Tuesday 29 December 2020

2020 in Review

As usual when New Year approaches I'm looking back at the year's progress on my model of Nystrup Gravel. 2020 has been quite a different year due to the corona virus with its huge implications to most countries around the world. In Nystrup the cosy little rural 600 mm gravel line in 1/19 scale hasn't suffered much, although a lot of work has been dimishing available time for modelling.  

2020 began with at start on a new loco project - a Danish built diesel engined locomotive from Pedershaab. I got the bare plasticcard frames motorized and running on battery power and then the project stalled. In December I dusted my drawings off and got started again. I have sent measurements, sketches and images to a manufacturer that have helped me with projects before. The plan is to have axle boxes and springs 3D-printed. I also had new electronic gadgets delivered to help remote control the locomotive.

Parts from a full size Pedershaab locomotive ready for measuring to enable scale items to be 3D-printed for my model. Often it is a great help to modelling being engaged in full scale railway preservation.

Finding track supplies and designing my model track took some time in the beginning of 2020. In the process I got sidetracked by experiments with wooden track. My work with track planning has progressed so far that I am finally ready to build the first track in 2021. Sleepers has been cut and stained, rail and spikes bought, track gauges made and a small section of cork track bed glued in place.

In June I got to the point where I began actually building my small layout. The small L-shaped layout will be my interpretation of part of the gravel handling and sorting facility in Nystrup. In 16 mm scale there isn't room for a lot, so careful selection of scenes is definately needed. Framework and basic surface features are almost ready. 2021 will begin with finishing the basic landscape and preparing it for track building. I look forward to try landscape and track building in 1/19. I am a beginner in this scale and I proceed carefully to not rush anything. I hope not to make too many mistakes.

A new 4 wheeled coach set wheels on the Nystrup rails. The coach was modelled on the basis of a real Nystrup Gravel prototype - as yet undocumented and based on anecdotal evidence only. The theory of a 4 wheeled coach at Nystrup Gravel is however, well founded on archive research involving postcards sent by the gravel company manager Holm. My model is from a sligthly rebuilt and detailed kit from The Line Side Hut and primarily built during my summer holiday.

Test running the new coach. Nystrup loco no. 3 carefully pushing coach no. 3 along the line. A worker has been posted as a lookout on the front platform.

Several road vehicles arrived in my collection during 2020, but only a Citroen Traction Avant and a Ferguson TEA-20 tractor were detailed and weathered to enable them to be displayed on my future layout. Decals for the newly aquired vehicles were designed and have arrived from my decal supplier, assuring me that 2021 can include the usual work on non-railway vehicles. 

The Ferguson was the tractor which kick started the mechanization of Danish farming. Here my version of the Schucho 1/18 scale model with added details and weathering.

During spring and early summer I painted six DIN skips in different coatings of dark greys and weathering. Some of them got a rather harsh treatment with both hammer and a heavy layer of rust. I used Vallejo chipping fluid for the first time with mixed result, while I liked using a hammer to physically weather the skips. In April I even used a combination of beer and rock music to assist the weathering process. Surely a sensible way to chase away the frustrations of corona lock-down and working from home. 

Three newly painted skips in the spring sunshine.

My research of Nystrup Gravel's history continued, despite corona restrictions making visits to archives difficult. Several images from the company's industrial railway was found, and a series of old post cards sent by the company's manging director also surfaced, quickly leading to building of a 4 wheeled coach. Currently I have resumed contact with the granddaughter of Thorleif Petersen, the Nystrup Gravel workshop manager for many years. I hope that will provide new insight into the history of Nystrup Gravel.

While my railway modelling hasn't been affected too much by the corona-related restrictions, other aspects of my railway interest has suffered somewhat more. Fortunately my paid job in the railway business hasn't been affected, with infrastructure projects continuing almost as planned. The closing of borders and restrictions on travel put a full stop to my usual trips abroad to study railways of one kind or another. Also my involvement with a heritage line has seen plenty of corona challenges to be met. Restrictions forced us to postpone the traffic season and to run trains with reduced capacity to comply with the rules of social distancing. All in all a lot of extra work and less income to spend on future projects. 

Despite the corona pandemic HVB kept the trains running, although with reduced capacity. Here a train with dieselelectric M 25 from 1959 meets a train pulled by Da 7 from 1921.

Pre-corona railway fun with mates. No distancing, masks or travel restrictions, but smiles all around! Besucherbergwerk 'Voller Rose' near Ilmenau, autumn 2019.

