Friday, 30 July 2021

Loading Ramp #3

In between painting rails I took the opportunity of doing something else on the small Nystrup Gravel indoor layout. The two segments for the wooden retaining walls at the loading ramp were glued in place and when dry I began fitting the wooden uprights for the ramp itself. Current status is that the ramp is bedded in and ready for fitting the longitudal baulks and track building. Sleepers have been prepared. Everything is ready!

Sleepers being stained. The sleepers are a different type than those used elsewhere on the layout, as the sleepers on the ramp isn't embedded in ballast.

After fitting the 3 sets of wooden upright supports I had already made, I fabricated two more sets to be positioned between them. That seems to follow the practice used by some of the prototype loading ramps I have seen images of from other Danish industrial railways. 

Testing loading ramp clearances and supports. Previously made parts already stained, new parts still in untreated wood. Track panel is only fitted for test purposes. The permanent track on the loading ramp will be built on wooden sleepers.

The most basic of basic ground cover between the uprights was added before the wooden cross beams were fitted to the ramp. In this way it was possible to embed the uprights properly into the ground and at the same avoid to much splattering on the wooden parts. Plants and shrubbery can be fitted later.

First stage in basic ground cover. Wall filler creating the main contours of the ground under and around the loading ramp. To the left the first kitchen rags are already glued in place.

The basic ground cover added under the ramp. Still some edges to clean up which will only be done once the finer groundcover and vegetation is added.

While I worked on the sleepers for the ramp I stained a few pieces of unwound sisal rope. In advance of the work with vegetation I wanted to try out working with homemade sisal grass. I will be adding sand and light green coloured staining fluid to my grey tones to work with more colours. I do think the sisal can be used to represent coarse grass with good effect.

Unwound sisal rope with a touch of grey wood staining fluid. The beginning of experiments with long, rough grass in 1/19 scale.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Painting Rails

Is there something more tedious than hand spiking model railway track? Yes, painting rails! Despite the trouble, the work is well rewarded with track that looks much more like the real thing. Most railway modellers take every precaution to make their trains look realistic despite having them move in and out of view, sometimes only presenting them for less than a minute at a time. The track is there all the time, and still most railway modellers simply buy a length of track and pour ballast randomly around it. Remember it's called railway modelling.

First layer of rust paint is drying on the Peco rails. The track already looks much better.

For painting the rails I decided to use Humbrol enamel paint. My experience from the 1/35 Nystrup Gravel is that acrylic paint over time looses grip on the metal's surface and consequently chose to use enamels for this project. I used Humbrol 133 sometimes mixed with 62 for tonal variety. The rails were painted by brush taking care to cover the rail completely. Around the spikes' heads it takes a lot of care getting paint around spike head and the rail's foot - and at the same time avoiding getting too much rust paint on the sleeper. I considered using my airbrush for the task, but an experiment showed that I had difficulty in controlling the amount of overspray on the sleepers. Not wanting a lot of corrective work on the sleepers I chose to work with the brush.

The two turnouts were given an initial layer of paint with airbrush. The Peco turnouts are partially rebuilt with wooden sleepers and as the remaining black plastic sleepers need grey paint to blend in with the rest of the sleepers the overspray caused by airbrushing isn't a problem.

I airbrushed the point as the black plastic sleepers have to be painted grey anyway. A little rust overspray is easily fixed in that process.

I'm now going over the painted rails checking for faults and spots missing paint. Then I will be adding irregular spots with lighter and darker rust paint here and there. Once ballasted I will be adding a layer of dust to the completed track with a combination of airbrushed paint and weathering powders..

And just when you think the job is done, it turns out that the other side of the rails needs painting too!

While my small layout is usually viewed from one side only, both sides of the rails have to be painted. On a quiet day in my vacation the two modules are in for an outdoor painting session in the shade. Until then there is work to be done on both loading ramp and a vehicle.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Ford A Lorries

From a dealer in France I have recently acquired two 1/18 Ford A lorries for a modest sum. For a long time I have been wanting to be able to pose a Ford AA lorry next to the loading ramp on my small Nystrup Gravel layout. Now I have a basis to work from.

Both Ford A models posed in the garden on my road photo plank. It's obvious that the left model has suffered some damage to its rear axle and suspension.

