Tuesday 29 December 2015

2015 In Review (1/35)

Usually when New Year is approaching we tend to evaluate the old year - did we accomplish what we had planned? I do that too - and not only in my professional life. Nystrup Gravel also gets its share of New Year's reflections. For a start one major factor has been influencing Nystrup Gravel in 2015: a change in location. While Nystrup is still situated in a semi-fictional spot in south-western Zealand some 80 km. from Copenhagen, my 1:35 model of the gravel company moved to a new wooden house in December 2014. As everything began to settle it turned out that the new house provided a bit more room and useful facilities for modelling. Consequently I now have a new module under construction and another in the planning.
Ah! The joy of modelling outside on the porch in summer! One of the new possibilities taken advantage of in 2015.
As usual I couldn't resist the temptation to add to my collection of road vehicles. I built a Tamiya Citröen 'Traction Avant' and added a gas generator from a Blitz Model's resin kit. A lorry kit with a resin cab from Brazil provided me with some challenges, but turned out a nice model after all.
Haulage contractor Hansen's Ford double cab manoeuvring in front of Nystrup Gravel's loco shed to deliver a load of brown coal. Photographed outside with some of the garden's shrubbery in the background.
In 2014 I had very little time for researching Nystrup Gravel's past. This year I managed to dig up interesting facts (though some historians will probably dispute my findings) about Nystrup's first diesel locomotive and two events along the gravel line during the German occupation of Denmark 1940-1945. I found evidence that at least two German steel pill boxes were transported on Nystrup Gravel's stone wagons to their destination. As the exact type of pill box was available in kit form, I just had to build a model of them.

I know of two Danish modellers with a narrow gauge industrial railway built in 1:35 or 1:32 scale (I'm one of them!). Possibly two others have models or layout in planning. That means most of my fellow modellers with an interest in industrial narrow gauge in 1:35 are from the rest of the world. The statistics of my blog points the fact our quite clearly: visits from Denmark makes up less than 20 % of the total number of page views. In July I had a visit from an Australian narrow gauge modeller. Four Nystrup Gravel modules were erected in my garden shed in advance of his visit. A few hours passes surprisingly fast when you meet someone with good knowledge of modelling, fellow modellers, interesting techniques and new ideas.
My four modules erected in the garden shed. Not a large model railway, but mine!
As I write these lines a new 1:35 scale model for Nystrup Gravel is on its way to Denmark from Australia. Several models stored in boxes await building and a lot of work still has to be done on the new module - not to mention the one still being planned. Consequently this blog will continue to report from rural Nystrup with news of both small and significant occurrences.
Diesel loco no. 8 crossing the bridge with a train of empty skips. Just a normal summer's day of hard work for the little railway.

Sunday 27 December 2015

New DCC Power for Nystrup Gravel (1/35)

Surely I'm no great expert when it comes to electrical matters or the mysteries of DCC. I can solder two wires together and I have managed to fit DCC decoders in most of my locos - in one case even succeeding in adding lights to the installation. I think my skills in understanding a DCC system are very similar - let's call them basic. My first step into the world of DCC was a Zimo MX1/MX2 combination. Probably way too advanced for my little gravel railway. I struggled with its less than intuitive layout. Add to this that I, despite being rather competent in both English and German, never quite got the finer points of the instructions. Lately the Zimo station has been refusing to allow me adding and operating new locos so a replacement was due. Despite all the above the Zimo unit took me a long way and as I acquired it rather cheap second hand I won't label it as a failed relationship. I have no plans of going back to run my railway without DCC. When it comes to operating locos on DCC I have found that locos runs smoother and slower - a very important thing on a narrow gauge industrial railway.

Contents of the Roco Multimaus DCC set. Visually the hand held controller isn't exactly to my taste. I'd rather have it black or a decent shiny bakelite finish. 

The Multimaus is a much simpler system than my old Zimo. During the Christmas vacation I have had a test track circle set up and tried out the Multimaus with several locos. It's easy to operate and I'm rather confident there is not much that can go wrong in daily use on Nystrup Gravel. Even though the system is probably less capable than my old Zimo, I can't image that my use will see it used to its full potential. I'm only running a few trains back and forth... One thing I really appreciate is, that the Multimaus is less bulky and and a lot lighter than the Zimo. I'm looking forward to learn the 'Maus' better - despite its ugly red shell.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Hesketh Fuel Bowser (1/35)

There was only limited road connection to several of Nystrup Gravel's pits in the woods East of Nystrup. Consequently fuel for machines in the pits were usually delivered via rail. Especially so after 1945 where the last horses were phased out in favour of a huge tracked tractor. Originally the company used an old wooden flat wagon with jerry cans. In the 1950's it was supplanted by a cut down skip fitted to carry a 200 l. oil barrel. A hand pump was placed on a rather flimsy stand of steel profiles.

