Last week (September 12-18, 2021) was unfortunately the slowest progress week to date. Gravel was spread under the new house deck location and some more asphalt was removed there as well. We also got our first plumber visit and a lot of action is happening that is not actual construction.
For example, we were able to get a visit from Door Systems of Worcester so that we could evaluate options and order a garage door. The bad news is that that door will take 3 months to arrive. COVID-19-related delays are a factor beyond anyone’s control.
This week should prove to be more active – Andy Cormier is back from vacation, so digging will recommence on the sewer line and the driveway. And much electrical work will be happening, with our service upgrade (needed for the new building demands and more) as well as some plumbing too.
Thanks for staying with me. I turned 59 this week, so I still believe that this project will get done before I turn 60!
The project continues into week #8. This week, with Labor Day on Monday, was a short one, but work did get done. If you remember, this project also includes work on our back yard, driveway, and back deck. This is the deck attached to the house – as opposed to the one attached to the garage. It will be bigger and more functional than the current one. Foot traffic into the house will be rerouted and the driveway reconfigured here.
Given the amount of previous work done, there was a need to reorganize the site a bit on Tuesday September 7th and Wednesday September 8th. Excess materials were returned for credit and site trash and leftover pieces of “stuff” (shingles, lumber, plywood, etc.) were picked up and carted away.
On September 9th, work on the back deck went into high gear. It was removed and carted away.
Surprisingly, there was an old asphalt landing under the dirt here that I found while removing a decades worth of leaves that had blown through the lattice found a home under our mudroom!
On Thursday September 9th, the father and son team from Ready Installs (Jon and Jonny Victor) measured for the new piers for the house deck. Later on Thursday, it rained a lot – AGAIN.
Meanwhile Mike Astrella (electrician) was busy getting light positions chosen, as well as working on the rough electrical for both the upstairs and downstairs of the new building.
On Friday, I made a few supply runs to Home Depot in Auburn and EW Electrical Wholesalers in Worcester to get overlooked electrical supplies and materials.
Also on Friday, the house deck piers arrived.
On Saturday, September 11th, the piers were installed and backfilled.
That’s the progress for the week of September 5-11. We are getting there. Hope that you are enjoying these summaries!
Wow – we are almost two months into this building project now. This week (August 29 – September 4, 2021) was REALLY busy as you’ll see below. My photos focused on the more active stuff – so I hope you find them and the continuing saga of this project interesting.
First, I was able to get some shots on the interior work on the second floor.
Jon and and Jonny Victor (the father and son team of Ready Installs) showed up early to check out the project’s progress.
Next, the first order of business on Monday, August 30th, was to get the deck header up. This involved installing an ice-water barrier (which the crew decorated with a muscle-man drawing of Raphael as it will never be seen again), and nailing the header.
Inside the garage, work on installing furring in the ceiling went on.
At this point, we had a need to get some construction synchronized dance going. To start the deck we needed get the piers in for the deck – which required excavation and careful measurement. Also, the septic line needed to be started. Andy Cormier returned with his excavator and crew to do this. There were quite a few roots in the ground from a previously removed pine tree.
Once the trench was right, each 600-lb. pier was put in, and checked for accurate placement.
After this, Andy backfilled the trench.
On Tuesday, August 31st, work continued apace. The framing of the deck began as well as work on a septic line and more.
When Andy was safely done, work could get going on the deck supports. Temporary supports were used and then the main deck supports were attached to the piers.
Wednesday saw more of the same – deck progress. I was out so I did not get as many photos. The crew had to wrap it up early as the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida were coming with heavy rain predicted Wednesday-Thursday.
Ah, but the rain came heavy – BUT – it was only overnight and gone by the morning of Thursday September 2nd – so happily work could continue on the deck and second floor in preparation for Saturday roofing.
No construction happened Friday as the roofing crew was going to hit the ground running on Saturday. And hit the ground early they did at 7 AM!
The roofing crew was done in 4 hours – and now we are ready for another good week. We did also work o Saturday with one of Jon’s patio specialists to define what our patio would look like and that should be very exciting and gorgeous – but you’ll have to wait to see that (like us).
Thanks for taking a look here – and what do you think of the progress so far? We have a good ways to go, and as the Starks (and EVERY New Englander) says, “Winter is Coming”…so we are certainly wanting sooner than later.
For those of you who are wondering if I will EVER get back to hobby stuff, I will. I am using some time to rewrite and add onto my Aztec supplement for Buck Surdu’s Feudal Patrol™ in Mesoamerica (Civilizations Collide). New and improved (I hope).
Also, I am writing a good number of scenarios too. Plus, golf season is winding down in the next six weeks, so that’s happening too.
