Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Team Yankee M1 Abrams WIP - Building

I have slowly been working on the M1 Abrams from the Bannon's Boys box set. The first one I built without the rear turret bustle as that's what the instructions indicated. However, after taking a look at pictures from the REFORGER exercise in 1988 its pretty clear that the extended version with the full rear turret bustle was available and in use.

Note the full rear turret bustle and the overall Forest Green paint job.
So the rest of the box will be built with the rear bustle.

Progress so far:

And the two that are basically finished. They still need some cleanup before I start painting, but I won't do that till all five are finished and ready to go.

M1 with the side racks only

M1 with the rear turret bustle added. It takes a bit of work to make this part go together.

These kits are easy to build and have some pretty nice detail. From a building standpoint there could be more locator pins built into the molds. This would make it a lot easier to line up some of the parts, like the upper hull to the lower hull. I have checked out the Khurasan M1s which are really nice resin and metal pieces but they are a bit more expensive. Battle Front sells a box of 5 plastic M1s for $45, while the Khurasan come in at 13.99 each or 38.99 for a "platoon" of 3.

A few more reference photos by Rene Schatte from the REFORGER exercise:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Patio Renovation - Mostly Finished

Its been a very busy week here but the contractors were able to wrap up the construction on Monday. There are some things we aren't going to be able to get to till spring now because the ground froze up so quickly on us. But the expanded patio itself is finished. There are a couple of things that got missed but nothing major. If it warms up a bit we can even use it (the grill typically sees action all winter anyway)! Some of the stuff that has been stored in the garage is slowly making its way back outside we need to add a extra long spout a drain pipe or I will have a river of ice going across it in a few weeks as we go through our regular snow, melt cycle here in Colorado.

Looking straight north. The old concrete fountain has been nicely integrated into the seating wall. You can just make out the downspout on the left side of the photo, the flow from that needs to be redirected.

Here you can see the fountain that was originally part of a garden bed and the entrance to the yard. Both of these stayed in place.

Looking more to the southeast, you can see entry and the kitchen with the grill in place and some of the stuff migrating back out of the garage.

And the Kitchen area it self with plenty of space to prep food! The space seems huge right now but I'm sure it will shrink as we bring stuff back out of the garage and give the jeep a place to stay in the winter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Patio Renovation Phase 2

Now that the concrete has setup nicely its time to add the seating walls and the kitchen area. The weather has been kind of iffy the last week but the promise of warmer temperatures brought the contractor back out. He started with what we envision as a seating area and working in an existing concrete fountain that we already had. The fountain comes in three pieces and weights about 300 pounds when its all together. To add a bit of complexity the concrete patio slopes down from the house so the fountain, and the rest of the wall, had to be leveled out as they moved further away from the house.

Friday saw a lot of prep work and basic construction on the seating wall started. Saturday saw that wall completed and the beginnings of the outdoor "kitchen", really just a spot for the grill to sit with some extra "counter" space on either side for food prep. 

Friday, the work begins on Phase 2

Wrestling the fountain into position.

The fountain is in place at this point although it still needs to be leveled up.

I forgot to take pictures at the end of the day but the basic wall basically went about where the wheelbarrow is in this picture.

Here is where at by Saturday night.

The kitchen area was also started and you can see all the rock ready to be used on Sunday

Couldn't resist the full moon shot

The grill that will fit into the center of the kitchen area

Sunday brought a bit of a surprise with a couple of inches of snow falling overnight. Quite unexpected, and pretty normal for Colorado. Fortunately is warmed up quickly and they were able to finish the basic work on the kitchen.

A bit of a surprise for Sunday morning

Here we are Sunday afternoon, so much for 1.5" of snow!

The kitchen is about ready to go. We will get some kind of outdoor cabinets to go on either side of the grill or I will build them myself.

All that remains now is to cap the walls and we are ready for guests! After that they will restore the fences and the dogs will be able to roam free again!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Care Package from Khurasan Miniature

As I start to get back into moderns I have made a few decisions on what miniatures I want to use. I admit to not really looking to closely at Battle Front's Team Yankee miniatures I'm familiar enough with the WWII line that I figured these were probably not the miniatures I wanted to use. After looking at what is available I settled on Khurasan Miniatures for my infantry. While the line is not extensive the available poses are good, more than good enough for the miniatures table for sure.

Currently my intent is to actually play Team Yankee from Battle Front but I'm certainly willing to go back to other rules sets if necessary. To duplicate the Mech Infantry Platoon from Team Yankee I was going to need some pretty specific weapon groupings.

A Team Yankee platoon is made up of 4 squads, with Dragon ATGM support.

A stand of four figures represents the squad and includes the M249 SAW, M203 Grenade Launchers and LAWs. That's a lot of specialized weapons for a four man stand! I also need four two man stands for the Dragon ATGM, Oh and one stand of 3 M16 (I think this is a command stand as its on a small base)

I sat down and went through the Khurasan listing to see what I might need and found three packs that would probably take care of everything:

1980s-US-INF-RIFLE: 15mm 1980s-1990s US Army Mechanized Infantry Riflemen (x8 with M16 in eight poses)

From the Khurasan Website

1980s-US-INF-SQUAD-WEAP: 15mm 1980s-1990s US Army Mechanized Infantry Squad Heavy Weapons (x6 --x2 M249 SAW, x2 M16/M203, AT-4 LAW, M47 Dragon)

From the Khurasan Website

1980s-US-INF-COMMAND: 15mm 1980s-1990s US Army Mechanized Infantry Command (x8 -- x4 officers/noncoms, plus two teams with M60 machine guns)

From the Khurasan Website

From this list it looks like I would need one of the US-INF-RIFLE, four of the US-INF-SQUAD-WEAP (because there is only one Dragon ATGM per pack) and one of the US-INF-COMMAND to provide some variety.

The last listing on the page was this one:

1980s-US-INF-PLATOON-DEAL: 15mm 1980s-1990s US Army Mechanized Infantry Platoon Deal (one pack of Rifles, three packs of Heavy Weapons, one pack of Command)

I opted to pick up the platoon deal and add a US-INF-SQUAD-WEAP pack to make sure I had enough Dragons. I'll have extra SAWs and grenade launchers but they could come in handy later. I don't know when I'll be able to use the M60 MGs either but I'm sure they will show up some where in a TOE.

I also picked up one M113. The pictures look great but I wanted to see one before I committed. They are slightly more expensive than the plastic M113 from Battle Front not enough to make me cringe though,

From the Khurasan Website

The M113 in my shipment.

Here is the potential miscast. Fortunately it is easily fixable.

After I opened up the bag with the M113 and its associated parts I noted an issue with the rear hull. I emailed Khurasan right away about the potential miscast here and he contacted his caster right away to send a replacement. The caster suggested that it could be fixed with the hot water treatment so I agreed to give that a try. It really did work like a charm. I was able to manipulate it back to straight without to much effort. The entire email exchange probably took 15 minutes. That's some seriously good service. Based on this one and the email exchange I am definitely going to finish up the platoon with 3 more Khurasan M113s.

I will be buying the Battle Front M113s at some point as they can be assembled as the M106 mortar carrier.

You can find all of this on the Khurasan Miniatures website at: Khurasan Miniatures Late Cold War