Friday 8 April 2022

10 Years of Blogging

10 years of blogging and more than 20 years of large scale narrow gauge industrial railway modelling. Time flies and suddenly one wonders how Nystrup Gravel after all that time has only one operational locomotive and 10 skips. I'm calling it progress and celebrate 10 years of the premier Danish narrow gauge industrial railway blog (well, the only one).

The 16 mm scale indoor Nystrup Gravel layout is far from finished, but it has developed and with a proper background it doesn't look too bad.

On 9. April 2012 I published the first real post on the Nystrup Gravel blog. I had started back in July 2011 with a preliminary announcement that no one probably noticed and that I took a very long time to follow up. When I did follow up, I did it with a history of my little 1/35 gravel line in March 2012. I had modelled seriously in 1/35 scale since the early 2000's building a model of a small Danish gravel company's 600 mm line set in the early 1950's in a rural area. To a large extent the history of this little blog is also a history of Nystrup Gravel and below I take a look at some of the milestones for the blog and my model railway.

2004: Long time before the blog materialized Nystrup Gravel was developing slowly. My first 1/35 scale module under construction in my garden with my son looking pretty interested. While he never developed a serious interest in model trains, my Nystrup Gravel universe kept expanding.

The first post in 2012 was a short fictional history of the gravel line's history creating an outline of company, line and environments. It's a post I have updated often as I adjust and expand the history of the little line - usually because I want to create an excuse for a new modelling project and to put it into context. The historical aspect of Nystrup Gravel has always been highlighted with old newspaper clippings, company documents and archive photographs. In early 2014 I got worried that some readers would misenterpret everything as historical facts and I wrote a short disclaimer admitting it's all made up by me and not real history. I was fighting 'fake news' even before the term was in widespred use!

With published letters like this I found it best to inform the blog's readers that I am making up history when I write about Nystrup Gravel. A company of that name never existed in reality.

The first 'real' post was on a braked skip  built from parts from two Scale Link kits. I managed to build two trains of 6 skips each from Scale Link kits in 1/32 scale. All skips were sold when I changed scale. At least one of the buyers is regularly running the skips and it's comforting to know that my old models are still of value to someone. 

The skip (numbered '12') featured in the first modelling post on the Nystrup Gravel blog is seen here at the rear of a train on the 1:32 narrow gauge line on the NLB-layout owned and built by Lis and Arne Nielsen.

My blog has always been designed with focus on the highly international nature of large scale narrow gauge industrial railway modelling. From 2000 I was exchanging tips and images with modellers all over the world on the Yahoo group FS32NG. My blog builds on that communication and fellow modellers around the globe remain my main audience.  As such I naturally had to write in a foreign language (English) as only slightly more than 5.8 mio people are fluent in my native language of Danish (and only 4-5 of those seriously interested in narrow gauge industrial railway modelling in 1/35 or 1/19 scale). Writing in English seems to have worked out tolerably and I haven't had any serious misunderstandings arise on account of me writing in English, nor have I had any complaints. 

Apparently there is no big difference in size on the 1/35 scale and 1/19 indoor audiences that my blog and modelling is appealing to. Statistics show no great fluctuations nor has there been any signs of growth (or decline) in visitor numbers after I changed scale to 1/19 in 2018. Nevertheless my little blog has now had more that 310.000 page views during its 10 year life.

A screen capture from the 'waybackmachine' internet archive showing my 1/35 Jung ZL 114 in a post from May 2013 that was captured by the archive robot. Notice how short the blog archive to the right is. It's considerably longer today - 9 years later. 

In 2014 I moved to a house that provided room for more modules. With a nice and dry 15 sqm wooden annex I was also provided with a good location for setting up the modules for running. The new location also allowed for a certain expansion of both workshop area and number of modules as well as providing a number of possibilities for modelling outside.

Ever since I began modelling the little gravel line I have enjoyed that modules and segments allow me to bring a piece of Nystrup Gravel outside for modelling. Outside modelling is perfectly fine for landscaping and some of the more basic jobs on rolling stock and road vehicles. For fine details I still prefer my indoor workbench. But nothing beats working on a module in the evening sun with a glass of wine and the barbeque heating up. And before you think Danish weather is all bad, we are increasingly experiencing very fine weather with a lovely spring and summer climate, a passable early autumn with only late autumn and winter being depressingly dark, windy, bleak and filled with countless variants of rain. Many posts on the blog have consequently featured photos of outdoor modelling and the traditional projects I bring to the cottage when enjoying my summer vacation there.

2015: A low evening sun lights up 1/35 scale module 3 while I'm fixing grass mats and vegetation. With a glass of chilled rosé at the ready. One reason for planning a horizontal area the size of a glass on every module. 

In 2018 the Nystrup Gravel enterprise experienced its greatest (until now, at least) upheaval as it changed from 1/35 scale to 1/19 scale also known as 16 mm scale. Being a conservative modeller and having kept to one scale and theme for many years, I increasingly felt I needed to move on to something new. The challenging element of figuring out solutions, overcoming problems etc. wasn't as big as it used to be. Even if I chose to hold on to the Nystrup Gravel universe, the choise to change scale wasn't an easy one. I had grown very fond of the 1:35 scale and models, but I chose to dispose of most of the models. A process that was terminated much sooner that I had anticipated due to a surprising interest from railway modellers abroad. Consequently models from Nystrup Gravel travelled (many in sturdy foam lined boxes) to United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Germany and France besides the few that found new homes here in Denmark.