For the Nystrup Gravel blog 2020 was a pretty active year with a steady stream of posts averaging 4 posts pr month. The statistics says visits to the blog are in the range of 2.500-3.000 page views pr month as they have been for several years. There has been a slight decline in visitors during the last three months. Perhaps because I haven't described a 'real' railway project since I finished the coach in September? As the blog is a reflection of my modelling, not the other way round, there isn't a great deal I'm going to do about it. I don't choose modelling projects to have something interesting to write about on the blog. And after all, modelling a Danish narrow gauge industrial railway in 1/19 scale isn't exactly mainstream railway modelling. 

I hope you enjoyed some of the stories from Nystrup Gravel during the year or had the chance to catch up in this review of 2020. I wish you a happy New Year and hope to see you again in 2021 for more modelling, fictional history and prototype information.

Friday 25 December 2020

Lorry Load From Spare Part

My modelling has always been inspired by the use of left over parts, scrap items and stuff you don't necessarily find in hobby shops. The basis of this little project is just that - an unused part from a kit, turned into something useful.

The Tempo Hanseat from Banke's Bakelite - registration number E 902 - with an electric motor for the factory production line.

The stationary electric motor came with the 1/16 scale Bandai kit of a showman's steam engine, that I rebuilt into haulage contractor Hansen's steam traction engine in 2019. In reality the part is the belt powered electric generator from the showman's engine, but I think it will pass pretty well for an electric motor. The generator was almost completely assembled by the previous owner. I only removed a couple of small glue stains with files and sandpaper and adding the few remaining detail parts.

First layer of paint is airbrushed on. Dark blue grey with brushpainted scratches in 'dark brown'.

The finished electric motor ready to be loaded on the small Tempo-lorry from Banke's Bakelite.

I found a small dry transfer with a builder's plate and fixed it on one side of the motor. A wash with heavily thinned brown and black oil paint served to create shadows and differing tones to the colouring. Then I airbrushed a layer of dust over the upper horisontal parts of the motor housing. The drive wheel carrying the transmission belt was brush painted with gun metal and rubbed with graphite powder to obtain a worn look. Finally the scratches were accentuated with a sharp pencil that was also rubbed along the wire guards. The motor was then glued to two pieces of wood to ease handling.

To install the motor safely on the load bed of the Hanseat, I cut some lengths of wood to prevent the motor from moving. It may not look very safe, but the motor is only going a short distance to its destination.

With a rudimentary fixing down of surplus timber, the electric motor is on its way to future service at the bakelite factory in Nystrup.

Monday 21 December 2020

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is here and preparations for the 24th. are intensifying here in Denmark. Just a few more days' work and it's time for more than a week off. Let me wish every reader of the blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. My best wishes go out to every reader even if you don't happen to be culturally or religiously inclined to celebrate Christmas.

My second attempt to make a Christmas card. Just a fraction better than the one I made last year. At least this one sums up 2020 rather well: dark, with small bursts of light.  

It is with mixed feelings I'm about to celebrate Christmas with only the closest family. As usual a bigger gathering was planned. The cause of the changed plans is unsurprisingly the corona virus that has made 2020 a miserable year for many, not least those that have had to say goodbye to loved ones. I hope this year of restrictions, travel bans, mask wearing and working from home will fade into a better and happier 2021. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Road Vehicles Around Nystrup Gravel

Anyone having read more than a few posts on the Nystrup Gravel blog will have noticed that road vehicles play a large role. While it is the narrow gauge railway that is the main focus in my modelling, road vehicles are a great way to set the railway in the right period. Many Danish industrial railways used the same loco and skips for a period of 40 years. Apart from new damage, a fresh paint job or more dirt and wear, a train could look pretty much the same in 1979 as it did in 1950. On the contrary, road vehicles changed design almost constantly and are consequently a much better indicator of which span of time my little railway is set in. And let's face it, some road vehicles are almost as cool as trains and help create nice little scenes on any layout.

A new delivery of coal to Nystrup Gravel. Delivered in a much rebuilt Ford-lorry in 1/35 scale.

Experienced exhibitors also mention that visitors that are not hardcore railway enthusiasts enjoy non-railway layout features as much as the railway stuff. I think I'm like that myself. When I considered changing scale from 1:35 to 16 mm scale I made sure that a decent selection of cars from the first half of the 1950's was available. I wouldn't think of testing a new scale without checking out if any cars were available.

