Friday, 20 January 2023

Taking The Fowler Apart

As delivered the Essel Engineering Fowler is equipped with a huge battery pack and manual control via toggle switches in the cab and chimney. That's probably not too bad on a garden railway with few directional changes and long or continuous runs. On a very short layout manual control is (in my view, at least) unpractical, even if the chimney speed control actually worked fine. Having had good experience with the RC equipment built into my little Lister it was obvious that the Fowler also had to be remote controlled. 

Disassembly in progress. The large battery box with fuse and connecting wires is seen to the right. In the middel the electric motor and gear box. To the left is the handle for regulating speed.

The battery pack in the Fowler consisted of 6 AA-batteries. Testing the top speed showed that the battery pack could propel the loco a lot faster than it would ever be realistic on my model railway. With a small layout I also don't need the same endurance as a garden railway operator and I decided to cut down on battery size to a single 9 V battery. Testing showed that it produced at satiscfactory top speed. In exchange for a reduced battery size I would have possibility to remove the large battery box in the cab, rebuild the cab area and fit a driver figure. See a short sequence from the initial running in of the locomotive in its original condition.


To remove the batteries and original control equipment I had to dismantle the model quite substantially. I first took off the cab by removing the screws in the rear buffer plate. Once the cab was removed the screws holding the large battery box in place were unscrewed and the box lifted off and toggle switches and charging socket removed. The chimney (exhaust pipe) was lifted off and the bonnet taken off. Then I removed the speed controller and was free to conduct final dismantling of the complete network of wires. 

Difference in buffer height between Fowler and standard skips. Something has to be done!

As I had the loco almost completely taken apart I took the chance to lower the buffer height as my stock of small skips obviously wasn't compatible with the original buffer height. I have now removed the buffers and will carefully drill new holes. While the rear buffer will present no obvious challenges the front buffer will need the front ballast weight modified. Looking forward to the work, though!

Rear buffer removed. New hole to be drilled for a lower buffer height.

Sunday, 15 January 2023

Underground Skip Progress

In my last post on the Hudson U-tub underground skip I had just finished hand pushing one half finished wagon along the Nystrup Gravel track. Since then I added a little weight in the tub (a 12 g pipe fitting) and made some tests with loco pushing the skip along the track through points and curves. Everything seemed to work tolerably well.

The Lister Rail Tractor test pushing 3 skips - so far without any derailments.

Once the testing on one skip had been carried out I prepared parts for two more wagons. I subscribe to the view that 3 examples of an item is seen as 'many'. Probably because the eye easily recognises two as a 'pair', 3 seems to put more strain on the brain. No matter what I now have 3 assembled skips that I will continue to work on. I will gather experience and only then assemble the last 3 skips. 

Prepared parts for two skips laid out on the worktable.

As I mentioned the skips' very light weight is a serious obstacle for reliable running on my uneven track. With a weight of the frame of only 6 g, wheels and axles 7 g and the tub weighing 12 g, I added 10 g of additional 'ballast' gaining a total weight of 34 g. Even with the 3D printed wheels the test wagon worked alright, although more weight wouldn't hurt. It remains to be seen how much weight I can fit in.

Blog reader Nick Curtis commented that Slaters Plastikard's 6 curly spoke 16 mm diameter wheels (ref. 1612DIN) could probably fit on the skips and I'm now considering to replace the plastic wheels. I'm trying out the kit wheels first to give them a chance, though. Surely the advise and hints I'm picking up from the blog's comments is a valuable source for improving my modelling.


The wheels that may find their way to replace the kit's 3D printed wheels.

Once the final rolling tests and weight experiments have been carried out I will take the 3 skips apart again and figure out how to fit coupling chains and hooks. I will also be working on how to add some texture to the skips to represent rust, flaked paint and caked on ash and debris. More about that later.

A U-tub skip being loaded by a Eimco 12B rocker shovel at the Lea Bailey Light Railway. The skip has similar tub details as my Hudson skips, but has a different frame. Image: LBLR. 