Last week (August 22-28, 2021) was a stop-and-go affair for the project. As I mentioned in my last post, Tropical Storm Henri hit us with wind and rain Sunday-Monday, so progress on work was delayed until Tuesday the 24th.
At that point, things went fast as you’ll see below – until Friday. There was a crack three-man crew of Raphael (supervisor), yet another Raphael, and Enrique who arrived and worked like men possessed. This despite that the weather was really hot all three days – mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 36 Celsius for you metric folks). There is really no shade either in our yard.
At the end of the day, here below was the progress for the week – on Thursday.
Friday the project got held up as we needed to get the deck piers excavated – and the excavator did not make it to the site. Also, the pre-fabricated concrete deck piers would need to be moved to the other side of the building, and they weigh about 600 lbs. each. Ironically, the heat broke Thursday night and Friday was nice and in the 70’s. But it is August, so….the heat will be back, even in September. Of course it could snow in October…
I’m looking forward to more progress coming during the week of August 29th to September 4th. Stay tuned!
Yes! It’s finally time for the FINAL REVEAL of my Aztec cityscape. It’s been a labor of love – to recreate this tabletop for gaming. What game you ask? Why of course – Buck Surdu’s Feudal Patrol™! I wrote the gaming supplement for Feudal Patrol™ games during the period of the Spanish Conquest. The supplement involves the Conquistadores, the Aztecs, the Tlaxcalans (and more Mesoamericans who fought the Aztecs), the Maya, and the Inca (in South America). I called it Civilizations Collide, and it’s a free download from Buck’s website or from Sally4th in the UK. If you have not checked this excellent game out – do it!
This is Part 5 of my series on “Building an Aztec Cityscape”. There are a lot of background history and WIP details in these posts that for brevity I won’t repeat here. However, if you have missed the other parts, they are listed below with their links:
Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 5: Tenochtitlan – THE FINAL REVEAL (this post)
As for wargaming the period of the Spanish Conquest 500 years ago, I want to be clear. It was brutal to be sure, and as I have stated often, there were no good guys on any side. I did not aim to glorify any aspect of the time, but to raise awareness and knowledge of it through wargaming.
From the start of this project, I wanted to create a unique and hopefully stunning tabletop for these games. I had a vision of creating a nice cityscape – an encompassing panorama that I had not seen anyone else do at any convention. Also, the cityscape needed to facilitate a fun gaming experience, so visually, I felt that had to go big. I had already painted 230 figures for the period. I had built many buildings too. Therefore, I wanted something that had the “flavor” of Tenochtitlan. However, with the tabletop designed for 28mm skirmish figures, (about 1″ tall), building a true-to-life and historically accurate Tenochtitlan would have required a gymnasium-sized playing area. I have seen stunning photos from SALUTE in the UK that were for 15mm gaming, but that scale went far beyond what I envisioned – or what was feasible for me. For travel to gaming conventions, the cityscape needed to be able to be broken down and transported easily. It needed to be useful for multiple games. This post will reveal my solution, for better or for worse.
I started out with historical research into several sources, and thinking about what I wanted and what I could do. After I had my initial concept, I then refined it into the two plans that I put on paper below.
The previous posts describe in more detail how I got here. So, let’s show some eye candy – and I will be posting on the Combat Patrol Facebook page and sharing a link to my IGTV page where you can view a video of the cityscape.
Here I set up some figures on the cityscape – many of these images were shown in previous posts – but here you get to see the whole thing!
As before, this is DEFINITELY (I think anyways) my last entry into Dave’s Season of Scenery Challenge! Thanks Dave for running the challenge and letting me be part of it. At least it’s the last part of the cityscape posts.
I also want to especially thank my wife for tolerating this bit of my madness. And of course I thank my old West Point comrades Buck Surdu and Dave Wood, Greg Priebe, Chris Palmer and the HAWKS, Chris Abbey at Sally4th, Dave at The Imperfect Modeler (especially for the chinchilla dust tip), GED at Gringo 40’s, IRO (for inspiration), Joerg Bender at Things From The Basement, the Uxbridge Historical Gaming Club and the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.
A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL the bloggers listed below who have taken the time to encourage me over this project. I am indebted to you all – you kept me focused, and motivated.
I’m not an award-winning videographer – but I hope that you enjoy the video.
What’s next? I will be going to my first HISTORICON and bringing both my cityscape and my rural tabletop. I will also be adding the two naval types (brigantines and war canoes) to the next version of my Civilizations Collide supplement – along with new scenarios and scenario-specific rules. I hope that you will like these. Yes, I have more work to do!
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section – and thanks for looking!
For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.
The fourth week of the project (through August 14th) saw some progress, as well as some headaches. I’ll let the pictures below help to tell the story.
On Monday, serious work began on moving dirt. More of the old driveway was removed, as was some overburden. Unfortunately, on the previous week, one of the less-experienced excavator operators hit the new foundation and chipped off a piece.
