Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Mining Equipment in 1/87 Scale

With my intial diorama experiments in 1/87 having been quite satisfying I have been making minor additional investments in track and machinery in the scale. As I had to buy a length of track for the small circular diorama, I bought a variety of Code 55 points and track in 9 mm gauge for a future larger diorama in the scale. To accompany the Э-652б dragline excavator from Ukrainian K-Models I thought some underground mining equipment would look good next to a 750 mm siding. Fortunately a German company, Micro_Miners has taken up the production of mining equipment. 

'That's not a 1/87 scale skip' you might say, but look carefully. The 1/87 skip is on the sleeper next to the 1/19 scale skip's right wheel. The 1/19 skip is 8 cm in length whereas the 1/87 one is barely 1,5 cm!

The models from Micro_Miners from Germany are a relatively new and highly detailed range of 3D printed models depicting equipment from the mining industry in DDR (East Germany). Even if the state fell apart and 'closed' in 1990 many of the machines produced in DDR for mining and industry were considered state of the art in the communist world. There is no denying that some of the designs looked decidedly 'cool'.

Two mining vehicles on tires in 1/87 scale. Photo: Micro_Miners' web site.

The following items were delivered swiftly and professionally packed:

8 'Hunte 0,63 m³' 

12 'Stapelboxen/Lagercontainer'

1 'Gleisbohrwagen SBKNS-2'

1 'Universalfahrlader UL 2/1'

1 'Wurfschaufellader LWS160' 

The 'Wurfschaufellader' (overhead loader) in the box was quite a surprise as I hadn't ordered one! It may have been sent to Denmark by a mistake or simply as a generous gesture by Micro_Miners with the added benefit of filling the cardboard box completely?

Good and sturdy cardboard boxes protects the small and delicate kits from hard handling.

A novel way of shipping fragile items. Hot glued to the bottom of the box avoids using huge amounts of plastic wrapping to protect the kits and the parts don't rattle about in the box. 

As the first image illustrates, the skip models are extremely small in comparison with my usual 1/19 scale models. A 1/87 0,63 m³ mine skip is only 1,5 cm long and 1,4 cm high with a width of 8 mm. To say that the models are tiny and fragile looking is an understatement!

My skips came 4 to a box. I have only separated one mine skip from the supports that carry the model during the 3D printing process. Separating the model from the supports seemed a daunting task, but with a little care and a sharp scalpel it worked out quite easy. The resin is surprisingly strong and I broke nothing on the little mine skip, despite my expectation of damage.

I'm not going to explore these little models more for the time being. The tiny skip will be wrapped in thin paper and packed away. The large scale model railway needs attention. Through my modelling I have learned that when nice models appear on the market it is wise to buy while one can. With small (sometimes enthusiast run) manufacturers the models may soon be impossible to source. Particularly 3D printed items that are often only printed on demand. My advise is: If you see something you like buy it (if you can afford it, of course).

One mine skip ready for separating from the supports.

As the model is completely in 3D printed resin the wheels don't turn and the model is for static use only. All major details from the prototype is present on the model - even couplings and the small handles for hand pushing in the mine galleries!

A rear view of a 1/87 mine skip showing the level of detail possible with modern 3D printers.

Thursday, 14 September 2023

Progress in Small Scale

In March I bought some 1/87 scale models of Soviet designed vehicles from a Ukrainian manufacturer. I started work on them, but got sidetracked by my main modelling effort, the 1/19 scale Nystrup Gravel. I have now dug out the models from their cardboard box and begun a small test diorama. Work is progressing again.  

Circular diorama ready for a 1/87 draisine.

It was my plan to build a small circular diorama for one of the PD-1 draisines. I used a slice of birch tree trunk with a diameter of ca. 10 cm. I picked birch because it was easy to source and because it is a signature tree for many of the northern parts of the draisines' typical habitat: Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Track bed and landscape contours were made from foam board and a length of homemade 9 mm gauge track soldered up from copper clad sleepers and Code 100 rail profile. The track turned out less than satisfactory both visually and funtionally. The track was ripped up and replaced with a length of PECO code 55 N-scale track with most of the plastic sleepers removed. 

