Wednesday 29 December 2021

Pioneering Railway Enthusiast Visiting Nystrup

The many photographs of Nystrup Gravel that can't be traced back to the chief mechanic Thorleif Petersen are from two major sources. Local newspapers visited the gravel works regularly due to the company's modern PR strategy of open dialogue and transparency. In addition some of the early pioneers among Danish railway enthusiasts fortunately picked the line for repeated visits, despite the fact that industrial lines weren't high on the agenda for most enthusiasts. A couple of days ago I began the work on this particular enthusiast and he is now ready to see line side service.

My interpretation of an energetic early 1950's industrial railway enthusiast based on a Modelu 3D-printed figure in 1/19 scale. This shot reminds me that I have a most pressing task of getting some of my background photographs fitted to foamboard panels and placed up against the wall.

Contrary to the rather drab workers and mechanics employed by Nystrup Gravel the visiting enthusiast is in colourful clothes and recently shined shoes. He certainly isn't dressed in the practical outdoor clothing like some of today's enthusiasts on field work. That he is in fact relaxing, enjoying his hobby, is nevertheless clearly seen as he isn't wearing a tie and has most informally unbuttoned his shirt's top button. Unusually he isn't wearing a hat either.

Keeping his Leica IIf steady and waiting for the right moment to press the shutter release button.

After priming the figure with 'Chaos Black' I painted it with Vallejo acrylic paints. As usual I have tried to work with matt, satin and gloss paints and varnish to give an impression of the different surfaces on the figure. Matt for clothing, satin for skin and gloss for camera and the shiny brown shoes.

An accompanying enthusiast has sacrified a piece of valuable film for an image of his fellow photographer at the loading ramp in Nystrup. The photo is from the collection of Thorleif Petersen. Perhaps I will one day be able to identify the enthusiast?

Tuesday 28 December 2021

2021 in Review

It's time again for the annual review from the little railway at Nystrup Gravel. As previous years I've complained in several posts over too little time for modelling and too little progress on my tiny layout. But when I give it a little more thought here at the year's end, I realize I would be hard pressed to devote more time for it. I have a real daytime job (sometimes even stretching beyond daytime hours), a family and I volunteer on a vintage railway that takes priority over my 'toy train' at home. 

A train of empty skips rolling gently down the ramp. Comparing with images after the rails have been painted I think it is obvious how much rail painting improves the overall impression of a model railway.

Despite all my complaining about too little time for modelling I managed to have the track on the small layout almost finished by year's end. Only the track on the loading ramp is still unfinished as the work with landscaping and vegetation has to be carried out before I'm confident that I can finish the ramp without hindering work under it. Traffic and shunting on the layout is now possible and can be conducted without reduced speed other than those that are prototypically implied by the nature of a primitive narrow gauge industrial railway. It's been fun building track in 1/19 scale and when mixing track building with other tasks I have escaped the frustration of routine that have overwhelmed many railway modellers building their own track. My layout is very small and track lengths limited which have surely helped too. No matter how short the tracks are, my homebuilt track counts as the most significant achievement in 2021.

Home built track with the first layer of rust paint added. I'm really glad I chose to build my own track rather than rely on out-of-the-box PECO SM32-track.

Building track in 1:1 scale takes more effort and help from good mates than track building in 1/19 scale. Full scale track building makes you much more fit than model building, though! Photo: KHA.

There is a lot of positive mutual spill-over effects between my full scale volunteering and Nystrup Gravel. Building full scale track makes me much more aware of what to replicate in miniature. While it's only natural that most inspiration flows from the 'real' world to my model railway, sometimes Nystrup Gravel shows up in the real world too.

A married couple celebrated their 25. wedding anniversary with a train ride on HVB and a professional photograper's memorial photo of them and their daughters.  An old original wooden box from Nystrup Gravel is serving in the scene. Photo: Per Dyrby.

Landscaping the Nystrup Gravel layout (I really hesitate calling the areas next to the track on my layout 'landscape' as it's such a diminutive area) gradually progressed during 2021 and basic ground cover was provided by disposable kitchen rags soaked in white glue with a layer of earth coloured paint. It's extremely basic, but avoids the layout looking too unfinished until I get to grips with ballasting and more comprehensive ground detailing. As a start I managed to place a few stones used as infill at the loading ramp sticking out of the ground. The stones are bedded into the ground and surrounded by gravel spillings from the ramp above and the beginning of coarse vegetation. My Christmas gift for myself was an RTS Grassmaster 55 kV stratic grass applicator that I look forward to employ on grassing duties in the coming months.

