Tuesday 27 February 2024

Self-propelled Skip

The variety of vehicles on narrow gauge industrial railways is enormous! From huge locos to the tiniest being basically nothing but motorised skips. With two large locos on their way into service on Nystrup Gravel I looked for a quick way to balance the Fowler and Baguley-Drewry. I could hardly think of a better way than transferring a resonably sum to Loco Remote for their recently designed and produced 3D printed 'Planet' 6 hp motorised skip.

Loco Remote image of assembled 'Planet' motorised skip. A small and simple kit of a unique prototype that fits very well on a small 1/19 scale layout like Nystrup Gravel.

Several Danish industrial railways used self-propelled skips for smaller tasks. On one railway the motorised skip was the only form of mechanical traction present. On the waste processing plant in the Danish town Thisted a small 600 mm railway transported household waste on a short track. The motorised skip was probably homebuilt by adding a lawn mower engine to a standard steel skip with chain drive to one axle. Contrary to the factory made 'Planet' skip, no dedicated place for the driver was provided. When driving he simply stood next to the engine on the skip's frame.

ILO lawn mower engine mounted on a lengthened skip at the waste processing plant in Thisted. Photo: S. A. Guldvang, 1972.

Engine and transmission seen from above. The rebuild only allowed coupling at the rear of the motorised skip. Photo: S. A. Guldvang, 1972.

The kit arrived packed in a sturdy box with no damage from the transport. The kit includes everything you need to build a running model of the 'Planet' skip except for a battery. The Loco Remote website gives good advise on which battery to buy for a perfect fit in the battery mounting under the skip. Print quality varies from fine to relatively coarse. Fortunately the coarse printing is mostly appearing on parts rather hidden in the finished model or in places where the surface irregularities are easily sanded smooth. The only real challenge is on some of the frame parts, where the layers of the printing are clearly visible. I will have to deal with those in the build process. When ordering the kit I had to choose a version of a vehicle equipped either with a standard V-skip or a wooden cargo box. My model will be with a skip assembly, and as usual I will add and replace detail on the kit. Expect my model to feature metal spring for the axle boxes, rebuilt floor under the skip body, detailed driver's position as well as added bolt and rivet detail.  

What I found in the kit's box (except for 5 box parts to the left). Here in a very orderly spread-out arranged and photographed by Loco Remote.

Frame part with coarsely lined surface from the printing process and driver's 'cab' with only minimal traces of the printing.

Included in the box was a custom designed driver made by David Clavey. Named 'Ben' the figure has been made to specifically fit the skip's driver's seat and controls. Despite the figure not looking as detailed as Modelu's scanned and 3D printed figures I ordered it anyway. Having now examined the figure and the two different heads accompanying it, I'm glad I made the purchase. The quality is far better than the images circulating of it online. I will still be refining the figure a little (particularly around the pelvis and legs) but having a starting point where legs and arms actually fit the model and facial detail is quite good is an excellent opportunity I'm glad I didn't miss. You can see David's figures here.

The David Clavey figure for the 'Planet' with different heads.

Currently I'm designing and building the cab interior for the Fowler and adding ballast and ground cover on the layout. I'll be ordering a battery (or two) and possibly a charger so I'm ready for building the little vehicle once the other things are out of the way.

In the box from Loco Remote was also a complete 1/19 scale 32 mm gauge 3D printed railway for exhibition purposes. More on the steel sleepered track panels in a later post.

Friday 23 February 2024

UFO Mothership

Back in august 2023 I took some hours off from serious modelling and built two UFO's for a quick fly-by over Nystrup Gravel. In need of a refreshing change from 1950's era modelling I have now finished the drones' mothership. Not a fancy flying one, but a humble Lada Niva model 1980 in Ukrainian pixel camouflage. Basically a simple repainting job to make the car match the drones and highlight that Russia''s full scale invasion of Ukraine has now been going on for 2 years. 

The finshed Ukrainian army Lada Niva parked across a narrow gauge line.

The Lada Niva was the world's first mass-produced off-road vehicle with a unibody construction. The Niva was initially aimed at the rural market much like the Land Rover, but later models also targeted urban users. As many other less than high profile car models the Lada has received cult status in certain sub-cultures exactly like the East German Trabant and IFA-lorry. 

