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Victorian Docklands

Victorian Docklands

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Project Blog by antiquitas Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

Spring Cleaning Hobby Challenge is a great opportunity to get some projects finished - and building a new board is just the incentive to tie several outstanding projects together. I have Wolsung figures and buildings, Carnivale figures and a paddle steamer all in need of finishing and painting. Part-time work (Covid) has given me the time but finances are restricted so it's going to be a lot of scratch building and repurposing. This going to be a long megaproject - but everything blossoms in the Spring!

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Victorian Docks: Playing with Electrics & a bit more on the bridge

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 4

I gathered and bought a few components for the Lifting Bridge wiring. I couldn’t get a two-way  pin rocker switch (plastic insert type) and had to get a beast of a thing for testing.  The switch arm was so strong that I had to add a bar to get a gentle enough leverage. Still looking for a better switch.

The test worked well enough – with a CR2032 button battery lasting about 8 cycles (more than enough for a couple of games).

The LEDs however did not light up while the bridge motor was working, but turned on after the microswitch activated until the lift switch was released.

When I took the battery out and attached the power supply to the terminals it did work as hoped.  The button batteries may not provide enough amperage so I will try a twin AA battery pack when I have bought some batteries.

Victorian Docks: Playing with Electrics & a bit more on the bridge

I have done a little more work on the bridge, soldering a gear cog to the gate and priming the mechanism and wall black, dry brushing with gun metal and using Liquitex red Ink and Rowney’s Ink 349 Green for the colour on the gears cogs and other features.

The Bridge  and lifting chains are coming along too.

The dark and grimey feel is starting to come together. The dry brush – inks – dry brush  make it look as though it has had a lot of use and abuse.

Victorian Docks: Playing with Electrics & a bit more on the bridge

Victorian Docks: Help wanted !

Tutoring 3
Skill 4
Idea 3
No Comments

Please could somebody check over this wiring diagram before I go out and buy the bits.  I think that it should work but I am not confident.  Do I need any other components in the circuit?  The motor and LEDs are 3V DC but the motor needs to run in both directions and the LEDs only work one way. Power is supplied via 3V button battery.  Many Thanks.

Victorian Docks: Help wanted !

Victorian Docks: Bridge Lifting Gear: Test

Tutoring 5
Skill 8
Idea 7

Victorian Docks: Bridge Building - Lifting Gear

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
No Comments

Bit box and other finds:

Lego Technic, Knex, Plastic gears bought from AliExpress, Gears from stripped printers, Brazing wire, Meccano shaft, Brake pipe, Candyfloss sticks, Coffee stirrers, Bullet casings, Brass eyelets, Large scale loco parts, 3V 15 rpm motor & gearbox & sprues from the Wolsung Warehouse kit.

I have spent the last two days in modeller’s heaven: Cutting, drilling, sanding, cursing, glueing, reglueing, trimming, regluing, cursing and enjoying every minute of it.

I am not going to do a blow by blow account, but you can probably work out from the pictures the stages, rethinks, and progress.

The motor is wired up and I have done a test run.  I still need to put in limit switches and control switches and the battery box.

I have started the walkway and made the arms of the bridge.

But there is a long way to go yet and a lot more ideas to add in…


The walkway was made using Candyfloss sticks and Coffee stirrers and the bridge hinges from Knex bits.

Victorian Docks: Bridge Building - Lifting Gear

Back to work tomorrow, so next progress report will be in a few days.

Victorian Docks: Bridge Brainstorming Session

Tutoring 9
Skill 10
Idea 9
No Comments

I need a bridge in the back corner to connect the lower deck of the central Quayside with the Industrial area.

The Lighthouse base is the best place to put it but will need a walkway round it rather than a door (tunnel) through it.

1 – The bridge is low so needs to lift up to allow water traffic to pass.

2 – A footbridge is fine as there are no vehicles in that area.

3 – The walkway and bridge need to be about 45-50mm wide to allow larger models to use them.

