Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Starting the grade crossing scene

I showed this reference photo in one of my first posts, Streets and Buildings.   This scene was just outside the station and is an important scene on the module that I wanted to re-create.

This is old Green Max kit number 45 and this is what I used to create the grade crossing.  I purchased a couple of these kits in Japan but they are also available on ebay.  The new number for this kit is 2153.

Besides the pair of crossing signals and gates this kit includes road sections, train signals, sensors, and other details.  I did not use the road sections as I had already built up the roads.

The bases for the crossing gates were meant to sit at below track level and because I had already built up the roads and surrounding area the gates seemed abnormally high when compared to people.  So I cut out sections in the cork as shown in this photo to lower the bases.
The edges of the now sunken bases were built up with .020 x .040 styrene strip.  Then after gluing the base in place I patched up the road surface around it.  Some of the road striping will also need to be redone.

I modified the gate arm assembly by drilling a hole in the arm pivot point.  Another hole was drilled through the motor mount and tapped for a 00-90 screw to secure the arm to the mount.  An extra Micro-Trains screw was used for this. Doing this allows the arm to be moved between the lowered and raised positions.

The tiny ridges on the gate arms were handy as a guide for hand painting of the yellow stripes.  The striping on the barrier is from a Kato sticker set.

Now this seems better.

So far just using the basic gates and signals from one kit at one crossing.  There are also other signals that can be added and there is still the larger grade crossing on the 2M extension module to do.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The great module re-wiring of 2017

The operating concept for the Musashi-Koyama module set was to have it function either as a double or single track module, be in line with other modules that are either double or single track, or be an end of line terminal.  When connected to a single track modules, it could be used as a passing siding.  Cross overs and power routing was controlled by a single switch on the roof of one of the taller buildings.   There was a mode switch under the modules which bridged the inputs to the two tracks together when running in the single track mode.

The drawing above is a very basic representation of the tracks and controls how they were originally set up.  While it had preformed quite well several times as a terminal end module, the first time we attempted to use it in line between other modules did not work out so well.  I had not considered that while the main line might be single track, the second track may extend to an adjoining module and that power may be routed by a turnout on that module.  Another issue was that in this type of setup there was no way to control the cross overs independently.

Here is another drawing showing the basic representation of how the track circuits on the module are now controlled.  Each crossover now has it's own control.  Also one rail on each track was isolated and their connections are made through another pair of switches so either track next to the station platform can be turned off.

This photo shows the new gaps cut in the rails at one end of the platform.  Most of our trains have electrical pickup in all units meaning a train needs to stop within the platform track limits to avoid bridging the gap.  I installed some black post to make these limits more visible to operators.

The 4 new toggle switches are located on the roof of the same building as the original single switch was.  This paper building has a rigid structure under it to support the switches and also houses 2 tortoise motors.
This is what an operator standing behind the sky board inside the layout will see looking down at the roof of the building.   The empty square hole was where the original switch was.

I use 16 pin AMP connectors to make the all connections between the modules.  I had two pairs of wires left unused so I used one pair to carry the switched platform track over to the other module.

The mode switches used to select single or double track modes was no longer needed and was removed.  In it's place I installed RCA jacks which are the AsiaNrail standard connection for turnout power.  I don't use this power so these will just carry it thru the module using the last spare pair of wires on the 16 pin AMP connector.

Another modification made was to create a switchable isolation gap somewhere within the module per AsiaNrail standards.

The best place to do this was at the gap between the middle and small module as rails already have a gap there and I only needed to place some switches in the connection between the modules.

I have been testing the heck out of this and all seems good at this point so it's now on to more scenery.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

An electrical substation from scraps

In the previous post The bus stop scene I had promised an explanation of the strange green building in the background, here it is.

On electric railroads there are normally substations alongside the tracks every few miles that supply power to the overhead wire.  On the Tokyu-Megruo line there was one of these between the Musashi-Koyama and Nishi-Koyama stations so I wanted to include one on the module.

The one shown in the photo above is on the Tokyu-Toyoko line.  I got it from Ken Shore's article on catenary.  If you want to learn more about Japanese railroad catenary I highly recommend it.

I started out by modifying one of the unused bases from the TomyTec bus stop kit.  The ridges were smoothed out and styrene strip was used to make bases for the building and a large transformer.

Green Max kit # 75 was something I picked up at a train show years ago.  I used one of the three sets of transformers on this project.
Over 20 years ago I had used parts from the Green Max electrical sub station kit # 25 on a club project but did not use the building.

So here is the chance to use up the rest of that kit.