The complete Nystrup Gravel layout being given some fresh air in the garden. In June almost the entire surface was covered by kitchen rags and light brown paint.

There is a pressing need for more traction power at Nystrup Gravel and reinforcements are coming. 2 locos are on my own workbench and one is being built abroad. All 3 projects seems to be suffering from hesistant builders, global supply chain difficulties combined with covid-19 side effects. It is perfectly clear though, that something has to happen on the traction front in 2022 - the Lister cannot continue being the only locomotive on Nystrup Gravel. While my Pedershaab-model has been test run nothing has really happened on it in 2021, except for the design and delivery af 3D-printed axle boxes. On the large Baguley-Drewry I removed the current collecting parts and test ran the loco on the layout powered by a 9 V battery. It worked quite well and the loco navigated all track on the layout without problems. Perhaps I will simply be using a rechargable 9 V battery to power the loco?

The Baguley-Drewry on its way down the ramp. A challenging curve for such a large loco.

Quite unusual only one car entered service in the Nystrup universe during the year. A Best of Show  Volvo Duett showed up with Danish license plates and slight weathering in May. While not yet detailed and weathered for service a Series 1 Land Rover also joined the collection of 1950's cars. I managed to buy a comparatively cheap example of the detailed Minichamps model on Ebay. It will most likely be fitted with markings from the local state forrest commission.

The Volvo Duett and another new arrival: the figure of Nystrup Gravel's chief mechanic Thorleif Petersen with green enamel cup in hand.

2 new figures came to Nystrup Gravel in 2021. One of them is a figure of the legendary Nystrup Gravel chief mechanic Thorleif Petersen. The other is a so far unknown nameless worker carrying an oil can finished after I was tested positive for covid-19 on the 24. December. The test sent me into selfisolation for the following 7 days according to the Danish authorities' rules. As I have not had any symptoms at all, it has so far been a relatively cozy experience. Being isolated in my hobby room/railway library and served delicious food and drinks sounds good, doesn't it? What's even better is that I have not infected the rest of the family. Until now I have enjoyed painting 2 figures and I hope to get to do even more modelling while in isolation.

Worker with oil can outside the fuel and lubrication shed. Despite being only a temporary solution the painted kitchen rags give a nicely grainy surface texture.

Regarding the blog statistics I must confess that I didn't study them too closely in 2021. When I, here at year's end take a look at the numbers, it's pretty much the same picture as the last few years. The blog has in average obtained 2-3.000 page views a month and some 35.000 page views in total for 2021. The most viewed post in 2021 was the 'New Locomotive'-post about my new Baguley-Drewry locomotive from March with a little over 300 views. After my change from 1/35 scale to 1/19 in 2018/2019 there is still no 1/19 scale post in top 10 of the blog's all time views. The many years of 1/35 scale modelling keep 'haunting' the blog and the old top posts with 8-6.000 views are difficult to challenge as they still attract quite alot of traffic from interested readers around the planet. And speaking of the planet, the predominant part of the blog's readers are living outside of my homeland Denmark. This year Danish readers have been frequently visiting Nystrup Gravel bringing Denmark to a 3 place on the list of visitors ranked by country/state with Sweden and USA coming in on 1 and 2 place. Close in the heels of Danish readers are enthusiasts from the United Kingdom and Germany with Australians and New Zealanders next in the race.

The blog's readers have been able to follow my experiments with track building, ballasting and vegetation in the track.

Let me finish the review of 2021 with the best wishes for every reader's 2022. I'll keep reporting from the little large scale layout and the more or less steady progress of the line. Happy New Year!

Saturday 25 December 2021

Railway Enthusiast With Camera

Continuing the covid-19 modelling frenzy with a new figure after the recently finished Nystrup Gravel worker with oil can, I picked up one of the railway enthusiasts with cameras from Modelu. I chose the figure 1673 'Photographer with Leica Mk 2' as it is an immensely charming figure with several 'nerdy' features that are stereotypically attributed to 'train spotters'; pullover, shirt and unkempt hair as well as an expensive camera out of reach for the average citizen in the 1950's Denmark. 

Unpainted railway enthusiast photographing Nystrup Gravel's locomotive no. 3 in the yard at Nystrup.

