Tuesday 31 March 2015

New Module - Bankes Bakelit (1/35)

I have had a wish to model a segment of Nystrup Gravel's railway running through the town's little industrial district. During the mid 1920's small factories shot up along part of the line on Nystrup's southern outskirts and almost 'fenced' the railway in. I like the look of a narrow gauge railway running past fences and buildings. As I have found room for a new module the industrial part of the line was an obvious choice to be modelled. I'm now in the process of making plans.

The module will feature the bakelite factory Bankes Bakelit (see one of the company's lorries here) as a relief building in the background, possibly behind a fence or brick wall. At the module's front will be a factory yard. Between yard and bakelite factory the gravel line will be making its way toward the lorry loading ramp on the other side of the town. The track will primarily be steel sleepered track panels from James Coldicott. Oh, and by the way: this will be yet another simple module crossed by 80 cm. of narrow gauge track - almost straight and completely pointless. For some probably utterly boring and without any operational interest whatsoever - for me another nice scene from Nystrup Gravel to run my trains of skips through.

I plan to build the bakelite factory from the inspiration provided by a nice little two storey factory. It will no doubt be quite unrecognisable when I'm finished shrinking it to fit the limited space available. 

The inspiration for the Bankes Bakelit-factory: Larsen's Toy Factory at Langeskov west of Odense, Denmark. Here photographed by flying photographer Viggo Sylvest Jensen in 1958. Crop of image B04316_006 in the collection of the Royal Danish Library.
When I attended the Gauge 1 exhibition last autumn I visited the toy factory. I stayed at the nearby inn, and thought the factory nice and modelable. Besides that I like to explore abandoned factories and facilities. In comparison to the aerial photo above several small buildings have been added to the factory. More images here.

The factory yard at the module front will have a low wooden fence and a grounded standard gauge goods wagon as a shed. The yard will not occupy the complete foreground - only enough to give an impression of the gravel line squeezing its way between the small industries. On the images below you can see my first test of how the module may be arranged. Changes may occur as I think the location of the parts through over Easter.

View of my module 4. Card board mock up of bakelite factory behind loco 78. Still no mock ups for the fences and walls that will be in generous supply on this module.

In this snap shot the fences and walls are symbolised with tape. The left right hand corner of the module will be grass and shrubbery. The lower end of the module attaches to the bridge module, the other end to a future module that will take the line over a street in a sharp curve.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Rails Vs. Conveyor Belts

Among the papers from Nystrup Gravel I have found material that shows, that the company was approached by agents with the purpose of making the gravel company choose a conveyor belt to replace the narrow gauge railway. Nothing ever happened. Both management and key employees were satisfied with narrow gauge - not for the same reasons, though. Nystrup Gravel did use conveyors, but only for loading and unloading skips and during the sorting processes.

Front page of a brochure from Roulunds Fabriker found among the papers from Nystrup Gravel. Roulunds Fabriker was bought by A. P. Møller (the company behind Maersk Line) in 1960.

A belt for a conveyor isn't just any belt.
The conveyor belt salesmen had more luck with other gravel companies - companies that eventually prospered and outlived Nystrup Gravel. One of the clients could have included Conglomerate Aggregates - the company that took over some of Nystrup Gravel's old pits for further working.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Building two Steel Pill Boxes (1/35)

Having found an image of Nystrup Gravel's small O&K steam loco transporting two pill boxes I just had to build those in 1:35. Fortunately Polish kit manufacturer RPM does a kit of exactly that type of German pill box. That the kit isn't very good is not too disturbing. It has the right shapes and provides a good starting point. As the kit is cheap the relationship between price and quality is certainly within an acceptable envelope.
No peaceful box art for this kit. Not usually seen on my work table...

I assembled the main parts of the pill box according to the instructions. I skipped all interior parts. They are by far the worst in the kit and as I needed the two pill boxes 'closed up' for transport any work on the interior would be a waste of time. I'm not keen on spending time modelling stuff that I can't see when the model is complete. Before closing op the models I glued in a generous amount of old screws. This results in some nice heavy pill boxes that will keep their position once placed on a flat wagon. I had quite good help and info on the kit and assembly from my Brazilian modelling friend Marcos Serra. He has recently built two pill boxes and I used his blog posts as a guide. You can see them here (with an Opel 1,5 ton lorry) and here (with an armoured recovery vehicle).
Basic pill boxes from the RPM kit.

With the main parts fitted I applied plastic putty to the seams and sink marks. I sanded everything smooth before I added a thin layer of thinned plastic putty with an old stiff short haired brush. I used my standard plastic glue to thin the plastic putty. The glue/putty mix stippled on is supposed to look like a rough cast surface. I think that only the top part of the pill box was cast, so I applied the mix only to the top. The seam lines from the mould were done with stretched sprue - glued on before the putty was applied. Where I had overdone the cast effect I sanded the surface lightly.