I know other railway modellers with a keen interest in road vehicles. I'm always exited to see what stories the Sundborg-blog presents, as the author does well researched posts on cars from the 1950's. The number of Sundborg-posts on cars is even larger than on my Nystrup Gravel-blog. It's a great inspiration and has more than once been a deciding factor on which cars to run on the narrow roads around Nystrup.

While I was modelling in 1:35 scale many commercial vehicles could be converted from the wide range af military soft skinned vehicles available as kits in injected plastic or resin. Some civilian vehicles also surfaced with regular intervals, as the scale developed from a pure military focus.

A Bedford O tipper from Vognmand Hansen crossing the viaduct taking the road over the Nystrup Gravel line. The model is a 1:35 scale kit in resin and white metal from Roadcraft Models.

A Commer tractor unit with trailer loaded with Schöma locomotive. The Commer is a resin kit Wespe Models, while the trailer is a resin kit from RB-models. Both kits were detailed and fitted with custom decals.

Cars weren't as widely available in 1:35 scale as lorries, but I found some quite good kits and they provided me with many opportunities to create Danish cars from the first half of the 1950's.

A tiny Tamiya Simca 5 built basically out of the box. A lovely kit and very easy to assemble.

My little Cushman scooter built from a Plus Models resin kit. A rather fiddly kit, but looking great on a summer evening.

Contrary to 1:35 scale most car models in 1/19 scale are diecast and sold pre-assembled. Actually most of the cars are 1/18 scale, but they can be used in 1/19 scale without any noticable disadvantage. They are detailed in varying degrees and they all benefit from a certain treatment with added details, Danish license plates and detail painting and weathering. The custom designed decals with company names and license plates help set the scene for Nystrup Gravel by building up a community with local businesses and personalities.

The best known clothes washing business in Nystrup was Lützows Lyn-Vaskeri with the characteristic two bolts of lightning on the sides of their vehicles. Here on a green Chenard & Walcker van from French maker Norev.

A good looking Volvo PV445 from BoS still without Danish license plates or other added Danish specialities.

With my current very small layout I have too many car models already. I'm planning for a Ford A lorry to be able to show a lorry being loaded with gravel at the ramp. Apart from that I may put my road vehicle expansion programme on hold for a while. Let's see if that is possible!

Sunday 13 December 2020

Traction Avant finished

The Traction Avant I aquired in May is now ready to roll on the roads near Nystrup. With most of the engine painting and weathering of the car's underside done, I turned my attention to the interior. First I fabricated floor mats from thin plasticcard painted black. With the mats glued in place, I gave the floor a thin wash of black oil paint. When dry, I airbrushed a very thin mist of earth colour to represent the dirt dragged in by driver and passengers. I also added a light dusting with pastel chalks on the floor. The seats were treated with a dark wash with oil paints and worn areas accentuated with light grey with airbrush.

My finished Citroen Traction Avant for the 1/19 scale Nystrup Gravel-layout.

On the cast metal upper body I primarily focused my work om the underside of the opening bonnet parts and the undersides of the mudguards. Both needed an extra layer of black before I could add road dirt and dust with the airbrush. A few details on the outside of the body such as the rear light were treated with chrome paint, while a few scratches were carefully covered with gloss black. Direction marker lights were painted with Vallejo 'Chrome' and a dark orange topped up with a covering of gloss varnish. This work somehow got me considering a new pair of spectacles...

In-progress shot of the interior weathering process. The final wash with oil paint and some pastel chalk is still missing.

The car's upper body and chassis/interior before reassembly.

Once the minor painting jobs on the dashboard were finished, the two part dashboard was screwed back in place. The steering wheel that I detached was glued back on, but without fitting the connection to the wheels.  Before that I had separated windscreen frame and windscreen to enable me to clean and polish the clear part and paint the wipers attached to the frame part. Both were reassembled and reattached to the upper body with Micro Kristal Klear.

Once that was done, chassis and body was reunited. The license plates were fitted with decals from my usual supplier Skilteskoven (the rear license plate was fabricated from plasticcard) and finished with a layer of gloss varnish. I then prepared a thin mix of dust and earth colours and airbrused a very thin layer over the chassis underside, wheels and lower body to illustrate road dust. The car's license plates indicate the Traction Avant was registred in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, so it's probably on a visit to the Nystrup region. Perhaps a couple of industrial railway enthusiasts?   

Traction Avant from Copenhagen visiting Nystrup. Parked in the roadside unattended? Fortunately it is a quiet rural area inhabited by honest people.