Unfortunately the package must have had a rough trip up north from France as it arrived in a rather battered state. The Ford A pick-up was only slightly damaged with a broken off front bumper. The Ford A salvage vehicle was worse off. One rear wheel destoyed, rear axle and crane assembly bent and it too had the front bumper damaged. As I will be rebuilding them both to some degree the damage isn't particularly annying and I never considered contacting the shipping provider. I need another Ford A model to source parts for a future locomotive project and will consequently have parts to substitute. The rest of the damage will be relatively easy to repair.

The Ford pick-up that I intend to rebuild into a Ford AA lorry. A nice model with the main proportions of bonnet and cab well captured.

The Ford A-models are produced by Motor City Classic in China made in the usual heavy die-cast metal. Some of the details are a little clumsy due to the production method and the fact that cab doors are designed to open and close.

Clearly this little recovery vehicle has taken a beating on its way through Europe. I will no doubt be able to put everything straight again, probably before the pick-up truck is rebuilt into a Ford AA lorry.

As usual my plan involves some scratchbuilding as no manufacturer produces the Ford AA lorry that I want for my layout. With parts from one of the 1/18 Fords I now have the basic parts to work from. I will need to lengthen the chassis, reposition rear mudguards, shorten footboards under the cab and build a new load bed. I also have to exchange the wheels with metal stamped wheels as the usual spoked wheels were too weak for lorry use. The wheels will probably be the difficult part of the project, but I suppose 3D-printing may be a solution.

The recovery vehicle will probably be built as a well used Ford from the local garage or tractor repair shop. Perhaps a project for the upcoming vacation's summer cottage modelling?

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Fish Plates Fitted

Like the first railways managed just fine without fish plates so have Nystrup Gravel for some time now. As the real gravel line at Nystrup used fish plates to make a firm connection between individual rail lengths, it has only been temporary. Now the fish plates have been made and fitted.

Fish plates in 3 stages: in bands, separated and bent once top left) and finished (top right) except for sanding the tabs off.
The fish plates from Wenz Modellbau are made from etched brass. The fish plates are designed for Peco Code 143 vignole rail and on the Wenz Modellbau website they are marketed as being patterned on the Württemberg State Railway z-fish plate. The fish plates are etched in 0.5 mm brass and delivered in two bands with 55 fish plates each. One band is with rectangular bolt heads and the other band has 4 hexagonal nuts. 

My Mission Models 'etch mate' folding tool. A fish plate clamped in place for bending.

To bend the fish plates in shape I first had to locate my folding tool. Once found, it turned out that the z-shape was quite challenging to obtain with the folding tool. I made the first 90 degree fold in the tool and used a pair of flat nosed pliers for the second 90 degree bend. The resulting fold isn't as nice as with a folding tool, but as the real fish plates are from rather rough, stamped steel plate, a little rough bend isn't a huge disadvantage.

Wenz Modellbau fish plate soldered into the web of the Code 143 rail. The workers at Nystrup Gravel really messed this pair of joints up, even having to install a sleeper at an angle to make room for the fish plates.

The fish plates are soldered to both rail ends in the rail joint. As the track length is limited I don't expect much expansion to occur and I hope the soldered fish plates will hold up to the forces of traffic and physics.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Clearing Shelves

When I changed scale to 1/19 I sold most of my 1/35 scale models to fellow modellers around Europe. I kept some as they were simply too nice to let go, while others were planned for exhibition purposes. The chance of getting models exhibited seems pretty slim within the nearest future and recently I was wondering how best to dispose of a few models. My 1/19 scale models take up a lot of room and let's face it: I'm not going to find use for my remaining 1:35 models any time soon.

My 1:35 Italeri BMW motor cycle parked in front of a small garage. Once the MC served Nystrup Gravel, now it earns its living on roads in a 1:35 version of Luxembourg. One of the models disposed off in late 2018.

A fellow modeller in Denmark has begun to show interest i 1:32 scale and as I know him to be a dedicated modeller showing great appreciation for old things (he's even working as a museum's curator), I decided to turn over a few models for him to take care of for the future.

