Sunday 14 April 2024

Boxing People for Safekeeping

The small population of my Nystrup Gravel layout have been kept in storage on the layout and on shelves. That is not a sound long term solution. The figures represent no small investment in modelling time and money so they should be treated with no less respect than locos, rolling stock and cars.

Photographing in the Nystrup Gravel yard. My figures have to have some time off from the layout. But where to put them? I have now solved the problem.

Wanting to fix the problem fast, I didn't bother looking for a fancy wooden box, but found a cardboard box with generous size for my current and well into the future needs for storing 1/19 scale figures. I may upgrade to a wooden box if I stumble over a good sized box. For now the figures are much safer in the cardboard box than before. When I modelled in 1/35 scale I went to great lengths making tailor made wooden boxes for locos and wagons. I haven't quite reached the same level in 1/19 scale.

Cardboard box measuring 26 x 24 cm and 7 cm in height.

Bubble wrap lining inside the box with my figures added. Nystrup Gravel's population is all male.

Soft foam scrap keeps the figures tightly in place when the lid is closed.

'People' written on the lid in stencilled cyrillic letters - just because I can.

The brown paper wrapper for my plastic cyrillic stencils bought in Leningrad, USSR, 1987. 

With about 30 minutes of design and work I now have a simple safe storage box for my figures. No more worries about scratched paint, broken off limbs or other damages. Safely tucked away in the box until picked out when their services are needed.

Friday 5 April 2024

Detailing Timber Bolsters

Last month I received 4 bogie timber bolsters in 3D print ready to roll. As usual with 3D printed models I feel I have to remove the most visible traces of the printing proces - the thin lines of layered resin or plastic material. A lot of work with sanding sticks and sand paper will usually take care of most of it. I also wanted to add a little extra detail. I'm still working on the bogies and below is a status of the progress.

One rusty timber bolster bogie, a horse without harness and a bewildered workshop manager drinking coffee. Weekend approaching at Nystrup Gravel?

As I took a closer look on the timber bolsters I decided to limit my work on them to the following tasks:

  • remove most of the 3D printing layering lines by sanding (the paint I use help to hide the rest)
  • fill holes in the bogies' top plates (don't know why they are there?)
  • replace printed on footsteps with scratchbuilt metal items
  • add bolt detail
  • remove brake gear
  • add hand rails

Filling holes with putty and sanding (particularly the upper surfaces) was done on all 4 bogies in assembly line-style. After testbuilding the first footstep and fitting it on one side of a single bogie, I built and fitted the remaining three steps. I intentionally made two of the steps crooked as the steps were prone to be damaged by occasional derailments. From there I concentrated my efforts on a single braked bogie. The rest will hopefully follow in quick succession.

New footstep made from nickle silver sheet and brass wire next to the item to be replaced. The 3D printed part was too clumsy in my opinion and easy to replace.

'Pretty decent work', the Nystrup Gravel chief mechanic seem to think, 'Now three more steps needs replacing'.

From the beginning I had been a little disappointed with the look of the brake installation printed integral to the platform railing. As Nystrup Gravel's lines were without steep gradients braking, besides what could be accomplished by the locomotives, weren't necesarry during a train's movement. To keep wagons stationary on sidings a branch or a stone placed on the railhead would usually suffice. Only a few braked skips are documented on photos from Nystrup and consequently I decided to discard the brake installation. I presume it was removed on the real version of Nystrup Gravel to cut down on maintenance and to avoid complicating the operational environment for the workers who seldom were among the most mechanically experienced. 

Having cut away the brake installation from the platform railing I added handrails and corresponding bolt imitations. The railing was then glued to the bogie with AC-glue. More bolt heads from sliced octagonal plastic strip were added to bogie ends and under the axle box guides. Total sum of new parts added to the bogie reached 36. In addition I glued two pieces of lead under the bogie to increase its weight. 

The first 1/19 scale timber bolster bogie in rusty condition. Hardly anyone will notice my work adding bolt heads, handrails and replacing footsteps. But I know it's been done.

