Monday, 20 March 2023

Unwanted Modelling Break

My modelling has come to a pause as I currently have a squashed finger healing. While I have modelled in 16 mm scale with a broken wrist, a right hand middlefinger is something else. And as I was in the process og making coupling hooks for the 3 U-tub skips I need full use of both hands to make them nice and identical.

Current status on the first 3 U-tub skips. The still lack an airbrushed layer of dirt and some weathering powders - and the coupling hooks.

The broken finger got caught between two platform segments while I worked at the Hedeland vintage railway (HVB). It's been ages since someone got a scratch during work there - a testament to the care taken and planning of work.

Construction af a new platform on HVB. The concrete 'shoes' are the platform foundations holding the concrete front element in place. We have an old Salta 1602 as a spare excavator when our regular excavator has a problem.

I hope for quick recovery and that I will be modelling again before too long. Until then I have plenty of administrative work to do on the vintage railway.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

Mix of Scales

Currently I'm having projects in 1/87 and 1/19 scales on my worktable. That allows for a perfect illustration of the difference in size between the differently scaled objects.

A mix of scales on my worktable: K-Model excavator and PD-1 draisines in 1/87 and a Hudson U-tub skip in 1/19 scale. The difference in size is substantial!

I have added coupling chains on thetwo2 PD-1 draisines and they are now primed and ready for painting. The Soviet excavator has had the track assembly and external drive chains fitted. On the upper structure I'm busy opening up windows in the driver's cabin. That's fiddly work with drills, scalpel and small files. I have glued the excavator's lattice boom together and is now testing out which position to place it in. I'm considering placing it in a horisontal position as if being under repair. No matter what I'm amazed it is possible to print such a delicate structure in a small scale and still have it stand up to my heavy 1/19 scale handling!

In 1/19 scale I'm progressing and will soon have three underground skips ready for service. The last of the three is currently being fitted with lead weight and painted. My quest for appropriately sized coupling hooks wasn't succesful and I'm now working on making my own. Finished skips not too far away now!

Friday, 3 March 2023

Soviet Narrow Gauge 1/87 Scale

Several of my modelling friends are happily modelling in a range of scales. Some even consider the variety of scales as a particular element of joy in their modelling. Apart from a few road/rail excavators I haven't done much modelling in other scales than 1:35 for the better part of 20 years and since 2018 exclusively in 1:19. Now and then a special challenge in a different scale can be fun, though. 

H0e scale PD-1 (ПД-1) draisine in 3D print from Ukrainian K-Models. 

For many years I have been interested in Soviet narrow gauge. Why? In the 1980s it was difficult to obtain information and that alone got me interested. In the 2000s I was lucky to visit some industrial lines with Soviet origen. Having a basic kowledge of Russian has also helped me seek out information online and in books. Until now I haven't been modelling anything from the 750 mm gauge due to the size if I stayed in my usual scales. Now I have found some promising possibilities in H0e (1/87 scale) from Ukrainian manufacturers.

With the current war in Ukraine one should think the Ukrainians would have their hands full and no time to produce models. Nevertheless they have a rather fine selection of models in 1/87 scale with 9 mm gauge of Soviet designed prototypes in the standard Russian/Soviet narrow gauge of 750 mm. I took the chance and ordered a few models being a little sceptical if the package would ever arrive in Denmark. My sceptisism was put to shame as the package arrived surprisingly fast and in good condition.

The PD-1 (ПД-1 in cyrillic letters) was designed in the 1950s for personel transport on Soviet narrow gauge lines, primarily on industrial lines, although the type also found its way onto some of the passenger carrying lines. The draisines saw service in most regions of the Soviet Union on industrial lines for logging, peat extraction and for quarrying clay, chalk, gypsum etc. 

Drawing of a PD-1 draisine. The bonnet seems a bit out of shape? The bonnet and engine came from the production line of the GAZ-63 2 t. lorry that was built in the years 1948-1968.

A PD-1 next to a somewhat larger AM-1 DMU on the Tesovo peat line, now being developed into a museum. 

The PD-1 model is 3D printed in transluscent green material. The model is small measuring 7,5 cm in length, is 3 cm high and 2 cm wide. It is quite a difference from my usual 1/19 scale! The model comes preassembled with metal wheelsets and the rear wheel chaindrive fitted. In a ziplock bag are two steps to be added if wanted. There is no material for glazing in the windows and the model is basically an empty shell with no bottom. The wheels turn and the model can be made to run and it must be possible to equip it with a motor. My two PD-1 draisines will remain static models.

In green transluscent plastic the K-Model draisine shows off its detail very badly. A swift spray with black primer brought out some of the model's fine detail. Included are hydraulically operated turntable, fine reinforcing ribs in the bodywork and tiny springs on the axle assemblies.  

With the primer dry it is time to work out if a few detail parts are going to be added before I decide on a paint scheme. The draisines were found in quite colourful variants and almost any combination will go.

In the package from Kyiv was also a 1/87 3D printed kit of a Э-652б dragline excavator also from K-Models. A medium sized Soviet excavator that could be equipped with face showel and dragline alternatively. If the PD-1 draisines turned out a succes, I wanted to be able to add the two draisines to a diorama scene where I thought the excavator could be a good item to have standing in the background.

Reprint of original factory drawing included in the kit box. Great for checking out if any details need to be added.

The main excavator parts laid out on my worktable. The 3 part lattice boom is quite a fine piece of printing.

In the bottom of cardboard box was a greeting from the manufacturer in the form of a laser cut stamp in wood with a motive mocking the Russian war effort. That aside I have also been to the optician for a new set of spectacles. Going down in size modelling wise is costly!

The Ukrainian 'tractor brigade' pulling away a sadly looking Russian BMP-2.

