Wednesday 31 August 2022

Relief Building Progressing

Giving the relief building a proper wooden cladding has progressed to a degree where the lower part of the building is now basically finished. A total of 78 coffee stirrers were cut, distressed with knife and sandpaper, then stained red before being glued in place on the foamboard shell.

The relief building fitted with boards on the lower floor. The large Baguley-Drewry will stil squeeze through the opening!

The basic shape of the building had been prepared earlier this month. As the boards overlap the top of the foundation, I decided to make a coarse representation of a roughly cast concrete foundation before adding the first boards. With the foundation taken care of the process of fitting boards to the building's lower walls could begin. 

The foundation was stippled with wall filler to create some texture. A layer of medium gray paint was brushed on. The building was then ready to receive the board cladding.

A small heap of coffee stirrers were cut to length and stained with red wood staining fluid. I do this before adding the boards to the building. For a start staining doesn't work on surfaces accidentally covered with glue. I also wanted to see if I could obtain a varied colouring of the individual boards. With the building being quite an overwhelming structure on my small layout I hoped the small difference in colour from board to board will help make the building less monolithic.

The boards were then glued onto the foamboard base in two stages. The first layer of boards were glued with a small gap between each board. The next layer was glued over the gap, connecting two neighbouring boards. The process was repeated until full coverage on the lower part of the building was obtained. Not the most entertaing of tasks, but I think the staining and handling of single boards have paid off. At least when I watch the half-finished building.

The first boards have been glued on and are weighted down with jars of glue while the glue sets.

As I have a process worked out, there isn't much doubt how to progress. It's only the design of how to integrate the window frames into the walls I need to figure out.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

UFO Sighted at Nystrup

From time to time I think it's nice to be able to season the rather drab and boring business at Nystrup Gravel with something different. The other day I was fortunate to find an old photograph in the archive from a Nystrup newspaper. The photo was in an envelope marked 'not to be published'. From the hand written story also in the envelope it turned out the image was from nothing less than an UFO sighting in Nystrup on the 24 august 1954!

The 'not to be published' photo is now online! Clearly photographed from the Nystrup Gravel tracks west of Nystrup the photo shows a round flying object over the meadow to the north. Looking carefully, one can see that the object carries a sort of pixelated camouflage pattern on the upper surface.

The paper in the envelope contained a short eyewitness report given to one of the newspaper's jounalists as well as small scrap of paper attached with staples. The small note said 'not to be published' with reference to Danish law on national interests and the relations to foreign powers signed by the local police authority. One wonder why they just didn't confiscate the photograph?  

While the so called Space Race did not really begin until the launch of the Soviet Union's Sputnik in 1957, tensions with the Soviet Union were increasing in the early 1950s. Large numbers of UFO sightings in the West after WW2 could have been prompted by the rising number of modern aircraft in the skies (many people having not seen jets before), natural phenomenons, or even Soviet airplanes - or real flying saucers, of course!

A US newspaper's mention of UFO's over The White House. 

Of course the UFO sighting over Nystrup wasn't real. It was simply my urge to do something different not having the faintest relation with Nystrup Gravel (which of course wasn't how it ended). 

Colour image of the 'UFO' making a final pass over the meadow and tracks before flying on. In reality the craft is an advanced drone with an unknown propulsion system.

Close-up of the drone and its companion. The drones are kits from the Warhammer-universe slightly rebuilt and painted.

Seen from above the pixelated camouflage stands out and the Ukrainian flags make it clear where the flying crafts belong.

The donor kit with the drones is the 'Tau Empire Pathfinder Team' set from the Warhammer 40.000 series. Picked up for a modest sum because of a damaged box I figured I could build a few advanced drones 'dressed up' as miniature Ukrainian aircrafts with the characteristic pixelated camouflage. I changed the drones a bit by swapping and omitting parts as well as adding a few items from scratch. The building part of the work was quickly done, but the painting took a little longer. The pixelated camouflage took several rounds with airbrush and masking tape before being ready for weathering. I painted the Ukranian flags by hand.

