Sunday 31 December 2023

A Review of 2023

2023 is fast approaching its end and I'm enjoying a cup of coffee in a comfy reading chair in my library/workshop. I'm looking back on the year's events for the 1/19 scale Nystrup Gravel layout. Definately not a year without progress, but the number of posts has never been lower. With only 34 posts 2023 even underperformed the 'annus horribilis' of 2017 that reached 35 posts. On the other hand the blog could celebrate post number 500 in August with a story about new grass tufts from Spain.

Three underground skips were taken into use at Nystrup Gravel in 2023. They mostly serve ash transport to emptied parts of the gravel pits. Ash was dumped in the old pits, that were also used for a lot of the company's general waste. Normal practice in the early 1950's for many companies.

The year began with work on three of the six 3D printed Hudson underground skips that Nystrup Gravel used for ash and general spoil transport to empty parts of the old gravel pits. The finishing of the three narrow profile underground skips was somewhat delayed as I squashed and broke a finger while building a 1/1 scale platform. That meant a break from modelling, but not more than I could visit a large Danish model railway exhibition.

The most visible progress on the layout has been my continued work with landscaping and vegetation. In april I managed to build the stairs used by the workers to access the loading ramp and finish the ground cover on the ramp module with a mix of used ground coffee, sieved gravel, small stones and twigs. Most of it was soon covered by static grass in several colours. The plank road and gravel covered area at the ramp was also almost finished, now lacking only the final detailing. In the final weeks of 2023 I began working my way through module 1 with ground cover and coarse sisal grass.

The area around the loading ramp was covered in grass of several lengths, colours and coarseness during 2023. 

The most monumental leap forward for Nystrup Gravel was however the beginning of installation of battery and remote control equipment in the Fowler diesel. A project that had been postponed for far too long due to difficulties in acquiring RC-equipment from a supplier. After a long proces I lost patience and bought WiFi-equipment from Loco Remote - no waiting needed for their services! Within 14 days I had two Loco Remote Maxi units on my door step. That even included customs processing and payment as Loco Remote is located in the United Kingdom and Nystrup Gravel in the Kingdom of Denmark, European Union. Expect news about the Fowler in the near future.

Before the work commenced. Most of the main parts laid out around the loco. Cheap Chinese 9 V battery to the right, in bubble wrap above the loco chassis two Loco Remote Maxi units and an assortment of cables.

The first stages in the rebuild of the Fowler was succesfully completed in 2023. The huge battery pack was removed and a new cab floor assembly was built. For a more reliable service with the Nystrup Gravel skips I also lowered the buffers on the loco.

Lowered buffers on the Fowler to fit the layout's fleet of skips. Looking at the photo I'm glad I chose to build the track myself. It looks much more prototypically than standard Peco SM32 track.

2023 was a year where, for the first time in many years, no new road vehicles were added to the collection. The Land Rover Series I bought in 2021 received the usual treatment of decals fitting the Nystrup setting; Danish license plates, detail painting and a light weathering. As a vehicle from the Danish National Forest District 4 the Land Rover is now an active part of the car collection. My work on the Land Rover even prompted a good Danish modelling colleague to work on his Land Rover as well. Check his work on the Sundborg blog out here - in Danish, but with lots of images. 

The Minichamps Land Rover parked in the wrong side of the road. Both passenger and driver has left the vehicle. Perhaps to study rare flowers in the ditch?

During 2023 I began a series of small scale experiments. Of course it is a distraction from my main modelling effort, but small scale modelling is fun and a different challenge. It also allows me to explore an Eastern European theme that I have always wanted to try.  In march some 3D printed kits arrived from Kyiv and occasional work on them saw a PD-1 draisine on a small diorama finish in November. I hope to take the Eastern European H0e adventure a bit further and have bought track and some mining equipment to slowly start a small scene.

With the fields and forest near Baranyvka in the background draisine no. 2 of type PD-1 poses on its small diorama.