Fortunately I received a half built kit of a fuel bowser wagon from an Australian railway modeller when he visited me this summer. In an hour I had assembled the kit from Hesketh Scale Models completely. I even managed to cut out a hole in the oil barrel and glue in some lead pieces to make the wagon keep the track better.
Barrel, soldered up frame and small detail parts was my starting point for the fuel wagon.

All parts united into one model. I exchanged the kit supplied solder wire (for the fuel hose) with a somewhat thicker from my own supply and reversed the fuel pump, I imagined it rather awkward to manipulate the pump leaning over the barrel.
The Hesketh fuel bowser together with the wooden flat with jerry cans. Nystrup Gravel's fuel train.

I painted the model with Vallejo acrylic paint and will now relax over Christmas with the task of weathering the little wagon. Merry Christmas to you all!

Friday 18 December 2015

Alpha-loco: Building Finished (1/35)

Yesterday evening I finished building my 1:35 scale model Alpha E-10 loco. Most of the work involved fiddly little parts. Small brackets were made from scrap etched metal or plastic strip while bolt and rivet heads were made from sliced stretched sprue.
My interpretation of an Alpha E-10 loco from Frederikshavn Iron Foundy. Back in 1908 the constructors obviously weren't aiming to win a price for best design! While the loco may not be pretty or practical I find it very charming.

On the left side I installed oil tank and water funnel. The associated oil piping were made from thin electrical wires and bits of their insulation. I found a left over resin water tap and glued it to the bottom of the radiator's water tank. I suspect the tap was used to empty the tank when necessary.

A 'hat' over the radiator pipe (the loco's front chimney) was fabricated from a scrap part found in the spares box (I think it is from an old H0 lamp) and two pieces of brass wire. All very simple - at least a lot easier than if I had to make a 'hat' from thin brass.
The loco's right side complete with closed barn door and plenty of small brackets. One of the brackets on the rear wall looks perfectly ready to receive a model of a bucket in etched brass. It will add a little interest to the otherwise quite bare right side.
All locos from the manufacturer were most likely fitted with an upper body of galvanised steel plates. Some locos seems to have been painted a semi gloss silver/zinc while others were probably left in bare greyish galvanised steel. I am currently  trying to come up with a method of painting a 1:35 model in something that resembles galvanised steel (as I'm still not quite comfortable having a silver loco trundling back and forth on Nystrup Gravel). I have had the advice to use silver and dark grey with one of the colours roughly 'spattered' on through an air brush at low pressure. Glazing over this mix with several very thin coverings of light grey could probably resemble a galvanized surface. I'll test the method, but with paint applied with a teased out kitchen sponge. The sponge will (I speculate) give a random pattern of paint in a more controlled way. I'm testing several other options on scrap pieces of plastic card. Perhaps the Christmas holidays will provide enough time to allow the loco to be painted and equipped with DCC decoder?

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Digging Up History

Apart from modelling a small Danish industrial narrow gauge railway in 1:35 scale and assisting in building and running a full scale heritage narrow gauge railway, I'm always on the look out for info on Danish industrial railways. On a flea market this summer I was leafing through old popular science magazines. In one of them was an article on how to make a peat bog fit for agriculture. The Danish government ran several such programmes in the 1920's and 1930's - most of them employing narrow gauge railways for transport. By keeping eyes open a visit to a flea market turned out to be a pleasant afternoon activity.

A very charming little train ready to venture out in the bog with a supply of fertilizer in steel barrels. The last wagon is loaded with barbed wire for erecting cattle enclosures. The loco is one of the very first models from Pedershaab Machineworks - the largest Danish producer of locomotives for industrial railways. Later models were fitted with chain drive and much studier frames. Pedershaab-locos are still in service today at the Danish peat producer Pindstrup in Latvia.
My first home built 1:35 loco was in fact a Pedershaab. Built from plastic card it has since had parts added several times to keep up with my increased demands for detail. I'm planning to replace my current Pedershaab model with a new one in the coming years - perhaps using 3D-printed and etched parts.

Nystrup Gravel's loco no. 14 built by Pedershaab. The loco is from type FD or BWD and is here seen pushing empty skips to the gravel pits.