There are plenty of parts left in the box. Perhaps I one day decide to use the parts from the large drone in the box. The rest will probably lie unused in a box until disposed of.

The two drones seen during painting. One of them with masking tape all over it. The lower half of the drone is in dark grey painted and weathered with brush. Lenses for sights and observation devices were painted black with a final covering of gloss varnish.

Some readers may shake their heads and wonder why I waste time on completely crazy projects like this. Other modellers will know how a different project can add new energy to other, more serious modelling projects. That is what the two small drones and the photo work did for me. Now I'm working with the wooden cladding on the relief building. All very serious and correct.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Erecting Wooden Building

The cardboard mock-up for the relief building I started in June underwent some adjustments during my summer holidays. The opening was adjusted to fit my Baguely-Drewry and Fowler locomotives and I sketched in the windows on the top floor. The cheap cardboard mock-up allows all sorts of adjustments to be made at pratically no cost and very little effort. Now the relief building is ready for cladding with wooden boards and later to have lights and detailing added. With the adjustments made, the building finished with a width of ca. 40 cm and a height of 35 cm. In most scales that would make a substantial structure, but not in 1/19 scale.

The rough foamboard structure ready for a covering of wooden boards.

When I enlarged the opening in the building to accomodate my two large locomotives, I decided to keep the tolerances minimal around the Baguely-Drewry loco. This should illustrate that the large locomotive was a late addition to the company's list of equipment, and that the building was there before that particular loco arrived.

The cardboard mock-up with enlarged opening for the track, experimental window openings and a miserably illustration of a lamp above the door.

Cardboard has given way to foamboard. The Baguley-Drewry is a tight fit in the opening. Don't stick your head out the cab window!

The core of the building was cut from 5 mm foamboard. Internal bracing of corners and guides for placing flooring was made with square wooden profiles. The floor was made from the same foamboard as the walls. Where the floor didn't obtain a good light-proof fitting against the interior walls I added some black electrical tape to cover the small gaps. This will hopefully avoid light from the lamps on first floor to shine through to the ground floor.

The roof is designed to lift off for work on the interior lights on the top floor. The removable roof will also help if I should have to repair windows or fit other details at a later time.

It's obvious that the relief building is extremely shallow.

To enable a correct wooden cladding of the two storey building, the upper storey wall was made from a double layer of foamboard. In that way I can mount the wooden boards on the top floor overlapping the boards on the lower part of the wall.  

Without skips in the door it's easy to see the building's limited depth.

The building is basically just a facade with very limited depth (8 cm where the track enters) and I painted all interior surfaces black to make the building appear to have just a minimum of depth. As the windows are quite small the most critical view will be through the large opening for the track. I consider adding double doors to help obstruct the view into the building.

My work on model buildings hasn't been limited to 1/19 scale. At work I'm custodian of the office's 1/87 scale model of a Danish station. It's made from laser cut cardboard and needed minor repairs. I finished the job on my last day at work before my summer vacation.

Thursday 4 August 2022

Citroen HY

Observant and knowledgeable readers must have wondered why I haven't had a model of the iconic Citroen HY on the Nystrup Gravel layout, particularly because I have several other French cars on my model railway. It has not been for lack of trying and after several years of hunting I'm finally in possession of a silvergrey HY. I did have to accept a compromise thoug, as the van is in 1/21 scale rather than the usual car scale of 1/18. My model will later get the usual treatment of detail painting, adding of Danish markings, license plates and moderate weathering.

Left side of my new HY-model. Classic lines and looking pretty much like the prototype van.

The model is a Solido 1/21 Citroen HY 1962 model with short wheelbase and short body overhang - exactly the type I was after. Most available HY models in my scale are 1969 models with one-piece windscreen or 1963 models covered in advertising markings. On top of the model being the right type, I even managed to acquire the model for an attractive price as its box was damaged. This isn't the first time I have won online auctions because collectors aren't interested in models with faulty or missing original boxes. I just need the car inside!