I had a range of models that fitted exactly in the era that he models in. Some of them were equipped with wood gas generators only in use during his 1940's period of modelling, so I guessed my donation would be appreciated. I wasn't wrong and quickly a short meeting was set up and the models changed owners. I even got a bottle of Tranquebar Royal Danish Navy Gin in exchange and I must admit that the gin tastes far better than any railway model I have tried so far!

My 1:35 Citroen Traction Avant registration number E 2651 photographed by its new owner on his modular system of photo planks and backgrounds. 

See more images and a short description of the Citroen on my friend's modelling blog in Danish. It wouldn't surprise me if other models with a past on Nystrup Gravel should show up in the coming months.

The morale of the story is, that if you want your models to live on after you have finished with them, just ask if anyone wants them. If they aren't instant sellers and can't bring in cash for new projects, then pass them on to other modellers which may have use for them. Definately a better solution than throwing them away.

Friday, 11 June 2021

Preparing for Summer

Most of the track on my small shelf layout is now built and both modules almost completely fitted with a very basic covering of kitchen rags, white glue and a light earth colour. Currently I'm planning for the next stages that I can hopefully begin to work on during the Summer.

With modules placed temporarily in the garden I begin to get a feel of the layout. Here the curve to the lorry ramp seen from what is usually the side facing the wall in the layout room.

My to do-list for the layout the coming weeks looks like this:

  • Locate folding tool
  • Bend up fishplates and fit to track
  • Finish and fit point lever to remaining turnout
  • Paint rails a rust colour
  • Ballast testing
  • Progress on loading ramp

All pretty basic tasks with all necessary supplies already available (except the difficult to locate folding tool). While railway modelling is entertaining, 1:1 preservation is both entertaining and sometimes stressful. Last year was not a good year for most preservation societies in Denmark due to the lock downs necessary to fight the corona pandemic.

With the pandemic under control in Denmark the 700 mm vintage railway I volunteer on could open for traffic as scheduled May 16. A number of chartered trains have also been running on the line, making it necessary to plan permanent way works carefully. Hopefully the railway will experience a trouble free season with a decent outcome.

Chartered train pulled by No. 3 (O&K 7459/1921) meets a permanent way train with M 30 (Diema 5145/1991) in track 2 at Brandhøj Station.
Railbus D 13 rolling gently into track 3 on Hedehusgård Station with Dannebrog flying from the station's flagpole.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Volvo Duett In Service

All cars and equipment on Nystrup Gravel receives minor modifications before going into service. It probably ruins the model as a collector's item, but I need models that fit my model universe and not shiny toys. I aquired the BoS Volvo PV445 Duett last summer and it has now received small added details and a very light weathering.

Shop manager Thorleif Petersen admires an almost brand new Volvo PV445 parked near the tracks in Nystrup. 

As the Volvo is a 1956 model and consequently just outside my chosen period, I didn't want it to be weathered too much. Basically I only added specially designed Danish period license plates from Skilteskoven decals and a light weathering. The weathering consisted of a very light pass with the air brush loaded with a thin mix of light sand and grey. I concentrated the dust treatment to wheels and tires, with only minimal dusting of the lower parts of the car's body.

Front license plate separated from the bumper and painted off the car. The rear plate stayed on the model, taking a bit more care to paint. The decal sheet from Skilteskoven has license plates for additional models that will show up near Nystrup in the future.

Decals are fitted and the front license plate now needs to be super glued back on the bumper.

Modelling isn't only progress and achieving results. It's also handling models and breaking parts off them. While air brushing I forgot to take care and broke off the Volvo's right rear view mirror. Nothing that couldn't be fixed with some AC glue, but nevertheless annoying.

Quite a pair of practical doors for loading stuff, Thorleif seems to think. Although very interested in everything mechanical, Thorleif never went beyond bike and scooter for his own personal transportation. For longer distances he prefered train travel.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Nystrup Lister 1952

A new image of Nystrup Gravel's Lister R has surfaced. Writing on the back of the image says '1952'. The image is from the gravel works in Nystrup. With the naked ground it must be autumn as the trees still carry their leaves.

Nystrup Gravel loco no 3 on the way down from the loading ramp in Nystrup. The driver must have been quite skillful to propel 3 loaded skips up the ramp with the Lister. No 3 was usually only used for light shunting in Nystrup or the occasional light permanent way train.