The bolster works as the real thing: lift the side support and it falls down to allow loading or unloading.

I separated bogie and timber bolster before painting to avoid everything being 'welded' solidly together by dried paint. I used a rust colour in a rattle can. The paint has a slight texture to it. I used a German made product 'Rosteffekt' from the brand Belton in a standard 400 ml spray can. The paint does smell quite a bit and it's probably best to use it outside the house - I did.  

The bogie will have a partly covering layer of dark grey paint over a covering of chipping fluid from Vallejo. That will allow me to create an impression of flaking and worn paint with rust showing through. But first I will finish the other three bogies.

Friday 29 March 2024

Steel Sleepered Track Panels

With the package containing the 'Planet' motorised skip I also received an assortment of track panels with steel sleepers. I have aquired the track parts to be able to quickly get a train running when I'm away from home. A few straight lengths of heavy Peco SM32 flextrack isn't exactly light or handy - nor does it allow for easy continous running.

Two straight track segments from Loco Remote. 

The track panels are designed by Loco Remote on basis of the lightweight track system made by British company Robert Hudson from Leeds. The track system known as 'Jubilee' consisted of light rail profile attached to pressed steel sleepers to make up a track panel that could easily be carried and connected to other panels. Curved panels in several radii were offered by Hudson and with points also in the catalogue you could basically order a complete narrow gauge railway from a single supplier. The concept, pioneered by French producer Decauville, were offered by a range of German producers as well. Now Loco Remote allows me to order a similar designed rail system in 1/19 scale. If I had a 3D printer myself I could even have downloaded the printing files free of charge and printed out my own track system.

In my old scale of 1/35 I previously worked with steel sleepered track panels. I used two different designs made in resin and 3D printing with Code 100 and 83 track

Close up of a straight track panel. Small imitations of bolts or rivet heads are visible. Both types of fastenings could be found on prototype panels.

A sharp radius turnout. The tongue assembly isn't exactly true to prototype, but it works and once painted it will be far less noticable.

With close inspection (and a bit a luck) a dedicated expert can probably identify the maker of a full scale track panel, but in model form I don't think the very small differences are worth much attention. It was without any worries that I ordered 10 straight and 10 curved panels as well as 2 points. In the set were also two buffer stops, but they were so ugly that I binned them immidiately.

The Loco Remoto track panels have a sleeper profile corresponding to the original Jubilee track. Some 'lining' traces from the printing proces can be seen on the sleeper surface. Small imitations of bolts or rivet heads are visible. Both types of fastenings could be found on prototype panels, but I'm unaware if Jubilee track was bolted or riveted. The rail profile on the 3D printed track isn't qiute matching a vignoles profile, but very few will notice that. The track handles all my rolling stock and locos, even those with high (and unprototypically) flanges. The track panel 'couples' by the means of a Lego inspired stud system that connects one half sleeper to another half sleeper on the neighbouring track panel - a simple and clever solution.

Painted and unpainted track panels connected. The lines from the printing proces are visible on the top of the sleepers. The studs connecting the two track segments are clearly visible.

The track system works fine on a level tabletop, floor or as built into a layout, but I doubt it will work on an uneven surface due to its light construction and method of connecting the individual panels. For running trains in the garden the track system isn't a good choise. But then again: I ordered the track to be able to play trains on a table to show some simple modelling in a large scale on narrow gauge. For that purpose the track is close to perfect!

600 mm track panels on steel sleepers from the German Army 'Brigade' railways used to supply frontline units with ammunition, food and building materials during WWI. Here seen at Besucherbergwerk 'Volle Rose', Ilmenau, 2019.

Random stack of track panels at the heritage line Hedelands Veteranbane in Denmark showing US/French army track (rounded sleeper ends) German Brigade track and lightweight track with sleepers looking like 'Jubilee'/Loco Remote track. Never walk past a stack of track panels without taking a closer look!