The figure from Modelu is one of the best that I have laid eyes and hands on so far. The details and features of the 3D-printed figure are fine and as the Leica is obscuring most of the face, the usual soft facial detail isn't a problem. I only had to sand a few problematic spots (probably 'sprue' from the printing proces) and repair the camera strap that had broken in two places. I repaired the strap with Micro Kristal Klear that readily produces short a 'string' from one attachment point to another when applied with a wooden toothpick. When the Kristal Klear had dried the 'strings' were reinforced with AC-glue. I also discovered a few annoying depressions on top of the figure's head. Probably they are effects from the printing, too. They were filled with modelling putty and worked with a scalpel blade to resemble the surrounding hair. After a wash in hot water the figure is now ready for priming.

"Hold the position, please"
Apart from modelling and careful visits to other areas of the house to say hello to the rest of the family I had a nice walk in the lovely cold weather. Near my house some new hills have recently been made from surplus earth from the new Greater Copenhagen Light Rail (a project I participated in winning as tender coordinator). The hills give a good vantage point for watching trains on the main line between Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An ET 4-unit from operator DSB in the sparse snow seen from the newly established 'Hyldager Bakker'.

Friday 24 December 2021

New Modelu Figure in Service

Favourable economic development in the construction business has enabled an expansion of the Nystrup Gravel workforce. In fact the recruitment of the new worker took place some time ago, but 'onboarding' has taken time. The figure is Modelu item no 1001 'Fitter'.

First image of the new figure released. As usual for a Modelu figure the pose is outstanding.

The figure exhibited some of the worst detail I've yet seen on a Modelu figure. The figure's left upper body was one soft, bulging area with no clear demarcation of overalls and shirt. Both arms were also connected to the body much farther down the body where they (in my view, at least) in a scale as large as 16 mm should be separated. While I have done minor work on my previous 3 Modelu figures, the amount of work on this one was more comprehensive. 

Freshly out of the parcel from the United Kingdom shortly before Brexit. 2 Modelu figures with the usual faults - and the well known qualities.

Front view of the worker showing a particularly problematic area of detail on the figure's left upper body.

The figure's back side isn't without issues as well.

On this figure it wasn't enough to work the usually weakly defined line between shoes and trousers with files, sandpaper and a sharp scalpel. The soft detail on this figure demanded deployment of heavier machinery to additional areas: my dremel was used to remove the most annoying material, a saw blade in the scalpel handle helped separate arms and body. The scalpel, file and sand paper were used to remodel the folds and major lines in the clothing. I also added a small etched brass chain to the oil can as often seen on prototype cans. The chain made sure the lid (when screwed off) was kept attached to the can itself. 

The figure on the work table having details enhanced with a selection of tools.

During sanding I decided to add some 3-dimensional detail with copper foil and wire as well as buttons punched from plasticcard.

When I had finished the remedial work on the figure it was washed with hot water and a soft brush. After drying overnight it was then primed with my favourite primer 'Chaos Black' from Citadel. For the layers of covering paint I used Vallejo acrylics. The overalls is in home mixed light bluegrey (based on Vallejo Pastel Blue 901) with shadows and highlights accentuated with darker and lighter tones as appropriate. The shirt is 'Pale Sand' 70837.

Painting in progress. The main colours are on and the skin areas next to the shirt are marked in. Next are skin and face as well as shadows and highlights.

Halfway through the painting process I made a swift movement at the workbench and the figure attached to a pin vice fell to the floor. The result was a broken off right leg and oil can. Of course the setback was annoying, but you have to expect a mishap now and then. The leg was reattached with gap filling AC-glue, the seams carefully sanded down and the paint damage repared.

Major mishap! Having rescued all parts from the wooden floor I wondered if a soft carpet wouldn't have been better. On the other hand with no carpet I usually find every item I loose during modelling.

Detail painting commenced with shoes being painted 'Black Grey' 70.862 and the oil can 'Gun Metal'. As the can had broken away from the figure in the fall to the floor, I kept it separate during painting and weathering. Skin areas were done with 'Flesh Base' 341 with differing layers of diluted oil paint. I made a miserable effort at painting eyes. Not a result I'm proud of, but an outcome I can accept. I attached the oil can with AC-glue and then fixed my worst painting faults before giving the figure a spray with clear matt acrylic varnish. I then gave all skin areas a final wash with heavily diluted rust coloured oil paint. This gives the skin a slightly glossy appearance creating a nice contrast to the matt clothing.

