Tuesday 25 February 2014

License Plates for the Army Lorries (1/35)

My models of Danish army lorries have had to wait some time for their license plates. They are now fitted in the appropriate places front and rear on each vehicle.

My Bedford QLD in Danish army service. The license plate is a 'Skilteskoven' decal. Many of the lorries used by the Danish military in the fifties are available as 1:35 kits. Most can be built out of the box without too many modifications (at least when you are a railway modeller like me!).
It might seem odd to choose red for license plates on a military vehicle, but the subject has been well researched, so there is no doubt. The Danish army switched to black license plates in 1973. A very thorough article is available in Danish on the website of the veteran vehicle section of the Royal Danish Guard Hussars.

A Chevrolet CMP with generator parked at a tree line. I scratch built the generator and the lorry's rear part. It is not fully confirmed that the Danish army had a CMP with generator, but I liked the looks of the lorry. The rest of the unit's vehicles are probably not parked far away.

Monday 17 February 2014

Track Panels from the Great War

During fall 2013 I and the track gang at the Danish heritage railway HVB worked with steel sleepered track panels. The work with track panels on HVB was mentioned on this blog in November. Among the most prevalent two or three types of panels we found another type with unusual sleepers. The sleepers had rounded ends with a small drain hole near each end. Our first guess as to origin were early Decauville track panels or WW1 French army track, but we found it hard to believe that WW1 track had come to Denmark, let alone survived for 100 years.

Steel sleepers with rounded ends riveted to light rails. Here seen before transport to HVB. Photo: Steffen Lyngesen.
A search in books, online and among friends on several yahoo-groups and on this blog, did in fact reveal that the track panels with a high degree of probability can trace their history back to the Great War. The drain holes should according to several sources indicate that the track panels are from the US army. The measurements of one of our sleepers fit precisely to a drawing of an American sleeper on a track panel with 16 pound rail. On many images from the French light railways, however, you can clearly see track panels with sleepers that also have the drain holes. So while much indicates that our unusual track panels are from WW1 we will probably never find out if they are French or American.

Assembly of a French 370 mm mortar. Notice the short track panel in the foreground. The sleepers have rounded ends with drain holes. Photo: ECPAD.
How the track panels made their way to Denmark is quite a mystery. HVB bought the batch of track panels that included the WW1 rails from a farmer on the Danish island of Falster. He probably didn’t buy track from afar, so someone else must have brought the track panels to Denmark. The most likely explanation is that the track came to Denmark during the German occupation 1940-1945. The German occupation of France spread French light railway material as far away as Demjansk and North Caucasus in the Soviet Union. So why shouldn’t a stack of track panels not find its way to Denmark?

Considering their age, the track panels are in a fine condition.
We will take good care of them and maybe exhibit a few of them to the public. They can be HVB’s small contribution to the anniversary of WW1 in the coming years.
Sources consulted includes: Eric Fresnes: ”70 ans de chemins de fer betteraviers en France.”, Christian Cenac: ”La Voie de 60 Militaire de la Guerre de 14-18 en France”’, Richard Dunn: ”Narrow Gauge to No Man’s Land”’ and ”The Regimental History of the Twenty-First Engineers Light Railway AEF.” Arnoud Bongards from Decauville Museum, the Netherlands and Roy Link, Wales contributed valuable information as well.  

Thursday 13 February 2014

The Fordson 7V from Mesheau & Son, Sundborg (1/35)

My Fordson 7V is now ready to help build the Danish welfare society. As a tribute to Pete Mesheau in Canada (who inspired me to build this kit) I fitted the lorry with markings from the haulage company P. Mesheau & Søn (Mesheau & Son) from the thriving city of Sundborg (also a prominent station on a standard gauge railway in 1:87 scale). The Sundborg railway has a blog that constantly keeps one inspired and updated (or should that be backdated?) with info on railways, cars, buildings etc. from Denmark in the 1950's. See for yourself on Sundborg MJ.

Mesheau & Son's Fordson 7V backing into the shed at Nystrup with a load of new locomotive wheels. The wind screen wiper is a spare etched part from a Resicast fret.

The wheels offloaded, the lorry moves off again to pick up a load of gravel for the return trip. From papers in the Nystrup Gravel archive it appears that both Billard locos received new wheels in the mid fifties..
After the modifications to the original resin parts from Wespe Models were done in the last post, I was in for some scratch building. That is often easier than modifying kit parts or making warped parts more or less straight again. The cargo bed was made from 0,5 mm. grooved sheet from Evergreen glued back to back to have grooves on both sides. Metal strapping was added from plastic strip and left over etched brass from a Part set for the Eastern Express GAZ-AA lorry.

The lorry is here seen almost ready for primer and interior painting. Before priming the cab will be fitted with glas and closed up. The cargo bed in white plastic shows clearly against the yellow resin parts. A total of 64 home made or spare parts were added to the 21 parts I used from the kit.
The driver is a hodge podge of several parts from my spares box. Before painting he really looked like a product of the well known scientist Frankenstein. I tried to get him to fit in the narrow cab and still have a firm grip of the steering wheel. The grip could be firmer, I guess...