Friday, 6 January 2023

Underground Skip on Track

With Christmas and New Year celebrated and having settled stage 1 of the work associated with my daughter's wedding and new apartement, I finally got half an hour at the hobby table. The result was a rolling 3D printed Hudson underground skip, one of six that arrived shortly before Christmas. A lot of work still remain, but as a 'proof of concept' the result was satisfying enough.

U-tub skip for underground use next to a standard Hudson V-skip. 

With a 3D printed construction a small model like the Hudson skip is extremely light - even in a scale as large as 16 mm. With some rather coarsely printed wheels thrown under the construction I expected a model with less than mediocre running qualities. To enhance running replacement metal wheels would be a natural solution, but as I haven't yet found any metal wheels of the correct type I'm going to use the printed ones for a start. That means that I have to cram as much weight into the skip as possible, preferably as low as possible to avoid a high centre of gravity.

First I had to get the skip running. The wheels are designed for 3 mm axles and I ordered axles as well as brass tube with a 3 mm internal diameter to fabricate bearings. When arriving the brass tube turned out to be 5 mm outer diameter and impossible to fit in the model's axleboxes without wrecking them. It turned out that Albion Alloys had thin-walled brass tube with a 4 mm outer diameter. The tubes were even available from a Danish seller, SMT- modeltog, making a delivery to my door in less than 48 hours possible. To make the postage worth the investment, I added some glues to my order. 


BT4M brass tube with 4 mm outer diameter and inner diameter of 3,1 mm. 

Picking a skip frame, I quickly sanded most of the printing traces from the sides of the frame and opened up the holes in the axleboxes to 4 mm. To make the wagon a few grams heavier, I decided to cut a single, long brass bearing completely enveloping the 3 mm brass axle instead of two bearings fitted into the axleboxes on each side of the skip. With limited view of anything below the skip's tub I think the slightly larger appearance of the axle will hardly be noticed. The axles were cut to length (39 mm even if the instructions said 42 mm). The wheels' axleholes were reamed with a 3 mm drill, the axle fitted in the tube bearings and the wheels pushed on. Before fitting, the wheels were cleaned up a bit and the worst dimples on the running surfaces removed. The wheels are by no way worse than what I have seen on prototype industrial narrow gauge rolling stock in Denmark. In model they may need further treatment, though.

Tube bearings, axles and wheels fitted. The wheel profile isn't the prettiest I've seen!

Skip frame on my Code 100 test track undergoing the first rolling test. 

The first finger pushing tests conducted on a test track and the on the real Nystrup Gravel track, showed that he wagon behaved quite well, even on uneven and curved track. Next up is adding a little weight in the tub and making tests with loco pushing. Once the rolling tests and weight experiments have been carried out I will take the skip apart again and figure out how to fit coupling chains and hooks. Then it will need sanding and add ing of texture, painting and weathering. And then there is five more waiting! I have previously done assembly line work on identical models and I will probably do the same on the underground skips.

All parts for a single skip brought together on my worktable test track panel.


After being hand pushed on the layout with reasonably succes the U-tub skip is now resting, waiting for further tests and improvements.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

2022 in Review

Once again the calender signals that a year has almost passed and a new one is waiting at the doorstep. Many people use these days to review the passed year's events and set new targets for the coming one. It's been a rather eventful year for Nystrup Gravel and I think it's fair to say that 2022 has seen my little layout develop so far that I can begin to contemplate it actually being finished some day.

Even without ballast or grass my little layout is beginning to resemble a model of the real Nystrup Gravel. The basic ground cover of kitchen rags and paint helps a long way to disguise the fact that the layout is only half finished.

One of the most important achievements of 2022 has been the progress made on buildings and structures on the layout. The lorry loading ramp was finished after the area underneath it had been fitted with static grass. I would have liked the ramp to be just a tiny bit longer, but in 1/19 scale everything is built under tight space restrictions. Finishing the ramp made it possible for me to complete the track on the layout, too. The final spike was pushed down without any ceremony in a typical practical industrial railway fashion - the next task was waiting. 

