Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Building Fort at Khalaam - Part 1

In preparation for my Victorian Colonial game on Saturday (May 30), I have been building a fort in which the wiley Emir Tubeir can resist the Anglo-Indian punitive expedition. I've had the materials (Yoplait yogurt containers and foamcore wall sections) for a number of years but never the right incentive. That time is finally here. I've patterned the fort after the example set by Major General Tremorden Rederring on his web site: Regnad Kcin's hillfort. I've not tried to be as elaborate as the Major General at this stage. As usual, please click on each picture for a larger view. In all the pictures, the figures are Ral Partha Pathan warriors.

I used a hot wire foam cutter on the two levels of the hillock upon which the fort will be mounted. It has been the first real use of this cutter that I bought a number of years ago. It is a simple affair powered by two "D" cell batteries. But it makes a fairly neat cut and is much, much, much better than a serrated bladed steak knife.

Rising on a small hillock, the fort at Khalaam begins to take shape.

Here you can see the wall construction from the rear. A piece of foamcore and a piece of pink foam were glued together to form the wall and parapet. Circular floors have been glued into the tops of the towers. The gate is a simple archway cut from foamcore. It will eventually have doors.

The fort with all walls and towers in place.

Illustration of method used to secure the walls and towers. For the walls, toothpicks were cut and inserted into the base and then the walls were pressed down on them. With the holes in the bottoms of the walls slightly enlarged, the walls can be easily removed and replaced. For the towers, I used toothpicks as internal braces to keep the towers in place.

A close-up of the gateway and its flanking towers.

I also added damaged sections for the gateway and the other three walls.

This was done to illustrate the breeching of a wall after artillery fire. I will add rubble to both the interior and exterior of each wall section.

Here's a view of the rear of one of the damaged wall sections.

I also cut two extra towers down to be used as damaged replacements. On the left-hand damaged tower you can see the toothpick brace inside the tower. There are two more that help hold the tower in place.

I mounted the fort hillock on a slightly larger hill section, painted both with brown interior latex paint, and applied sand to give it some texture. This picture shows the fort base prior to the excess sand being shaken off.

And here are the intact wall sections after I primed and then sprayed them with Rust-Oleum brand American Accents Stone spray paint. Unfortunately I have had this can for a long time and I could never get the mixing ball to work properly so the paint came out in blobs and in pure propellant, resulting in incomplete coverage. I think this evening I will respray the walls with sand colored Krylon brand Ultra-Flat Camouflage paint. I also spray painted the plastic Yoplait containers, first with black Krylon brand Fusion paint and then with the sand camouflage paint. I must not have waited long enough for the black Fusion paint to try and that coupled with the high humidity here resulted in the sand colored second coat to exhibit a number of cracks. But that effect looked very good, adding some "authenticity" to the towers so I'll leave them alone. I didn't get pictures of them taken yet but will have them featured in Part 2.

I still have to complete the damaged wall sections and make a doorway for the entry before Saturday's first play test of this scenario. Then I'll have three weeks before the next play test to finished the fort and get the terrain work completed. Part 2 will come shortly with more pictures of the completed project.


Bluebear Jeff said...

Thank you very much for this easy-to-follow tutorial . . . and this will be a very useful and versatile piece of terrain.

If I might add a couple of notes . . .

The hot-wire cutters do do a great job . . . but they should be used outside because of the fumes from the melting foam . . . and, of course, that is easily done because you don't need to plug it in.

The second is that when I built a fort years ago, I used spackle on my foamcore for texture . . . and it worked great when I drybrushed over it . . . although I'm not sure how well it would do on the curved towers . . . still it is another option that others might try.

I really like what you're making here, this will look great and be used for years to come. I believe that I might just have to copy your design.

-- Jeff

ColCampbell50 said...


I did use the cutter outside as I was very much aware from previous hobby postings of the danger from the fumes. I have used a spackle, white glue, and sand mixture on other structures and hills before but wanted to try this stone spray paint since I got it in sale several years back. I think I may have waited too long to start using it though. But the fort will be OK for this first battle and I have three weeks to get all the errors corrected.


Frankfurter said...

I was going to say that this provided a germ of an idea for a castle I'm planning ... using plaster around large tin cans ...
but then I saw that word verification program was "sperm" ...

Anyway, I'm going to have to invest some spray paints anyway ...

Capt Bill said...

Wow! I really like your idea. I've never built anything like this, but your detailed instructions and picture certainly instill confidence. Thanks...

Fitz-Badger said...

It's shaping up quite nicely! One of the good things about a project like this is those "happy accidents" just add to the character of the piece. :-)

Bluebear Jeff said...

I thought of another "warning" for those who want to emulate you lovely project.

The propellant in some spray paints will "melt" styrofoam. To be safe, protectively coat exposed styrofoam (such as the open edges of foamcore) with white glue or paint before spraying.

-- Jeff

ColCampbell50 said...

Jeff (and others),

I coated all the exposed styrofoam (and even the paper sides of the foamcore) with acrylic matte medium primer. This was one project that I didn't want to take any chances with the spray propellant melting the foam.