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Making Pig's Monitor

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Revision Log
27 July 2001model's deck correction
25 July 2001deckplan info added
15 July 2001page first published

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8,273 hits since 14 Jul 2001
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
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Due to changes in my professional life, I've done a fair bit of moving in the past few years. In fact, I've moved from Texas to Massachusetts to California and now to New York! And in the course of moving, some of my wargaming projects have been packed up for moving and then have been neglected.

This particular story begins back in '98, when I decided that I wanted to get into ironclads gaming because:

  • I found the period fascinating
  • I loved the models
  • none of my friends were into it
  • and I just couldn't say "no"

At the time, I was only aware of ships being available in two scales (1:600 and 1:1200), and I chose 1:600 scale for my initial investment as I found the larger ships were the same price as the smaller scale.

I also knew of two manufacturers - Peter Pig and Thoroughbred. Unfortunately, at the time the only contact information I had for Thoroughbred was a mailing address. Being anxious to start my project while I was still full of enthusiasm, I chose to order the Pig products by way of their North American agent, Brookhurst Hobbies.

Brookhurst failed to reply to my emails. They also failed to reply to my fax, so I was surprised when a package arrived in the mail. Unfortunately, there was a mistake with my order - instead of the Monitor and the Virginia (code 7-14), I received the Monitor and a pack of 15mm mortars (code 17-14). (Brookhurst acknowledged their mistake and sent the Virginia in a follow-up shipment.)

Getting Started

I was pretty eager to get started on my Monitor - so excited, in fact, that I neglected to snap a photo of it in its original state!

The vessel as provided by Peter Pig comes in two metal pieces: hull and turret. The hull is flat, about 3.5" by 7/8" by 1/16", with inscribed lines representing armor plates. The turret is flat-topped and round, with a shaft that fits into a hole in the hull. It too has scribed armor lines, plus two guns and a ladder.


Volume I of Battles and Leaders provides a deckplan of the Monitor.

deckplan superimposed over the model - white lines are the deckplans

Comparing the model against the deckplans, the model is a bit wide, the turret is a bit large, and some of the deck items (smokestacks, anchor well) are a little off of where they should be. (If these deckplans are accurate...)

According to the inventor, the Monitor was 172 feet long by 41 feet wide. In 1:600 scale, this model is exactly the right length, but about 2mm too wide.

This model depicts the deck as being plated in a brick pattern running from side to side. This style matches the deckplan shown above, although the placement of the "bricks" differs.

Cleaning Up

One flaw - minor - in the hull is that the sides have some mold lines, and in a few places are pitted. I use a large file to bring the sides smooth, then a finer file to clean up and remove filing marks from the larger file.

There is also a slight ridge running down the spine of the deck, sort of like a ripple or wave in the deck. This is pretty minor, and there's nothing that can be done about it anyway.

turret, showing seam and bulge

The one thing that strikes me as odd about the turret is that the sides have a slight bulge to them in places, perhaps due to what might be a mold line around the middle of the sides. This is barely noticeable, and there's no obvious way to rectify it, so I let it be. A more serious problem is that one of my guns is molded imperfectly, so that it is missing a bit of its top. (It is also shorter than the other gun, but the actual guns were of different lengths.) I decide not to attempt to repair the flaw.

turret, showing miscast gun

The pin from the turret is too long and prevents the turret from lying flush on the hull, so I file the shaft down a bit.

model primed black

Afterwards, I wash the model off with slightly soapy water to remove any grease and dust, then prime it black with Floquil spray primer. (I've not taken good care of my spray can - it's clogged! I end up removing the nozzle, soaking it in hot water, and use a toothpick to remove old paint. Next time, I'll remember to invert the can and spray to clear the nozzle when I'm done.)

Three Years Later...

Now the complex question: What color was the Monitor?

I've not been able to locate any references specifying if the Monitor was bare metal, painted, or coated with anti-corrosive of some kind. Bare metal seems unlikely, as she would have been a rusted hulk in a short while. Photographs show her as dark - no shining parts, not even the rivet heads. The deck seems to be thickly coated, though in some pictures seams and rivets are visible. Artists through the years have shown the ship as various shades of silver or gray, often with reflections of the color of the waves - blue or brown, depending on the artist.

the final model

I decide to go with a "dark gray metallic" look. My first attempt is to drybrush portions of the deck with Modelmaster Titanium, normally an airbrush-only color but I find it works well for drybrushing. This is too dark, so I next try drybrushing FolkArt Metallic Gunmetal Gray. This color sometimes has coverage problems when used in normal painting, but for drybrushing it works fine.

overhead view - the central 'ridge' is also visible in this picture

Add a shot of Dullcote for protection, and that's it! The Monitor is a very simple paint scheme - all armored...

I've decided not to base the model.