Thursday, December 18, 2014

Shinkansen train collection

Like most who collect Japanese train models, I have a collection of Shinkansens, also known as bullet trains.  All of my Shinkansen trains are models of trains that Nona and I have actually ridden on.

On the page I maintain called Japanese Train Collection I have up to now only shown my models of non-Shinkansen trains taken on my Musashi-Koyama module set.  This was because I did not feel the Musashi-Koyama module set offered the proper scene to display or photograph Shinkansens.  However the Ntrak lines on the Hot Springs Junction Ntrak module are perfect for the display and photography of that type of train.  I have now included photos of my Shinkansens on the Japanese Train Collection page.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Details & lighting inside the sake shop

Back in September in the post Building a TomyTec sake shop, I had built one of the buildings from TomyTec kit No. 089 and installed it on the Hot Springs Junction module.  With an open door and some details already part of the kit, I felt this could create a nice little scene. Now I have gone back and added some more details and lighting to the inside of the building.

The kit had come with a couple of low Japanese type tables and an interior wall.  I added additional interior walls as view blocks as the building as some other open doors and I wanted to avoid the see through look.
The 4 figures were selected from various TomyTec and Kato sets.  The seated customers are local workers, perhaps from a construction site. (towels around the necks) who have finished a days work and are enjoying a few drinks.

The wall posters are from a sticker set that came with one of the Tomix building kits and the stock of sake bottles on the back wall are printed from files provided on the Quinntopia blog.

If I was going to detail the inside then I needed to light it so the interior could be seen.   I use bright white LED light boards from Atlas locomotives that are left over after installing DCC decoders.

On this building I added a view block so the same light did not shine out the upper floor windows.

Here is what a visitor to the layout might see peeking into the shop from the front of the module.  Depending on the angle of view, slightly different parts of the interior can be seen.

A little bit of weathering has been applied to the outside and the building is now permanently mounted on the module. A couple of the nearby trees have been relocated to allow for better viewing of the scene.  I still plan to add a few more details to the outside to complete the scene.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hot Springs as an Ntrak only module

This past weekend the Hot Springs Junction Ntrak module was used in Peninsula Ntrak's layout at the annual Thanksgiving train show held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, California.  This was the first time I had this module in the layout without the AsiaNrail layout also attached to it.

Here is a view of the front of the module as it appeared in the layout.  In this layout, the module was much more visible to the visiting public than in the junction configuration with the AisaNrail modules in front of it.

Here is a view looking down the length of the module.  My JR 115 type train can be seen at the station platform.  The line that would go the the AsiaNrail track is long enough to switch this 3 car train into the station stub track.

In this layout fellow Peninsula Ntrak member Joe Giacomini's American prototype 8 ft module set which also as the mountain division was next to the Hot Springs Junction giving us a total of 12 feet of mountain division track to run the 115 on.

For this layout, I mounted the control panel on the back of the module and this worked out just as planned.  Between Joe and I we have a total of 18 feet of Ntrak modules with the mountain division track but no way to complete a turn around.  We are discussing the possibility of using a portable automatic point to point system in the future.  Perfect for double ended Japanese passenger trains.

Passing through the Hot Springs Junction module on the Ntrak red line is one of Paul Ingraham's Australian freight trains.

One of the details I added recently is a fisherman on the bank of the river.   He can been seen in this photo between the tree and the bridge.

One of Peninsula Ntrak's original club corners was re-built several years ago by members Earl and Julia Jackson as a Japanese village on the inner side of the curve and an agricultural scene on the outer side of the curve.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Another type of movable track bumper

Back in the summer of 2011 when I was getting the Musashi-Koyama module set ready for it's first exhibition I posted about making Movable track bumpers.  These were designed to be placed on the road bed where the track ended to prevent a train from going off the end of the module.  These have worked out well but I was going to need more for the 2014 Los Altos Train Days layout because both modules were going to be used.