The first job was to construct the framework of the walkway and hinge points to see what the length of the bridge would be and get some ideas for how it would work.

Victorian Docks: Bridge Brainstorming Session

Once that was in place I gathered up a few bit boxes for inspiration.

Victorian Docks: Bridge Brainstorming Session

Next was a Brainstorming Session, flitting between the board and the sketches to see how ideas measured up.

My original thoughts was for a ‘Dutch’ style Cantilever Bridge or a mechanical bridge like Tower Bridge in London.

There just wasn’t enough room in front of the light house for the counter-weights and after ripping two of the lighthouse walls off I found that the centre support would stop me from putting the counter-weights inside.

I rejected the Tower Bridge design because the gear structure would block the walkway when the bridge was down.

Further examination of the bit boxes revealed some nice gears so I thought that I could countersink them into the base and do away with the weights altogether.

I have some slow speed 3V motors so the bridge could potentially work too!

I could add extra gears and a chimney etc. to make it more Steampunk.

I will have to figure out the electrics as it will probably need limit switches and reverse power for up and down.  Maybe some LEDs too.

I pulled out a few items that might be useful and now the fun begins…

Victorian Docks: Bridge Brainstorming Session
Victorian Docks: Bridge Brainstorming Session

Victorian Docks: Girders.

Tutoring 10
Skill 11
Idea 11
1 Comment

The Victorians loved their girders, so I have to have a few girders in there.

To support the buildings above the canal quays and engine room these need to be big and strong. Girders were often decorative as well as functional so I wanted a design that was relatively easy to mass produce but had some character too.

The idea I came up with led to three days of boring repetitive mess and a nice result.

Using a one inch forstner bit I cut out rows of off-set circles and then cut the beams just wider than the centre row of circles.  Then I cut thin strips of the sign card for the top and bottoms of the beams and used pipe glue to weld them together. The off-cuts will get used later as wall features.



The back area consists of several sections of base board that interlock but need to be stored separately, so the girders were made in sections and glued to the individual boards.  Floor sections and a chimney stack were made at the same time.

I found some lights and started adding some pipework.  The beams on the outside will have ‘glass’ in them, some with signage and some lit. The chimney will carry on up the other levels. A brick front for the engine room was another tedious job but I don’t have any plasticard so a stanley and ruler had to surfice.

And that brings me up to date.  Entries from now on will be as progress is achieved.

I did have to buy one more sheet of hardboard (about €11) and I did find some nice LED street lamps and railings on AliExpress and a Genleman’s Convenience (Pissoire), a water tower & a steam crane from Sarissa, but still managing a certain amount of restraint.

Next Job is a Cleaning Challenge!

Victorian Docks: Girders.

Victorian Docks: Bit box Inspiration and a Lighthouse.

Tutoring 10
Skill 11
Idea 12
No Comments

Like most gamer terrain makers I collect stuff. If anyone is throwing out some that has ‘potential’ it goes into a bits box. I have one with old large scale locomtives in it!

Rummaging through it I came up with some ideas for a stationary engine to belt power the factory (need to make flywheels and drive pulleys etc.) and a Stephenson’s Rocket type loco.  I was imagining making some heavy steam-punky dark and gritty loco based on the Mallard shape but there probably wouldn’t be room for it and a coach on the board.  A ‘Rocket’ would look cute, be a better size for the gaming space and could still be called the Mallard as it would be the fastest thing in this city!

I have thrown a few bits together to get a feel of them, but not cut or glued anything yet.

My original intentions were to build an observation tower and lighthouse beacon above the Customs House but I needed something for the waterway to go round and off the back of the board.  An Eddystone type lighthouse would look good there.

Victorian Docks: Bit box Inspiration and a Lighthouse.

There wouldn’t be enough room for the full width of the lighthouse and the shape would be wrong for what I needed so I ‘cut’ it in half.

