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. 

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Plank Road at Lorry Ramp

With the recent adding of grass near the loading ramp the only 'naked' areas remaining on the segment was the road area below the ramp as well as a short piece of track lacking ballast. The plank road under the ramp's chute needed lengthening and the rest of the road area covering with a suitable mix of sieved gravel. That work has now been finished (as if a model railway is ever finished!).

Current status at the lorry loading ramp at Nystrup Gravel. Ground work is finished as far as plank road and gravel surface concerns. I still haven't got a lorry to display and the Ferguson acts as replacement vehicle.

With a mix of differently sized grey stained planks produced, they were glued to the layout's surface. Some withered grass tufts were placed up against the plank retaining wall under the chute. A few green tufts were placed at the end of the loading area to illustrate a more humid ground. A few black spots were painted on the layout surface. They are the beginning of some small waterfilled potholes I plan to install. If they don't come out as expected they can easily be filled in.

The stained planks have been glued in place under the loading ramp's chute. The planks helped avoid lorries getting stuck in rainy weather and wet conditions. The plank road is known from several Danish industrial railway locations and Nystrup Gravel naturally used the method too.

A first layer of gravel and sand in differing tones was spread over the loading area with a plastic spoon. I decided to keep the gravel quite level without the ruts many modellers would have created in a similar area. I have gone with a quite subtle level of uneveness. More can always be added if I decide to. A few dead leaves were scattered where they would assemble due to wind and traffic. As usual the gravel was glued with diluted white glue.

The first layer of gravel and sand in differing tones is being glued down. I use a syringe loaded with a mix of PVA glue, water and washing up liquid. It's Friday afternoon and I enjoy a glass of homemade grape juice with vodka and sparkling water - always add a level area the size of a glass on each layout segment!

The next task at the loading area will be working with the colours of the gravel layer and work on the puddles.

Despite the amounts of gravel loaded into lorries the loading ramp at Nystrup Gravel was a cramped location. Lorries had to reverse under the chute with not much room for manoeuvering.

Thursday 7 September 2023

Excavator in 1/19 Scale?

In 1/35 scale I had two excavators for my Nystrup Gravel layout. I never had anywhere to display them, as I didn't get to build a gravel pit module, so they were usually only used on special photo occasions. I presented the models and the history of Nystrup Gravel excavators on the blog 10 years ago. It's hard to imagine a gravel company without at least one excavator and I have to find a way to build or acquire one in 1/19 scale. The problem is that excavators are rather large machines...

The Menck M 60 in 1/35 scale was a large and complicated model. Both regarding building and displaying. Here I have carefully transported the model out in a real 1:1 scale gravel pit.

With both my Menck and Ruston & Bucyrus excavators beeing large and rather complex models in 1/35 scale I have been rather sceptical regarding the chances of having an excavator in 1/19 scale. There is nothing scale like commercially available and scratch building even a small excavator like an Ruston & Bucyrus RB-10 seems like a lot of work (although I know talented modellers have done it).

Recently I got a hint from a friend sending me an image of a lorry based excavator. A simple lattice boom with clam shell bucket mounted on a cut-down cab-less lorry chassis. Surely not an excavator for a high production output, but sufficient for extracting that high quality gravel in a corner of the gravel pit.

A model of the excavator could be made from a rebuilt die-cast Ford A pick-up with a lattice boom constructed from soldered brass profiles. The difficult part in creating a model of the ungainly excavator will probably be how to establish the details of operation: was parts of the excavator's functions motorized through the lorry's engine and how was the cabeling and pivoting arranged. I'll try to figure that out by closer study of the image.

Loading skips with sand at the Alslev gravel works. The two-skip train is pulled by a locomotive from Nagbøl Machine Works. Photo: Alslev Sognearkiv B20314.