Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Port of Gierburg - Part 2: Dock Section I WIP

In the second part of this series I describe the building of the first big dock section for the Port of Gierburg gaming table.

Building the Docks

With the water board finished work on the Port of Gierburg continues with the first dock section. Basically this section will consist of three sets of harbour walls from GrandManner that I bought some time ago. Each set consists of various resin parts: a wall piece, a jetty, stairs and a flagstone board.
The Harbour wall/jetty
from the GrandManner online store (ME64)

Following my plans for the port set-up (see Part 1) the first dock section measures 75 x 12 cm. The harbour walls have a width of 31 cm so I had to do some filing to get them in the right sizes. Unfortunately (in this case!) the resin that GrandManner uses to cast their pieces is rock solid so it took me really long to file through the walls.

The plan was to incorporate two stairs and one jetty into the dock. I filed off the lower steps of the stairs so that they would fit nicely next to the jetty. The jetty also had to be cut to size. I could have used the jetty in full length, of course, but I want to be able to place three ships in the port and I have certain plans for additional jetties. This required the jetty section here to be rather short.

Like with the water board I used a 5 mm MDF board as a base. The rest was a lot of styrofoam.

I glued a beech moulding strip to the bottom where the dock would touch the water board. To stabilize the sides and to prevent them from damage I used thin wood boards.

I filed the corners of the wood boards so that they matched the stonework pattern of the harbour walls. Later, I would use modelling putty to fill the gaps and create a smooth surface.

Instead of the flagstone boards that come with the harbour walls I decided to use cobblestone boards from Vampisol. As I described in an earlier review these are very nice plaster boards that I highly recommend. I chose to use them over the resin flagstone pieces because the thin plaster boards can be easily cut into shapes so that they can be combined to create a big seamless surface.

Plaster boards with stretcher bond pattern from Vampisol

The Vampisol boards come with an extra pack of plaster powder to fill any remaining gaps after gluing the boards next to each other. I used both the plaster and fine sand to fill the gaps. I also placed some sand on various spots on the overall surface for a more realistic and less clean look. The last thing was to model the corners of the stonework and a step on each of the two stairs with modelling putty.

My focus during the entire process, or let's call it the "big goal", was to create one big piece that looks and feels like one coherent piece of terrain. I really don't like how terrain built with HirstArts products always looks like assembled Lego bricks. So it was important to me that the various walls, stairs, jetty and cobblestone boards all contributed to the appearance of one sensible piece of terrain.

The dock section in its entirety before undercoating

Lessons learned

It is important to put some heavy books on the sheets of styrofoam every time you apply the white glue. There was one moment - after I had already glued a few layers of styrofoam - where the entire thing started to bend heavily. I immediately placed my standard pile of books on it. At that point I had thought that the piece was sufficiently stabilized since there were already various layers, but, no, it bent. Luckily I noticed this in time and when the white glue was fully dried the docks were straight again. Still, don't trust these materials! All in all it took extremely long with daily cutting and gluing and nightly drying.

I also learned that it is impossible to build an accurate "block" by gluing sheets of styrofoam on top of each other. After a few layers you're always off by a few millimeters and I don't get better. For the second dock section - which will be a lot bigger too - I will use not only an MDF board as a base but also use one to maintain the correct measures for the upper layers. This is mainly important for the moulding sheets I like to glue to the sides.

So after all these days of slow building and waiting I'm finally done and ready to paint this sucker, now guess what - I ran out of undercoat spray and so did my local hobby store. His order of new spray paint is already over a week overdue. :/

Coming next in part 3: Dock Section I - Painted


  1. That looks really good. I've always been of the mind that I'd build my own terrain from scratch, but it's so damn time consuming that I'm coming around to the idea of resin pieces more and more. Look forward to seeing the dock with a lick of paint on it.

  2. Thanks, Simon! I actually feel very similar. Take these harbour walls for example: I could very well do something similar from scratch. But I never did. And when I found the harbour wall/jetty set on the GrandManner website I order three sets and it was the push I needed to get cracking on the board.
    Of course, with high quality resin houses it's another story. You save much more time with those and scratch-building to the same standard requires skill and at least experience. Consering how long it takes me to paint an average 28mm house I find it hard to imagine me also scratch-building them.

  3. I think you have done a grand job with the harbour wall sections. And although it hurts me to say it - the plaster cobble sections work better than the resin ones supplied by Dave.

    I designed and built the sections to be used in exactly the way you have done. But I am still to build my Jetty.

    It is good to see that you have used them so well.

    When Dave or I want to cut something down or sand it to fit, we use a belt-sander, just make sure you have a good filter system. If I have to cut the resin at homeI use a standard Hacksaw with a metal cutting blade.

    I hope that this helps.


  4. Thanks for your comment, Tony! It's great to know that I kind of captured your original vision with the arrangement.

    The GrandManner resin is definately the heaviest and most rock solid resin I have yet come across (although Ainsty's is quite similar I think). I definately need to get some better tools for working with these products. Well, now the hardest part is over - quite literally. :)


  5. Great to see that Grandmanner resin is sturdy! That might just persuade me to get a few of their models.
    Awesome additions to the board, by the way!



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