Wednesday 13 July 2022

From a Newspaper

From my stash of old newspaper clippings and documents from the Nystrup Gravel archive I have dug out a photo completly detached from any information. It has been cut from a newspaper or a document printed on the same kind of low quality paper. The picture is stained (with coffee?) in the lower half and has a tear in the upper right corner. This kind of image is often a major challenge to identify and locate - in geography as well as in time. This one was easy, however!

Even without original caption or any other information it is easy for me to locate this image as being from the Nystrup Gravel loading ramp at the company's facilities in Nystrup. The Lister loco was a rare bird (in fact the only one) on Danish rails and the loading ramp is a dead give away with its flimsy walkway. The image is most likely from the beginning of the 1950's.

The Lister was a chance investment at a time when it was extremely difficult to obtain new locomotives in Denmark due to import restrictions and a general post-world war disruption of normal production and trade. The loco was never intended to be used for hauling gravel trains, but rather for light shunting and small permanent way trains. That left the more powerful locomotives, like the Fowler, to do what they did best.

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Fowler History

The Fowler at Nystrup Gravel was a rather seldom seen locomotive from a foreign manufacturer in Denmark. Only three other Fowlers are known in Denmark. Apart from the chance sale of the loco to Nystrup Gravel in 1934, Fowler only succeeded in selling a six coupled 700 mm gauge loco to a sugar factory in 1948 and two standard gauge shunters in 1952 to a railway in northern Jutland.

My 1/19 model of the Fowler F 30 is carefully being shunted toward the workshop by the Lister while workshop manager Thorleif Petersen watches the operation (as usual with a cup of coffee in his left hand).

The Fowler at Nystrup was most likely originally meant for a customer in the tropics using Imperial measurements. Fowler had a good business selling locos, wagons and track for sugar plantations in the Pacific area. 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. 

The Nystrup Gravel management was aware that the gauge potentially could cause problems and had consulting engineers deliver a short analysis of the consequenses.  The consultants concluded that the difference in gauge didn't matter considering the track's condition.

The Fowler loco was instrumental in the expansion of the gravel production at Nystrup and the primary locomotive 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 and fuel. As soon as parts were available again it was back in service, being in use at least until 1963 according to surviving maintenance records.

Illustration from a Fowler catalogue showing a 6 wheeled loco of the same type delivered to the Danish 700 mm gauge beet lines in 1948.

The Fowler's arrival at Nystrup Gravel was big news in the rural area and received mention in a newspaper article dated 17. January 1934. The visiting press was invited for a ride and one journalist wrote: "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”. Obviously 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. 

Photo of a Fowler F 30 in service at an Australian sugar cane mill. Many of the loco's features are identical to the Nystrup Gravel loco, reinforcing the theory that Nystrup aquired a loco ordered by an Australian customer. The open cab was well suited to the hot Australian climate, but didn't go down well with the Danish weather.

Friday 1 July 2022

Photographic Backdrop Installed

Back in March I invested in some flood lights to enhance my indoor photography of the layout. At that time I also found one of my photo backdrops from my 1:35 scale modelling days. It worked fine as an interim background for a small part of the layout. As a permanent solution it wasn't good enough, thoug. The print I had was too small (only 90 x30 cm) and the image used for the print had too low a resolution to allow it to be enlarged to obtain a decent size of print.

The new background fitted behind the Nystrup Gravel layout. The depth of the layout at this location is a mere 40 cm.

To at least do something about the situation I chose to plagiarize and copy a photo uploaded to the internet by a fellow Danish railway modeller, Benjamin Asmussen. On his modelling blog he described how he used photographs to create backdrops for model photography. Being generous he had several large files available for downloading. One of them seemed to fit my purpose relatively well. It may not be perfect, but as a stop gap measure and an experiment it will be much better than what I have myself at the moment. And isn't railway modelling also about steady improvement? Once I have found a perfect piece of Danish landscape and photographed it to a decent standard, I can always order a new large format print and switch backdrop.

My interim use of an old print from my 1/35 scale modelling days wasn't a viable solution. Far too short, but with a height of only 30 cm also considerably too low for the much larger 1/19 models.

After I downloaded Benjamin's image I ran it through a photo editing programme and edited away all the birds (I suspected them to look like unrealistic spots in the sky) and two signs in the distant background. None of the objects I removed would probably be noticed by anyone, but once I had spotted them they would invariably stick out like a sore thumb in my eyes.

The Benjamin Asmussen-background gives a rather good impression of depth and space. Recently fitted ground cover in the foreground also helps.

Even seen lengthwise the background helps considerably in avoiding the layout looking plunked haphazardly against a naked wall. With grass the sharp border between background and layout will be toned down. 

I had the background printed by an online printing service. I used Pixum that has websites in all major European languages. Any printing service will probably offer similar products, but I have used Pixum before and am happy with their quality. I chose a print with a matt surface to avoid most of the reflections from the backdrop which can be annoying in photographs. With a size of 90 x 270 cm the print isn't sufficiently long to act as a backdrop for the complete layout, but as said it's a stop gap measure. Should I choose to make it a permanent solution I can always order a print fitting as an extension. 

The complete layout with a 90 cm high backdrop fitted around the corner. In the future an addition will be fitted. Perhaps with a more agricultural looking photo more in line with what was actually behind the Nystrup facility.