The base would have to be strong for gaming abuse and to hold the various attachments to it.  I constructed a frame out of sign board and hot glued the side panels of hardboard to it.

The lighthouse will have a Dutch style cantilever footbridge to the other side of the waterway, walkways and ‘hayloft’ doors and pulley beams for loading supplies and of course a light at the top.

Victorian Docks: Narrowboats and Coal Barges.

Tutoring 10
Skill 11
Idea 10

The warehouses and the factory powerhouse need coal supplies and a means of shipping goods in and out so I thought a canal quay loading bay would be interesting. Narrow boats and coal barges are very long and I only need to represent them so I literally ‘cut’ them off at the edge of the board. Many narrowboats and barges of this era were steam powered so there is no need to include tow paths.
The boats were made out of. yes hardboard and sign board, cut to shape, laminated and sanded with the aid of the belt sander.

The coal barge is wider, shallower and more curved in the deck and hull.
This was made by laminating hardboard and sanding down the shape.
The addition of the chimneys and water barrels add a bit of interest.
The quays were constructed at the same time and everything except the narrowboat (which will need more detailing and painting) were hot glue to this section of baseboard.

The quays were set at an angle to make entry easier for the boats in the narrows of the waterways (and add some character). The two canals would probably head off in different directions to the coal mines and manufacturing in the North and to the cities and trading ports in the South.

Victorian Docks: Narrowboats and Coal Barges.

Victorian Docks: Arches and Warehouses.

Tutoring 9
Skill 11
Idea 11
No Comments

Underneath the main street is a maze of passages lined with discreet doorways, garish frontages, offices and subdued Gentlemen’s Clubs. This is where the Toffs and their guests do business, make and lose fortunes, and seek entertainment, pleasure and solace.  Access and order is maintained by a ‘sponsored’ branch of the Metropolitan Constabulary (Peelers or Bobbies) and by means of a single steam powered elevator and the waterfront.

Victorian Docks: Arches and Warehouses.

I made up the arches from sign board and dry fitted them so that this area can be worked on later.

Victorian Docks: Arches and Warehouses.

I added some warehouse entrances to the far end of the street to make this area playable. The street level board was cut back and a separated floor constructed and hot glued to this section.

Victorian Docks - Main Street, Powerhouse & Customs House

Tutoring 10
Skill 11
Idea 12
No Comments

The next part of the project was to build the structure of the main street where the houses will go, the power house and the Customs House and jetty.

There will be a canal running along side all this so bridges will cross at various points.

Underneath the main street will a secluded area for the Gentleman’s Club and other ‘entertainment’. The base sections are removable for later work and for dioramas etc.

I also started work on the old ‘medieval’ bridge and the road bridge to the Custom House, both of which were cut and constructed out of the sign board.

The road bridge has three supports and is glued to the main street side only and supported on a ledge on the other side to make it easier for storage later.

The last bit here was to start work on the arcade, making a multilayer piece to slide in with the quayside and shopping area.

While is was pottering away on that area I remembered another Victorian mode of transport that would fit nicely into there.

The FunicularThe Funicular

But that is for another day…

Victorian Docks: Basic Shapes.and materials.

Tutoring 10
Skill 11
Idea 11
No Comments

I decided to make the main construction out of two material: hardboard and plastic signage board.

Hardboard because I had a load of scrap pieces from cupboard backs and previous projects, it is easy to cut and sand, it is solid and strong, and it is cheap if I need to buy more.

Sign board because we had purchased a s*** load of it at work to make partitions for Covid protection when it all started, and had lots of off-cuts that were not wanted so I have some in the workshop and more available if needed.  This is harder than Foamboard, with a sort of paper skin on both sides and a plastic core.  It will cut (eventually) with a sharp knife or a saw, and can be drilled and sanded.  But it does tend to break roughly at the edges if worked to quickly or hard. This however could be an advantage for this project.

Basic Materials: Hardboard and Signboard.Basic Materials: Hardboard and Signboard.

