Wednesday, 14 February 2018

DT-74 Painting Begun

Despite my somewhat disappointing mixing up of suspension parts, I have carried on working on the DT-74 tractor.

The usually tedious work of cleaning up individual track links were over faster than anticipated due to good moulding and very little flash. Fitting tracks made from individual links can be a little tricky. The bottom run is the easy part, whereas the upper run, particularly with the track sagging, is more difficult. I kept the upper track run in one piece with a length of masking tape. The masking tape allowed me to position the track links more or less as I wanted them, without them falling apart. The tracks were glued with CA glue. 
Track fitted. Engine and dozer blade test fitted to check fit and clearances to other parts.
Engine and drive train consists of only a few parts. Assembly is easy, but make sure everything lines up correctly. As only one side of the engine will be visible I didn't attatch details to the hidden side of the engine. I don't bother spending time and energy with detail that can't be viewed on a model. I feed the unused parts to my spares box.

Assembly of the dozer blade and its mounting didn't present any challenges except for the repair of a broken beam on the bracket holding the hydraulic cylinder controlling the blade height. In order to assemble the cab in a sequence allowing easy painting and weathering, I decided to finish the cab floor assembly first and paint it. I will then glue the pre-painted cab front to the floor. The rest of the cab is only fitted when finishing the kit.
As I separated the seat from its moulding block I damaged the front. I had to repair the damage with plasticcard and filler. I added a little wear to the seat now I was working on the part anyway. For the pedals I exhanged some of the etched parts with brass wire.

Current status is that I have primed chassis and tracks, cab floor, and engine parts. Several of the parts are also now covered with their main colour. Next up is detail painting and weathering. I'm painting the model in 5-6 sub assemblies to make it easier to fit and paint interior detail and to apply a prototypical weathering of all the 'hard to get to places' there is on the model. I expect some touch ups of both paint and weathering after I have brought all assemblies together.
First paint on the tractor. All of it put on with air brush.

Basic weathering applied to the inside of the chassis and on the cab's and engine's underside. The three parts are now ready to be glued together.
Engine, cab floor and radiator fitted to the chassis. The dark grey piece of solder wire is the hydraulic hose supplying oil to the dozer blade lifting mechanism. As this side of the engine will be hidden there is no detail fitted.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Soldiers Painted

During some quiet evenings I have been painting my two sitting conscripts. They are now ready to take their place among the army personel stationed at the barracks near Nystrup.
Three soldiers enjoying a relaxing chat in front of their CMP. The CMP is the old and cheap Italeri kit rebuilt with a generator unit. Newer and more detailed 1:35 CMP-kits have been released since I built my model.
The figures are painted in my usual fashion which I consider a sensible compromise between the ultra realistic (and time consuming) and a simple swipe with the brush. I have neither the talent nor the patience for ultra realism and I have never considered just slapping paint on figures costing a small fortune. I'm investing a few hours per figure and although it's limited what results that brings, I'm happy to live with that. Basically I start with putting all the main colours on the figure after I have primed it - usually in black primer. I use Vallejo acrylics. Once the major colours are on (the main pieces of clothing and skin), I paint shadows and highlights with darkened/lightened versions of the main colours. A fold in a pair of trousers gets the dark mix in the recess and the light mix on the top of the fold. I try to keep the tonal difference limited, but it's easy to overdo. On hands I highlight knuckles and on the face nose, forehead, cheeks and chin. Usually I don't paint eyes. Instead I flow thinned brown oil paint into recesses in the face - eg around the eyes. When all is dry I wash skin areas in a very thin mix of rust oil paint and terpentine. That blends the skin colours together. I paint details when all other things are done - shoes, hats, ties atc. Sometimes I add a little weathering on shoes and on work clothing.

Their mate gone, the two sitting soldiers continue debating if the regiment's cooks can serve a decent hot meal in the evening. They will continue for as long as allowed.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Fiddle Yard Planning

As half my fiddle yard for Nystrup Gravel has been swallowed up by progress (being used to build Banke's Bakelite) I'm currently without anywhere to store trains with my modules set up in exhibition mode. Consequently I have been wondering how to design a new yard.
A full fiddle yard showing the very limited facilities. A new one doesn't need to be larger, but I consider adding a bit more protection in the form of a clear vinyl screen towards the viewing side.

