Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Daiyuzan line

Another interesting short line that we rode this past summer was the Izu-Hakone Railway's Daiyuzan line.  This is a rather short line of  less than 10 km that stops at 9 stations between Odawara and Daiyuzan.

This photo shows the end of the line at Odawara

It's a single track line which splits around island platforms at a couple of the stations so opposing trains can pass.

The trains are 3 car 5000 series EMU's.

This is the entrance to the Izu-Hakone station in Odawara.  There are actually 5 adjoining stations in Odawara - JR Tokaido main line, Shinkansen, Odakyu, Hakone- Tozan, and Izu-Hakone.  I have always found Odawara to very active and great for train watching.

Between the 3rd and 4th station from Odawara the Odakyu Odawara line crosses over the Daiyuzan line as shown in this Google street view photo.

At another point the Daiyuzan line crosses over a river on a 3 section through girder bridge.

This is where the other end of the line at Daiyuzan which is less than 10 km down the line from Odawara.

Right next to the platform at Daiyuzan there is a maintenance shed with inspection pit.

With it's small size and features, The Daiyuzan line would make another great subject for a small layout.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The railroads of Musashi-Koyama

During our visit to Japan in 2011 I started to notice that the trains of other railroads besides Tokyu were running on the Tokyu Meguro line.  The reason was that after the Tokyu Meguro line had become a subway at the Meguro end of the line, it was connected to the Tokyo Metro Nambaku line.  The other end of the Tokyo Metro Namboku line is also connected to the Saitama Railway.  Many of the trains provide through service on all three of those lines making it more convenient for passengers.   There is also through service going onto the Toei  Mita line.


A passenger waiting on the platform at Musashi-Koyama may see trains with any of the logos shown below on them.  From left to right - Tokyo Metro, Saitama Railway, Tokyu, and Toei.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Train room update

Have not been doing much with any of my Japanese module projects lately as I have been working to complete the new train room that I started last May and posted about in June.

As can be seen in this photo it's coming along. Recently I put in 3 LED lighting fixtures on the ceiling for room lighting.  They are the most practical LED lighting I have seen yet.  This photo was taken at night so no light was coming through the window and I did not use Photoshop lighten it.


There will also be additional under cabinet lighting and I'm planning to use LED for that as well.  Also recently I picked up a new compressor, proper drill press vise, and a nice butcher block workbench top all at bargain prices.  Before that I was able to get a gently used Micro Mark large spray booth and some N scale train display cases also at a bargain so upgrades to the new train room are coming along indeed.

Also a new feature I have added to the blog is the digital clock seen in the upper right corner that shows the current time in Tokyo.  It's provided free by 24TimeZones.com.  They have quite a few variations of clocks to use on web pages or blogs.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New look for Green Max kits.

On this most recent trip to Japan in July I did get to do some hobby shopping and of course I had some Green Max items on my list.

I had seen this new apartment building on the internet and was able to pick one up at TamTam for about 2200 yen.

This new building seems like quite a departure from the traditional Green Max building kits but they did do a great job on it.


As I shopped I noticed that there were almost no Green Max kits left on the selves in the familiar boxes with the drawing on the front and the instructions on the back.  The new boxes are standardized green with a sticker indicating which kit it is and with most having a new part number.

As an example, here are the old and new wall and gate kits.  The contents are the same, just new boxes and part numbers.  And there're still made in Japan.

Some of the smaller kits are now not in a box at all but instead are in a hanging bag type of package.







I am not sure when this change started but I think the first kit I purchased that was not in the older style box were the modular building kits and that was sometime in 2010.  I'm sure the reason they are doing this is cost.  Fewer boxes, just a few standardized sizes and different stickers for different models.

I had scanned many of the boxes of my kits as I built them and I've started a new page called Classic Green Max boxes if you want to look back at those.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Street side exhaust fans

I had noticed them before on previous trips to Tokyo but I had never given them much thought.  During this last summer's trip it was different, I learned to hate them.  They assaulted my wife and I every time we walked between our hotel and the subway station.  We would try different routes but it seemed around every corner there would be at least one more waiting for us.

I'm talking about the air conditioning exhaust units that are commonly seen on the streets of Tokyo. Millions of these things blow a stream of hot air across the streets of the city I'm sure making it a little hotter than it already is.  Any pedestrians walking past get the full brunt of the hot blast.


The largest and most modern of buildings have central units on the roof top.  But depending on the building layout when air conditioning was added to an older shop or apartment, there may have been no where else to put the exhaust unit execpt right out in front of the place.