I tried to solder my own 9 mm gauge track on copper clad sleepers. My precision that day was probably adequate for 1/19, but not for 1/87! The Code 100 rail I used was also far too heavy. Start again!

With the diorama's diminutive size the ground work was fast accomplished. Rails painted rust, used ground coffee for earth and sieved gravel for ballast. Earth colours were slightly toned with diluted acrylic paint. 

Code 55 track glued in place. Landscape built up and prepared for mounting of a tree.

Ground texture and ballast glued on and treated with diluted paint. Hole for tree showing up in white.

With the ground textures dry, I added a few grass tufts before I attached the tree. The tree is the dominating element in the diorama and is supposed to highlight the small size of narrow gauge railways. The tree is a handmade commercially available product bought several years ago from German GATRA Modellbau Union. The tree was glued in place with AC-glue. Where the tree trunk meets the ground I built up a nice smooth transition with white glue and scatter material. Then crushed birch seeds were glued down immidiately under the tree representing dead leaves. When resonably dry I added static grass. In front of the track I used 2 and 4 mm fibres in two green colours. Behind the track I used 4 mm green and a mix of 12 mm green and straw. 

When the glue had dried I cleaned away the loose grass fibres and cut the top off those fibres I judged too high. Finally I sanded the edges of the exposed foam board and painted the areas in an earth colour. Once dry I could remove the masking tape and reveal the birch bark.

With tree and static grass added the mini diorama is basically finished. Effective construction time has probably not been more than 30 minutes. It's obvious that it is a much smaller scale than 1/19!

I'm now viewing a lot of images of PD-1 draisines to decide a livery for the model to be displayed on the mini-diorama. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Plank Road at Lorry Ramp

With the recent adding of grass near the loading ramp the only 'naked' areas remaining on the segment was the road area below the ramp as well as a short piece of track lacking ballast. The plank road under the ramp's chute needed lengthening and the rest of the road area covering with a suitable mix of sieved gravel. That work has now been finished (as if a model railway is ever finished!).

Current status at the lorry loading ramp at Nystrup Gravel. Ground work is finished as far as plank road and gravel surface concerns. I still haven't got a lorry to display and the Ferguson acts as replacement vehicle.

With a mix of differently sized grey stained planks produced, they were glued to the layout's surface. Some withered grass tufts were placed up against the plank retaining wall under the chute. A few green tufts were placed at the end of the loading area to illustrate a more humid ground. A few black spots were painted on the layout surface. They are the beginning of some small waterfilled potholes I plan to install. If they don't come out as expected they can easily be filled in.

The stained planks have been glued in place under the loading ramp's chute. The planks helped avoid lorries getting stuck in rainy weather and wet conditions. The plank road is known from several Danish industrial railway locations and Nystrup Gravel naturally used the method too.

A first layer of gravel and sand in differing tones was spread over the loading area with a plastic spoon. I decided to keep the gravel quite level without the ruts many modellers would have created in a similar area. I have gone with a quite subtle level of uneveness. More can always be added if I decide to. A few dead leaves were scattered where they would assemble due to wind and traffic. As usual the gravel was glued with diluted white glue.

The first layer of gravel and sand in differing tones is being glued down. I use a syringe loaded with a mix of PVA glue, water and washing up liquid. It's Friday afternoon and I enjoy a glass of homemade grape juice with vodka and sparkling water - always add a level area the size of a glass on each layout segment!

The next task at the loading area will be working with the colours of the gravel layer and work on the puddles.

Despite the amounts of gravel loaded into lorries the loading ramp at Nystrup Gravel was a cramped location. Lorries had to reverse under the chute with not much room for manoeuvering.

Thursday, 7 September 2023

Excavator in 1/19 Scale?

