Making slow but steady progress getting the wagons and carts ready for base-coating and painting. Yesterday (Saturday), the Grand Duchess was away at an all day conference, and the Young Master was good enough to desire playing with his Thomas the Train set-up for most of the afternoon. So, Dad was able to spend a good little while -- really 2-3 separate sessions -- attaching wagons, horses, oxen, and drovers to bases. Here is where things stand at the moment.
In the end, I ended up cutting out my own bases with a T-square, metal ruler, and hobby knife, which took a couple of hours and some careful trimming to get everything looking right. I am reasonably pleased with my handiwork. . . and no lopped off fingertips in the process amazingly enough. All of the bases are a standard 2" wide, with lengths varying depending of the item(s) mounted to them. For instance, pairs of horses are on bases 2" wide by 2.5" long. Some of the larger wagons are on bases 2" wide by 4.5" long. This approach seemed to make better sense than having everything mounted to one base, which might be 6"-8" long or more, prone to warping, and certainly more unwieldy.
Painting should go fairly easily given the large size of everything with the thinned washes and stains that I use so often. I plan to divide it into three or four smaller batches, each of which will be painted to completion before moving on to the next part of the project. The undersides of the wagons and carts, as well as the lower inner sides of the spoked wheels, will simply be painted with a very dark brown. A few more visible details will be picked out elsewhere with some kind of acrylic based "gun metal," depending on what is available at the local gaming shop. The most time-consuming part in all of this will be, I expect, the harnesses and straps on the horses. Nothing for that, really, other than to roll up your sleeves, put your mind on autopilot, and get it done. Speaking of horses. . .
As an interesting aside, even with this small model supply and pontoon train, you get an idea of the sheer number of horses (and oxen) an army required before the advent of motorization -- over and above those needed by the cavalry units -- when it went on campaign. Hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of horses from what I find in very cursory browsing online and through a few of my Napoleonic-era books. The Grand Army's invasion of Russia in 1812 must have been mind-boggling when it came to the number of animals required, for example, for transport and logistics alone.
As badly as the invasion of Russia ended for so many of the invading soldiers during Napoleon's retreat, it was apparently much worse for the horses. For all of their beauty and strength, horses are surprisingly fragile creatures where their health is concerned with odd constitutions that are upset rather easily. Physical hardship, bad forage, dirty water, to say nothing of extreme cold, wreak havoc with a horse's inner workings pretty quickly. As a result, I recall reading somewhere that even by the late 20th century, horse stocks across Europe had never fully recovered from the carnage and waste that was Napoleon's Russian adventure.
Returning to the mid-18th century for a moment, even those much more limited campaigns with smaller forces must have involved impressive numbers of transport and logistics-related animals. Interesting stuff to mull over once in a while, and maybe something that ought to be reflected on more tabletops than seems to be the case. But then there is the time, money, and painting involved, all three of which are considerations for most of us as we navigate that fine line between job, family, hobby, and (hopefully) keeping the three in balance.
On a related note, I decided, rather impulsively, to add one more thing to the mix late on Friday evening and ordered a vivandiere cart from Eureka Miniatures USA. The price was too good to pass up, and the cart comes with a number of interesting provision/foodstuff items. While her headdress is clearly French Revolution/Napoleonic, I might attempt some kind of conversion to make her a bit more suitable for the mid-18th century. Of just leave it alone and paint her as is, depending on how the mood strikes me once the item arrives. A few of Viviane the Vivandiere's wares, however, will be set aside for later use when I do a bit more with a sutler tent and table vignette that I'm planning.
But that's, ahem, putting the cart before the horse a bit since there is a lot to get painted before that can happen.