Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Dramatic Near Miss at Loading Ramp

No, it's not a newspaper clipping about an incident at Nystrup Gravel, but archive photos from a local Danish archive showing a near miss on the loading ramp at a clay pit in 1964. The location is north of Copenhagen in rural Blistrup where a nearby brick works had a clay pit some distance away from the works. From the pit a short narrow gauge line took the clay to a loading ramp for lorries for transport to the brick works.

The loco is hanging precariously over the loading ramp's end. 7 loaded skips indicate the train having come from the clay pit for unloading. The first vehicle from the rescue service 'Zonen' has arrived. The loading ramp is built on high brick pillars and incorporates a small office and a room for the workers' lunch breaks. Photo: B18576, Gribskov Archive.

A more powerful crane has arrived and the loco is now back on the rails. A daring driver has entered the loco and is now preparing to put it in reverse and return to the part of the ramp where tipping the clay into the waiting lorry will commence. The loco is from Danish manufacturer Jens Willemoes' Efterfølger, Esbjerg. Photo: B50785, Gribskov Archive.

Obviously the well known proces of running the train of skips up the ramp didn't work out as planned. Whether it was caused by faulty brakes or simple boredom from running back and forth on the same short length of track isn't known today. No matter what the usual routine at the clay pit was interupted. Fortunately the rescue vehicles managed to get the locomotive back on the ramp's tracks. No one seems to have been hurt and work probably continued soon after the rescue service had left the scene.

The images remind me of the need to fit the Nystrup Gravel loading ramp with a solid stop at the end of the track to prevent a train continuing over the edge.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Enthusiast Package from the UK

My first order from the UK based modelling industry for a long time has arrived at my doorstep. The package held 3 figures from Modelu printed in a hard resin material. Two of the figures are railway enthusiasts carrying 1950's era cameras and dressed in typical clothing for the period. The third figure is a sitting man posed as if driving a locomotive. 

Two mates on excursion. Modelu figures straight from the package.

When I finished the Citroen Traction Avant with 1950's Copenhagen license plates I had the idea to let it be the car of a group of railway enthusiasts. In 2017 I created a team of railway enthusiasts in 1/35 scale and wondered if I could somehow do a new effort in 1/19 scale. As there where no obvious figures appropriate for conversion and as there is enough to do on Nystrup Gravel besides family, work and volunteering on the 700 mm gauge 1:1 scale HVB, the idea sort of slipped my mind. In the hectic month leading up to my summer vacation I saw an announcement from Modelu introducing a series of railway enthusiast figures. They fitted my idea of the early pioneers capturing the 1950's narrow gauge industrial railways on film. Without further ado two figures and an extra was in the online shopping cart and paid for.

The figures are 1607 'Photographer with Box Brownie', 1673 'Photographer with Leica Mk 2' and 1452 'Seated workman'.

Modelu figure 1607. A man with a simple box camera trying to find the objective through the viewfinder.

One of the more disappointing features with figure 1607 is the camera front without any detail. I may be spoiled, but a camera with no lens? I'll add details to the camera front myself.

The figures in their small ziplock bags arrived relatively safely packaged in a small box with two pieces of bubblewrap as protection. The package had been almost a month underway, most of the time sitting in various customs facilities.  

The quality is the usual large scale quality from Modelu. While the Modelu figures have outstanding realism in their poses and the figures produced fit absolutely perfect for my modelling theme their details are a little soft and sometimes missing altogether. It seems some figures suffer more than others, so I can only speculate as to the reason. In the past I have modified the figures (usually by carving/sanding and adding detail parts) and that will be necessary for all 3 figures in this shipment as well. 

Finger on the shutter release button and keeping the camera steady. I really like the figure's complete attention to the photographic task in front of him. Not only has the pullover crept up, the hair is in disarray and only the potential image is in focus.

The driver figure is an obvious candidate for a job on my Pedershaab-locomotive (one of my long drawn out projects).

Brexit have led to a sharp decline in my trading with the UK and I now source all but the most specialised modelling products from EU-countries. With a little ingenuity and effort that is quite possible, and I wonder why I didn't before. Modelu figures are so far alone in caring for some of my specialist needs as a modeller despite the recent upcoming of a German manufacturer. Perhaps this was my last Modelu purchase?

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Loading Ramp #4 and End of Vacation

My three weeks off from work is coming to an end. With the corona situation still fluid in many countries me and my family decided to stay in Denmark and enjoy the fact that restrictions here are almost all lifted due to the large number of Danes vaccinated. I managed to visit one vintage railway and a few locations of industrial interest.