That was not pleasant to learn or see. It’s repairable, but felt awful as it’s brand new. As this week was about digging a trench for the water line and a second trench for the power and coax cables – and would require digging close to our house foundation – the owner of the company doing the subcontractor work for the excavation (Andy Cormier), took charge of the digging. That was a relief as having an excavator hit the house would have been a nightmare.
At this point, it became a waiting game for the wiring inspector, as both the conduits in the remaining trench, and in the foundation, needed to be inspected before being backfilled. We lost time as he did not come until Friday morning. As Andy was not sure as to when he would come, he had moved his excavator to another job site. This would delay the backfilling. Also, the wiring inspector wanted thicker conduit installed where it attached to the house (schedule 80 versus schedule 40), in case it was struck buy something. He also wanted more sealing where it went through the siding. Therefore the electricians had another task for the following week’s work.
While construction was on hold, Saturday was a big day as it involved Massachusetts having a “tax-free weekend”. This is when – as a “gift” from the legislature – businesses can sell items up to $2,500 with none of the 6.25% Massachusetts sales tax applied. While I wish that we had been allowed to start this whole project a couple of months sooner, this was a boon. I am purchasing all of the project materials so as to get the points on my credit card. This requires some degree of management on my part. I had spent the week working with Ready Installs and their vendors to line up as much as I could get to be ordered on that weekend. A few items (mainly big doors) did not qualify, but a lot did. One of the biggest orders would be from The Home Depot store in Shrewsbury, which is about 45 minutes away. I also knew that there would be a LOT of people and contractors thinking similarly about the tax-free weekend. So, I got up before 4 AM, got myself ready, and was the first in line before the Home Depot opened at 6 AM on Saturday. No worries as getting up early is my norm. I got the order – and all the other orders in – and saved a substantial amount of money overall.
That’s Week Four, ending August 14th (for those non-US folks – our calendars end on Saturday). Looking forward to more progress in Week 5.
Thanks for looking! FYI – for those of you also following my Aztec project – the BIG REVEAL is coming very soon! If you are not, you should take a look here at the first installment – there are four now and one more to go.
Not a lot happened this week on site construction-wise. We had visits from Ready Install‘s excavation, plumber, and electrician contractors. These were to determine what was needed to build and to coordinate activities. We did get a water line delivered and insulation for the foundation to protect against frost. Definitely was hoping for more progress, but hopefully next week will be better.
Saturday was the highlight of the week – we went to Spotlight Design Center on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester and worked with Leanne Richard at Spotlight Design Center to finalize the design on the mini-kitchen that will be on the second floor. She was a true professional and extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
Leanne did a nice job with her CAD design for the kitchenette. She was very thorough.
After this, it was off to Home Depot to look at some options for flooring and appliances.
I know Ready Installs is chomping at the bit, but again, I hope to see faster progress this week at the site.
I have been working through July to build a representative 6′ x 4′ cityscape gaming table that would evoke the flavor of the city of Tenochtitlan, which was the capital of the Aztec Empire. On the arrival of Hernan Cortes in 1519, Tenochtitlan was populated by an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people – making it even larger than contemporary London. It was built on an island in Lake Texcoco, and was linked to the mainland by multiple causeways. These causeways also had removable or liftable bridge sections. In effect, Lake Texcoco formed a “moat” around the city, making it impregnable to enemies for hundreds of years (until the Spanish Conquest occurred anyways). The causeways would be of major importance during all phases of the Spanish Conquest. Cortes met Montezuma II on a causeway for the first time. The Spanish and their Tlaxcalan allies would fight desperately at different times to both escape Tenochtitlan (La Noche Triste) and to return to conquer it afterwards. The nature and importance of the causeways were major aspects of these battles, so any representation of the city of Tenochtitlan needed to have causeways.
To build a city of such size would be massive – and certainly beyond the scope of a reasonably-sized gaming table. My goals were to make something special – while ensuring that it was something that could be used in games of Buck Surdu’s Feudal Patrol™ in Mesoamerica (using my Civilizations Collide supplement). I wanted a diorama that could be played on. To that end, I have built many buildings and figures that have been previously shared in this blog. What I needed to add was the underlying structure of the city – “the cityscape”.