During the year I have been trainspotting abroad on a few occasions. Mostly in neighbouring Sweden where I went both in my professional capacity for a Danish railway contracting company and for fun with a team of mates from my vintage railway. The 31. Internationales Feldbahntreffen in Germany was also paid a visit. Two German societies had teamed up for the event and consequently I checked in at both Frankfurter Feldbahnmuseum and Feld- und Grubenbahnmuseum Fortuna. Some great days was spent enjoying narrow gauge and networking with enthusiasts preserving our industrial heritage. In 2024 the 32. Internationales Feldbahntreffen will be hosted by the Hedeland vintage railway in Denmark.

Loco 3 (O&K 6625/1913) pulling a train of skips through a wooded section on the short circular line at the Feld- und Grubenbahnmuseum Fortuna. The gauge is 600 mm and the train was manned by a brakewoman.

During 2023 I got all the blog posts with content in 1/35 scale clearly marked with the appropriate scale in the title. That should help readers distinguish between my previous 1/35 scale and current 1/19 scale. With my main focus on modelling in 1/19 scale it is interesting that the most popular 1/19 scale post of the year is only the fourth most viewed post on the blog. Two posts about 1/35 modelling and one with 1/87 lead the race for most popular post of the year in 2023. It shows that years of modelling Nystrup Gravel in 1/35 scale still appeals to modellers out there and the blog is still searched for.  

Top 5 of the most viewed posts on the Nystrup Gravel blog in 2023.

The number of views is slowly increasing and passed 56.000 views in 2023. I hope visitors take something with them from their visits no matter what scale they model in. I visit several blogs in different scales that inspire and provide me with new methods. 

As usual I have spent the majority of my spare time not modelling, but helping run a full scale vintage 700 mm narrow gauge railway running. On one of the last days of 2023 we had to dispose of some excavated material. It was taken away in skips and while it's fun to run skip trains in 1/19 scale it's even more fun in 1/1.

Next year I hope to cover the layout completely with vegetation. I have shopped some artificial plants that I will test for providing different textures to my layout. I also hope to finally getting the Fowler running and detailed to my usual standard. Lights and wooden poles with power cables are also on the schedule for 2024 as well as detailing a pair of road vehicles. Perhaps I can even begin working on the Baguley-Drewry?

Happy New Year to readers wherever you may be located. I wish you health and fortune, particularly if you've had a less than happy 2023.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Lister Problem and Modification

With a working industrial railway the equipment needs some maintenance. My Lister R had lost one of the bolts in the bar keeping the axles in place. The bolt had torn off every layer of paint down to the bare white metal. Something had to be done and there was another problem that needed attention, too.

The left bolt below the driver had fallen off and the bare white metal spot stood out like a sore thumb.

I replaced the missing bolt with a slice of hexagonal plastic strip glued on with AC-glue. The repaired area was painted with a mix of Vallejo paints to appear as in red primer after an urgent repair. I gave the area a quick wash of heavily diluted black oil paint to blend in with the rest of the loco. Having done that, I began tackling the other problem: the frames of skips being 'caught' under the Lister's buffers particularly when being pushed. This has led to some very prototypical derailments that I'd nevertheless would rather avoid. The steel buffers are simply placed too high on the kit. To prevent the skip frames being caught under them, I added a wooden beam under each of the steel buffers to get a level buffing surface.

The white plastic bolt head is glued in place and the wooden beams fitted with plastic details.

The beams themselves were dyed grey after being treated with junior hack saw and knife. Steel fixtures of plasticard and strip were fitted with AC-glue and the beams glued to the loco's ballast weights under the buffers. 

Nystrup loco no 3 with bolt repair and new extra wooden buffers.

The steel bolts were painted in the same primer red paint as the bolt repair.

Initial testing with one skip showed that the problem couldn't be recreated during three test runs up the gradient to the loading ramp. So far so good.  Further running will show if the solution works in daily service, cutting down on derailments.


Up the gradient with the new wooden beam mounted under the steel buffers.

Crop of the image above show how high the steel buffers sit in relation to the skip frame. The wooden beam helps create a continous buffing surface.