I know of only two other original photographs of the Lister railtractor in service at Nystrup Gravel. I showed one of the images on the blog last year. The new image shows the Lister in basically the same condition as the 1950 photo. It's apparently even the same driver driving? 

The prototype photographs available from Nystrup Gravel makes a good source of inspiration for my modelling and I find it very satisfying to recreate some of the original scenes on my small 16 mm layout.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Loading Ramp #2

With the track building fast approaching the loading ramp area, I set out to build the wooden retaining walls keeping the earth fill in place under the ramp itself. In the process I also tested the dimensions and design of the trestle like structure of the wooden ramp itself.

Ramshackled ramp erected for testing. The real ramp will be flimsy, but definately more substantial than this!

I built the wooden walls on pieces of foam board cut to roughly match the contours of the earth fill. The foam board was painted black and then clad with lengths of wood in a variety of dimensions. The wood was treated with wood staining fluid to produce several tones of grey. With the different dimensions of wood used, the work was quite like a little jig saw puzzle.

Retaining walls in progress. The Nystrup Gravel workshop manager seems a little sceptical (as always when he wasn't in control of a project).

I will be installing the retaining walls with only basic weathering. Once the complete ramp and surrounding landscape is finished I will be adding the full package of weathering. Having never built a layout in 16 mm scale before I'm still unsure about many elements in the construction process. Can I weather a structure this large to meet my desired level of quality when it is solidly attached to the module? Time will tell.

While I have already chosen a prototype loading ramp I nevertheless keep checking old photographs to better understand how loading ramps were designed (some thought must have gone into at least some of them), built and used. The digitalization of Danish archives is of a tremendous benefit to this study.

Loading ramp for lorries at a clay pit near Nostrup, Kalundborg. The photo is reported to be part of a series taken in 1939-1940. Notice how low the ramp is. Photo: Ø85, Kalundborg Lokalarkiv.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Loading Ramp Preparations

The wooden loading ramp at Nystrup Gravel has been under preparation for a long time. Now construction has begun. Before the ramp itself could be constructed I needed to contour the surrounding landscape and cover the foam surface with kitchen rags soaked in white glue. I also glued down cork to act as an underlay for track. Sleepers were then glued in place and the two pre-bent lengths of rail positioned.

Every fourth or fifth sleeper spiked and it's time for test running. As I have only one loco in running order it's easy to guess which one had the priviledge. The Lister only has single axle drive and is struggling bringing more than three skips up the ramp. Fortunately the loading ramp is dimensioned for unloading exactly three skips.

As the small layout splits into 2 segments, I have the possibility of taking a module outside to work on. One afternoon after work I managed to partially cover the loading ramp module with white glue and kitchen rags. I like to model outside, and while we have had a rather cold spring in Denmark it's great to listen to the birds singing while working on a module.

The loading ramp module placed on a galvanized barrel usually used as a small bar. Perfect for sipping a G&T while chatting with family or friends.

With the kitchen rags dry and painted, I spiked the track with the two lengths of rail uncut, despite them crossing from one module to another. Where the rails cross the separation between the modules I have soldered them to brass screws to make sure the track ends will be properly fixed and aligned. Once the track is thoroughly tested, I will cut the rails to enable the modules to be separated again. While the first track I built in both 1:35 and now in 1:19 scale never looked exactly as bad as I wanted, I have succeeded on the ramp. Here the track really diverts from the optimal alignment in every direction. Lovely!

The track fixed down and soldered to brass screws. My locating of the sleepers close to the module ends aren't quite up to standards - even though Nystrup Gravel never had written standards on track.

In between spiking sessions (which can be a little tedious) I have selected wooden profiles for the construction of the loading ramp. After sanding and weathering with knife and wire brush I stained the wood to give it a basic greyish colour.

The 600 mm track on the earth ramp is finished. On the side of the ramp 3 track gauges has been left by the track worker. The pile of bent spikes is a result of gripping them with the flat nosed pliers too close to the top while pressing them through the sleeper.

A view up the ramp. The faults in the track curiously doesn't look too bad in the image. Seeing the Lister crawl over the track with a pair of skips brings out the uneveness of track much better.