A detail we can model


I had remembered seeing something like this in one of the kits I had built but had not used.  When I got home I was able to determine that the part I was thinking of was from Green Max modular building kits 2101 and 2103.

I felt that the unit was too deep so I cut the back off with a hobby razor saw indicated by the blue line in this photo.


After painting and weathering I decided to place this one in front of the Izakaya.

I'll want more of these so I'll keep an eye out for what is available.  Otherwise I might make a rubber mold from the one I have left so I can make some cast resin copies or perhaps even try to make my own masters of some similar units.

Monday, September 16, 2013

2nd Exhibition - Los Altos Train Days

Over this past weekend the Musashi-Koyama modules were part of the AsiaNrail layout setup at the Los Altos History Museum for their annual Train Days event.  This was the 4th Train Days that I have been involved with, the first 3 being part of the Ntrak layout and this year with the AsiaNrail layout.  Being only about 3 miles from my house, it's my closest train show.  This was only the 2nd exhibition for the Musashi-Koyama modules.

Besides the AsiaNrail layout, they also had Tom Knapp's Nn3 layout in the museum exhibit room with us, plus outside in their large patio there were G scale electric and live steam layouts, an O scale layout, and a static display of 7-1/2" gauge steam locomotive and rolling stock from the nearby Portola Valley & Alpine Railroad.

Our layout consisted of a single track central loop with through staging yard and three junctions that connected stub ends.  Here is a view of the central loop part of the layout.  Besides the continous running of the loop, we also ran point to point operations between the stubs.

My Musashi-Koyama module set was part of one of the three stub ends.  Single track entry into the modules from the left with a crossover to access either of the station tracks.

My E257 Azusa-Kaiji was one of 5 Japanese trains that I ran on the layout.  We had many different trains running on the layout, even a 100 Series Shinkansen and a Caltrain because so many visitors requested those.

Here is a view from the far end of my stub line.  Before the next show, I will be installing some plexiglass screens along the front edge as some of the details on the front seem too tempting for small hands.


My Tomix model of an 8800 set and Paul's new Kato model of a JR DD13  parked at one of the other stub end yards.  This module has several stub end yard tracks and also has a passenger platform seen in the background.

Paul's Treat Street module was at the end of the third stub.  This module is based on scenes in Korea and features a model of the Sungnyemun Gate.

As the sun was going down, the last few pieces of the layout were being loaded into Pauls van.  The whole layout easily fit into this van and my pickup.






As we were taking down the layout the museum's staff gathered all the layout exhibitors together to a drink and a little celebration and thanked us for taking part in their event.  They announced that they had nearly 3000 visitors to the exhibit over the weekend.  That was more then had attended the Great Train Expo in San Jose the weekend before.  I was at that show with the Ntrak group and had noticed the attendance was very light.

The Los Altos History Museum is a community based free admission museum and they depend on donations and fundraising events like Train Days for their funding.  They were quite happy with the results of Train Days 2013.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Quick Construction fencing

It seems there is always lots of construction going on in Tokyo and the N Scale Musashi-Koyama modules are no different.   I needed some fencing that looked like things I had seen in Japan on construction sites.

I had seen this product on ebay but was not sure how good it was.  After checking it out first hand at a hobby shop in Akihabara during our recent trip, I picked up a package.  I don't remember exactly how much it was but I think is was in the area of 500 - 600 yen.  There was a choice of several colors and I went with the orange which is Casco part number YP-301.

This is what the package of fence looks like.  There are actually 2 sheets with 6 sections of fence each in the package.  Each section is 72 scale feet long so you get a total of 864 scale feet.

The sheets are about .010 thick and are printed on one side.  Because the material is clear the fence part shows on both sides but the writing only on the printed side.

Here is some of the fence sections after I used a ruler and sharp razor blade to cut them apart.  I found it helpful to leave the clear ends on in case I needed to splice the sections together.  Even after being cut into the strips the material seems rather sturdy.

So here's some of this fencing installed on part of the module.  I used the Tap Plastics product E6000 that I mentioned in the May 2012 post My new favorite adhesive to attach the material to the module.


I found this fencing product to be a quick and easy way to put up construction fencing around the job sites on the module.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Hara Model Railway Museum

During one of those hot days we spent in Tokyo this past July, we took a trip to Yokohama and visited the Hara Model Railway Museum.  I did not know about this place before going on this trip, but one of  Nona's cousins recommended it and he had written down the information for us.  It was so hot during the afternoons that we were spending that part of the day in our hotel room just to stay cool.  Going to Yokohama and spending some of the afternoon in an air conditioned museum looked like a good alternative.

