Monday, April 23, 2018

Joinerless joints for a quicker set up.

For display layouts made up of many small sections, installing the connecting tracks is one of the most time consuming and tedious jobs.  Back in the 2014 post "We don't need no stinkin rail joiners" I presented how the track connection between the Hot Springs Junction module and the small extension module was being made without using rail joiners. 

Following the success of that single track connection, I then added a double track version of this when I built the 2 Meter module to extend the Musashi-Koyama module set.  This has now been used a few times with continued success.

Prior to our most recent layout Paul had also changed the interface between the 2 sections of his Shifen Station module set.  This interface has 3 tracks and again we had good success with it.   That area is shown here before the interface was modified.
We decided at this show that we are now ready to take the next step of modifying all of the module track interfaces to joiner-less.  As I am laying new track on the Kaigan module it was laid right to the edge of the module.

I built this small module to use as a standard to align both the length of the rails and the alignment.
I placed 2 tracks on my standards module with the tracks spaced 25.5mm apart which is the AsiaNrail standard for double track.

In this photo the blue arrows point out the right hand rail on each track.   Hopefully we can have these all done before our next layout setup.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Concept for the new curved module

With the Musashi-Koyama modules and my American Prototype home layout being ongoing projects it would seem like starting another module is crazy.   Sometimes for me having something small to work on and actually completing is needed to get re-focused on the bigger projects.

I have had several ideas for this pair of skinny modules with 45 degree curved tracks but decided to use the ones that would take advantage of the depth of the module frames.

On this first one I wanted to create a scene of a rail line that closely follows the coast line.  The geography of Japan requires that many of the coastal rail lines do this.  This will be simple, with a single track and no structures.  I am calling this the Kaigan module which in Japanese means shore or coast.

In this photo I have cut away a section on the inside of the curve and added a new bottom from a scrap of Masonite.  This will be an area where there has perhaps been some erosion or landslides so will get some tetra-pods and rock to prevent future problems.
New Masonite fascias have been added to both sides.  The one on the inside of the curve is to allow for a bit of a lip to hold the Envriotex I am using to simulate the water and on the outside of the curve is a higher profile to support the hillsides the will be built up there.


The legs have received a coat of black semi-gloss enamel and the module frame a coat of primer.  New cork roadbed has also been installed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Starting a new AsiaNrail module

With the 9 day long Hiller exhibit now behind us, I have started on a new module project.  This is not exactly a "new" module and is actually quite old, let me explain.

Back in the 1970's Jim Fitzgerald, Paul Ingraham, and a few others here in the SF Bay area had a modular layout standard they called "Interail".  The dimensions were metric, and Paul's AsiaNrail module standards that we are currently using borrow some parts of the Interail standard.   From Paul's memory they had set up this Interail layout about 10 or 12 times including at the NMRA National Train Shows in Calgary in 1979 and in San Mateo in 1981.

A few of Paul's current AsiaNrail modules had originally been Interail modules and he had a pair of old Interail modules that had originally been built by Jim that he gave to me.

This is one of Jim's old Interail modules.  The modules are in metric dimensions.  They have a 22.5 degree angle on each end and if put together can make a 90 degree turn.



The first order of business to bring these old modules back to life was to give them legs.  These legs would need to adjust in height between the two heights we use on the AsiaNrail layout.  I had not made legs for this narrow of a module before but had some experience with legs for narrow modules from helping Paul set up his modules.

I decided on a design that uses pairs of 2 inch wide strips of cabinet grade plywood that are held together by 1/4-20 bolts.  The upper sections have 2 holes with Tee nuts set 8 inches apart while the lower sections have 3 holes set 8 inches apart.  To raise or lower the legs, different holes on the lower sections are used.
The first photo showed the legs at the 43.125 inch height.  This second photo shows the same set of legs raised to support the module at a 51 inch height which is the normal for AsiaNrail.  The cross supports on the top and bottom are bolted to the legs with 1/4-20 bolts into Tee nuts that are on 1/2 inch thick plywood wings that are attached to the leg sections.

For leveling and fine height adjustments, there are four 5/16-18 bolts on the bottom feet.
When not set up the pieces are re-assembled into a storage configuration with the leg sections being sandwiched between the cross supports.
Here is the module up on it's new legs.  There is not much on either of these modules except for code 80 track and lots of old ground foam scenery.  I have some plans for these that will be much more interesting and with the differences in type of track and wiring I am going to completely strip these down to the wood structure.

So being satisfied with the legs, the next step will be to paint them and then move on to the module itself.

Friday, April 6, 2018

2018 Hiller Aviation Museum show

All this week we have had the AsiaNrail layout set up at the Hiller Aviation Museum's annual Trains and Planes exhibit.  The Ntrak group had just had a layout two weeks before this and did not join us this year so this was a stand alone AsiaNrail layout this time.  However are not alone in the museum.  A large FreemoN (N scale) layout, a G scale layout, and an O scale layout are also part of the exhibit for the whole time.  This weekend there will also be an HO scale Swiss narrow gauge layout as well.