One of the wagons that started the 16 mm scale transformation of Nystrup Gravel. The wagon isn't used much due to being a rather odd vehicle on a Danish industrial railway and distinctively Welsh (and still not fitted with coupling chains). I built the wagon in 2018 and here it is seen fly-shunted with a brake man ready for action.

A subject that has featured often on the blog is road vehicles. In 1/35 as well as 1/19 road vehicles have been playing a role of setting the timeframe as well as the specific location in Denmark. Many industrial railways used the same loco and skips for more than 40 years. Apart from 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 with the license plates indicating the car's connection to a particular county the road vehilces are also pointing to the geographic location of Nystrup Gravel.

The Chenard & Walcker CHV van from 'Lützows Lyn-vaskeri'. A repainted and relettered 1/18 scale model from the French company Norev. A charming van that sets my Nystrup Gravel layout nicely in the first half of the 1950's and locating it in Sorø county.

Some have asked if writing more than 400 blog posts during 10 years isn't t00aking an awfull lot of time and distracting me from actually modelling. I like to think it's actually the other way round. Blogging makes me a more productive modeller. Getting off the couch to the worktable is easier when I also have the blog to keep alive and flowing. The more than 250 comments and contributions from readers have been extremely valuable to me. Not only have readers helped point me toward new products and solutions I had never found myself, the comments have also helped to keep my modelling motivation high during difficult times. 

The 1/19 scale photo plank and layout segments are frequent visitors in my garden for both work and photo sessions. Here is an I.P. Engineering Lister R rail tractor pulling a Line Side Hut kit of a 4-wheel Corris coach. Both items suitably rebuilt and adjusted to fit the Nystrup Gravel story. Here in a slightly faded colour photograph.

With the change to a traditional garden railway scale many have asked if I'm planning a garden railway. I'm not. First and foremost because I'm a modeller with an interest in building, painting and detailing. Running trains isn't a top priority and the relatively detailed models I like to build aren't particularly suited for a garden line. Another deciding factor for not claiming garden ground for my trains is that I think a garden railway will end up being too much of a burden to remove once my current house is set up for sale. It may take many years, but I can't imagine myself struggling with dismantling a garden railway at 80 or even worse my children having to level their father's garden line in order to sell off the house. People looking for a house with an established garden railway isn't a significant portion of Danish house buyers. An indoor layout is quickly chopped up and disposed off. This may all sound a little terminal, but as I'm only in the beginning of my 50's it should take a while before there will be a need for chopping up Nystrup Gravel.

Nystrup Gravel's smallest and largest locomotive posing with crew chatting. The Baguley-Drewry is currently dismantled for rebuilding, detailing and repainting.

I have many plans for Nystrup Gravel in the years to come. Not another change of scale, but perhaps a larger room can be claimed for the layout, allowing for it to expand a little. I hope a relocation to a bigger room will make it possible for me to fit in a small part of the line and a little more landscape in addition to a fiddle yard. It will probably last a few years before the plans materialize. There are lots of other jobs to do, though. Landscaping the current layout hasn't progressed much and a lot of work is waiting. There is also an urgent need for more locomotives and that is one area where I will prioritize some energy very soon. 

This is the complete 1/19 scale Nystrup Gravel layout as it looked in early Autumn 2021. That's all there is so far.

Regarding blogging I haven't planned for any substantial changes. I have been considering a Nystrup Gravel Facebook profile, though. Short texts and images on Facebook could perhaps work as lead ins to the longer posts on the blog. With better lighting equipment acquired I may also begin working a bit more with video. As with all other things railway modelling related I'm a slow worker. Don't expect changes soon!

Hopefully the equipment and development at Nystrup Gravel will continue to attract enthusiasts. The company's history will be further explored and I wonder if the blog will be able to celebrate its 20. birthday?


  1. Thank you Claus. I've really enjoyed following your blog for almost ten years. I still model 1/35th along with "8" other scales, including 16mm. I began building in that scale in 1977.
    All the best on the "go forward".

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Pete! I still remember our great 'twin speeders' from Denmark and Canada in 1:35 scale as well as the inspiration you provided for my build of the Fordson 7V lorry from Mesheau & Son. Looking forward to more of that in the coming years.

  3. Congratulations on the anniversary. I've always enjoyed reading and rereading your posts as the story of Nystrup Gravel evolves. As my own modelling interests wanders upward and now I'm starting to try to learn to work in 16mm indoors as you are I'm studying your notes even more. Thank you for continuing to share this journey with us.


    1. I hope you will be able to begin your work in 16 mm scale better prepared after having visited my blog. It has been a great challenge for me to adjust from 1/35 til 1/16 scale. Everything is so much bigger. 'It just doesn't look right' I think looking at a drawing of a 16 mm scale object. 'It's far too big' then realising that I'm not building in 1/35 anymore. Thanks a lot for your birthday greetings and best of luck in 16 mm scale, Chris!

  4. A belated "happy anniversary"! Keeping up the steam (or is it diesel) for 10 years is no small feat! Looking forward to the next 10 :-D