If all goes well I should be back quite soon with more boring news of building track and gluing pieces of wood together for a layout so small it hardly deserves to be categorized as a model railway.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Wood Gas Generator

On my old 1/35 scale version of Nystrup Gravel I had several vehicles with wood burning gas generators including a locomotive. As the technology is fascinating I decided to have at least one vehicle with wood gas propulsion on my 1/19 scale Nystrup Gravel. I was fortunate enough to find a kit on eBay of what looks like an Imbert gas generator. The manufacturer was Dioramaparts, a German company selling detail parts and kits through eBay in 2019. The company unfortunately seems to have stopped trading since.

The zip lock plastic bag emptied: here are the kit parts for a gas generator in 1/19 scale. Light sand parts are resin, plastic parts are in small bags and the 6 parts in the middle are white metal.

So far I haven't found any other kits of gas generators in 1/18-1/19 scale and I'm glad I made the purchase, despite the kit being quite rudimentary. All the main parts are there, though. With good images and drawings of a prototype gas generator and some basic modelling skills I'm sure I can enhance the kit parts to a decent level.

I have not yet decided what to place the gasgenerator on. As the gas generator is a fairly large model usually mounted on lorries with 50 hp engines the obvious chioce would be a lorry. In the back of my mind I am considering a loco, though, as there aren't many lorries available in 1/19 scale. 

A Danish built JWE-locomotive with a rear mounted gas generator. Photo: Kolding Stadsarkiv B41387.

Here is an image I've shown before: My grandad driving a JWE-loco with rear mounted Vulcan-generator. Photo: B1650 Lokalhistorisk Arkiv og Forening i Allerød Kommune.

Yet another JWE-loco fitted with gas generator, only front mounted. This mounting enabled coupling to wagons both front and rear without the awkward frame extension on my granddad's loco. Photo: Vejle Stadsarkiv B73442.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Track Building Continues

With a new delivery of rails and sleepers from Wenz Modell in Germany I have switched from working with white glue and kitchen rags to preparing track bed and setting out curves. Next stage of my track building is the sharp curve on the gradient towards the loading ramp for lorries.

Testing in progress. Lister-loco having pushed two skips up the gradient and through the curve to the soon to be built wooden ramp.

To make sure my mediocre surveyor skills would result in a nice curve, I tested the laid out curve with a Peco track panel. It turned out that the curve was laid out with the sensible margins appropriate for an industrial railway. I then cut cork underlay and glued it down on the foam foundation. Two newly delivered Code 143 rails have been bent to the right radius and sleepers are being prepared.

During construction of the track, all traffic is somewhat hampered and a lot of communication is necessary to make everything run smoothly. 

While track building at Nystrup Gravel is a very quiet thing, I recently visited a site, where the sound levels were quite different. Here sleepers are being exchanged in track running near the end of one of the runways at Copenhagen Airport (CPH).

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Basic Ground Cover

Despite rather cold weather in Denmark for the season the colour of the landscape is changing. At least on my small 1/19 scale layout. I have begun to cover the white foam surface with a layer of disposable kitchen rags soaked in white glue. 

The right end of the layout dressed in kitchen rags and paint. I think it will help make the layout look a little less unfinished.

I have picked up the method of using kitchen rags from a Danish model railway club working on a large H0 layout with a Danish theme. They have a nice blog in Danish, where they share the daily life of building, maintaning and running a large layout. Soaked in glue the kitchen rags are flexible and easily follow the contours of the foam landscape (hardly a surprise, as most of my layout is basically flat).

Two pieces of kitchen rag being cut to fit. The material takes pencil lines fine and cuts easily with scissors. Being absorbant the rags consumes considerable amounts of glue.

Before I cover the foam foundation with rags I roughly smooth out the worst edges of cork underlay and foam board, used to raise the track, with a knife. Where needed I apply a little filler. I then place a dry rag over the area and marks out the boundaries with a pencil. I cut the rag with a pair of sicssors and check for fit on the area to be covered. The area is then covered with diluted white glue and the rag placed on top. More glue is spread over the rag with a brush making sure the rag is flooded with thinned glue. The area is left to dry.