The versatility of the Niva is shown to great effect here. A practical use of bonnet design enabeling long branches to be carried with no fuss.

The base for my model of the drone mothership is the Solido Lada Niva 'Vagabund' model 1980 in 1/18 scale. The model depicts a sporty version of the Niva without bumpers and with an added roof rack for storing equipment. Made in a heavy metal casting the detail is a bit soft, but shape and general design looks very fine. Details like mirrors and windshield wipers are made in soft plastic that makes them a bit more resilient to snapping than details in hard plastic (that on the other hand often looks better).

Straight out of the box and onto the layout for photography. The Niva crosses the tracks quite easily due to its high gound clearance.

First step in my conversion was to disassemble the car into four main assemblies: roof rack, interior, chassis and body. All markings on the body were removed with a cloth with acetone. Even if the body was to receive several layers of paint I was afraid that the printed markings could show through. Better safe than sorry. The rear lights and windows were masked with Tamiya masking tape while the head lights were simply removed. I only masked the windows and left the rubber edging free for over spraying.

The first layer of new paint was a black primer to make sure later paint would adhere properly. With smal squares of masking tape I built up the black part of the characteristic pixel camouflage. With the black squares in place I air brushed a light sand over the car and when dry, masked the formations to stand out in light sand. Then I air brushed a light green over the model and once that layer had dried I masked the squares to stand out in light green before I covered everything in dark green. After drying the camouflage masking was removed with tweezers. I kept the masking on windows and rear lights. After cleaning up a few edges on the camouflage pattern, I air brushed a layer of matt varnish over the body and finished with some light dusting of the lower parts with a light earth colour.

The model disassembled in four major assemblies.

The light sand paint is drying. The masked black areas can be made out around the door.

The camouflage masking squares have been removed. Some of the edges will have to be cleaned up by brush as paint has crept under the edges of the tape in places. Overall an acceptable result for a quick job.

The interior received a few quick bursts with two earth coloured paints through the air brush. I washed the floor with heavily diluted brown oil paint. The seats received a little air brushed wear. I added some fibre grass on the floor and in the trunk. Some card board from discarded boxes was glued to floor and seats and a shovel thrown on top. In the trunk some plastic tube painted olive drab partly covered with a tarpaulin from copper foil might just look like M 72 LAW anti tank weapons seen through the windows.

Interior before the body is mounted and fastened. A few minutes of adding detail helps add some realism to the interior.

Bringing much needed LAWs to the brothers in the front line.

I removed the jerry cans on the roof rack and disguised the holes left by their mountings with a rolled up camouflage net. I rolled some first aid gauze around a little block of styrofoam and soaked it in diluted white glue. While the glue was still wet I placed strips of white paper randomly on the roll. Once fully dried the roll was painted dark green and the paper strips picked out in different shades of greens. 

Finally I removed the masking on windows and rear lights and painted three white crosses as recognition markings. Then I gave the car a wash of heavily diluted black oil paint. After the wash had dried, I air brushed another layer of dust over the car. Finally I fitted the front lights and painted some scratches with a light green colour on exposed locations on the car. These small cars receive a beating near the front lines. The roof rack was fixed in place and the car ready for display.

Southern Ukraine is flat and criss-crossed by tree lines.

Despite the camo repaint in a Ukrainian garage, the guys painting the Lada left the logo intact. The spot light cover is a reminder of happier times...

Drone in the air!

One of the sub-cultures that have taken the Niva to heart are the supporters of hardbass music. A lovely Niva with Adidas-stripes feature in the music video to the tune 'Slav King'. See the video here and remember to turn sound on to enjoy a few minutes of hardbass!

The ever popular Adidas stripes have spread to the Niva! 'Boris' on his ride in true gopnik squat-style.

While the Niva has been a fun modelling project the war in Ukraine is bloody and cruel. Think about that while sitting at your cozy worktable modelling. You may even be able to donate a small sum for some much needed humanitarian help to Ukrainians rather than adding another kit to the stash of unbuilt models?

Monday 12 February 2024

IKEA Vegetation on Nystrup Gravel?

