.  No doubt the AWOL miscreants will soon turn up unexpectedly again, but the unit has now been completely rearmed, washed thoroughly in detergent to remove residue and grease, and was primed this morning.