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Nystrup's Timber Bogie Bolsters

Several of Nystrup Gravel's pits were located in wooded areas and before removing the overburden over the gravel deposits, trees had to be cleared away. For transporting felled trees from the pits Nystrup Gravel used a pair of bogie bolster units. I have now aquired 4 bogies and will in no time have them up and running on the layout.

Four timber bogies fresh from the producer in the UK. Chief mechanic Petersen inspecting the new equipment.

The bogie bolsters are from the British producer Rail Print and 3D printed in resin in differing colours. The print quality is from fine to moderately fine. On some spots the prints will benefit from sanding. As usual for 3D printed models in the scale an assortment of bolts and rivets are missing, particularly on the buffer planks. I note that brake shoes and rods are also missing on the braked bogie. As they are not particularly visible I haven't yet decided if I will fit them myself.

Braked bogie with plank deck for the brake man. Railing and brake handle is supplied in the kit ready to fit in the corner brackets.

My timber bogies as delivered. While they basically only need a single part fitted and paint to finish, I will be working a bit more on them adding details.

A pair of bogies seen from above.

On the real Nystrup Gravel felled tree trunks were pulled to the 600 mm narrow gauge line with horses and after WWII with a huge Soviet made crawler tractor. The timber was then loaded on a pair of bogie bolster units and taken to Nystrup by rail where they were sold to a local timber merchant selling them on to a saw mill in the other end of the country in the town of Sundborg. Must have been some rather good timber to warrant such long transport!

Bogie bolsters were seldom seen on Danish industrial narrow gauge railways and Nystrup's 4 bogies are thus quite unique. Most likely they were brought to Denmark by the German authorities during the occupation of Denmark 1940-1945 for work at the airfield at Mellemåen (Middle Stream) not far from Nystrup. A selection of locos, track and wagons was aquired from the airfield by Nystrup Gravel after the war. Read more about the airfield and Nystrup Gravel's relationship here.

German timber bolster bogies at the 600 mm gauge Waldeisenbahn Muskau. 2012.

Two unbraked bogies coupled. Notice the dangerously narrow spacing between the bogies leaving very little room for the worker doing the coupling. Photographed at Waldeisenbahn Muskau in 2003

The Rail Print bogies are a good and reasonably priced way of getting some charateristic timber bolsters on my little 1/19 scale layout. For me the task of removing some of the traces from the printing proces and adding a little extra detail doesn't detract from their quality. I like to work on any model regardless of quality to make it my own personal interpretation of the prototype. For the modeller needing a a pair of bolsters in 32 mm gauge with no need for extra detail, all that has to be done is fix the railing and apply a coat of paint. Ready to roll! And speaking of rolling, the 3D printed wheels worked fine on my short test run. I expect them to perform quite well in traffic. Time will tell.  

The 3D printed part for the brake platform. Detail isn't super sharp, but nothing that I can't fix.

Image of 4 bogies printed (or painted?) in black with loads. With a load of tree trunks they are looking really good. 

With loads of new stuff having now arrived I better get the worktable geared up for some modelling!

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Ramp Track Photo

Currently I'm in the process of choosing where to place the wooden poles with lamps around the lorry loading ramp. I'm in no hurry to decide where to put them. Actually the lorry loading ramp looks so in balance with the surrounding nature that I have had some doubts if it's a good idea to erect them. 

I can almost hear the birds sing and smell the sleepers.

But Nystrup Gravel isn't a nature reserve for flora and fauna, but an industrial location brutally exploiting the planet's ressources. Some wooden power poles with lamps is a minimum to convey an atmosphere of some human growth oriented activity.

One drawback with poles around the ramp is the awkward shadows they will cast on the backscene. This image is a cruel preview of what to expect unless I find a cunning way to place the poles.

Besides playing with wooden poles around the loading ramp, I'be been adding a little extra ballast here and there in the track and added water to the puddles in the area under the ramp's chute. They've ended up looking more like tar holes and I wonder if if they're worth redoing or if I'm simply going to fill them in.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Self-propelled Skip

The variety of vehicles on narrow gauge industrial railways is enormous! From huge locos to the tiniest being basically nothing but motorised skips. With two large locos on their way into service on Nystrup Gravel I looked for a quick way to balance the Fowler and Baguley-Drewry. I could hardly think of a better way than transferring a resonably sum to Loco Remote for their recently designed and produced 3D printed 'Planet' 6 hp motorised skip.