Friday 8 December 2023

Slate Quarry Point

A slate quarry point at Nystrup Gravel? Isn't that a bit far fetched? Perhaps, but calling the point something a bit more technical like a 'point for double flanged rolling stock' makes it more in keeping with the Nystrup Gravel theme. Double flanged rolling stock wasn't widespread on Danish industrial narrow gauge railways, but was used on one large first generation sugar beet network with 700 mm gauge as well as on several smaller operations. And a turnout for double flanged wheels will also accomodate the more usual one flanged wheels.

The Atropos kit's box is white and flat. What is unusual is that the point can be assembled as a left or right hand point and even a Y-point. That leaves a lot of decision making to the modeller! Image: Ebay seller's photo.

The point is a kit labelled 'Slate quarry cast component point' from now gone Atropos Garden Railway Equipment. I only learned about the manufacturer 3 weeks ago from the useful 16 mm Narrow Gauge Association Facebook group. A quick search on eBay showed a single kit for sale for a most reasonable price of 20 £. My quick reaction and good service from the seller saw the kit arrive in Denmark just a little over a week later.

So what's in the box? 6 wooden sleepers, rail spikes and bolts, 4 short lengths of Peco code 143 rail and three metal castings (two switch plates and one crossing) and assembly instruction including drawings. The rail size is an exact match to my own hand built track which is very nice. The sleepers appear a bit wide, but will be easy to adjust or replace. The three castings puzzled me at first: I couldn´t get the bars to move and for a moment I thought the point was a static item, not intended for operation. Closer inspection found the bars only slightly stuck, perhaps from having not been moved for a long time.

Inside the box, wrapped in paper was the kit's parts in small zip lock bags. The cast metal crossing and switch plates have been removed from the bags for clarity.

Close up of crossing and switch plates. The metal bars in each component that changes running direction in the turnout are movable. With a little care it should be possible to create a working point for double flanged rolling stock.

The templates for sleeper placing and assembly shows the turnout to end up being 19 cm long which is considerably shorter than my Peco points that measure out at around 30 cm in length. Even if the turnout is short I have nowhere to install it. My current layout takes up all the available room. Consequently the kit's parts go back into bags and box and storage until I have thought out a way to expand the layout to include a little more of the Nystrup Gravel's main line and some of the many funny track arrangements found around the gravel treatment area and the drying facility for Nystrup Gravel's specialised foundry sand 'Multisand'. The 'Multisand' product featured on my 1/35 scale version of Nystrup Gravel, and may make a comeback in 1/19 scale before long?

The kit comes with several drawings and templates for building the turnout. Here the drawing in A3 format.

I have played with different track constructions in 1/19 before and hope to include some of the different types of track that Nystrup Gravel employed on their sidings in the future. I have previously made a short test track with all-wooden track.

Now I'm going back fixing sisal grass and ground cover to the layout - dreaming of an even larger layout in the future!

Thursday 7 December 2023

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is coming! I wish every reader of the blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 2023 has been a comparatively quiet year for Nystrup Gravel. Nevertheless work on the little layout has moved on with decent results. Thanks for your comments and sharing of ideas.

Christmas is a time of traditions and as usual I have created a truely horrid Christmas card. This Christmas it is the Fowler that performs its painful and pityful duty on the card. Perhaps next year things will change... 

I celebrate Christmas with my family and hopefully the holidays will also provide some time to work on the 1:1 scale vintage railway as well as a little 1:19 scale modelling. All in all a quiet and trouble-free Christmas. Not everyone is so fortunate. 

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Sisal Coarse Grass

During a few evenings I have untwined, glued and dyed a handful of sisal rope for some coarse grass. A very simple task and one of the many unstressful railway modelling activities. I used two different dyes - a dark green and a light grey. The light grey sisal strings have worked fine as dry or dead grass in track areas before. Now I want to try them in bigger tufts mixed with dark green ones.

A cruel snapshot with bad lighting to show how the sisal grass looks when newly planted. Small pieces of the foam underground are still lying around on the layout's surface. Once fully dry I adjust height of the tufts and fit more if needed.