I started off by cutting some 2ft square pieces of signboard and laying them out on my 6×4 table, taping them together, and then drawing out the basic plan.

I cut the hardboard shapes to suit, making sure that I had enough room on the main platform to use my new warehouse.

Old coffee cans seemed to be the right height for this area so I used them to support the boards while I tried out various ideas and then for marking the heights of the support walls.

These sections will get a lot of punishment during games so I needed to get a good framework underneath.

The next area to be built was the central jetty.  I wanted this higher but also to have different levels on the far side.  This will have a market area, pier type shops and a pillered arcade.

Construction was the same but the arcade shop section underneath needs to be made separately to allow for the shops construction and detailing later. The end of the jetty will have sewer outlets.

The sewer oulet and stink pipe were made with 1/2 inch plastic pipe and fittings cut and shaped to suit. The stairs were ‘borrowed’ from my Core Space.

And then more ideas…

Lower Docks with bridges, Main Street and the Customs House.Lower Docks with bridges, Main Street and the Customs House.

Victorian Docks: Project Aims, Materials & Methods.

Tutoring 11
Skill 11
Idea 13
No Comments

The Goal:

I want to create a docklands section of a dark, dystopian steampunk Victorian Era city (London?), with factories, houses and shops, with lots of levels, suitable for playing games like Wolsung, Carnevale (and Core Space?).

The board will sit on a 6×4 Ocean gaming Mat.

The board must be modular for storage and so sections can be used as diaramas or on other boards.

The board must be excessively detailed.

Anything Victorian or Steampunk can & should be included.

3V batteries are my friends – use as many lights and motors as possible.

The board must be playable and game friendly.


Anything in the house or workshop that is suitable.

Scrounge (with permission) any scrap materials at work.

Buy as little as possible (until I see something too shiney to resist)

Use up as much electronics, lights & craft materials as I can from my studio stock.

Incorporate as many kits (or parts of) as I can (just to get the damn things built!).

Repurpose and be inventive.

Construction Methods:

Pen, rulers & squares.

Saws & knives (and the belt sander).

Hot glue, Super glue, T88 plumbing glue and PVA.

Draw lots of plans, concept sketches & find images and just build what feels right at the time and add in any new ideas as I go.

Try not to do too much detailing before the main structues are built.

Try and finish before this (or the next) Lockdown ends.


Ven Rier Agents & Inventors shaking off the dust.Ven Rier Agents & Inventors shaking off the dust.

Victorian Docklands - A Dystopian Steampunk Mega Terrain Project - Getting Started

Tutoring 9
Skill 10
Idea 13
No Comments

Micro Art Studios had a Sale on – and one building I have loved the look of for years but never been able to afford (well, justify the cost) was on offer.  Covid Blues cure – I purchased it and the XIX Century Walkway.  Four hours cutting out and four hours constructing and I had my very own XIX Century Warehouse.

And that was that!


Micr Arts Studio - XIX Century Warehouse H00023Micr Arts Studio - XIX Century Warehouse H00023

But that night the rusty gears started to uncease and churn and in the middle of the night I had to get up, make a cup of tea, and start sketching.  An idea was forming.  If I can’t play with my new beautiful building (Covid Incarceration) at least I could make a board for it to sit on!

The docklands was taking shape…

So a quick confession – this was Sunday 14th March – Yes I did start this project before the Challenge started and this is a catch up – but it was a challenge to me even then!

My Spring Clean Hobby Challenge is to paint up my Wolsung Inventors – which have been sat undercoated for several years, construct a few Micro Art and Sarissa kits carefully stored away, crack out the Carnevale kickstarter that got put to one side (and not quite forgotten) and finish off a scratch build Paddle steamer project from a few years ago.

And bring it all together on a 6×4 gaming table.

I took some inpiration from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dieselpunk Venice! – Iron Grip: Marauders artwork and old pictures of docks.


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