I have used natural materials and commercially available moddeling products for ground cover and vegetation. Now I have begun to consider using some of the artificial plant products made for interior decoration. For the time being I'm experimenting with a product from IKEA.

New vegetation has conquered a corner of the Nystrup layout. But only for a short time. If accepted the vegetation will move elsewere.

The challenge of finding grass and rush-like vegetation large enough for 16 mm scale has recently made me study the artificial plants' section in IKEA more closely than ever before. I have brought home a simple product of long grassy looking plastic fibres mounted in a rectangular piece of dark plastic fitted into a white plastic open-topped box. 

The plastic grass leaves are far too high for 1/19 scale and vill have to be cut down before they are mounted in the layout's surface. For experimental purposes I have fitted the plastic grass near the layout's edge to find out if the result is credible enough to continue working on. 

IKEA photo of the FEJKA artificial grass.

Have you had any experience with artificial plants on your 16 mm scale layout? Please leave a comment in the comments' section below or write an e-mail to the company mail nystrupgravel@gmail.com

Sunday 4 February 2024

Fowler Exterior Detailing

With the Fowler locomotive finally equipped with remote control and moving along the track on my little layout I have now begun fitting details to the rather sparsely detailed model. I have planned to do this in two major stages: the loco's general exterior and cab interior. I decided to do the exterior detailing first. 

The Fowler pulling out of the gravel works heading east with four skips.

I wasn't aiming for all out fine scale detailing, but wanted to add an extra level of detail to the loco as it looked rather bare in its out of the box condition. I added the following parts:

  • strapping on bonnet and gear box cover
  • bolt heads on radiator
  • L-profiles with bolt heads under footplate
  • bolt head detail on frame sides
  • hand rails and handles on bonnet doors
  • bolt heads on jackshaft cranks
  • adding horn and brackets for jack

Exterior detailing in progress. Metal strapping in the form of plastic strips fitted with AC glue. Behind the Fowler a for-fun Lada Niva project is just visible in black primer.

Strapping was added with plastic strip and L-profile superglued in place. Where needed I added bolt heads from slices of hexagonal plastic profile. Small gaps were filled with Vallejo plastic putty and sanded smooth. Bolt head details on the frames were added using the same hexagonal profile. 

Handles and hand rails were made from 1 mm NS wire AC-glued in holes drilled in bonnet and gearbox cover. I used flat nosed pilers to get 90 degrees bends on the hand rails and a small drilling jig to get the correct distance between the holes I drilled for mounting the hand rails.

Most trains at Nystrup Gravel experienced derailments now and then and a jack, some blocks of wood and a length of rail was standard equipment for derailing work. Archive images of the Fowler in service shows a large jack positioned on the right side of the bonnet with wooden blocks being kept ready under the cab floor on the left hand side. I fitted a large former German Army issue jack in a bracket on the loco's right side. Bottom plate and bracket was cut from NS plate and bent in appropriate shapes. 

The jack placed in its bottom plate and bracket locked in position with a piece of bent wire. The jack was built from a whitemetal kit in 2019 originally meant for another project, but judged far too big.

The horn is a brass casting from the trade supplying ship modellers with parts. There are quite a few nice items from that area of modelling that can be put to good use in large scale railway modelling. The horn was mounted in a hole drilled in the cab roof. I mounted it in a crooked angle to illustrate the loco's age and well used condition in the beginning of the 1950's.

The horn glued in place on the roof of the loco. The slight crookedness is a sign of many years of service and some worn bolts working themselves loose during running on the line's uneven track.

In total no less than 98 exterior detail parts were added, by far the majority being bolt heads. The details may not be particularly obvious once the model is repainted, but I think it adds to the overall appearance of the model.  

View of the unfinished loco's right side. I removed the Essel Engineering's building plates from the cabsides. One of them will be fitted out of sight inside the loco. 

With the main exterior detailing finished I assembled the locomotive and took it for a ride on the layout. Next task on the Fowler is the cab interior that will include brake, regulator and gear levers, basic instrumentation and sand boxes. Oh, and the bolts on the jackshaft cranks that I forgot to fit.

Shortly before bedtime I couldn't resist taking the Fowler for a little running on the layout. Just to keep the appetite for a completely finished model intact.