I simply cut lengts of 5-7 cm of a string of sisal rope. The pieces of rope are then glued with PVA glue to keep the fibres together. When the glue is dry, the lengths are roughly untwined, dyed and left to dry. They are then further worked to spread out the fibres and cut down to fit the area and position. The tufts are then planted with PVA glue in holes cut in the layout's landscape. Once dry the height of the tufts can be further adjusted and teased out to form clumps of high grass.

Green sisal grass can be seen left of the Lister - to the right a small tuft of grey sisal can just be recognized.

The sisal coarse grass isn't a new method for me. I used it as an experiment on the gradient to the lorry loading ramp in larger lumps for the first time. I think it makes a good contrast to the thin static grass I use for the majority of grassed areas on the layout. I'm still looking to find out how to fit a representation of spikes to the coarse grass. 

Lengths of sisal rope being glued with PVA glue. After drying the individual sisal strings are being untwined to resemble plant strands.

Sisal fibres with light grey dye drying.

Two colours of sisal coarse grass ready to be planted on the layout. 


Thursday 23 November 2023

PD-1 Draisine Finished

With little time for modelling lately I have accomplished very little at the worktable. The only finished item for a long time is the little 1/87 scale Soviet PD-1 draisine from Ukrainian K-models that I have painted and weathered. Calling it finished is actually not quite true as it lacks galzing in the window openings. 

The finished PD-1 draisine seen from the front. 

The painting began with the question of what colour to paint the draisine. The answer wasn't easily found as there has been so many interesting liveries for this type of draisine. I finally decided on a quite conservative green colour with a horizontal orange stripe with details picked out in red. I have another draisine that I'll probably give a heavily weathered, worn and faded paintjob.

Painting is in progress. Lots of faults to correct and parts still needing correct colours. 

With the paint scheme decided I airbrushed a layer of Vallejo 'Deep Green' 70.770 on the upper body taking no notice of eventual overspray. The draisine is a tiny model compared to what I usually work on, so it took a little adjusting of eyesight and aiming before I got a few good thin layers of green on the model. Once dry I painted the orange stripe free hand and touched up the uneven edges with green. The roof was brush painted grey. The roof line may not be quite straight, but I have been comforted by PD-1 prototype images also showing some hamfisted painters' work. Frames and under body were painted in  'Black' 70.950  and 'Dark Grey' 70.994 while fuel tank and cow catcher were picked out in 'Ferrari Red' 71.085.

For numbering I used decals from two old decal sheets from plastic kits of Soviet military vehicle. The numbers were cut and added to the cab's doors and a decal with the text 'люди' (people) fitted on the rear doors to warn approaching vehicles that the draisine could possibly be filled with people rather than clay, peat or minerals. The type of sign was standard on Soviet lorries or vehicles in industry used for passenger transport, although I have never seen it on a rail vehicle.

The large tree illustrates the small size of the narrow gauge draisine.

The yellow sign on the rear doors and the orange stripes adds a bit of variety to the green body. The Ukrainian bicycle parking in the foreground adds a hint as to where in the Soviet Union-area the draisine is working.

Light weathering was applied on top of an overall coverage of satin varnish. Standard wash of heavily diluted black oil paint was followed by added wash of rust and some selcted spot repairs of paint with different tones of green. A draisine with heavier weathering is planned so this was kept rather clean.

The images were taken with my 1/19 scale backdrop as background. The draisine has been a fun project during a time where my time for modelling has been limited. I'm looking forward to begin some projects for the 1/19 scale layout's further development.

A slice of birch is a fitting base for a small Soviet draisine with blue and yellow bicycles left in the grass. 

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Visiting Railways in Sweden and Germany

I have lived through some pretty modelling deprived weeks lately. Work and travelling has prevented progress at worktable and layout. Fortunately some of the travelling has been to railway locations in Sweden and Germany. 

One of the locations in Sweden was particularly interesting as it clearly illustrated why narrow gauge industrial railways were once popular. On a privately owned estate a 600 mm railway with light rails provided transport for timber to a small saw, processing the timber into boards. Short of using a horse to pull out the felled trees, a railway was the only method in an area either hilly or very wet. As trees were cut individually and not 'area harvested' no modern forest machine could navigate the area without destroying neighbouring trees or nature. See the website of the Örkaggans Järnväg here

The railway's loco 4 'Edvin' (Simplex 9335/1948). Today running with a 10 hp Hatz engine. Here seen pulling no less than 3 timber wagons up a considerable gradient.

