NCE Building the Necromundan Ash Waste Battlebus


Jan 22, 2018
-The Ash Waste Battlebus ready for vehicular mayhem in the ash wastes. Please read on below for a description of how it got built.

“No, none of these will do,” rasps the grizzled gang leader as he limps down the final row of surplus vehicles with the shantytown salesmech. “Just look at these tauroxes and rhinos, even if we leave off the sponsons and turrets and strap all sorts of oddments to the outside, it will still scream converted military vehicle from the 41st millennium. Plus, how can I be expected to afford these prices?”

“Well, in that case, I can show you around the bargain lot out back where we keep junkers built to old STCs. They’re historic relics from Necromunda’s original colonization- genuine surplus from Holy Terra itself, a steal at any price. I guarantee it! How about a nice kubelwagen with under 500k miles or a sensible little M5 Stuart light tank for only-“

A sardonic laugh from the gang leader cut through the sales pitch. “Have you seen this base I’m glued onto? It’s a full 25mm, so are the bases for all my gangers too. Can you guarantee me that when I uncrate one of those old hulks and reassemble it that we can all fit in there? Also, all those cute little details will probably just snap off under hard use out in the wastes. No, I want something better! I want something like this!” He produces a set of plans with a dramatic flourish.

“Oh, no, no, no. You won’t find anything like that here boss; you’d have to go to Maddy ‘Mad’ McMadd’s Scratch Builds for something like that.”

So that is what the gang leader did.

I took inspiration and almost the entire outer look of the vehicle from the Dorchester Armoured Command Vehicle, a British WWII vehicle used in North Africa. I had never seen or heard of it before so it didn’t immediately make me think WWII the way a Hanomag halftrack or something like that would. To me it was a believable up-armored civilian truck with some appropriately low-tech loopholes cut through the sides for shooting out of. Models of this vehicle are available for sale, but if I built it from scratch instead, I was assured that it would fit models inside it just how I wanted. Also, it will be free of any extra fiddly little details that I probably will just break off when I am playing- I mean- no, not playing- arranging models narratively on the tabletop in a completely grown-up fashion!

I started by drawing out projections of the front, back, top and side of the vehicle on millimeter gridded paper, ensuring there would be headroom and room for the bases of all the models inside. Then I scaled the outer Dorchester shape to fit those needs. That gave me a size for the tires. I had wanted to try making a set of tires for a vehicle from scratch for a while and here was my chance.

The tires began with the plugs of wood leftover from 1 1/8” holesaw cuts through a ¾” maple board. Two of these were cut down the middle to narrow them and the center part was bored out to make a recessed lip around the hub. The result was four wooden tire “cores”. I then covered the sides with plasticard circles and disks, filled the center pilot hole with putty and redrilled it to fit the axle size. An ABS rod with the same sized hole and cosmetic lug nuts formed a hub. Inside the lip I smeared two-part epoxy to cover and seal the remaining exposed wood. Rings cut from copper pipe formed the outer rim of the lip. I then covered the exposed wood on the tires outer radius with 2 part epoxy and allowed that to cure.

The tires were sculpted over this in two layers using superglue to help the putty adhere to the epoxy coated wood and the platicard sides. The first layer was smooth, thin and covered the entire tire from the inboard rim to outboard rim. When this had set, a thicker layer went primarily around the tread of the tire and the tread pattern was smooshed in using my handy smooshing tool made from brass rod. Having two teeth on this tool helped me to keep the tread spacing even. Finally, I pressed rings into the second layer of putty on the sides for some added detail. The result was passable tires of the exact style I wanted and just about the right size and shape. After adding the putty, the tires were no longer perfectly round, but this was not all bad as it allowed me to later swap them around and rotate them on the axles to account for any twist in the chassis so that all four tires firmly contacted the ground on the finished model. Isn’t it great when two imperfections cancel each other out?

The chassis started out pretty simply. I used 1mm plasticard for the floor and wheel wells. To the floor I stuck and later glued down the edges of a section of self adhesive fiberglass mesh that came with a piece of aluminum mesh drywall patch that I bought for use on model vehicles. Mounted on the diagonal, this sort of gave the impression of diamond patterned plate steel. The inboard sections of the wheel wells extended down in the middle and were drilled out to fit the axles. I-beam pieces running the length of the chassis stiffened the floor as well as supporting and hiding the axle holders. Adding stacks of leaf springs below the axles provided further camouflage and support to the funny looking holders.

Next the fuel tanks were made from large diameter ABS rod that was halved, and the underside of the engine took shape, mostly from unused imperial guard sentinel heavy weapon options. The drive train, exhaust and steering linkage came next. It used styrene rod as well as copper and aluminum tubing that was handily sized to make telescoping drive shafts. I’m proud that my u-joints briefly went round and round until I superglued them solidly in place a moment later.

At this moment I was thoroughly tired of staring at the underside of the vehicle and was excited to move on to the bits that I actually was going to see most of the time! I decided to tackle the hood, with its tricky bits of intersecting trapezoidal armor panel.