Here is a photo from the original post. The original bumpers had used 1/8 inch styrene tube that fit into hole drilled through the cork and into the sub-roadbed.

The additional bumpers I have made are done the same way but instead of styrene tube I embedded track nails with the pointed end pointing down as shown in this photo.

The advantage of doing it this was is that no pre-drilled holes are needed so they can be used on any module.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Overhead wires for Hot Springs Jct.

One of the things I've been working on for the past several days was to get all of the poles installed that would simulate overhead electric wires.  In theory, my free lanced Hot Springs Junction module could be one of those places in Japan that uses Diesel rail cars as those are more common in the more remote mountainous areas.  But the trains that will be run on the mountain division and AsiaNrail lines will include electrics so I wanted to include the wire structures.  Kato, Tomix, and TomyTec all offer versions of this type of model in N scale.

For most of the line I used TomyTec kit No. 020 shown here.  I picked this up on one of my trips to Japan and it looks like I paid 690 yen for each set of 3 double track structures.

I needed single track structures so I cut out the middle section to get two structures from each as shown in this photo.

After removing the model from the spue and cutting out the middle section, I touched up the paint.  The brown of the pole was close to Floquil rail brown and the green of the cross arm was close to an old bottle of Polly Scale paint I had around.

To mount these type of poles I drilled out the inside of a 1/8 inch styrene tube to give the pole a snug fit.  Then drilled a hole in the scenery and glued the tube into the hole.  The tube was then painted a concrete color.

This is a very similar method I used on the Musashi-Koyama modules and that has worked out well.

As with any other track side details it is important to maintain the proper clearances from the tracks, particularly on the inside of a curve.

It's also not that hard to scratch build overhead wire structures for those places where needed.  Here is one of 4 identical ones I made to use between the platforms at the station.

The pole was painted a gray color with the colors of the cross arm, braces, and insulators being a close match to the TomyTec pole structures.

Here is one of the four installed at the station.  For these I drilled a smaller hole and glued the exposed wire on the bottom of the pole without using the plastic tube sleeve the way I did on the TomyTec poles.

Here is the over all view of the station area with all of the poles installed.  I used 13 of the single track poles plus the 4 scratch built double track poles.

Eventually I would also like to have overhead wire structures on the Ntrak lines as well.  The 3 track type of the style from Tomix that I used on the Musashi-Koyama modules line up just right with the Ntrak track spacing as shown here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Finishing the Hot Springs hotel

In February 2013 I made a post titled "Building the TomyTec Hot Springs Hotel".   The building kit itself was quite simple and so much detail was already done that there was not much more to do on it.  In this post, it will install the building on the module and finish the surrounding scene.

I did not like the base that came with the kit, so did not use it and instead made a shallow pit for the building to fit into.  The pit is bordered by .040 styrene strip and styrene tiles for landings at the doorways.  The scenery will be built up to the top of the borders.

Here is the building installed in the pit base after the scenery is blended in around it as viewed from the front of the module.  Of course, there are still some details to add to the scene but now all the base scenery on the module is done.

A few vehicles and signs make the scene look more complete.  The snow plow is parked here for the summer but will be busy again next winter in the mountainous area.

Here is another shot of the front of the hotel without the green van so some of the details that came with the kit can be seen better.

The table and benches that came with the food vendor cart set are used here at the rear of the hotel building.

The road from the station up to Hot Springs hotel crosses the river on a narrow bridge.

The banner on the lamp post on the station platform reads "Welcome to Hot Springs".

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Detailing the station scene

The last time I posted on this blog in mid September I was getting everything ready for a local show called Los Altos Train Days.   Both modules preformed well and everyone enjoyed our joint Peninsula Ntrak / AsiaNrail layout.  The operation of the AsiaNrail layout kept both Paul, myself, and our usual small crew of helpers very busy and I never did get a chance to take photos.  Again this year the show had nearly 3,000 visitors over 2 days.

Since then I've been turning more attention to construction of my home layout and my wife and I been doing a bit of traveling.