The railway's owner pouring sand from old oil cans like there was no tomorrow! Wet weather and a healthy growth of moss didn't exactly help traction.


With my own plans of making simple trackwork and my experiments with wooden rails the simple, homemade turnouts on Örkaggans Järnväg obviously caught my attention. The points have no frog and only a single tongue rail present. Simple points very similar have been used on industrial railways in Denmark too, and it was interesting to study working examples in detail.


The trip to Sweden saw me and my mates visiting several other railways. A small selection of images can be viewed on my Flickr site. Captions should enable you to get a resonable idea of what we saw.

A week after my visit to Sweden I was off again exploring railways at the 31. Internationales Feldbahntreffen hosted by Frankfurter Feldbahnmuseum and Feld- und Grubenbahnmuseum Fortuna. With well over 120 participants it's a good to see clubs teaming up for the task. The event took place at Frankfurt for 2 days and the moved on to Grube Fortuna for the last 2 days. Both locations with 600 mm gauge , comparatively short lines, but with many and very friendly volunteers. The amount of well restored and operational locos and rolling stock was equally impressing! More images from the Feldbahntreffen can be viewed at another of my Flickr-folders.

A selection of steam locos in front of 'Lokhalle 1' at Frankfurter Feldbahnmuseum.

Lok 1 (Henschel 23170/1936) from Grube Fortuna visiting Frankfurter Feldbahnmuseum. Here with a lovely train of skips crossing the huge lawn of the Rebstock Park.

Frankfurter lok D 7 (Ruhrthaler 3347/1955) with standard DIN-skips.

In the forest near Grube Fortuna: loco 28 (Deutz 5464/1927) type MLH228 with a short train of underground skips.

Hand-over of the traditional bar sign from the German hosts to next year's hosts from the Hedeland vintage railway, Denmark. The ceremony took place in front of O&K 9244/1921.

With eight days of narrow gauge trainspotting in 3 weeks what passes for normality has set in again. I'm having one of the H0e Soviet PD-1 draisines set up ready for air brushing before I will be devoting more time for my main 1/19 scale effort. 

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Mining Equipment in 1/87 Scale

With my intial diorama experiments in 1/87 having been quite satisfying I have been making minor additional investments in track and machinery in the scale. As I had to buy a length of track for the small circular diorama, I bought a variety of Code 55 points and track in 9 mm gauge for a future larger diorama in the scale. To accompany the Э-652б dragline excavator from Ukrainian K-Models I thought some underground mining equipment would look good next to a 750 mm siding. Fortunately a German company, Micro_Miners has taken up the production of mining equipment. 

'That's not a 1/87 scale skip' you might say, but look carefully. The 1/87 skip is on the sleeper next to the 1/19 scale skip's right wheel. The 1/19 skip is 8 cm in length whereas the 1/87 one is barely 1,5 cm!

The models from Micro_Miners from Germany are a relatively new and highly detailed range of 3D printed models depicting equipment from the mining industry in DDR (East Germany). Even if the state fell apart and 'closed' in 1990 many of the machines produced in DDR for mining and industry were considered state of the art in the communist world. There is no denying that some of the designs looked decidedly 'cool'.

Two mining vehicles on tires in 1/87 scale. Photo: Micro_Miners' web site.

The following items were delivered swiftly and professionally packed:

8 'Hunte 0,63 m³' 

12 'Stapelboxen/Lagercontainer'

1 'Gleisbohrwagen SBKNS-2'

1 'Universalfahrlader UL 2/1'

1 'Wurfschaufellader LWS160' 

The 'Wurfschaufellader' (overhead loader) in the box was quite a surprise as I hadn't ordered one! It may have been sent to Denmark by a mistake or simply as a generous gesture by Micro_Miners with the added benefit of filling the cardboard box completely?