Lorry loading ramp finished and fitted with photo backdrop.

With a 1/19 scale layout in a small room I planned to add structures at each end to make the layout appear as a credible section of a much larger scene. For that purpose I added a wooden low relief building at the layout's left end and a low wooden fence at the right end. Both structures are supposed to act as view blockers diminishing a spectator's impression of the small layout abruptly coming to an end. In addition the wooden building represents a small part of the Nystrup Gravel sorting and gravel handling facilities and adds an important vertical aspect to the layout.   

Another aspect of presenting the layout better is the photographic background that I'm currently testing. Having previously had a white wall as a background a large printed photograph with a size of 90 x 270 cm was set up behind the layout in July. A few months later I ordered another print and combined they now act as complete backdrop to my developing layout. I'm not sure if the backdrop is the final solution as I originally aimed for something a bit more agricultural rather than the meadow now in place. Sometimes an easy 90 %  goal achivement is preferably to a difficult 100 % achievement. 

With an investment in two flood lights for photography on the developing layout I should be able to present better images. Results that readers of the blog should be able to see once I get used to using the lamps combined with the correct camera settings. Back in February I also finished my small group of railway enthusiasts with cameras. I had a group of train spotters in my old scale of 1/35 and was happy to see Modelu produce some nice photographers in 1/19 scale. I selected two figures and after a bit of work, they can now roam the layout in search of photo opportunities - in good lighting conditions. 

My two Modelu-photographers getting a rear shot of a Nystrup locomotive pulling empty skips towards the pits.

Two new locomotive arrived during the year. Unfortunately the little Lister is still the only operating loco on the layout. Something that will soon become an utter embarassment for management and staff. The Fowler F 30 from Essel Engineering was greeted with much celebration as it arrived. It is a good looking loco that will no doubt provide valuable traction power for the gravel company in the future. It is questionable if the other new loco will be as usefull - it's a toy Ruston from Triang. While I didn't keep my promise of expanding the stock of servicable locos on Nystrup Gravel, I at least managed to expand the number of locos!

The Essel Engineering Fowler F 30 arrived in June and provided my 1/19 scale version of Nystrup Gravel with a Fowler like the one its 1:1 prototype received in 1934.

Like in 2021 only one finished car arrived on Nystrup Gravel during the year: a Ford A towing vehicle underwent repair, rebuilding, painting as well as weathering and was fitted out with tools, oil canisters etc. I aquired a Citroen HY van that still needs to undergo the usual modifications. It's good to have projects available for a rainy day!


The Ford A lorry with crane was finished in early April 2022 and was quick to show support of a troubled country attacked by a much larger neighbour.


The characteristic shape of the Citroen HY shouldn't be missed on my layout. Here the model has just arrived from France and placed on my photo plank.

2022 saw the Nystrup Gravel-blog celebrate its 10 years of existence in April. On that occasion a post went through some of the blog's themes and my modelling adventures during the period. In 2022 the blog again contained a mix of modelling, archive studies and a few posts mentioning other aspects of how railways is a major component of my life. This year's activity on the blog has been rather high and the number of posts (45) has reached the level from the blog's first years. A sign of a year of active modelling, but also that I have been working to tell more about all the small things going on at Nystrup Gravel, like fitting a point lever or reporting a UFO incident. That is what modelling is for me: a lot of small activities adding up over time. 

It's no secret that I'm volunteering at the Hedeland Vintage Railway and this year the Hedeland area was visited by 32.000 scouts as well as huge number of visiting families. Our little railway passed right through the scouts' impressive camp and traffic was heavy with both scouts and visitors using the railway for transportation. For 9 days straight no less than 150 departures with steam and diesel provided faultless service to the camp. Not bad considering that some of our stock is more than 100 years old. 