Loco Remote image of assembled 'Planet' motorised skip. A small and simple kit of a unique prototype that fits very well on a small 1/19 scale layout like Nystrup Gravel.

Several Danish industrial railways used self-propelled skips for smaller tasks. On one railway the motorised skip was the only form of mechanical traction present. On the waste processing plant in the Danish town Thisted a small 600 mm railway transported household waste on a short track. The motorised skip was probably homebuilt by adding a lawn mower engine to a standard steel skip with chain drive to one axle. Contrary to the factory made 'Planet' skip, no dedicated place for the driver was provided. When driving he simply stood next to the engine on the skip's frame.

ILO lawn mower engine mounted on a lengthened skip at the waste processing plant in Thisted. Photo: S. A. Guldvang, 1972.

Engine and transmission seen from above. The rebuild only allowed coupling at the rear of the motorised skip. Photo: S. A. Guldvang, 1972.

The kit arrived packed in a sturdy box with no damage from the transport. The kit includes everything you need to build a running model of the 'Planet' skip except for a battery. The Loco Remote website gives good advise on which battery to buy for a perfect fit in the battery mounting under the skip. Print quality varies from fine to relatively coarse. Fortunately the coarse printing is mostly appearing on parts rather hidden in the finished model or in places where the surface irregularities are easily sanded smooth. The only real challenge is on some of the frame parts, where the layers of the printing are clearly visible. I will have to deal with those in the build process. When ordering the kit I had to choose a version of a vehicle equipped either with a standard V-skip or a wooden cargo box. My model will be with a skip assembly, and as usual I will add and replace detail on the kit. Expect my model to feature metal spring for the axle boxes, rebuilt floor under the skip body, detailed driver's position as well as added bolt and rivet detail.  

What I found in the kit's box (except for 5 box parts to the left). Here in a very orderly spread-out arranged and photographed by Loco Remote.

Frame part with coarsely lined surface from the printing process and driver's 'cab' with only minimal traces of the printing.

Included in the box was a custom designed driver made by David Clavey. Named 'Ben' the figure has been made to specifically fit the skip's driver's seat and controls. Despite the figure not looking as detailed as Modelu's scanned and 3D printed figures I ordered it anyway. Having now examined the figure and the two different heads accompanying it, I'm glad I made the purchase. The quality is far better than the images circulating of it online. I will still be refining the figure a little (particularly around the pelvis and legs) but having a starting point where legs and arms actually fit the model and facial detail is quite good is an excellent opportunity I'm glad I didn't miss. You can see David's figures here.

The David Clavey figure for the 'Planet' with different heads.

Currently I'm designing and building the cab interior for the Fowler and adding ballast and ground cover on the layout. I'll be ordering a battery (or two) and possibly a charger so I'm ready for building the little vehicle once the other things are out of the way.

In the box from Loco Remote was also a complete 1/19 scale 32 mm gauge 3D printed railway for exhibition purposes. More on the steel sleepered track panels in a later post.

Friday 23 February 2024

UFO Mothership

Back in august 2023 I took some hours off from serious modelling and built two UFO's for a quick fly-by over Nystrup Gravel. In need of a refreshing change from 1950's era modelling I have now finished the drones' mothership. Not a fancy flying one, but a humble Lada Niva model 1980 in Ukrainian pixel camouflage. Basically a simple repainting job to make the car match the drones and highlight that Russia''s full scale invasion of Ukraine has now been going on for 2 years. 

The finshed Ukrainian army Lada Niva parked across a narrow gauge line.

The Lada Niva was the world's first mass-produced off-road vehicle with a unibody construction. The Niva was initially aimed at the rural market much like the Land Rover, but later models also targeted urban users. As many other less than high profile car models the Lada has received cult status in certain sub-cultures exactly like the East German Trabant and IFA-lorry. 