My old fiddle yard was two naked 80 cm modules with four tracks fanning out from a set of points - a very primitive affair with trains stored in full view. At exhibitions I have observed that many visitors spent almost as long time at my fiddle yard as at my landscaped modules. While that could be due to my old fashioned landscaping abilities, I choose to think it's because they like to see the stored trains. As I wouldn't dream of hiding trains from viewers I have been playing with the idea of keeping my fiddle yard open for viewing. I have even thought of ballasting the yard to avoid my stock being photographed in the 'bare wastes of plywood'. As I like to have a firm connection to prototype practise, my problem was that I hadn't been able to find a Danish industrial narrow gauge railway with four long parallel tracks arranged like a fiddle yard. Until today.
Aerial photograph of 700 mm gauge holding tracks north of Saxkøbing sugar factory in May 1954.The tracks have an estimated capacity of over 200 bogie wagons, each track having a length of approximately 275 m. The tracks are nearly full as not many wagons were in use outside the beet harvesting season from September to January. This real life fiddle yard was accessed by a triangular track layout allowing easy pick up of wagons from two directions. The sugar factory was located south of the road in the bottom of the image.
With the four track fiddle yard from Saxkøbing in mind I will carry on planning my new semi-landscaped fiddle yard. I consider adding a vinyl screen to provide a mimimum of protection.

The aerial photo above is one of a total of 42.700 taken in May 1954 covering all of Denmark.  The images were captured with the best equipment available to the British RAF from a height of 4500 ft. The complete collection is easily browsable on the internet. Get your own view of Saxkøbing sugar factory here and notice how you can compare with a current air (sattelite) view of the same area.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Roller Bearings

Well, not really modelling stuff. But on second thoughts no respectable modeller tries to model an item without knowing how it works? Well I do sometimes, but mostly I try to get the basic facts clear. The research I invest in most of my projects is great fun and sometimes a challenge as big as the actual modelling.

Of course the internet and the nearest public library is of great help, but my own collection of books on old technology is also a valuable source of information. For those not obsessed with building up one's own library, many public archives are in the proces of uploading books and images online for free browsing. If in doubt you can always consult an online modelling forum for help. 

A book on SKF ball and roller bearings. A nice introduction to the multitude of products from the Swedish Company. My example is from 1958.

An advertisement for SKF ball bearings from a Danish engineering magazine, 1945.
Another SKF item. A black leather box...

...lined with blue velvet containing five examples of what SKF was capable of producing. I imagine the box has been presented to a particularly good customer by the SKF salesman. Not as useful as the book, but it makes me think of how much times have changed since the fifties.

Monday, 8 January 2018

First Progress in 2018

Having done little modelling up to the end of 2017, I'm now beginning to make progress on the tracked tractor from Balaton Modell. I have the suspension units and running gear in place and have readied all track links for fitting. Engine and drive train is also ready to be fitted.
The DT-74 on all its 16 wheels sitting on my somewhat scarred cutting mat. Unfortunatly I should have paid better attention to the instructions and my archive material...I misplaced two of the suspension units. Despite the fault I'll carry on the build. I guess it would be possible to fit the units wrong in real life.

An educational poster of the DT-75's running gear. On the DT-74 a single suspension unit could be used on all four positions on the tractor. A way to cut down the number of unique parts in the tractor and simplify construction and logistics. Also a way to confuse modellers how to hand the units as I mixed up the front suspension units.

To overcome the dissapointment of not being able to assemble a simple kit correctly, I turned to painting a few 1:35 figures. They have been tucked away for years in a box without getting worked on. Now they are finally in a process of being finished.
I started the figures in December 2013 as part of a military lorry project. Contrary to the lorry I never finished the figures. Both are from Ultracast (figures 35011 and 35036).

Saturday, 30 December 2017

A Review of 2017

2017 has been a year of much varying activity modelling wise. I was off to a great start with several finished models and a module being completed. May was spent entirely on the 700 mm gauge heritage railway I volunteer on. I picked up modelling again during summer and started some new projects. I had great running sessions on my modules during September and October. Since then I have only managed to finish one project. The number of blog posts reflects that quite clearly: My blog is leaving 2017 with a count of 35 posts. Compared to the past four years where the blog has very consistently been reaching into middle or late 40's it's considerable less. Fortunately you readers have been faithfully following the blog as the visitor statistics aren't showing any decline. Probably the blog's many old posts are still found interesting enough to be read.
I had the chance to play trains for quite some time this year. The Fowler was given some intensive running on the 3.2 m railway I'm the proud owner of. Here the Fowler is operating outside in the garden on a temporary module set up. A huge advantage with modules: you can bring them everywhere!