The work that I did to build and paint this cityscape was extensive and would overwhelm a single blog post. Hell, it almost overwhelmed me just building it! Therefore, I have decided to break my work on it into 5 posts that I will share over the next few days. There will be a lot of WIP shots on each category, leading up to a final reveal. I am also continuing with my weekly garage+ build posts (like here and here), and I have some golf stuff to add as well. This is “Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions” after all! My blogging drought is coming to an end! As for the cityscape posts, here is the listing of what is on deck:
Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 1: Causeways, Lifting Piers, and Removable Bridge Sections (this post)
Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 2: Pavements
Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 3: Revetments, Lily Pads, and Cattails
Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 4: Cortes’ War Wagons
Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 5: Tenochtitlan – THE FINAL REVEAL
To build the cityscape, I started off with building the causeways, but work on all of these components overlapped. Please enjoy them and hopefully this is useful for my fellow gamers, modelers, and hobbyists. Luckily, these all can be part of Dave’s Season of Scenery Challenge – which is fun as well.
Initially, I wanted to plan the cityscape layout for a 6′ x4′ mat. I drew a rough sketch, and decided that I would get two 2′ x 4′ sheets of 1/4″ MDF from Home Depot. My friend Jeff Smith (a fantastic woodworker) has a lot of tools – to include a nice table saw, which I do not have. As I needed more precise cuts than I could achieve with my Black and Decker skilsaw, I enlisted his help. He was able to cut all the pieces in no time at all (and again, thanks Jeff!!!).
After the MDF was all cut, I laid out the pieces that I had on my FLG swamp mat, and arranged my buildings. Later, I would get a water mat from them, as I thought the swamp would not work as well. After the MDF concept layout, I was on to the building of the six causeways. I usually went through the process of doing one phase of work on one piece (like a prototype), and if that worked, moving on to the rest in similar phases.
My causeway section prototype would be 5″ wide and a foot long. I spaced out some 6″ craft sticks evenly across the bottom and used wood glue to affix them. These would be to support the wooden piers and stones around them on the sides of the top surface. This worked ok, so I did all six with the cross-glued craft sticks.
While the glue was setting on phase I of the causeway undersides, I built the two removable bridge sections. These are 6″ long and the same width as the causeways. These would be analogous to a medieval drawbridge. I broke up craft sticks irregularly and dry-fitted them to the top of the bridge sections. Then, I weathered the wood by beating a small chain on and into them with a ball peen hammer. After this, I glued them on with wood glue and let dry overnight. I did not press these with weight as I wanted a less uniform surface of the bridge to represent wear and aging.
Then, I went back to the causeways. The cross-sections were ok, but I needed to have a way to add the revetments along the sides – so I added more craft sticks longitudinally on each side. They would jut out about 1/2″ on the side of the causeways.
Once dry, I covered the surfaces with glue and then chinchilla dust.
I finished painting the removable bridge sections and build and painted 4 lifting piers out of square dowels and 1/8″ plywood.
Next, I moved on to the side piers and causeway revetments. The following day I grabbed a dry oak branch from the woods behind the house and cut it up. As each causeway section would need 14 wooden piers (seven per side), I figured I’d need 84 piers. So, I initially planned on using some birch wood discs I had plus the oak sections. I cut up the wood in sizes I thought would work well. However, as I laid it out (dry fit), I was not happy with the appearance. At all. Clearly, compared to a 28mm figure, the wood size was far in excess of what would have been used as piers along the causeways.
It was time to regroup. For piers, I then decided to use 1/8″ wooden dowels instead. I cut them up roughly to represent timber and glued them together in threes – and if you are doing the math, yes, that is cutting up and gluing together 252 pieces for the 84 piers. This project had a LOT of gluing and drying stages! I also found a nice source of rocks at Michaels – those little filler stones that some people use in glass vases. These were much cheaper than any hobby talus would have been. The time downside was that for effective placement I needed to glue one course of rocks at at a time – one rock at a time – with PVA – more gluing and waiting for drying…
I then painted the piers and added some shade to them.
For the rocks, I painted them with Vallejo “Grey Surface Primer, followed by a layer of Reaper “MSP Black Primer” on the bottom (where the rocks would have been by the lake), and added some slime to them there as well. After that, I added an aggressive layer of shading with Citadel “Nuln Oil”. The effect on the rocks was excellent. You can see a list of all the paints and other materials that I used at the end of this post.
With the causeways, removable bridge sections, and lifting piers, I now have terrain components that I can use for the cityscape. I also could use them for a causeway battle, and add war canoes in the lake with Aztecs shooting bows, slings, and atlatl at the Conquistadors and Tlaxcalans from the water.
I think you can see why I am breaking up this into multiple posts! This started in June and ended in July. My next post will focus on the design and building of the cityscape pavements. I hope you found this useful and will keep following this series – and please let me know your thoughts in the comments section.
Thanks so much for looking!
For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE TERRAIN PIECES/MODELS:
This week on the Garage+ project saw the installation of the concrete footer and the walls – as well as inspection of the foundation. The RJH Concrete crews, under Andy Cormier Homebuilding, did a great job and worked fast on a few warmer July days. The photos below tell the tale.
This upcoming week promises to be full of activity as well. Stay tuned!