While I was finishing a few things on the Hot Springs Junction module back in September, I did get photos and will add a few new posts from those.  First up, the little scene around the station entrance.

In last June's post Finishing the stations scene - Part 1, I had attached the station with a couple of screws and needed to cover the real obvious one with some detail.

I considered the kiosk that came with the kit but decided that it would crowd the scene a bit.

TomyTec kit number 017 is one of their series of pre-painted little diorama kits.  This little food cart turned out to be just the thing to cover that screw.

I put two of the customers on stools at the cart counter and will use the table and benches at the Hot Springs Hotel.

The kiosk is a great little structure and I'm sure it will get used somewhere on one of my modules in the future.

This is how the station scene looked just prior to the Los Altos Train Days show.   The food cart fits nicely into the scene without crowding it.  Also added is one of the old 3 wheeled trucks that belongs to the food cart owner.

Here is a lower angle close up of the station entrance taken from the end of the module.  This module is supposed to be Showa era.   I think I have a bit of an era clash with the newer crown taxi so I'll be looking for an older style taxi.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting ready for the next show

The show coming up in one week will be the first time that I will have both of my AsiaNrail modules in a layout.  I decided to set up all three of the modules into a small layout to give everything a good testing.  The overall view of this setup is shown in the photo below.  Everything proved to be working correctly so I have been adding trees, people, and other details to the Hot Springs Junction module.

In this photo, none of the removable buildings are in place on the Musashi-Koyama modules.  And no, that Santa Fe GP7 parked at the Hot Springs station does not belong there but it's a great test engine.

In the actual setup next weekend, there will be several of Paul Ingraham's AsiaNrail modules including a junction module between my two modules.  The Musashi-Koyama modules will form the end of one of the two branches.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Building a TomyTec Sake shop

Resort areas will most often have eating and drinking establishments so I wanted to include something like that on the module.  Places that serve or sell sake will sometimes have a large ball of dried cedar needles hanging above the door. Here is a photo I found on the Internet of such a place.

TomyTec kit number 89 has a building like this.  I am using only one building from this kit, the one that has the ball of cedar needles hanging over the door.

No. 89 is part of a mulit-kit diorama offered by TomyTec to represent a entire Sake brewery and store complex as shown here.

This building kit has all pre-painted parts with some extra details parts and goes together quite easily. I decided to use the base that came with this kit even though it was quite thick. So I made a pit from styrene that the base for this building will fit snugly into.  For now I don't have any plans to attach the building to the module and will remove it for transport.  I put the hole in the base in case I want to light the inside later.

Here is the structure after the surrounding area is blended in with scenic materials.  It's across the road from the station and set sideways.  This is because it I plan to use this module with or without a sky board and I wanted the front of the shop to be visible either way.

Here is a lower angled view of this structure. There are lots of details that can be added to this scene later but for now I'll move on as I am trying to complete all the basic scenery on this module for the show coming up in less than two weeks.

Friday, September 5, 2014

AsiaNrail returning to Los Altos

The next exhibit of the AsiaNrail layout will be at the Los Altos Train Days event to be held at the Los Altos History Museum on September 20th and 21st, 2014.  As it is planned right now, both the Musashi-Koyama and Hot Springs Junction modules will be included as part of a combined Peninsula Ntrak / AsiaNrail layout.

Either Peninsula Ntrak or AsiaNrail has had a layout at this event for the last 4 years and this year it will be a combined layout with the AsiaNrail layout lowered to the height of Ntrak mountain division.  Each year we try to have something a little different and this year the Ntrak part of the layout will have mostly modules that have not been to this show before.

This was a photo I recently found on the Internet that someone took of the Musashi-Koyama station at last years show.  This module set will return this year along with the nearly completed Hot Springs Junction Ntrak module.