Having just left the oil depot with a filled can, one of Nystrup Gravel's workers checks for passing trains before he proceeds any further.

With full focus on the figure some of its faults shows quite clearly. Once placed in a setting with other items I'm sure the figure will help to create a good, overall impression.

Having been notified here on 24. December that my last pcr-test was 'positive' for covid-19 I'm currently in self isolation in my modelling room, while my family is preparing Christmas dinner and busy gift wrapping. I have no symptoms of the virus having been vaccinated 3 times. I hope to stay asymptomatic and look forward to join the hustle and bustle again in about a week. Merry Christmas!

Friday 10 December 2021

Static Grass Applicator

My early Christmas gift from myself arrived from Germany the other day. A dark plastic suitcase with a static grass applicator to allow me finally getting grass to grow on my Nystrup Gravel layout. 

Click, click, the suitcase opens and reveal its contents.

After having watched a number of youtube videos with more or less credible hosts presenting static grass applicators - some homemade and some aquired from manufacturers, I decided to buy a RTS GREENKEEPER of the 55 kV model. To have something to experiment with I bought the Christmas sale starter set as it, beside what usually comes with a kV 55, added 3 bags of grass fibres, glue and an extra container in the suitcase.

A sturdy plastic suitcase protects the gadget and will be useful for storing some of the associated materials.

A 55 kV applicator may seem like overkill considering my very small layout and the limited amount of grassy areas I have room for. Some modellers will probably find the investment outrageously large and build themselves an applicator from a 3 € fly swatter. I'm not that talented and with the 55 kV I should be well equipped for applying the long grass fibres I need in 1/19 scale. And who knows if I one day will have more area to cover with grass? I hope the coming holidays will provide time for testing the new machine before I dare to deploy the gadget over the barren ground of my little layout.

Monday 6 December 2021

Merry Christmas!

The preparations for Christmas are moving ahead almost according to plan. Before everything gets hectic and 'totally Christmassy' I want to wish every reader of the blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It's been a comparatively productive year for Nystrup Gravel with focus on tracklaying and work on the little layout. Thanks for your comments and sharing of ideas.

Probably the most advanced Christmas card in history from Nystrup Gravel. The cards sent out in previous years were even worse!

As usual I will celebrate Christmas with the family. If we'll manage to gather the whole group or have to accept a smaller gathering, time will tell. Even with a rising infection rate in Denmark there is apparently not an alarmingly number seriously ill or needing treatment in hospital due to the high percentage of Danes vaccinated. Consequently we live with only minimal restrictions - I hope it will last. Merry Christmas!

Thursday 2 December 2021

International Model Railway Day

I have recently learned that 2. December is 'International Model Railway Day'. Why we need a particular day to celebrate railway modelling and why it has to be in December where everyone (well almost) in the Western World is completely engulfed in preparing Christmas I have yet to understand.

With average modelling skills a lot can be made without support from the large manufacturers of model railway equipment: Nystrup Gravel's little Lister railtractor pushing the company's old coach along the track with a worker posted as lookout. Everything created on the basis of products from very small businesses, fellow modellers and basic materials.

I like railway modelling as a pastime, but I couldn't care less if young people would rather have another time absorbing interest than small landscapes with trains on them. As long as they learn something and the interest gives them (and hopefully many others) joy in life, they might for me choose wind surfing, chicken breeding or volunteer to help social disadvantaged citizens. (The latter activity may even be preferable to railway modelling).

The only ready to run-model locomotive I own. Now it's been completely disassembled to be rebuilt as I like to have individualized models on my model railway.

Railway modelling is a hobby and some hobbies disappear as society changes. Stamp collecting is in an obvious crisis (at least here in Denmark where no one hardly ever posts a letter), pigeon racing has seen better days and railway modelling is a star that probably did shine brighter years ago. Many from my generation or older, find joy in railway modelling but it's obvious that recent generations have other interests and only a limited likelyhood of getting into railway modelling, at least while they are young.

If need be I can even manage without metal rail profiles. My first experiment with wooden rails. 

I know there is an industry depending on producing modelling equipment to make profits and clubs needing new members to run and maintain huge model railways. As I buy very little from the traditional railway modelling trade I could probably continue modelling even if Märklin or Bachmann should stop trading. Consequently I'm letting the national federation of model railway societies in Denmark, the big clubs and the trade make their contribution to railway modelling's survival as a hobby. I have a new figure to paint.