The split windscreen is a definate give-away for a pre-1963 HY. Does the van seem a little under-size comppared to a 1/19 figure? See below for scale measurements.

The top part of the rear door opens to provide a view of the cargo area fitted with 8 seats along the sides. The left rear wheel have suffered some damage and I will have to do a little work to persuade the wheel into a more realistic angle. 

Both front doors on the model opens. They are of the classic suicide door-type, that one should be careful not to open while the car was in motion.

With the scale of 1/21 printed on the underside of the model I took a few measurements to establish the degree of conflict with 1/19 scale that I'm modelling in. The Modelu figure in the images aboveis 91 mm in height corresponding to 172 cm in real life. (The average Danish male was 173,9 cm in height when conscripted into the military in 1949).

The wheelbase of a short wheelbase HY is 2558 mm. On the model the wheelbase is correct for 1/21 scale (121 mm) while it should be 134 mm in 1/19. The height of the van's vertical side is 1545 mm which I measured as 81 mm on the actual model - correct for 1/19 but a little on the large side for 1/21 scale. The sliding door height is also correct for 1/19 scale. The backdoor width of 1310 mm is 64 mm on the model which is slightly larger than correct 1/21 scale but a little too small for a correct 1/19 width of 68 mm. The same goes for the width of the van - a little too large for 1/21 and a little too small for 1/19.

I draw the conclusion that the van is a bit too small length- and widthwise for 1/19 scale but spot on the prototype measurements for two major height defining objects. The model fit within the rather generous envelope of margin that I have always been working with. In my old modelling scale of 1/35 I also used parts and models from 1/32. With careful selection and positioning of parts and models that doesn't have to detract from a realistic impression of a layout.

Leaving the subject of scale, the HY, like my other French cars (e.g. the Traction Avant and the Chenard & Walcker) has a character of its own as well as being an example of one of the most technical innovative vans of the last century and in an industrial design admired by many. The design is still popular and many HY's are today used as stylish food trucks. 

As recent as 29 June before the Grand Depart de Tour de France in Copenhagen I spotted several HYs serving as food trucks. Here is one of them: from Paridan serving ice creams, desserts and cakes.

The van was originally called H-type, and during the production run, a number of versions were produced, yet HY was by far the most popular. For this reason, most of these vans are referred to as HY, even if it is not always technically correct. The van had a flat floor very close to the ground, and 180 cm standing height. Loading was by a combination of an upward-hinged tailgate with lower double half-doors at the rear, or through a sliding door on the side. There were short and long wheelbase models, and choice of short or longer rear overhang. The HY was  produced from 1947 through 1981. Externally, only minor changes were implemented during the lifespan of HY – most notable were the changes of Citroën chevron logo on the grille and single piece windscreen from 1964.- If you read Danish I can recommend the article by my railway modelling fellow blogger on the Sundborg-blog.

The HY van has a special place in Danish history and culture as it features on several occasions in the movies about Olsen-banden (the Olsen gang). A HY van is used by the gang in several scenes in the movies and by the Danish police as well. The movies are probably not widely known in the English speaking world, but they were a massive succes in the communist DDR, probably due to their discrete critical characteristic of people in powerful positions and a clear sympathy toward the 'little man' in society. Some of the most devoted fans of the 'Olsen-bande' are actually Germans and just recently a German group that traveled on the heritage line I vounteer on had brought Danish flags with the writing 'Freiheit für Egon Olsen' (Freedom for Egon Olsen) on them.

Egon Olsen chasing a HY used by his gang in the movie 'Olsen-banden deruda' from 1977. Note the non-standard rear doors.

The HY van from 'Olsen-banden in Jutland' (with the correct rust patterns and yellow zinc chromate paint repairs) was even made available as a model in 1/87 scale from German manufacturer Busch. I can't expect such service in 1/19 scale!