I finished my fourth module representing the bakelite factory in Nystrup. The idea was to represent the section of the gravel railway winding itself through Nystrup's small industrial district. With the room I have available for modelling and storing models and modules a model of that section in 1:35 scale can of course only be of a very short length. I like the contrast to my more rural modules and I have now begun to wonder how my next module is going to look.
The Land Rover from Nystrup's volunteer fire brigade parked in front of Banke's Bakelite.

I had for a long time searched for the elusive Roadcraft Land Rover fire tender kit. I found it and finished building it in 2017. A great kit with a great potential for extra detailing. I built it mostly out of the box, though, only adding a fire man's helmet and other small parts. One week later I had the locomotive jacks from Blitz finished and delivered by heavy load trailer to the loco shed in Nystrup.

In the beginning of the year my model of an old Danish Alpha E 10 loco rolled off the worktable. A peculiar loco and not remotely connected to 'Danish design' so famous for its "simple, elegant and pure characteristics". Although in the case of the E 10 'simple' seems to fit! With a huge '1' on all four sides it clearly shows itself as Nystrup Gravel's first loco.

This year I had the great fortune to help celebrate two anniversaries at the heritage railway where I work as a volunteer. One was the 40. anniversary of the railway itself in May and the 50. anniversary of the closure of the last Danish sugar beet railway in December. On HVB we are fortunate to have a small selection of locos and rolling stock from the sugar beet railways and could form a small train of open beet wagons. Two trains followed the beet train, allowing visiting enthusiasts to take part in several photo sessions along the line.
The sugar beet train is on its way home after the 50. anniversary running. The sun is setting and the train is fitted with petroleum lamps and the small red rear end signal.
Mentioning railway enthusiasts I created my own two enthusiasts visiting Nystrup Gravel in 2017. I thought it appropriate to honour the first enthusiasts that have documented so many things gone today. Whether you are a surviving pioneer or a complete newcomer to the railway hobby I wish you a Happy New Year and all the best in 2018!
"Wasn't it around three o'clock the train was due here at the loco shed?" Well, you never quite knows with industrial railways. Surely the two enthusiasts will see something interesting if they wait long enough.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Nystrup's East German 'Twin'

I've been somewhat quiet modelling wise for a few weeks. Some of the time has been spent on going through the papers and photographs of Nystrup Gravel's cheif mechanic Thorleif Petersen. Some of the information made me want to build a model from an East German company - the VEB Klinker- und Ziegelwerke "Ernst Wollweber". Thorleif had a special affiliation with that company and visited it many times during his trips to DDR.

Box top illustration of Balaton Modell kit no BM3545. The Wollweber company had a Soviet built tractor with dozer blade of the DT 74-type.

The resin kit is well designed and cast. A look at the one-piece casting of the tractor's engine should confirm that. 
The parts of the tractor are well cast: no air bubbles and very limited mould lines. The majority of them separate well from their casting sprues. What I find amazing is the fit of the parts. It takes very little work to make the parts ready for assembly. The suspension assemblies fit together with no preparation straight from their sprues - just like a high quality plastic injection kit. Currently I'm ready to fit wheels and suspension units. 

Frames and final drives assembled and ready for suspension units and wheels. Two suspension units to the left.

Individual track links during assembly into track runs. The fit of the links are next to perfect. 

Judging from some of the papers Thorleif's travelling to and from DDR had to do with his memebership of the Danish Communist Party. As a young man Thorleif went to fight in the Spanish civil war as a volunteer. He kept his socialist preferences and was part of a communist resistance group fighting the Germans around Nystrup. He attended several party schools in DDR and took some engineering courses in Karl Marx Stadt as well.  

Among Thorleif's stuff I found this small badge from the 1959 May 1 celebrations in DDR - the communist German Democratic Republic. Inside the same envelope was a letter from the top management of the Baustoffe und Klinker Kombinat wishing him a 'socialist May 1'.