Each of our layouts are always a bit different and this was no exception.   We had a triangle of about 2.5 meters on each side with a long branch line and two short branch lines.  The main line was single tracked with a passing siding of some sort on each side.
The staging yard was kept busy with us running everything we had all week.  For this layout we tried some blue table cloth fabric for skirting, pinning it to the bottom edge of the module frames.  It seems OK but I think we need a better way to attach it.
Most of one side of the triangle was made of of my Musashi-Koyama module set.  The Plexiglass shields that did not quite fit right last time had been trimmed just a bit and fit perfectly this time.  They worked great in keeping the kids hands off things.
The longer branch line consisted of my junction Ntrak module and some of Paul's shorter curved modules.  This was the first time we had used the junction without the rest of the Ntrak layout.  I think some of those plexiglass shields will be in the future for this module. 



Here is a link to some great photos on the JNS Forum taken of the layout at both this years and last years shows.  This exhibit runs through Sunday, the 8th.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Hot Springs as an AsiaNrail module

Several years ago I rebuilt one of my Ntrak modules to include a junction between the Ntrak Mountain division track and AsiaNrail.  When I did this, I also had the idea that the module could be used as part of an AsiaNrail layout without using the Ntrak part.  The scenery was designed to be appealing from either side.  So far this module has been used in several joint Ntrak / AsiaNrail layouts and several Ntrak layouts without AsiaNrail.  With this upcoming week long exhibit at the Hiller Aviation Museum, the Ntrak layout will not be there so the opportunity is here to try out this concept.

Most AsiaNrail modules are no sky board, viewed from both sides.  So I made a profile board to replace the sky board for this layout, shown in this photo.  This covers the open back side of the hills where the turnout motors are.  The plan is for this module to be at the end of one of the branch lines.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Subway construction site details

Another item that I picked up on my visit last year to the Tomix store in Saitama was kit number 051 from their Diorama Collection.  I had seen two story prefab buildings like this on construction sites in Japan so wanted one of these for the subway construction site.

Here in the states these things tend to be single story mobile home looking things that are towed from site to site.  This is where the bosses hang out and have their meetings and such.





There was more in the kit than what the photo on the box suggest.   3 outhouses, 2 stacks of pallets, 6 sheets of material, and 3 stacks of girders.  There is also a sticker set.  The building is the only thing requiring any assembly and that was quite easy.
The office and a container from a TomyTec truck were placed over the screws that secure the construction staging area across the street from the subway site.  Extra tower crane sections, vehicles, figures, and details from the TomyTec set fill out the scene.
I recycled some of the old fence that was replaced in the last post.  I cut it into sections of steel deck plate which were stacked waiting to be installed.



This is what they look like after some paint and being installed in the scene.  Notice that some of the decking has already been installed on the concourse level of the station.
The truck the container came from got a new flat bed deck and another stack of those steel deck plates.  Another stack of steel deck plates was attached to one of the cranes to show the truck being unloaded.  Brass wire was used to make the cable saddle for the stack being moved by the crane.




Here is an overall view of this scene with one of the cranes.  Black thread was used to simulate the cables. 

The cranes are the tallest things on the module and I remove them for storage. 

I still think there should be something more substantial to the base of the crane but do not know what it should be.



The outhouses from the TomyTec set were placed around the site.  These things are normally pumped out once a week and I have included that function in this little scene.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

More construction site fencing

It's been quite awhile since I posted anything on this blog.  I have continued to be active in the hobby mostly working on my American prototype home layout.  Not having had an opportunity to display my Japanese prototype modules I have not been motivated to do any work on them either.  We do have our annual week long exhibit at the Hiller Aviation Museum coming up at the end of this month so I am now getting the modules ready for that event.

Last year my wife and I did spend a month in Japan splitting the time between Tokyo, Kyushu, and some places in between.  While there I did pick up a few more things for the Musashi-Koyama modules.

The first one is TomyTec number 052 from the Diorama Collection, construction fencing which I bought while visiting the Tomix shop in Saitama.


Larger construction sites in Japan have folding gates with a rail high enough for large vehicles to pass under when the gate is opened.  I took this photo in Tokyo last year as a reference for modeling construction fencing and gates.   We walked past this spot many times over a 2 week period.
This set includes several long and short fence sections, an open gate, and a closed gate.  The support pieces need to be cut off from the spues and glued to the fence and gate sections.
Here I am test fitting this new fencing in place of the walls that I had scratch built from styrene sheet.  The opened gate can be seen in the background.  Once placement is finalized the new fencing will be secured with adhesive.