Good and sturdy cardboard boxes protects the small and delicate kits from hard handling.

A novel way of shipping fragile items. Hot glued to the bottom of the box avoids using huge amounts of plastic wrapping to protect the kits and the parts don't rattle about in the box. 

As the first image illustrates, the skip models are extremely small in comparison with my usual 1/19 scale models. A 1/87 0,63 m³ mine skip is only 1,5 cm long and 1,4 cm high with a width of 8 mm. To say that the models are tiny and fragile looking is an understatement!

My skips came 4 to a box. I have only separated one mine skip from the supports that carry the model during the 3D printing process. Separating the model from the supports seemed a daunting task, but with a little care and a sharp scalpel it worked out quite easy. The resin is surprisingly strong and I broke nothing on the little mine skip, despite my expectation of damage.

I'm not going to explore these little models more for the time being. The tiny skip will be wrapped in thin paper and packed away. The large scale model railway needs attention. Through my modelling I have learned that when nice models appear on the market it is wise to buy while one can. With small (sometimes enthusiast run) manufacturers the models may soon be impossible to source. Particularly 3D printed items that are often only printed on demand. My advise is: If you see something you like buy it (if you can afford it, of course).

One mine skip ready for separating from the supports.

As the model is completely in 3D printed resin the wheels don't turn and the model is for static use only. All major details from the prototype is present on the model - even couplings and the small handles for hand pushing in the mine galleries!

A rear view of a 1/87 mine skip showing the level of detail possible with modern 3D printers.

Thursday 14 September 2023

Progress in Small Scale

In March I bought some 1/87 scale models of Soviet designed vehicles from a Ukrainian manufacturer. I started work on them, but got sidetracked by my main modelling effort, the 1/19 scale Nystrup Gravel. I have now dug out the models from their cardboard box and begun a small test diorama. Work is progressing again.  

Circular diorama ready for a 1/87 draisine.

It was my plan to build a small circular diorama for one of the PD-1 draisines. I used a slice of birch tree trunk with a diameter of ca. 10 cm. I picked birch because it was easy to source and because it is a signature tree for many of the northern parts of the draisines' typical habitat: Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Track bed and landscape contours were made from foam board and a length of homemade 9 mm gauge track soldered up from copper clad sleepers and Code 100 rail profile. The track turned out less than satisfactory both visually and funtionally. The track was ripped up and replaced with a length of PECO code 55 N-scale track with most of the plastic sleepers removed. 

I tried to solder my own 9 mm gauge track on copper clad sleepers. My precision that day was probably adequate for 1/19, but not for 1/87! The Code 100 rail I used was also far too heavy. Start again!

With the diorama's diminutive size the ground work was fast accomplished. Rails painted rust, used ground coffee for earth and sieved gravel for ballast. Earth colours were slightly toned with diluted acrylic paint. 

Code 55 track glued in place. Landscape built up and prepared for mounting of a tree.

Ground texture and ballast glued on and treated with diluted paint. Hole for tree showing up in white.

With the ground textures dry, I added a few grass tufts before I attached the tree. The tree is the dominating element in the diorama and is supposed to highlight the small size of narrow gauge railways. The tree is a handmade commercially available product bought several years ago from German GATRA Modellbau Union. The tree was glued in place with AC-glue. Where the tree trunk meets the ground I built up a nice smooth transition with white glue and scatter material. Then crushed birch seeds were glued down immidiately under the tree representing dead leaves. When resonably dry I added static grass. In front of the track I used 2 and 4 mm fibres in two green colours. Behind the track I used 4 mm green and a mix of 12 mm green and straw. 

When the glue had dried I cleaned away the loose grass fibres and cut the top off those fibres I judged too high. Finally I sanded the edges of the exposed foam board and painted the areas in an earth colour. Once dry I could remove the masking tape and reveal the birch bark.

With tree and static grass added the mini diorama is basically finished. Effective construction time has probably not been more than 30 minutes. It's obvious that it is a much smaller scale than 1/19!

I'm now viewing a lot of images of PD-1 draisines to decide a livery for the model to be displayed on the mini-diorama.