Friday 11 January 2013

Pirate Town - foundations laid

With the harbour, fort and coastline virtually complete I turned my attention to the town that would feature on Pirate Island.

I had two choices to either build this in a 17th/18th century ‘Moonfleet/Smuggler style complete with taverns, alleys and wood buildings or go for the more equatorial feel of adobe styled buildings. I chose the latter as I think they would be more versatile in the long run. These buildings encompass so many regions of the world and look equally at home in ancient, modern and futuristic settings.

Construction of all the buildings would be in 5mm white foam core. At this moment in time I have not decided whether the buildings will be accessible inside. More on this later on.

The basic construct is a rectangular box. Foam core is great to work with as it is both light, strong and easy to cut (providing you have a sharp knife). Glueing is straightforward – white PVA and held with sewing pins.

The buildings are all based on hardboard. I pre-cut these in squares & rectangles – the standard square is 12.5cm (a rectangle would be 12.5cm x 25cm). There are some bigger squares (25cm X 25cm) and bigger rectangles etc. By having uniformity in the base sizes I can construct a number of different layouts and these measurements conform to my standard half metre (50cm) square configuration on my table. Some of the larger boards will be left clear to create plazas, squares. The intent is to complete an area that will cover 1metre x 1 metre. I estimate that this will be about a dozen buildings. The biggest of these will be a twinned towered church (typical of Latin America) but will be constructed in such a way that will allow the towers to take on minarets so that it can be converted to an Islamic temple. I have some ideas of how this may work and of course I will publish this when complete.

As with all my projects the paraphernalia of town life will be added separately, this way I can configure the towns to take on different themes.

The buildings themselves can be placed next to each other creating alley ways and narrow streets. I have typically left a 1.5 to 2cm gap between the building and the edge of the board- when joined together this creates an alley of between 3-4cm in width.

The first few buildings had the doors and windows glued onto the outside of the foam core. These were constructed from a mix of skewers, matches, balsa and as you can see in the picture chopsticks. Future buildings will have the door frames cut out and the doors recessed. I was being lazy first time round.

Whilst rummaging around in my box of terrain bits I found a number of small sheets of embossed brick work. I thought to give some of the buildings character I would create a lower tier of bricks ion the buildings – I am quite please with the way this has worked. The gaps between the brickwork and the upper structure will be filled with fine filler and it is my intention to give all the buildings a white/cream wash.

The windows on the first few buildings took longer than I wished so in the end I have purchased a number of premade windows and shutters from a railway modelling site. Hopefully they will turn up soon and can be fixed to the outside using superglue (fingers crossed).

So where am I now – about 50% of the town proper is now standing. A few more buildings are needed and then the finer detailed work can begin.  

Part two can be found here:


The bases will all be covered in fine ballast and painted in a sand colour.

Pop back on Sunday for a progress report...

Off to paint some cannon before bed...



  1. Your pirate project is moving along very nicely. The buildings. are great. The whole thing is putting me the mood for some Jamaican rum.

  2. wow, thats a lot of real estate - looking forward to developments.

    For some of my building I have done alternate tops - adobe wall or tile roof - this gives more versatility.

    great project work

    -- Allan

  3. I must commend the speed in which you produce stuff - keep up the great work - it is all coming together very nicely.