A driver is born: Legs from an old Italeri GMC-driver, torso from a Dragon Soviet tanker, while Tamiya supplied head and arms. I cut the feet off the figure to make it easier to adjust the steering wheel column and fit the cab. An advantage of modelling in 1:35 is the abundance of figures that can be adapted to fit almost any vehicle.
Alfred the driver painted. The cab interior is also painted and weathered. The cab can now be fitted. Notice the Resicast fire extinguisher within easy reach in case of an emergency. Safety first!
 I did the paintjob exclusively with Vallejo colours. The dark blue colour is 'Steel Blue' 71087 while the light blue is 'Mediterranean Blue' 71111. Mudguards and wheels are gloss black while the tires are black grey. The decals from 'Skilteskoven' went on fine. I airbrushed a layer of gloss varnish to give a good foundation for the decals. With decal solutions it is possible to have the decal film disappear completely, even on a tailgate with grooves. After the decals where down I gave the cab a layer of gloss varnish, while the cargo bed was given a layer of matt varnish. Unfortunately the tailgate varnishing didn't come out perfect, the layer becoming at bit too heavy, causing a 'fogging' effect. Except for the bottom of the cargo bed, I kept weathering very light.

Quality gravel from Nystrup being hauled to Sundborg by British lorry. The gravel is a removable insert for the load bed.
A fun project - not at least because I got to use a lot of little bits of plastic and spare parts.

The Google blog tool keeps track of many things and it tells me, that this was the 100th. blog post on Nystrup Gravel. I won't celebrate the occasion, but just notice that blogging has made me a much more productive modeller. I hope you enjoy seeing my modelling as much as I enjoy modelling.

Saturday 8 February 2014

One of the Small Joys of Modelling (1/35)

Modelling brings many joys. Most non-modellers don't quite get it. Gluing bits together and painting it - isn't that something for kids? Well, in many ways I'm pretty grown up and I still find it great fun to build or rework a kit and paint it up nicely. I have even more fun when I build something from scratch or combine several kits into one unique model that can only be found one place in the world - on my shelf.

Yesterday I received a letter - in it self a rather rare occurrence these days in Denmark where most people my age use e-mail or Facebook and letters from public services are digitally sent to your personal e-box. The letter was from Odense and contained my latest batch of decals from 'Skilteskoven' (in English 'Forest of Signs'). Receiving modelling stuff and looking at it the first time is great - a bit like opening a Christmas present. So just receiving new stuff is actually a part of the joy of modelling.

On the new sheet is a series of Danish army license plates, lettering for my 3D-printed Schöma and markings for the Fordson 7V which is currently being painted. While four models need military license plates to finish, the Fordson lorry decals will be used first.
'Skilteskoven' specializes in Danish road signs etc., but also takes on custom orders. The proprietor, designer, printer and draughtsman of 'Skilteskoven' apparently never grows tired of receiving text, fonts and unclear notes from me. The one man-business somehow manages to produce nice decals despite my poor instruction.

I appreciate all the small businesses that despite hard economic odds keep me supplied with good stuff to make my modelling easier. Particularly the decals make a vital contribution to help me make my models fit in the 'Nystrup universe'.

Monday 3 February 2014

Modelling Inspiration

Inspiration for my modelling comes from a lot of sources. One source that has kept me well supplied with ideas is books and pictures. Several of my previously built models can trace their origin back to a photo, a drawing or a written description, some from books, some from archives. Both of the drawings below are from the Danish book "This is how it's made" from 1949 by the same publishing company that published the 'Who, What, Where'-series of year books through 60 years. Both drawings are 'photo shopped' a bit to make the main motif stand out. They are a testimony to how even small illustrations can convey charm and atmosphere. 

This could very well be the loading ramp in the factory yard at 'Bankes Bakelit' in Nystrup's small industrial district. In fact this drawing was one of several that made me embark on the 1:35 Chevrolet-lorry that was finished in the colours of the local haulage contractor.  
The book "This is how it's made" gave a short illustrated description of how several products were made. The production of cement, butter, bricks and pencils are among the many processes you can enjoy in the book accompanied by typical late 1940's drawings.  I have spent hours gazing at the drawings. With some knowledge of real Danish industries one is even able to recognize specific companies and locations. The book is available now and then through Danish antiquarian book sellers.

"This is how it's made" in all its striped glory. Those of you who knows Danish will notice the old spelling despite being published after the Danish spelling reform of 1948.

A probably very compressed drawing of a small chalk drying facility, that could become a nice prototype for a sand drying plant at Nystrup Gravel. The mechanism drivng the rotating oven can be seen through the cut-away in the right building. Even such a small building complex would be a huge structure in 1:35, though.