In 1/35 scale I had two excavators for my Nystrup Gravel layout. I never had anywhere to display them, as I didn't get to build a gravel pit module, so they were usually only used on special photo occasions. I presented the models and the history of Nystrup Gravel excavators on the blog 10 years ago. It's hard to imagine a gravel company without at least one excavator and I have to find a way to build or acquire one in 1/19 scale. The problem is that excavators are rather large machines...

The Menck M 60 in 1/35 scale was a large and complicated model. Both regarding building and displaying. Here I have carefully transported the model out in a real 1:1 scale gravel pit.

With both my Menck and Ruston & Bucyrus excavators beeing large and rather complex models in 1/35 scale I have been rather sceptical regarding the chances of having an excavator in 1/19 scale. There is nothing scale like commercially available and scratch building even a small excavator like an Ruston & Bucyrus RB-10 seems like a lot of work (although I know talented modellers have done it).

Recently I got a hint from a friend sending me an image of a lorry based excavator. A simple lattice boom with clam shell bucket mounted on a cut-down cab-less lorry chassis. Surely not an excavator for a high production output, but sufficient for extracting that high quality gravel in a corner of the gravel pit.

A model of the excavator could be made from a rebuilt die-cast Ford A pick-up with a lattice boom constructed from soldered brass profiles. The difficult part in creating a model of the ungainly excavator will probably be how to establish the details of operation: was parts of the excavator's functions motorized through the lorry's engine and how was the cabeling and pivoting arranged. I'll try to figure that out by closer study of the image.

Loading skips with sand at the Alslev gravel works. The two-skip train is pulled by a locomotive from Nagbøl Machine Works. Photo: Alslev Sognearkiv B20314.

Monday, 28 August 2023

Grass on the Loading Ramp Segment

After preparation of the basic ground covering with used ground coffee and sieved gravel and dirt as well as small stones and twigs, I finally pulled myself together and fired up the static grass applicator. The loading ramp segment now has a basic cover of grass in varying tones. 

After a few days in my covered car parking the loading ramp segment is fully grassed.

Before I added the static grass I placed grass tufts where I thought it was appropriate. To fasten the static grass I used glue from RTS in two variants. The best for the large areas was the 'Gras-Flock Kleber – cremig' smeared on the ground surface with a flat brush. I varied the thickness and covering of the glue hoping to create different levels of grass covering. In places I didn't add glue allowing the ground to show through.

Nystrup loco no. 3 rolling down the lorry ramp with an empty skip. The static grass in the foreground is a mix of RTS grass colours 'Early summer' and 'Straw'.

The rear side of the segment is fitted with a predominantly dry and pale growth of grass. The front side is more green and lush. Although the grass towards the rear isn't too obvious when viewed from the front, the idea is that the lighter grass will blend better in with the photographic backdrop. 

Once the glue was applied, I started with a thin layer of 4 mm high grass with the name 'Summer' from RTS. Then I added 12 mm grass in the RTS grass colours 'Early summer' and 'Straw'. Where I wanted the grass to be green and fresh, living of good quaility soil I used most of the 'Early summer' variety and where I wanted the grass to look pale and struggeling with less fertile soil I used 'Straw'. 

The front side of the segment with the lorry loading area to the left. The homemade coarse grass from sidal rope isn't disqualifying itself totally, so I will probably be exploring that method further in the future.

With a basic covering of grass the layout segment begins to show some of the views I had planned. There is still much to do, though. As I worked outdoor the photos were made in my garden.

There is a lot more to do regarding grass and shrubbery on the loading ramp segment, but first I will work on the road area below the ramp. More plank road still needs to be made as well as covering the rest of the area with a suitable mix of sieved gravel - perhaps with some waterfilled potholes for variety. 

Friday, 25 August 2023

22 mm Grass Tufts - Blog Post #500

As I worked my way through my supply of grass tufts (mentioned in a previous post) I made sure to order additional ones to avoid the work coming to a halt. As I did that I noticed that the supplyer Green Stuff World now had grass tufts 22 mm in height in several colours. Consequently three packs of high tufts were ordered in addition to the 12 mm versions.