A few details added and some painting is all that's done to the Miasto model. A very modest investment in making a unique car model for my layout.

A local mechanic has been called in to fix the malfunctioning Traction Avant. The driver and passenger is probably out sightseeing or enjoying themselves at the local pub.

Surely the owner of the Traction Avant with the registration number  A 9720 is a much more relaxed and peaceful human being than some of the characters also fond of the TA. The Traction Avant was a car that handled well and in several films it is used as a get away-car by criminals. In France it was the selected car of a hideous gang of criminals, so much in fact, that the gang was known as the 'Le gang des Traction Avant'. They were not the types one would like to meet on a dark road in the woods around Nystrup. Fortunately 'Le gang des Traction Avant' stayed (and died) in France.

'Le gang des Traction Avant' even made it to a board game in the style of Monopoly. In the background another iconic Citroen product - the H-van. The one-piece windshield and blue light probably isn't quite consistent with the gang's operation period, though.

Friday 27 November 2020

Lanz HR9 D2539

With corona restrictions still in force over most of Europe it seems that many collectors are using the time to clear closets, attics and spare bedrooms from unwanted items. From Spain I recently aquired a Schuco Lanz HR 9 in mint condition. An interesting model and very appropriately there was a Lanz 'Eil Bulldog' like it on the roads around the real Nystrup from the late 1930's.

Recently arrived, the model seen placed on my road photo plank.

I have always liked tractors fitted out for road transport, often pulling several trailers. I had plans for a complete road train in 1:35 scale, but never got round to build one. At least I now have the tractor. The Lanz HR9 model D2539 was manufactured over a wide span of time from 1936 to 1954. The D 2539 was powered by a one cylinder engine with 55 hp, a winch, and a closed cab protecting the driver from the elements and the dust kicked up by the tractor's top speed of 30 km/h. The Lanz roaming the roads around Nystrup was owned by the local haulage contractor Hansen, who was the major hauler of timber from the woods in the area and of course a lot of the gravel dug up by Nystrup Gravel. Hansen also employed a steam tractor (which I have also recreated in model) and had a small fleet of lorries. When the Lanz arrived in the late 1930's it regularly hauled double the load as managed by Hansen's small Ford AA lorries.

A prototype barn find from Germany. Here and there very minute areas of blue and red paint can be spotted. Most of the dirt seem to be oily dust and should clean off easy with a rag.

The German company Schuco has a long history of making road vehicle toys and models. The Schuco models have a good level of detail and not too many of the rather clumsy parts seen on other large scale pre-assembled models. Still there are some parts with visible mould lines and the trailer sign on top of the cab is quite a coarse representation. Nothing that can't be fixed with a little work, though.

The Schuco model makes a solid impression and has all the characteristics of the real Lanz d2539.

A view through the open door into the cab. There is an abundance of detail present. Even the interior light in the cab roof is in place. The gearbox and a very detailed steering column with gearing for transferring the steering motion to the front wheels is visible under the cab floor. 

As with every vehicle for use on my small model of Nystrup Gravel the Lanz will also receive minor detail upgrades, new parts, decals and weathering. As I'm currently finishing the Citroen Traction Avant and prepares for ground and track works on my modules, it will probably last a while before the Lanz gets on my workbench.

The Lanz seen from the rear. The winch can be seen below the coupling for the trailer.

The Lanz D2539 is a rather large vehicle and is here being admired by one of the local workers.

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Nystrup Gravel's Fowler

The early narrow gauge diesel locomotives by John Fowler of Leeds have always fascinated me. When I through my research discovered that Nystrup Gravel had a 1934 Fowler diesel loco I traced a Fowler for my then 1:35 scale version of the gravel company. I currently have a 16 mm scale Fowler in progress with an estimated delivery date sometimes in the first half of 2021 if Covid-19, Brexit and I don't know what isn't messing things up. I keep my fingers crossed!

The Fowler at Nystrup was probably originally meant for a customer in the tropics using Imperial measurements. The gauge on the loco was in fact 2 feet (610 mm) while Nystrup Gravel used 600 mm gauge. The Fowler was consequently slightly 'over gauged'. There is no indication from archive scources that the loco ever derailed more than any of the company's other locos.
Not too long after it had arrived, the Fowler was photographed in the mid-1930's outside Nystrup Gravel's brick loco shed outside Nystrup. Later the loco would receive the number 11 on the cab sides, large jack on the running board, lights and the drivers' modifications to the cab to keep out wind and cold. Photo: Beldringe Local Historical Society.