700 mm gauge Da 7 departing Brandhøj Station located close to one part of the huge scouts' camp in Hedeland. A small train made even smaller by the sheer size of the camp! Da 7 is Henschel 18449/1921 and in service on HVB since 1994 (fitted with a new boiler in 2002).

After two years with very little travelling due to Covid-19 this year turned out to be very different. I have been trainspotting in France, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Norway. Some of the trips were dedicated railway tours while others allowed at least some time to be devoted to watching trains. No matter what, it was nice to explore railways with gauges varying from 600 mm to 1668 mm!

Ohs Bruk Järnväg no. 1 (Kalmar verkstad AB 36/1937) at Hedlandet Halt on the Östra Södermanlands Järnväg. The loco was rebuilt from the steam loco NAJ 2 (Motala 148/1894). My first visit to the 600 mm gauged ÖSlJ in 30 years.


Two broad gauge RENFE 319.3 class locos in front of the Al Andalus luxury train with 14 carriages at the station in Ronda. Note to readers: I wasn't travelling on the train. The minimum ticket price of 8.000 € seemed a bit pricey.

The year ended with work on lamps and poles for the track and loading ramp areas as well as some premilinary work on new narrow profile underground skips. Most of the work on those two projects will last into 2023 that will probably also see the complete layout being landscaped and beginning to look finished. I also hope to finally get more locomotives in operation on Nystrup Gravel. The Lister really isn't fit for heavier work on the line! 

One of six 3D printed underground skips that arrived in December being examined by Nystrup Gravel's chief mechanic. As usual he looks a bit sceptical with green enamel coffee cup in hand.

First version of homemade lamp being tested in total darkness. The lamp provides surprisingly much light. It will no doubt improve safety when shunting on dark winter afternoons.

Tuesday, 27 December 2022

Light Experiments

Having received the 3D printed porcelain isolators next step in making working lights for the Nystrup Gravel involved good old fashioned manual modelling. My goal was to fabricate some typical 1950's outdoor lamps with a simple reflective screen.

My prototype version of a lamp testfitted on a wooden pole with election poster.

The starting point of my lampmaking was a LYM20 3 V H0 spotlight bought from ebay. The spotlights come 5 pieces to a pack and complete with resistors to enable operating from a 9-18 V power source. The spotligt is made from metal and fitted with a small LED and thin wires. The spotlight is movable on its bracket and can be adjusted as needed. Made for H0 the lamp is too small for my 1/19 scale layout, but I figured that with an appropriately sized reflective screen it would look realistic mounted on a pole or a building.

After a few test cuttings I produced a more or less circular piece of plasticcard with a diameter of 17 mm. for the lamp's reflector (corresponding to a reflector diameter of 30 cm i 1:1 scale). A 5 mm hole was punched in the center and a narrow slice was cut away to allow the reflector to be glued together in a flat cone shape. I used AC glue to obtain a good bond as I feared standard plastic glue would damage the thin plasticcard. When dry the reflector was cleaned up with a sanding stick and glued to the spotlight. 

Main ingredients in lamp making: LYM20 spotlight and plasticcard.

Light shines on a poster from my prototype lamp. The light level is enough to provide adequate light for work and shunting in the area around the pole.

I mounted the lamp on a wooden pole by drilling a hole through the pole and inserting the spotlight's mounting stub into the hole. The wires were connected with a 3.7 V battery and testing could begin. The light was of a good colour and the light level sufficient to provide a good light level for work around the pole. I think two lamps will provide adequate light for work on the Nystrup Gravel loading ramp.

Now I'm ready for the production run of 3-5 lamps for the layout's lighting plan.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

Underground Skips

Being a hard working ordinary gravel line Nystrup Gravel's primary type of rolling stock is of course the side-tipping skip. From an old list we know that the company owned a mixed range of standard steel skips of German-inspired DIN-type as well as a few British Hudson-skips. Recent research in the company archives has now revealed that the company also had a number of Hudson underground skips with U-tubs and narrow profile. 