Primed pill boxes after my putty treatment to mimic a rough cast effect.
As the pill boxes around the German air field were being installed in the autumn of 1944 I guess they were painted according to the then standard German paint scheme. I used colours from Vallejo's Air series that are premixed and ready for use in the airbrush. I didn't research the colours but chose colours (sand yellow, green and rust brown) readily available from my paint drawer.

Freshly painted pill boxes. I had great fun camouflaging the steel turrets.
When the paint was dry I gave the pill boxes a wash with heavily diluted oil paints. This changes the hues of the colours and make the colours blend a bit together. When the wash had dried I added a little ground up pastel chalk to mimic a dusty surface.

Finished pill box fitted on wooden stringers and placed on one of my flat wagons. The wooden structure that has sneaked into the picture is completely unrelated to the pill box. It is part of the shelf system to be installed in my grounded standard gauge van.

Now I can run a very unusual train on my 1:35 narrow gauge railway. By no way a train that will run often, but it will be a nice contrast to all the serious traffic of skips. And a reminder, that German authorities were planning to continue the fight against the Allies in Denmark. Fortunately that situation never materialized due to a combination of swift British action (including a dashing ride by T-Force) and sensible German commanders.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Steel Pill Boxes (1/35)

One of Nystrup Gravel's 600 mm. lines passed close by the outer defensive perimeter of the air field the German air force was building at Mellemaaen during the occupation of Denmark. It made the railway unique among Danish industrial railways in having a view to several machine gun positions from the train. My research now reveals that Nystrup Gravel's railway on one occasion was used to transport steel pill boxes.

An image taken during the occupation years clearly showing Nystrup Gravel No. 2 transporting two steel pill boxes. The train is about to pass under the viaduct for the road to Ubehage and is probably en route to the northern line to unload the pill boxes south of Mellemaaen. Photo: From Thorleif Petersen's archive.
The steel pill boxes were transportable and designed to be dug into the ground. The front top of the pill box was of thick, cast steel, while the part designed to be buried was much thinner. Transportable steel pill boxes were first used during the World War One and many were used in the hastily constructed Dutch defensive lines before the German attack in 1940. When the Germans were pushed back in the defensive, they designed and deployed many pill boxes themselves. Dug in and camouflaged properly they were hard to see and offered small targets to the attacker.

Rear view of a steel pill box in position. The small hole in the front, where the machine gun would stick out, is visible through the open hatch. Photo from the local historical archive in Skovby.
Most of the pill boxes north of Nystrup and Ubehage were removed after the war and sold as scrap, but one of those that could be seen from the railway is still there today.

Two pill boxes salvaged in the late 1940's waiting for transport to the scrap merchant. Photo from the local historical archive in Skovby.

Monday 2 March 2015

Standard Gauge Wagon (1/35)

Isn't Nystrup Gravel's railway 600 mm. gauge? So why a standard gauge wagon, you might ask. Well, I will be using this goods wagon as a shed in a factory yard on a new module I'm currently planning.

The wagon is a laser cut kit from Norwegian producer Proinor. The company has a long history of producing Norwegian wagons in 1:32 scale and has recently begun offering Danish wagons in the same scale. In fact the output has been soaring. Despite me having to choose a small wagon due to limited space I was nevertheless left with a difficult task of choosing a wagon from Proinor's selection of short wagons. I finally chose the type Qa (Proinor 32-230) as it is not only small but also old, which is important as the wagon will have to fit credibly in the role of an old wagon used as a shed. Proinor kindly sold me the wagon without axle boxes or brake gear - no need for them as my wagon will be solidly grounded.

A finished Qa-wagon from a Proinor-kit. Photo: Arild Tangerud.

The class Qa was a Danish State Railways wagon built in the years from 1865 to 1873. Only 6 m. long and with a wheelbase of 3 m. most were taken out of service in the 1920's. Some survived longer as department wagons while others were sold off as sheds. In this way the wagon will fit in well as a shed on my railway in the early fifties.

Some of the parts for the Qa-wagon. Probably the largest wagon ever to hit my work bench!

Sides and inner ends about to be glued to the floor. I cut out a door and will fit laser cut windows in place of two of the hatches in one of the wagon's sides.

Outer ends being fitted. I use standard white glue and a generous number of metal clamps.

The wooden kit assembles with ease. The parts are finely cut and the fit is impressive. Very little glue is needed so I used it only sparingly in thin layers. There are no traditional instructions with drawings or exploded diagrams. Instead the kit is supplied with a CD with images showing the building process. I also used the excellent articles on building Proinor kits by Arne Nielsen available here.

On the image below is the wagon's current status.  I have painted floor and interior walls and given them a quick weathering. I am now in the process of fitting the wagon with a partial interior as well as lights.
Rough shelves being fitted along one side of the wagon. More shelves to be installed as well as a work bench and table.