When the Fowler arrived in Nystrup it was tested and used as a central attraction in PR activities by the then new director Holm at the gravel company. The local press, politicians and administrative staff from local government was invited to Nystrup as often as deemed necessary by the director. Besides having access to parts of the company's archive that policy has enabled me to trace the company history in the pages of the local newspapers. The article below (dated January 17. 1934) is just one example.

The article begins: “Yesterday Nystrup Gravel’s new British diesel locomotive arrived on a heavy load trailer. The new locomotive is necessary because of the rising production following the many government projects initiated to fight unemployment…” The journalist continues describing the loco:

“The new diesel locomotive is a marvellous example of British engineering and technical proficiency. In its glorious coat of green paint it completely outshines the gravel company’s smaller gasoline locomotives

The visiting press was invited for a ride: “Anyone interested was treated to a tour in the locomotive’s spacious cab and could feel the mighty power of the engine vibrating in every lever and cab floor. The cab allows a flow of fresh air and provides a great view for the driver, something the workers will no doubt appreciate during shunting.”

No doubt the journalist hadn't much experience of loco driving in the cold Danish climate. Only on warm summer days did the drivers appreciate the cab designed for much warmer climates. Most of the year they were freezing despite trying to close the cab with a variety of tarpaulins and wooden boards. The floor vibrating with "the mighty power of the engine" also failed to please the workers for some reason. 

Nevertheless the Fowler was one of Nystrup's primary locomotives for a number of years. It was out of service for most of the German occupation of Denmark 1940-1945 due to lack of spare parts. As soon as parts were available again it was back in service, being in use at least until 1959.

Monday 16 November 2020

Working on the Traction Avant

Every road vehicle at Nystrup Gravel receive an upgrade before going into service on my still developing 16 mm scale narrow gauge industrial railway. Usually I remove the most clumsy detail, fit new details, add Danish license plates and moderate weathering. Sometimes printed on lettering is removed, new paint applied and custom designed decals fitted. Currently I'm working on the Maisto model of the 1/18 Citroen Traction Avant 15-Six from 1952.

The Traction Avant taken apart. Painting of the engine is in progress.

Removing 4 screws  from the bottom of the car separates upper body and chassis - almost. I had to cut the steering column to achieve clean separation, though. By removing 2 screws I could also remove the dasboard from the upper body. This will help when toning down some of the rather harsh chrome finish applied to e.g. the rear view mirror.

The Maisto model's engine is moulded in a green colour not too far from the prototype's. I added other colours to the engine and the engine compartment. Mostly to hide the plastic look and to provide a minimum of realism when viewed through the open bonnet.

A real Traction Avant with the colour scheme I'm trying to represent.

Engine painting in progress. Some parts have had a new coat of paint, other parts are still naked plastic.

I applied a quick paint and weathering job to the car's underside. Not many will see this, but I like to know the underside isn't looking shiny and new.

Next up is the interior that will need floor mats and treatment of dashboard as well as having weathering applied to the inside of the mudguards. License plates are to be fitted and both bumpers will be repainted after some light conversion work.

Friday 30 October 2020

Lucky Me!

Sometimes you're just lucky. I had one of those days last weekend. Getting my hands on an classic Danish model railway book. My luck didn't stop there. As I opened the book I noticed an image of a narrow gauge industrial steam loco glued into the book with two strips of christmas stamps.

'Model railways as a hobby' is the title of the book. It was first published in 1971 and I remember reading it at the library as a boy. It was probably the first book I read about scratch building and it didn't take long before I began cutting card board for my own model building. The rest is history, as they say. 

"From me to you" in hand writing and the Danish national christmas stamp from 1975 used to fix the photograph to the book's half title.

The image shows a somewhat dismantled and negleted Orenstein & Koppel 4-wheeled steam loco of a 20-30 hp type. Probably built 1910-25. There are no sidetanks which is unusual for O&K-locos of this model. A lady is waving to the photographer from the cab. Perhaps a Sunday trip turned loco spotting? She is dressed in a style that could be the 1930's-1940's, but probably the style could pass in the early 1950's as well. While the book is Danish, there are no features in the image proving the loco to be a Danish one, although it may very well be so.

"Hi, darling! I'm a loco driver now."

I will pass the image on in my network, and hopefully some expert will be able to help identify the locomotive.