To get to Yokohama, we rode the JR Shonan-Shinjuku line from Ebisu station.  This is a relatively new service and it was the first time we had ridden it.  As this train stops at Ebisu Station that is where we caught it because that is a smaller station and much easier to deal with than Shinjuku.

Turned out to be a pleasant walk from Yokohama station to the Mitsui building where the Museum is located.  After leaving the station we walked across this pedestrian bridge to the other side of the channel.

After crossing the bridge we went down to a river level walkway.  That took us past the Nissan building and then to the Mitsui building.  When we got to the Mitsui building we saw this sign.

Once you enter the lobby of the building, this escalator leads to the museum itself.

Unfortunately the museum does not allow any photos which is a shame as the displays are are really photogenic.  There are museum visitor guides in several languages including English.

There's even a small Tenshodo shop in the lobby of the building near the bottom of the escalator.  The selection is nothing like the store in Ginza but they do have a few things. It seems to serve as the gift shop for the museum.




The museum maintains a website in both English and Japanese that includes a copy of the museum guide, photos, and a map showing the path we followed to get there shown on the map as "The Hamamirai Walk".

Hara Model Railway Museum English web site


Sorry for no photos of the layouts or displays but hopefully this information will help you if you are planning on being in Japan anytime and want to got see this museum for yourself.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Modeling Japanese bicycles

Bicycles and motorcycles of all types are an important element in a model scene of Tokyo.  This post is going to be limited to bicycles.  Look at almost any random Google Street view scene of Tokyo and you are likely to see some bicycles.  Fortunately there are several options available for N scale bicycles.  I have not tried them all but here are the ones I have used.

TomyTec offers two sets which include both bicycles and motorcycles with riders.  They are well detailed and painted.  The riders are separate pieces if you want to use the bicycles as parked.  Several of the other TomyTec building or scene sets also have bicycles included as part of a scene but they are separate pieces and can be used by themselves.


For bicycles without riders Gold Medal Models offers a set of 10 etched metal bicycles and a couple of parking racks.  These have been around for quite a few years and are widely used in the US to model bicycles.  Being etched metal they are quite thin and it can be a challenge to place a rider on one and have it look right.  Also I felt that while they are the same overall size as the Tomytec models because of the thinness they just did not look right when placed together with the Tomytec models.  I used them as parked bicycles in separate scenes as shown in the post Finishing the Green Max houses.

Sanki offers a set of 4 riderless bicycles that are of a paper stock.  The handle bars are separate and I found quite difficult to attach to the frame and then very delicate.  These models are undercoated black but can be painted.   At 280 yen for a set of 4, these were the least expensive N scale bicycles I've tried.

What I've had good results with for parked bikes are these plastic models from Tomix.  They come in two different styles and are unpainted except for the tires, seats, and baskets.

Because I don't really like the molded colors of these bikes, I end up repainting them starting with the frames.  I've hand painted the ones shown in this photo but they could be airbrushed as well.  After the frames are painted, I go back and touch up the tires with Floquil grimy black.

Here are two of my completed bicycles with some details added, mostly by painting.   I do all this painting and detailing before removing them from the spue.  By adding details like this, it is possible to make each one unique even if they are the same color.

I found that the sport model bike is quite delicate at the front and had best results by cutting that first, then the back, and last the bottom.

When compared side by side there is quite a difference in the sizes of the Tomix and TomyTec bikes.  What I have been doing is using the Tomix ones as parked and the TomyTec ones as being ridden since those come with some riders that seem to fit OK.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shinkansen - The only way to fly !

During this summers trip to Japan we got JR passes for one week and took two Shinkansen rides.  These trips both originated at Tokyo Station.  I've always found the Shinkansen part of the station to be more like visiting an airport, but back in the day when flying was still fun.  Tokyo station is the terminal for the Tokaido, Tohoku, Nagano, and Joetsu Shinkansen lines so it's quite busy.

Inside Tokyo Station, below the Shinkansen platforms there are displays showing the trains that will be departing and which tracks they will be on.

The displays are in both Japanese and English and include graphics of the trains.

This display is just for the Tohoku, Nagano, and Joetsu Shinkansen lines.  The Tokaido Shinkansen line uses different tracks and has it's own similar display.

I have always noticed that even among the Japanese there is more excitement about going on the Shinkansen.  Notice the platform in the photo, I'm not the only one taking photos of this E5 / E6 lash up.