Here is a photo of the finished model after painting and installed on the module.  The large transformer was scratch built from bits of styrene.  Gold Metal Model fencing removed from an old layout completes the scene.  It was very satisfying that this project was built mostly with left over and re-used parts.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Module Work Cart

It has been quite a while since I posted anything on this blog.  After the exhibit last fall we did a bit of traveling and then over the winter I have been working on my home layout.   Now there is another opportunity to display the Musashi-Koyama module set in an AsiaNrail layout so I have just gotten it set up to get it ready.

Over the winter I also had some painting projects around the house and purchased one of these small scaffold on wheels to do the high work.

When working on sections of the home layout I found this scaffold to be handy as a wheeled work surface.  I found that the sections fit between the frame uprights and rested on the top cross frame.

The platform pieces set on a lower cross frame make a handy tool area.

The scaffold frame will also hold the modules resting on their sky boards to make it easier to work on wiring.

Because the modules did not work as intended as a double ended passing siding I am attempting to correct those issues before this next layout.

Oh yes, and about this next exhibit

We have been invited back to the Hiller Aviation Museum's annual Trains and Planes event between April 8th and 15th.  We are planning on a combined Peninsula Ntrak / AsiaNrail layout so I'll have both the Musashi-Koyama and Hot Springs Junction modules in this one.

Click HERE for more information.

Monday, September 19, 2016

2016 Los Altos Train Days

This past weekend I had all of my Japanese prototype modules in a joint AsiaNrail / Peninsula Ntrak layout at the Los Altos History Museum as part of their annual Trains Days event.  It was a busy time for me as I was the coordinator for the Ntrak part, and had modules in both layouts.

We had a triangular shaped AsiaNrail layout connected to the rectangular shaped Ntrak layout through my junction module.  The Musashi-Koyama module set was right out in front.

This was the first time for my Musashi-Koyama modules to be in the layout in such a way that they were carrying through traffic.  Everything worked fine mechanically and with the track but we did identify some changes that need to be made electrically to make using both tracks easier in this type of operation.  I'll have plenty of time to work on that before the next show.

With several other people from the JNS Forum helping out and bringing trains to run we had a great variety of trains on the layout.  Shown here are just a few of them on Saturday waiting in Paul's staging yard for their turn to get out.

Here is someones 583 series train passing through the grade crossing on the new extension as to the Musashi-Koyama modules as it pulls into the station.  Hopefully by the next outing I will finally get some crossing gates and both grade crossings.

On Saturday I did run my Kato E5 set for the first time on the Ntrak layout.  It ran great until it lost one of the axles on the lead truck of the lead car.  It came off somewhere and we could not find it.  Luckily on Sunday while we were disassembling the layout the stray axle was found.

The show was a great success with over 2800 people visiting all the layouts including ours.  This was the 8th year the show has taken place and it seems to have become a regular event in the community.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Storing and transport of small modules

For my larger modules I have shells made from 1/4 inch plywood that bolt on to the module frame and form a crate that protects everything on the module but what about a small module like the small extension to the Musashi-Koyama AsiaNrail modules that I have been working on.

I have found that for the small modules I like to make a custom cardboard box.  Here is the small extension module in it's box ready to go to the up coming Los Altos Train Days show.   This box was cut down from an empty wine case.

To secure the module within the box I used the 1/4-20 tee nuts that are already on the module and secure the module with two bolts through holes made in the box.  The same method is used for the small transition module between Ntrak and AsiaNrail.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Building the TomyTec Police station

Besides having over 100 actual Police stations, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has over 800 very small neighborhood Police stations referred to as "Koban".

One of the N scale gifts that I've received in my visits to Japan was this TomyTec Koban kit.  This is a great little quick kit that has all of the parts already painted and small enough to fit in many spots.  I wanted to use it on the expansion module because there used to be something very similar to it at that location.  When the area was redeveloped after the surface tracks were removed a new two story Koban building was constructed.

I used all of the parts with this kit and the only modifications I made was to make the base less thick by sanding the bottom and to the LED circuit as explained below.

This kit comes with a red LED to create the red light on the roof of the police station.  The wires extended from the LED through a black plastic tube for 3/4 of an inch which showed in the window of the building.  I modified this by removing the tube and bending the LED leads then soldering wires to them as shown here.  The wires go over an interior wall and down through the base unseen.

This view under the module shows the small 2 pin plug that comes with this kits LED circuit to make placing or removing the lighted structure easier.  As I have quite a few of these same type plugs from the LED's I am using to light my home layout I plan to use this same idea with other lighted structures..

This shot of the finished scene was taken with the small extension module sitting on the bench not connected to the main module.  Everything beyond the street is all part of a scenery sector plate.  The police van on the left covers one of the two screws that holds the scenery sector plate to the module.