Once the glue is set, the kitchen rags turns into a rather hard surface that I hope will make a good foundation for my work on the next stage of scenic work. As my kitchen rags had several rather harsh colours a coat of paint was definately needed before proceeding. I used an acrylic paint with a colour named 'Warm Clay'. Until I get to do further scenic work, the colour will help the layout looking a little less unfinished. 

Rags in white and light blue glued down and in the process of drying. The hole edged by scrap pieces of foam board is the permanent location for the brick shed. The hole enables me to connect wires for lighting with ease,

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Turnout and Curve

With the first track and turnout already in limited operation (due to a lack of fishplates) I have continued track laying and now the first curve I've ever hand laid in 16 mm scale and second turnout are available for traffic at reduced speeds. 

A close up view of the track at Nystrup Gravel facilities outside Nystrup. It does look rather fancy and has perhaps turned out a bit too perfect. On close inspection I think the track team will have to go over some of the spikes again as they are not holding the rail's foot properly.

The curve is built with a slight enlargement of the gauge, but otherwise I have tried to make a faithful representation of a real narrow gauge industrial railway curve. There is of course no superelevation and the rails are shaped roughly by hand to suit the location. Bending the rails by hand isn't recommendable in the smaller scales as it may lead to pronounced kinks in the rails, but this is actually a benefit on a large scale model of a narrow gauge industrial railway. Often rails were reused from other locations and as the locos and rolling stock was designed with tolerances for bad track, a track out of gauge by a few centimetres wasn't a problem. In 16 mm scale it's basically the same, although we are talking milimetres.

To produce a nice curved rail with a rail bender takes a lot of bending and hard work. A very good result can be achieved. It takes care and a lot of bends. Most industrial railways didn't aim for high quality track and were happy if trains didn't derail too often.

From the curve the track connects to the turnout, that takes the track to either lorry loading ramp (left) or to the sorting facility (straight ahead). The turnout is again a Peco Code 200 rebuilt with brass slide plates and wooden sleepers.

Rebuilt Peco turnout partly fitted with new wooden sleepers. A sharp curve will lead to the lorry loading ramp out of the picture to the right.

Further track building in progress. Here I'm aiming for a serious kink in the track.

As the track building is slowly progressing I'm beginning to prepare the basic groundwork and final positioning of brick shed, petrol pump and a recently finished wooden fence.

I'll finish this post with a look at a real 700 mm gauge clay line belonging to the Danish brick works at Lysbro. The Nystrup Gravel track was almost TGV-standard in comparison with this! The standard gauge train is an enthusiasts' special on the Silkeborg-Kjellerup-Rødkjærsbro Railway. Photo: Finn Sørensen, 1968.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Installing Point Lever

With track works progressing in a steady pace, I took the time to finish, paint and install the first point lever on my little layout. The lever has been tested and 'greased' with a little graphite powder to provide a faultless service. The lever's direction marker is working and gives a clear indication to loco drivers which way the point is set. 

The point lever mounted on its lengthened sleeper with direction marker.

The point lever is assembled from a Feld-, Garten- und Grossbahn whitemetal kit in 1/22,5 scale. The lever was assembled back in October and has been resting in a box until I couldn't resist painting and installing it any longer.

The lever was painted Humbrol enamel 153 'Insignia Red', while the white parts were painted with Vallejo 70837 'Pale Sand'. During painting I took care not to clog up the moving parts to allow a trouble free operation. The 4 bolts fixing the lever to the sleeper were painted rust and the point lever given a wash of heavily diluted rawt umber oil paint. The moving parts were given a dose of graphite powder. Mainly to 'grease' the parts, but it works as weathering too - looking like oil residue.

The assembled point lever being painted. The parts of another lever are being painted as the brush was out and the lid was off the paint tinlet.

The lever is mounted on a lengthened sleeper with an added piece of timber to provide a safe foundation and connected to the turnout with a bent nickle silver wire. The wire was blackened with Ballistol and is only fitted temporarily as a more prototypically solution is called for. I used thick AC-glue to fix the lever firmly to its sleeper.

Almost the only fixed item on the layout beside the track, the point lever will hopefully be followed by other items in the coming months.

Nystrup Gravel's second turnout has recently been fixed in place and connected to the track layout, so the next lever is needed. Track building is continuing, but will soon have to pause until a new supply of rails arrive.