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.