Workshop manager Petersen inspecting a newly arrived 3D printed underground skip. 

With documentation for underground skips on the prototype Nystrup Gravel my model of the gravel line obviously had to have some as well. I found some rather credible looking 3D printed U-tub skips resembling a well known British type built (or at least marketed) by Hudson. Recently I have had rather positive experiences with 3D printed products including loco parts, porcelain isolators and figures. My first 3D model was a Schöma locomotive back in 2013 when I was modelling in 1/35 scale.

Four standard skips set aside for the weekend. On my 1/19 scale model of the Nystrup Gravel I have a mix of DIN- and Hudson-type skips just as the real gravel company had. A single Hudson can be seen far left. Now a new type of skip will soon join them.

Nystrup Gravel wasn't home to any underground activity (except for some resistance activities against the German occupation 1940-1945) and the reason for having underground skips were most likely some limited clearances inside one of the buildings in the Nystrup Gravel complex. The few images I have so far seen of the wagons shows them dumping ash and general waste in the emptied part of a gravel pit. Observations that could point to their use for transporting waste from within the production facilities.

A page from a Hudson catalogue showing various U-shape skips for underground use. Here sourced from the website of The Yorkshire Group of 16mm N.G. Modellers Ltd.

The 3D printed kits are sold as 'SM32 16mm Scale Hudson Skip Kit' on ebay. It is mentioned that the parts are printed in polyethylene terephthalate glycol. The kit consists of two large parts (frame and tub) as well as four smaller parts (wheels). I had 6 skips shipped as I like to have a number of the same type of wagon. On Danish industrial railways a single wagon of a type wasn't the norm, as most industries bought rolling stock in batches. I continue that shopping habit.

One of the U-tub skips taken directly from its zip-lock bag. More awaits unpacking in the background.

Newly unpacked skip seen from a slightly different angle.

Skip and tub separated with wheels in the foreground.

Close-up of the 15 mm diamater wheels which are of questionable quality, at first glance at least.

The parts are rather finely printed with no large marks from the printing proces. On some surfaces there is a very fine layering pattern visible. The bottom of the U-tub isn't genuinely half-round but 'stepped'. Both effects are known disadvantages from the printing proces and the design/drawing phase. The layering effects have diminished in the recent years due to advances in printing technology, but ruined most small scale 3D printed models some years back. Usually the effects are less serious in large scales where it is also a little easier to remove or cover them with surface texture and paint.

A view of the underside of the skip frame.

As customary on late Hudson products the open end of the U-profile is on the inner side of the frame. 

The prints are very light weight and I suspect that will be a challange if not taken care of. Even if I find appropriate metal wheels I will probably have to add weight to make the wagons run well on my prototypically bad industrial railway track.

A look into the tub. There is no detail on the tub's inner surfaces. I will decide if I fill the tubs with a load or fit detail to at least the upper inner surfaces.

A tub seen from below. The rivets are nicely done.

From this view the tub's riveted construction is clearly visible.

I have ordered brass piping with an inner diameter of 3 mm to be used as bearings and 3 mm axles. That should enable me to test the printed wheels on my track and find out if metal wheels are a must. 

Have you similar wagons in service on your 16 mm railway or any advice on where to find 15 mm diameter curly spoked wheels that will match the skips? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at nystrupgravel@gmail.com

Monday, 12 December 2022

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish every reader of the blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It's been a comparatively productive year for Nystrup Gravel with focus on tracklaying and work on the little layout including buildings. Thanks for your comments and sharing of ideas.

Christmas is a season of tradition. This year Nystrup Gravel has produced yet another horrendous Christmas card.

As usual I will celebrate Christmas with my family. With covid out of the equation everything is back to how it used to. If the holidays will also provide time for som railway modelling remains to be seen. Hopefully a day or two can be set aside.

My thoughts go out to all those around the planet struggling to make ends meet, provide for children and basically just survive another day. This year a special greeting goes out to the people of Ukraine. I wish them victory, freedom and peace in the year to come!