Every Olsen-bande movie begins with a scene where Egon is released from prison (only 600 m from where I lived for 19 years with my parents). At every release from prison Egon has a new cunning plan: steal a huge sum of money or something valuable, usually from an absurdly rich capitalist organisation with a touch of Germanic or über-European look to it. Egon Olsen's criminal trio always gets itself into unlucky, comical situations when executing Egon's genius plans. In every movie the gang fails and Egon goes to jail, only to get released in the beginning of the next movie and try again and again for 13 movies in a row.

With opening doors and nice representations of the simple seats the Solido HY will fit many scenes on Nystrup Gravel. Don't expect my van to end up looking like a van from the Olsen-bande movies!

Tuesday 2 August 2022

France, Forts and a Forest Railway

Not much new to communicate from my modelling activities due to my summer vacation. At the start of the vacation I managed to get started on the wooden relief building that is being built on a core structure from foam board clad in wood. I'm almost ready to start staining the coffee stirrers that will make up the cladding after having finished the foam board work. 

Having not been vacationing abroad for several years due to the corona virus, this year I have been touring northeastern France visiting forts in the Maginot Line. I have a soft spot for fortifications and the Maginot Line has long been on the list of attractions I had to visit. I tried to visit the fortress of Hackenberg i 2013. 9 years later I got over the defensive ditch and through the armoured doors!

The guided tour of Ouvrage du Hackenberg includes travelling the 600 mm gauge, 600 V fortress line. Here with SW electric locomotive no. 2.

All major galleries are equipped with tracks. The railway in the Hackenberg fort transported munitions, food and general supplies to the crew of 1100 men.

I also visited the Ouvrage du Simserhof. Here is the munitions and supplies entrance protected by 3,5 m of concrete, two armed steel cupolas and four casemate mounted guns. Placed in a narrow valley, the lighting wasn't the best at the time of my visit. The wagons are (from left): Decauville bogie, Pechot-wagon and Decauville-wagon. All of French Army design.

While the concrete structures of the Maginot Line were the main attractions on my trip to France, the Chemin de Fer Forestiere Abreschviller had been a tempting railway for many years. With a gauge of 700 mm (the same as on 'my' vintage line in Denmark) it is built with a rather seldom seen gauge outside Denmark and the Netherlands. With a a little route planning I managed to fit in a visit to Abreschviller as well.

Abreschviller loco no. 3 (Coferna 27517/1953) shunting the railway's 'orient express wagon' built by a group of young apprentices at a nearby technical school. I wouldn't hesitate to call it a masterpiece on narrow gauge!

I visited the railway on a hot summer day. I came early as I like to sneak about to see if I can find volunteers/employees to talk to. I wasn't succesful and soon other guests started to arrive. So many in fact, that the train of 4 carriages and the orient express carriage was quite overwhelmed. It's good to see that the line is well known and the number of passengers must provide a welcome income for the line after two covid-years. 

Loco 3 resting in front of the shed. Barely visible in the right track is Heilbron 476/1906 looking like it had been recently operated.

Behind the large diesel was Jung 10120/1944. By recent photos this looks like the railways regularly used steam locomotive. 

The railway's two charming railcars. The cabriolet was built by the forest railway in 1925 on the basis of a Renault NN car. The railcar in the background was also built by the railway for transport of workers to and from the forest. It holds 12 passengers and was built in 1930 around a Hotchkiss-engine. To the left the end of a HF50B-locomotive built by Gmeinder is just visible.

With all carriages well filled the train took off and began to climb into the hills surrounding Abreschviller town. Some of the gradients sounded as if they severely challenged the diesel locomotive's Perkins engine. The line twist and turn around rock formations, over streams and between gardens and hedges. The terminus 'Grand Soldat' is fitted with a single loop and placed on a gradient. All carriages are fitted with air brakes.

Even before the loco runs around its train at 'Grand Soldat' the first passengers scramble for their seats in the carriages. 

The line follow the contours of the landscape, giving frequent views to the locomotive from the rear carriages.

I can recommend a visit to the railway that is charming and with an interesting collection of rolling stock. More information can be found on the web site of the railway.