I was pleasantly surprised to encounter fewer problems here than expected. Having drawn the front, top and side views full scale allowed measurement of a desired dimension from whichever view was perpendicular to that dimension. Being able to measure like this saved a lot of guesswork and trimming or the need for any stuffy old ‘rithmetic. However, I still made cardstock patterns first for some of these pieces to be sure. The armored ventilation louvers were cut from costly but useful lengths of 1:100 scale styrene stairway- bought from the hobby shop to use for vents and windows and things like that.

Stuffing some models aboard and driving around the dining room table, with a few obligatory engine noises was necessary at this point!

I then put together the driver using a catachan head, torso, and arm. The gloved hands were taken from the space marine scout arms that hold the heavy bolter. The legs were sculpted around an armature made from 1.5mm square styrene rod with some styrene boot soles added before the sculpting. The boots and legs are a bit crude, but I am quite happy with the pistol belt and holster.

The sides and back were cut from 1mm styrene. After making openable rear doors, I abandoned this idea for the side doors. I later learned that I should have had more clearance between the two doors and along the jambs, because, after painting, they were too tight to close completely. It was frustrating to mar the paint job by cutting them down to size all over again and having to repaint the bare edges.

Before attaching the sides, I built the driver’s seat, gauges, pedals, and gear shift. I waited to glue in the seat and pedal assembly until later to make painting a bit easier. I put the driver’s seat on the right in a nod to the British heritage of the vehicle. I prefer to leave my drivers removable for gaming reasons and for ease of repainting, so I have gotten used to magnetizing their pant seats and the seat, or more comically: their foot and the gas pedal. Usually to get the driver out, the steering column must be magnetized into the dashboard too. Sometimes I have the wheel drop into their grasping hands, but this time it is permanently mounted in his hands. I guess he takes it with him when he parks to discourage vehicle theft.

Back when I was an even starrier eyed juve, I planned to make all my drivers swappable between all the vehicles. Unfortunately, due to a lack of standardization in my construction of cockpits, this has remained an unfulfilled dream. Also, there may someday be a foot model to match each driver. Until then, it’s the old line, “Wait. I can’t be thrown D6” in a random direction by the blast and take a S4 hit dressed like this! Give me a sec. I’ll just slip into something more suited to the ash waste aesthetic.”

I then scored lines on the outside of the side and rear panels to simulate armor plates butted against one another. Similar scoring inside and out outlined the side doors. Next I glued one side and the back in place. Inside, I added styrene channels or bars corresponding to the outer grooves between plates. These plates got two rows of rivets and corresponding rivets were placed on the outside. Then I added rivets everywhere else that I could think of to the inside while it was still a bit easier to reach. I also scored the flooring and added rivets along these seams. These flooring details would have been less awkward to add earlier, had I thought to do it before attaching the side and back.

I attached the other side and added preriveted channels and bars to avoid reaching inside to attach each rivet. The outside also got more rivets at this time. Did I say more rivets? Yes, more to come later too!

At this point I felt like I should have finished by now, but kept drawing up a list that included more and more little details. This is when a lot of these things got dropped in favor of being finished soon! I still added shutters, door handles, tow points, headlights, and steps, and finished the rivets. At this point I was not stopping for pictures of intermediate phases. With the main body what I decided to call complete, I moved on to make a removable top.

The top was made from 0.75mm plasticard rectangles glued over reinforcing ribs of L-channel. Laying out these ribs using the drawings as a pattern worked pretty well. Top rivets along the seams between rectangles were skipped by accident and rivets on the inside of the top were skipped intentionally. A picture of the inside showing the supporting ribs can be seen among the painted images later on.

- One of the vehicle's better angles in my opinion.

-Handles and shutters and rivets, oh my!

-This view should have appeared earlier. It more clearly shows the fairly sturdy attachment of the axle supports.

-This build might just work after all! At this point I still needed to add some battle damage and scrapes before painting.

-Everything is base coated with a couple light coats of either flat black primer or flat red primer- flat red HA!- I call you by your true name which be RUST! Salt was added to mask off areas that were to stay rusty.

-The vehicle body and other bits got a couple coats of flat grey primer. I considered doing something flashier like construction orange dulled with some grimy washes, but I instead used what cans of spray paint that I had on hand. The underside has been masked off to leave it all rusty.

-The salt is scoured off and washed away, and the model is dry. It is time to do some detail painting! You can see some of the battle damage added earlier using drill bits, punches, pliers and hobby knives.

-The detail painting was mercifully quick, with gauges, headlights, and other small bits getting the appropriate paints. Then there was picking out the edges, grazes and bullet holes with metallic paint. Finally I added a nice grimy wash over all, some places like the underside getting multiple applications.