Thursday, 9 February 2023

Underground Skips First Paint

During a few late evenings before bedtime I have been preparing the painting of the first three underground skips. Now one of them is primed with black and having the first splotchy layer of paint applied. These wagons will be heavily weathered with an almost full covering of rust and caked on ash deposits.

Three 3D printed Hudson underground skips in their current status.  

With the first running tests concluded, I began to fit couplings and the necessary weight into each of the underground skips. First the holes in the reinforced buffing plates on the frame was filled with putty and sanded. Then a triangle of plasticcard with a 1 mm hole in one corner was superglued behind the buffer to take a one-link piece of chain holding a leftover plastic hook. I plan to fit the wagons with the characteristic 'below the frame hook and chain coupling' to see if that is a feasible solution in 16 mm scale. I made long links for the couplings and attached a single leftover hook in one end of a skip. Tests are now being done to find out if the hook is prone to fasten in sleepers, turnouts or weeds in the track. If it works I will have to source hooks from a manufacturer.

Frame ready to receive plasticcard coupling brackets. The triangles will be glued on the centreline with the opening against the frame end. Small lead weights are then glued on each side of the brackets.

A cruel close-up of a mobile phone snapshot showing the test coupling between two skips. Time will tell if this works in reality in 16 mm scale.

With couplings and weight added I turned to adding the heaviest texture on the skip with modelling putty. I used a wooden toothpick to apply and work the putty into a thin layer with texture. Once painting and weathering is finished I hope the coarse texture in combination with lighter texture from paint and pastels will help make the wagon look dirty and well used with 'cakes' of ash.

A skip with experimental coupling and testing textured deposits of dirt - both painted and unpainted. Apart from the weights glued under the frame, a large piece of soft lead material is also glued into each of the skip's end brackets carrying the U-tub. 

Sometimes it's a challenge to get plastic putty to adhere properly to 3D printed models. Deluxe Materials 'Perfect plastic putty' works fine. But what else could be expected with a name like that?

Expect further reporting on the three skips once the coupling has been tested and I have completed painting and weathering of the first skip.

Friday, 3 February 2023

Layout Progress

My small 1/19 scale layout has progressed during the last 6-7 months with a finished loading ramp, track building finalized, relief building erected and full photo background fitted. I have always been a slow modeller and when work, family and 1:1 scale heritage railway activity have taken their share of my time there is only a little left for Nystrup Gravel. Considering that, I think I have made considerable visible advance lately compared to previous years. I begin to be able to imagine how the finished layout will look! 

The little layout's current status at the beginning of 2023. Plenty of things to do in the way of particularly grass and ground cover.

Below is a series of images of the layout's development from the beginning in spring 2020. Not taken at regular intervals, but enough to show progress since 2020.

May 2020. Shelves have been cleared from books and being prepared to accept a layout on top. 

February 2021. Basic layout with fascia boards in place. Hand built track in progress.

November 2021. Most of the track finished, basic groundcover in place, loading ramp under construction and fascia boards painted.

July 2022. Loading ramp finished and first stage background photo print fitted. Cardboard mock up of wooden building can be seen in the corner.

Once the weather improves and Spring arrives I hope to enjoy some outdoor modelling on the layout. Sprinkling fine gravel and small stones is great for open air modelling as the weather gets warmer.

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Fowler Rebuilding

In my last post on the Fowler F 30 I had just finished taking the loco completely apart. With the buffers removed I could mark out where to drill new holes for a lower buffer position. The holes themselves were drilled out to 3.5 mm with metal drills and cleaned up with files. 

Rear buffer in new lowered position. The upper half of the hole for the old position can be seen.

The front buffer wasn't as straightforward as the rear buffer. A large ballast weight was positioned up against the buffer plate from the inside and had to be altered to mount the buffer lower. As the weight was mounted close to the blindaxle, I had to unscrew the front buffer plate to remove it. Once out, I cut the upper part of the ballast weight off with an angle grinder and refitted it before I screwed the buffer plate (with a new hole drilled in it) back on again. Reducing the amount of weight at the front end of the loco is no problem, as the old battery pack was far heavier than the 9 V battery to be fitted. Both buffers were mounted in their new holes and the buffer height tested with my three types of skips.

Front ballast weight before modification. The two holes are for mounting the weight in the loco's footplate, the single hole is for the buffer mount. The upright part of the weight was removed.

Front buffer refitted in lower position. Here seen coupled to a Hudson 'Rugga' skip.

As a result of my selection of a much smaller battery size I got the possibility to remove the large battery box in the cab and rebuild the cab area. Once I had the battery box in the cab removed I drew up a list of features I would like to show in the open cab. The list included wooden floor, platework separating cab and engine room, brake stand and levers, instrument panel with light seat and a driver figure.  
New cab floor made from plasticcard. The floor is built as a module that slips between the loco's frames. The floor module can be lifted out in one place for servicing and fitting of wires and battery.
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The floor seen from above. Boards were scribed with a small screwdriver and the surface distressed with knifeblade and coarse sandpaper to produce wood texture.

When I removed the large battery box that protruded into the cab it left a large opening between cab and bonnet. The opening was closed with a plasticcard cover detailed with a hatch for relatively easy access to the engine room. I added a few bolt heads from octagonal plastic profile. The complete cover plate was AC-glued to the innerside of the cab front.

Fowler cab fitted with new floor and front wall cover.

With the large openings in the cab details inside the cab will be easily viewed. Here is a rear view of the cab interior.

With lowered buffers and basic interior in the cab I will move on to building an instrument panel and brake stand to be fitted in the cab as well as preparing the loco for installation of a new battery. 

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 satisfactory 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.