I finished a model, a Mechanical Mole!

Back about the beginning of the year, a couple model-building friends and I were jawing at lunch, and the Steampunk Tile Project emerged.

The year is 1899. Count Otto Von Bismarck, smarting from the humiliation of the Second Franco-Prussian War, readies his forces. Napoleon III, Emperor of France, is determined to defend Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité.

Prussian walkers, mechanical moles, dirigibles, Fafnirs, and other terrific products of Prussian know-how stand poised to invade France. French ornithopters, land ironclads, balloon troops, Chevaliers de Ferres, and other clever creations of French ingenuity are ready to oppose them.

Nine foot-square tiles; nine modellers! Build a steampunk war machine!

The deadline is late this September, at a sci-fi model contest held at a local hobby shop.

So I whacked out nine tiles, and distributed them:

…and set to work on my own machine. I envisioned a gigantic mechanical mole, emerging from the trembling earth to disgorge a load of French troops. I started with the hull of a rocketship kit, the Pegasus “Mercury 9”, and built an auger for the bow:

I installed some seats for the troops:

…and some creative gizmology in the upper half of the hull:

The whole thing got plenty of rivets and a paint job in metallic tones:

And last month I got her finished:

A diorama is no fun unless there are cows:

(The interior lights up and the auger rotates when you flip a switch.)

Now I’m cheerleading the other builders as they approach the finish line. One guy has finished a mobile fort, built by none other than Andre Maginot:

…and there are a dirigible, a giant robot, and a Juggernaut tank that look like they’ll all make the deadline. Somewhat more iffy, deadline-wise, are a submarine, a railgun on spider legs, a land ironclad, and a set of tractor-drawn artillery pieces.

Did you do all that intricate work on the inside, and then close it up and partially bury it??

You model people are crazy. I love it :slight_smile:

How does the smokestack keep from being ripped off as it burrows though the ground? :confused:
Great work, very impressive.

Very nice work. Elegant tech, and evidently self-cleaning, too. :smiley:

No doubt it’s retractable in some fashion. The mole uses stored power while traveling underground; the smokestack is only deployed above ground, when the boilers are stoked to full to spin the flywheels back up to speed.

Yes, yes, I did. :smiley: (Some of it is visible through the hatch opening in the belly.)

Balance pretty much has it pegged; the brace behind it folds and the stack sits in a trough along the top of the vehicle. The turret retracts in a similar fashion. Supposedly. One of the rules of the Project is that “The normal laws of engineering are suspended for the duration of the Project.” :wink: (We all know that a vehicle which moved on tracks would be completely impossible in real life.) :smiley:

Murdoch Mysteries (“The steampunk detective”) did an episode this year about a mechanical mole.

I have pretty much spoiled the end episode with that sentence but here’s the episode if you want to rent it. The enjoyment is in how they find the mole!

So yeah, post #2 already said it, but it bears repeating: You model people are crazy. I love it!

Beautiful! I love the interior! It does look awful clean for something that just tunneled out of the ground, though.

How many works of fiction have these auger-nosed vehicles been in? I remember one in an old old Batman story, and of course there was the Underminer. Did Jules Verne have one?

They were pretty much a staple of pulp sci-fi during the Twenties and Thirties; lots of covers featured brightly-colored moles tunnelling out of the ground to blight someone’s day.

I don’t think Verne ever wrote about one, though.

Damn, you do fine work!

And while Miller is correct, the exterior is so beautiful that I can’t bring myself to complain. Did you use foil or paint?

Thank you all for the kind comments!

Miller and Balance are right; although there’s some weathering, it’s not much, and it doesn’t show up in photos very well. I had originally planned to go whole-hog with the weathering, but after I got it painted, it looked so lovely I didn’t have the heart to really grunge it up. :slight_smile:

The metallic colors are Al-Clad lacquers. They have a wide range of metallics, and they airbrush really well straight out of the bottle, go on smooth, dry quickly; great stuff.

The rivets are decals; an outfit called Archer Fine Transfers makes them. They’re little round blobs of some kind of resin on clear decal paper; just cut off a strip and apply. Much much easier than any other way of making rivets. Archer also offers other 3-dimensional decals: woodgrain, treadplate, weld beads, etc. Great stuff, although pricey.

it doesn’t need to be weathered more - mole people know how to keep thier mole machines clean.

Oh. I thought you were going to describe a spicy Mexican dish with chocolate, or something that grows on your face. Then again… :smiley:

that makes zero sense -

Made perfect sense to me, although I’m having trouble picturing the mechanism that would make the mole. Personally, my initial thought was of a Talpidae of some sort.

Mole sauce

Facial mole

Star-Nosed mole

Mole of oxygen

That is just cool!

I’m impressed, and also can’t believe you put all that detail into the interior.

Promise you’ll follow up with all of the tiles reassembled?

That’s my plan! I’m pretty excited to see how the whole shebang turns out. :slight_smile:

Also, appropos of nothing:

Dunkirk mole

Another kind of mole :wink: