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. 

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