Each arriving train that is going to then go back out again is met by a large team of people who service the train after the arriving passengers have left the train and before the departing passengers are allowed to board.  You always get a fresh train with leaving from Tokyo station.


Someones post on the JNS forum led me to this story about the cleaning of the Shinkansen trains.

Here is Tamami and Nona on the way back from Osaka on an N700 Hikari service.

We were enjoying drinks, a smooth and fast ride, and way more leg room.  The Shinkansen is still my favorite way to travel.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Finishing the Green Max stores

One of the mini-projects that has been going on for a long time is the block of Green Max stores just to the left of the arcade entrance.

When I left off on this project more than a year ago the Dry Cleaners with interior details and lighting was done and I had started a Book Store that would also be detailed and lighted.

For the Book Store interior I printed a floor similar to how I had done with the dry cleaners then added a couple of book cases, a counter with cash register, and a couple of figures.  I also printed some book cases on the interior walls and added lighting similar to the Dry Cleaners.

The tall building I am using is from Green Max kit 46-6.  I gave it a base coat of Floquil Oxide Red with an airbrush then hand painted all the details.  With all the windows that this building has that took a while.

The store fronts on these taller Green Max building kits are the same size and interchangeable with the ones in the set of small shops.  I used one that had two doors so one could be the lobby of the upper floors and the other for a celluar phone store on the ground floor.

Here is the completed block of Green Max stores,mounted on their styrene base.  I have put labels under each one showing what they are.  Some of them may be familiar from other posts. This scene is now ready to be added to the module.



This is only one of several long uncompleted projects related to these modules which I hope to complete in the near future.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How narrow can a building be ?

The scheduled expostition for the AsiaNrail layout and the Musashi-Koyama modules has me working to finish a few more of the buildings on those modules and I'll be posting about that soon.  Working on buildings I remembered a real interesting one we saw during our recent trip and I would like to share that now.

Anyone who has scratch built or kit bashed a structure to fit into that odd small space on their layout or module might wonder if they are making a structure that is unrealistic.  Well maybe for American prototype that could be a concern but as I am continuing to find out buildings can be quite small or narrow in Japan which is great for those of us modeling Japanese prototype.  Check out the photos below that I took early one July morning in the Namba district of Osaka.

End View

When we first approached this structure while walking down the street, I thought it was some sort of a wall.

It's actually narrower than the narrow streets.

Side view

Once we were along side of it I saw the windows and realized that this is actually a long, very narrow building.  Most of the building had 3 levels.


After seeing this I think we can all relax and build whatever we want, there's probably a prototype for it somewhere in Japan.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Shinano Railway

During our travels in Japan this summer we visited friends in Togura, Nagano Prefecture.  To get there we took the Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo to Ueda, then transferred over to the Nagano Railway to get the rest of the way to Togura.  The next day we took a Shinano Railway train from Togura to Nagano.  I liked this railroad's vintage but updated equipment so I did a little research on the web after returning to Tokyo.

The Shinano Railway is owned by the Nagano Prefecture government and was created in 1997 when JR abandoned  65 km of the Shin'etsu line between Karuizawa and Shinonoi.

The trains they run on this Railway are 115 and 169 series inherited from JR and run in 3 car sets.  Most have been repainted in this color scheme.

The 115 series dates from the 1960's and has been used on many JR lines with over 1900 units being built.

Togura is not what you would call a major station but it is a terminal for the Shinano Railway where some of the trains are parked so our stop there allowed me to see a good selection of their equipment.

Some of the equipment was in a different color scheme which I later found out was the original JR scheme for the Nagano area.  It appears that the Shinano logo is a patch over the JR logo.

Here's the logo on one of the repainted trains. Notice the character through the window, the train behind this one was a special paint scheme but I could not get a good photo of it.  It's also shown in the first photo with the stars on the end.






Modeling these trains


I have been looking for some shorter passenger trains to run on the AsiaNrail layouts that there is an actual prototype for.  And I make it my policy to only buy models of  Japanese trains that I have actually ridden on so when I got back to Tokyo I went shopping but did not find what I was looking for.

Tomix # 92415 is a 3 car set of the red Shinano Railway 115 that came out a couple of years ago but is sold out now.  When I got home I found one on ebay but the price was way over list and more than I was willing to pay.

Kato 10-585 was released in August 2012 and is still available from several sources on line so I ordered a set on Amazon. It comes as a JR version but I may make a decal of the patch logo I saw on the units in Togura and place them over the JR just like the prototype did.

Hope this gets here in time to run on the layout we are doing  in mid September.