-Now I’ve covered up that nasty flat red underside with some metallic highlights and drybrushing, also don’t forget the grime- plenty of it. The wash used here, as well as inside and out, was a watered down mix of flat black, burnt sienna, and a bright orange. The idea was to add dust, ash, grime and powdered rust all in one easy and quick step. I like how it turned out. I even, unintentionally got some of the tannish colors to settle out in some places were the wash pooled and dried for a while before being sponged up, like around the fuel tanks.

-A view of the inside structure of the top. Not very exciting, but here it is.

-The driver got painted too. Horray! All done for now.

-“Everyone pile out for the assault!”

-Here’s a close up of the driver and controls.

-“I’m taking this wheel with me!”

Creating this model provided me with some useful lessons. Taking the time to draw out full scale projections was certainly helpful. However the many revisions and redrawings of minor dimensional changes in the planning phase left me with a few inconsistencies between the different views, and I had to re-cut a few parts when I failed to double check my measurements.

I initially imagined having more detail on the interior as well as some exterior stowage. In the end I opted to complete a less detailed version with room to add vehicle accessories or whatever else I want later on. It seemed better to finish and move on to painting before I got burned out with the project. After all, what I really wanted was a nice big metal box to haul a lot of my gangers around in, and I certainly got that.

Making my own wheels was a good thing to try. Now I don’t need to worry as much about where to find them for future projects. However if anyone knows of some sources for a nice variety of vehicle wheels that would work for 28mm scale vehicles, I would be glad to hear about them.

Thank you for looking and reading a bit too. I hope this project provided some inspiration and interest in more scratch-built or converted vehicles for the Necromundan Ash Wastes. I have built some others, but this is the first one that I tried to get pictures of the work in progress and to write about it. Please feel free to ask any questions about the project. Comments and criticism are welcome too! Let me know of ways to improve the vehicle or the article about it.

Until some future time when I hopefully post more stuff- I now retreat into the ash wastes for some games!
Wow welcome!! Awesome post(s).
Great, Thanks for the welcome! I am glad to have somewhere to share these projects. I just discovered classic Necromunda and Yaktribe a couple years ago thanks to the the Guerilla Miniature Game's Throwback Thurday videos on Youtube. You guys have an awesome community here and I'm glad to now be part of it.

Your posts, especially the sump city terrain and the sump galleon are amazing. Really inspiring work!
Whoa! I wasn’t sure if it was gaming model or a historical photo of something you wanted to copy at first.
Thanks! I could't help myself but to copy the outer look of the British Dorchester WWII vehicle. It seemed a perfect fit for an Ash wastes vehicle, and I was just stubborn enough to build a version for myself instead of modifying an existing kit!
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I think it would benefit from some sort of markings or a gang emblem on the side or something, but this is great. I never would have guessed that was scratch built from the first pic.
Thank you for the idea. My fluffy excuse for the vehicles current plainness is that it has just been acquired by the gang. They may still need some time to customize it. For a gang symbol, possibly something like a stenciled on ash worm skull or ash worm skeleton- thinking of either the sand worms from Dune or the creatures in the Tremors movie.

Otherwise or additionally, I could add weathered or partly scrubbed away lettering along the sloped part of the top that indicates the vehicles previous owners from before my gang ambushed them in the wastes. Maybe something like: "Mr. Sprinkle's Traveling Ice Cream Emporium", "Pyle Piper and sons Ratcatchers", "Cosmo's Ash Waste Reality Tour", or "Glinty's Armoured Freight Lines"?
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I was thinking "cool, thats a neat conversion, I wonder what the base model is"
And you freakin made it from scratch!
Amazing, I dig it.
Hey thanks!
Maybe there will be some head scratching as to why I didn't just convert an existing model of this vehicle. In my defense I say that messing about with graph paper and plasticard is just way too fun! There is something satisfying about building armored shells that wrap around the gangers with shooting slits or little pintle mounts for heavy weapons. I expect to continue getting inspiration from the more obscure and whacky military vehicles from between wwi and wwii.
Ditto to everything everyone else said. Awesome! :)

Quite like the idea of some old worn out numbers, rather than a particular gang insignia, maybe with a little bit of graffiti/tagging just around model shoulder height?
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@trollmeat and @cainex1 Thank you for the ideas. I am still trying to decide which way to go with the lettering for the bus. I like the idea of faded lettering from the van's previous owners, but also putting some graffiti added by the current gang to the inside and outside would be good too. Maybe tally marks for kills near the shooting slits or tic-tac-toe games scrawled on the inside walls.
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Tyres from scratch! You sir... are a madman. Love it.
Thanks Tiny. I was glad to see that it was feasible to do. Now, I don't have to worry about where to find wheels for a specific project, I can instead, given a bit of time, make my own. You may notice, however, that I was not mad enough to sculpt a spare. Let's hope the gang can patch these ones up if they get a flat out in the wastes!
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This may be a bit late (and a bit obscure), but I think the side should say “Alan Metcalfe Painting and Decorating” on one side, and the other side could have an obvious paint-over saying “Bad News The Beast”