LJ M 11 running round its train on Bandholm Station on Denmark's oldest vintage railway Maribo-Bandholm. M 11 was built by Frichs in 1937 as building number 283.

My vacation also left me a little time for modelling in the garden and in the cottage. Progress on the loading ramp was accomplished and with all parts ready for building track on the loading ramp, work has now stopped. As I began to experiment with making rough grass from unwound sisal rope, it occured to me that with track on the ramp it would be very difficult to fix grass and plants under the ramp. Consequently I'm now examining how best to represent grass in 1/19 scale. A new (although not unexpected) challenge for me.

Current status on the loading ramp module: Ready for more ground work and ramp construction.


A view up the ramp with the first half ready for track building. A walkway for the workers tipping the skips will be installed to the right.

I had brought the damaged model of the Ford A salvage lorry with me to the cottage, and managed to replace the damaged rear axle assembly as well as fixing the crane assembly. Next stage in the model's progress is removing the printed on markings, detailing and painting.

A new rear axle assembly was fitted in place of the heavily bent one. The crane assembly was removed for work and to gain acces to the screw holding the rear axle.

The bent crane almost straightened and ready for detailing. The wiring will be rerun as per prototype. As supplied the winch wouldn't work as intended.

Everyday life now returns meaning long days at the office and all the usual activities associated with running a home and family. I can't complain thoug, as I have a pretty good life with ressources to spare for volunteering on a vintage railway as well as modelling.

Working in the field photographing the company's new tamping machine some months ago. The next month will see me behind a desk writing tenders for domestic as well as Norwegian and German infrastructure owners. Photo: Aarsleff Rail A/S.

Hope every reader of the blog have had a good vacation and I wish you a good return to daily life.

Friday, 30 July 2021

Loading Ramp #3

In between painting rails I took the opportunity of doing something else on the small Nystrup Gravel indoor layout. The two segments for the wooden retaining walls at the loading ramp were glued in place and when dry I began fitting the wooden uprights for the ramp itself. Current status is that the ramp is bedded in and ready for fitting the longitudal baulks and track building. Sleepers have been prepared. Everything is ready!

Sleepers being stained. The sleepers are a different type than those used elsewhere on the layout, as the sleepers on the ramp isn't embedded in ballast.

After fitting the 3 sets of wooden upright supports I had already made, I fabricated two more sets to be positioned between them. That seems to follow the practice used by some of the prototype loading ramps I have seen images of from other Danish industrial railways. 

Testing loading ramp clearances and supports. Previously made parts already stained, new parts still in untreated wood. Track panel is only fitted for test purposes. The permanent track on the loading ramp will be built on wooden sleepers.

The most basic of basic ground cover between the uprights was added before the wooden cross beams were fitted to the ramp. In this way it was possible to embed the uprights properly into the ground and at the same avoid to much splattering on the wooden parts. Plants and shrubbery can be fitted later.

First stage in basic ground cover. Wall filler creating the main contours of the ground under and around the loading ramp. To the left the first kitchen rags are already glued in place.

The basic ground cover added under the ramp. Still some edges to clean up which will only be done once the finer groundcover and vegetation is added.

While I worked on the sleepers for the ramp I stained a few pieces of unwound sisal rope. In advance of the work with vegetation I wanted to try out working with homemade sisal grass. I will be adding sand and light green coloured staining fluid to my grey tones to work with more colours. I do think the sisal can be used to represent coarse grass with good effect.

Unwound sisal rope with a touch of grey wood staining fluid. The beginning of experiments with long, rough grass in 1/19 scale.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Painting Rails

Is there something more tedious than hand spiking model railway track? Yes, painting rails! Despite the trouble, the work is well rewarded with track that looks much more like the real thing. Most railway modellers take every precaution to make their trains look realistic despite having them move in and out of view, sometimes only presenting them for less than a minute at a time. The track is there all the time, and still most railway modellers simply buy a length of track and pour ballast randomly around it. Remember it's called railway modelling.

First layer of rust paint is drying on the Peco rails. The track already looks much better.

For painting the rails I decided to use Humbrol enamel paint. My experience from the 1/35 Nystrup Gravel is that acrylic paint over time looses grip on the metal's surface and consequently chose to use enamels for this project. I used Humbrol 133 sometimes mixed with 62 for tonal variety. The rails were painted by brush taking care to cover the rail completely. Around the spikes' heads it takes a lot of care getting paint around spike head and the rail's foot - and at the same time avoiding getting too much rust paint on the sleeper. I considered using my airbrush for the task, but an experiment showed that I had difficulty in controlling the amount of overspray on the sleepers. Not wanting a lot of corrective work on the sleepers I chose to work with the brush.