The versatility of the Niva is shown to great effect here. A practical use of bonnet design enabeling long branches to be carried with no fuss.

The base for my model of the drone mothership is the Solido Lada Niva 'Vagabund' model 1980 in 1/18 scale. The model depicts a sporty version of the Niva without bumpers and with an added roof rack for storing equipment. Made in a heavy metal casting the detail is a bit soft, but shape and general design looks very fine. Details like mirrors and windshield wipers are made in soft plastic that makes them a bit more resilient to snapping than details in hard plastic (that on the other hand often looks better).

Straight out of the box and onto the layout for photography. The Niva crosses the tracks quite easily due to its high gound clearance.

First step in my conversion was to disassemble the car into four main assemblies: roof rack, interior, chassis and body. All markings on the body were removed with a cloth with acetone. Even if the body was to receive several layers of paint I was afraid that the printed markings could show through. Better safe than sorry. The rear lights and windows were masked with Tamiya masking tape while the head lights were simply removed. I only masked the windows and left the rubber edging free for over spraying.

The first layer of new paint was a black primer to make sure later paint would adhere properly. With smal squares of masking tape I built up the black part of the characteristic pixel camouflage. With the black squares in place I air brushed a light sand over the car and when dry, masked the formations to stand out in light sand. Then I air brushed a light green over the model and once that layer had dried I masked the squares to stand out in light green before I covered everything in dark green. After drying the camouflage masking was removed with tweezers. I kept the masking on windows and rear lights. After cleaning up a few edges on the camouflage pattern, I air brushed a layer of matt varnish over the body and finished with some light dusting of the lower parts with a light earth colour.

The model disassembled in four major assemblies.

The light sand paint is drying. The masked black areas can be made out around the door.

The camouflage masking squares have been removed. Some of the edges will have to be cleaned up by brush as paint has crept under the edges of the tape in places. Overall an acceptable result for a quick job.

The interior received a few quick bursts with two earth coloured paints through the air brush. I washed the floor with heavily diluted brown oil paint. The seats received a little air brushed wear. I added some fibre grass on the floor and in the trunk. Some card board from discarded boxes was glued to floor and seats and a shovel thrown on top. In the trunk some plastic tube painted olive drab partly covered with a tarpaulin from copper foil might just look like M 72 LAW anti tank weapons seen through the windows.

Interior before the body is mounted and fastened. A few minutes of adding detail helps add some realism to the interior.

Bringing much needed LAWs to the brothers in the front line.

I removed the jerry cans on the roof rack and disguised the holes left by their mountings with a rolled up camouflage net. I rolled some first aid gauze around a little block of styrofoam and soaked it in diluted white glue. While the glue was still wet I placed strips of white paper randomly on the roll. Once fully dried the roll was painted dark green and the paper strips picked out in different shades of greens. 

Finally I removed the masking on windows and rear lights and painted three white crosses as recognition markings. Then I gave the car a wash of heavily diluted black oil paint. After the wash had dried, I air brushed another layer of dust over the car. Finally I fitted the front lights and painted some scratches with a light green colour on exposed locations on the car. These small cars receive a beating near the front lines. The roof rack was fixed in place and the car ready for display.

Southern Ukraine is flat and criss-crossed by tree lines.

Despite the camo repaint in a Ukrainian garage, the guys painting the Lada left the logo intact. The spot light cover is a reminder of happier times...

Drone in the air!

One of the sub-cultures that have taken the Niva to heart are the supporters of hardbass music. A lovely Niva with Adidas-stripes feature in the music video to the tune 'Slav King'. See the video here and remember to turn sound on to enjoy a few minutes of hardbass!

The ever popular Adidas stripes have spread to the Niva! 'Boris' on his ride in true gopnik squat-style.

While the Niva has been a fun modelling project the war in Ukraine is bloody and cruel. Think about that while sitting at your cozy worktable modelling. You may even be able to donate a small sum for some much needed humanitarian help to Ukrainians rather than adding another kit to the stash of unbuilt models?