A view of three heights of grass tufts seen on the layout looking towards the fuel and lubrication shed.

I had ordered three colour variants of the 22 mm grass tufts and having arrived the colours 'Light green' and 'Dry green' seemed to fit perfectly fine with the colours I have previously used on the layout. The grass tufts with the colour 'Burnt' on the contrary, will probably remain in the box. The colour is much to dark and red for my taste. I have measured four tufts and they matched the stated 22 mm pretty well with some being slightly higher.

The grass tufts come in boxes measuring 15 x 9 cm.

While info on the box mentions the product's use in multiple scales, it doesn't mention 1/19 scale.

Three sizes of grass tufts from Green Stuff World.: from left 12 mm, 6 mm and the new 22 mm tuft.

As the title says this is the 500th post on this little modelling blog. When I started blogging more than 10 years ago, I hadn't thought it would develop into such a lasting activity. Now it has become an integral part of my modelling. Sometimes an inspiration and sometimes a reward allowing me to share the joy of a well executed project. I don't know if I will ever take the blog to celebrate the 1000th post. But so far I intend to keep up the blogging.

Wednesday, 16 August 2023

Vacation and Models

During my vacation this summer I visited several museums that used models to explain historical and technical developments. I have previously mentioned models from the German Museum of Technology in Berlin, their scope and history. This summer models from Danish museums caught my eyes and made me reflect on how models help convey historical knowledge and provide context for other exhibits.

Models help provide context and fuel the imagination of visitors in museums. Here a model of a 17th century ship yard. Photo from the Wasa museum in Stockholm I visited earlier this year.

In the museum at the old Mønsted lime works models in several scales are used to illustrate how lime was quarried and processed. A faily large 1/87 scale model of the complete works and open pit quarry gives a good overview of the general layout of buildings and track. In a much larger scale (probably around 1/13 and definately larger than 1/19) a series of small dioramas and a huge one illustrated work methods as well as design and operation of the lime kilns.

Showing how animal, humans and simple tools quarried chalk in the open lime pit area. One of a series of small dioramas illustrating sequences of quarry work and chalk treatment. The modelling is kept in a naive-illustrative style which actually works quite well. The primary function of the model is to show how a certain operation worked, not to be a highly detailed scale model.

A train emerging from the lime underground galleries. The portal is a fine model of the actual Mønsted mine entrance. While the skips are quite nice models, the locomotive is an approximation of an early model Pedershaab locomotive. For the average museum guest the very recognizable red brick mine entrance clearly sets the situation in Mønsted. 

Two of the Mønsted ovens are represented in a large ca. 2x4 m diorama. Extremely well done buildings with detailed lifts for feeding lime into the ovens. The nice skips incl. weathering is present here as well. Rather coarse ballast is used in the track.

The large model of the lime kilns features a cut-away side seen here and an exterior view as seen above. The diorama almost completely fills the room and is wasn't easy the capture the diorama in a single picture. The quality of the buildings in the diorama was of a quality I would be very proud of, if I had been the model builder.

A completely different kind of museum - the royal castle of Koldinghus - also used models to give visitors an idea of the castle's development over time. A series of small scale models illustrated how the castle's structure and design changed through its more than 750 years of existence. Other Danish museums use digital 4D illustrations projected onto walls or viewed through binoculars and all the methods have their advantages. The physical models allow you to see several appearances over many hundreds of years at the same time, something the digital tools I have seen used don't do very well.

Several neat little models in similar sizes allows the visitor to see the castle's development during the centuries. The models aren't particularly detailed, but that is not their purpose. They convey general size and design through the times and illustrate the castle's rise and fall.

On my own worktable I'm currently working with outdoor lamps for buildings and poles as well as continuing the work on converting the Essel Engineering Fowler. The work includes new cab interior, adding lights and details as well as fitting new battery and RC equipment.