The two turnouts were given an initial layer of paint with airbrush. The Peco turnouts are partially rebuilt with wooden sleepers and as the remaining black plastic sleepers need grey paint to blend in with the rest of the sleepers the overspray caused by airbrushing isn't a problem.

I airbrushed the point as the black plastic sleepers have to be painted grey anyway. A little rust overspray is easily fixed in that process.

I'm now going over the painted rails checking for faults and spots missing paint. Then I will be adding irregular spots with lighter and darker rust paint here and there. Once ballasted I will be adding a layer of dust to the completed track with a combination of airbrushed paint and weathering powders..

And just when you think the job is done, it turns out that the other side of the rails needs painting too!

While my small layout is usually viewed from one side only, both sides of the rails have to be painted. On a quiet day in my vacation the two modules are in for an outdoor painting session in the shade. Until then there is work to be done on both loading ramp and a vehicle.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Ford A Lorries

From a dealer in France I have recently acquired two 1/18 Ford A lorries for a modest sum. For a long time I have been wanting to be able to pose a Ford AA lorry next to the loading ramp on my small Nystrup Gravel layout. Now I have a basis to work from.

Both Ford A models posed in the garden on my road photo plank. It's obvious that the left model has suffered some damage to its rear axle and suspension.

Unfortunately the package must have had a rough trip up north from France as it arrived in a rather battered state. The Ford A pick-up was only slightly damaged with a broken off front bumper. The Ford A salvage vehicle was worse off. One rear wheel destoyed, rear axle and crane assembly bent and it too had the front bumper damaged. As I will be rebuilding them both to some degree the damage isn't particularly annying and I never considered contacting the shipping provider. I need another Ford A model to source parts for a future locomotive project and will consequently have parts to substitute. The rest of the damage will be relatively easy to repair.

The Ford pick-up that I intend to rebuild into a Ford AA lorry. A nice model with the main proportions of bonnet and cab well captured.

The Ford A-models are produced by Motor City Classic in China made in the usual heavy die-cast metal. Some of the details are a little clumsy due to the production method and the fact that cab doors are designed to open and close.

Clearly this little recovery vehicle has taken a beating on its way through Europe. I will no doubt be able to put everything straight again, probably before the pick-up truck is rebuilt into a Ford AA lorry.

As usual my plan involves some scratchbuilding as no manufacturer produces the Ford AA lorry that I want for my layout. With parts from one of the 1/18 Fords I now have the basic parts to work from. I will need to lengthen the chassis, reposition rear mudguards, shorten footboards under the cab and build a new load bed. I also have to exchange the wheels with metal stamped wheels as the usual spoked wheels were too weak for lorry use. The wheels will probably be the difficult part of the project, but I suppose 3D-printing may be a solution.

The recovery vehicle will probably be built as a well used Ford from the local garage or tractor repair shop. Perhaps a project for the upcoming vacation's summer cottage modelling?

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Fish Plates Fitted

Like the first railways managed just fine without fish plates so have Nystrup Gravel for some time now. As the real gravel line at Nystrup used fish plates to make a firm connection between individual rail lengths, it has only been temporary. Now the fish plates have been made and fitted.

Fish plates in 3 stages: in bands, separated and bent once top left) and finished (top right) except for sanding the tabs off.
The fish plates from Wenz Modellbau are made from etched brass. The fish plates are designed for Peco Code 143 vignole rail and on the Wenz Modellbau website they are marketed as being patterned on the Württemberg State Railway z-fish plate. The fish plates are etched in 0.5 mm brass and delivered in two bands with 55 fish plates each. One band is with rectangular bolt heads and the other band has 4 hexagonal nuts. 

My Mission Models 'etch mate' folding tool. A fish plate clamped in place for bending.

To bend the fish plates in shape I first had to locate my folding tool. Once found, it turned out that the z-shape was quite challenging to obtain with the folding tool. I made the first 90 degree fold in the tool and used a pair of flat nosed pliers for the second 90 degree bend. The resulting fold isn't as nice as with a folding tool, but as the real fish plates are from rather rough, stamped steel plate, a little rough bend isn't a huge disadvantage.

Wenz Modellbau fish plate soldered into the web of the Code 143 rail. The workers at Nystrup Gravel really messed this pair of joints up, even having to install a sleeper at an angle to make room for the fish plates.

The fish plates are soldered to both rail ends in the rail joint. As the track length is limited I don't expect much expansion to occur and I hope the soldered fish plates will hold up to the forces of traffic and physics.