Dates: September 20 & 21st
Time: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Location: 51 South San Antonio Road, Los Altos, California
Admission:  $5.00

Link to the Los Altos History Museum Flyer

Monday, September 1, 2014

Finishing the 1st type of retaining wall

In the post last March titled Japanese style retaining walls, I showed prototype photos of two different types of retaining walls I have seen along side the rail lines.  In that post, I also showed the beginnings of the walls I was building from styrene plastic.

For reference, I again show the prototype photo here.  Most of these that I've seen are not quite this bent up.

Recall from that previous post, the wall sections were made from .080 square styrene rod attached to .020 styrene sheet.

When this was fully assembled, it was air brushed with Model Master acrylic aged concrete color.

Then the spaces between the rods were hand painted with a grimy black color.

After the black paint had dried over night, a bit of scenic cement was applied to each section then fine turf color ground foam was sprinkled on top of that.

The retaining wall was attached to the module with Liquid Nails for projects and held in place with home made spring clamps as shown in this photo.

When the wall structure is blended in with the surrounding scenery it begins to look like this.  A bit of the ground foam has fallen out of a few of the spaces.  The reason I painted those areas was to help hide this.

Next I used a bamboo skewer to apply small amounts of diluted white glue to those bare areas where the turf ground foam had fallen off.  Then sprinkled on some fine green ground foam and that tended to settle near the bottom of the sections.  I also added coarse green ground foam in some of the sections to simulate foliage that might grow out between the columns.

The photo above shows the completed retaining wall section.  While I am quite happy with the way this came out, it was a lot of work !  This is only about 9 inches at one end of the module out of almost 60 inches of retaining walls needed.  At this point the rest of the retaining walls are going to be the second type which go together much quicker.  In the near future I will post about finishing those.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Laying track - Again

With the river scene completed and the bridges back in place, I could re-lay the track on the Ntrak lines.  These had been laid temporarily with Atlas code 80 wood tie flex track held down with track nails for the show we did in April.  That track was removed after the show so I could remove the bridges and finish the river scene.  The permanent track is going to be Peco code 80 with concrete ties.

After attaching the feeder wires I weathered all the rails with a Floquil rail brown paint pen.  This works great for concrete ties or touch ups on any track after it's installed.

For the past couple of projects I've been using Liquid Nails for projects to attach the track to the cork roadbed.  The advantage of using this as opposed to the white glue I had used before is that it won't come loose when the track is wet while applying ballast.  This is mostly only a problem on curved track.

When using the Liquid Nails product for attaching track, it is important to not use to much.  If any oozes up between the ties, it might show up after ballasting.  Just a small bead down the center of the cork roadbed then smooth that out flat as shown in this close up photo.

One of my early posts on this blog back in February of 2011 was called Ballasting the tracks where I explained the techniques I used on the Musashi-Koyama modules so I won't go through it all again here.

I am still doing ballast  the same way but on this module I am using Arizona Rock & Mineral No. 130-2 Northern Pacific Medium Gray Granite which to my eye looks better with the concrete ties.  I also plan to experiment with some weathering of the track that may enhance the appearance.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adding water to the river scene

Simulating water has always been a challenge for me.  Modelers use a number of methods and I've tried several of them with mixed results.  I had tied the 2-part resin method on an earlier module but was unhappy with that result.  It had absorbed some of the surrounding color and I could not get the small bubbles out before it hardened.

Then on a home layout I tried Woodland Scenic realistic water after painting the bottom surfaces with blended green, blue, and brown acrylic paints.  This had better results on flat surfaces but I was not really happy with the effect of water running down hill.

This time I tried using acrylic gloss medium and also Woodland Scenic water effects to give the running water some texture.

Using a scrap of Plexiglas, I experimented with both these products to seen how they would interact with each other and with acrylic paints.  Also I wanted to practice working with this technique before actually applying it to the module.

Prior to adding the simulated water, I added some more rocks to the river bed.  From some coarse sand I selected grains that were more rounded like rocks in a river bed normally are.  I probably could have added many more than I did but put enough in to get the effect I wanted.

The moment came to actually apply some of the gloss medium to river bed.  I had shaped the river bed to have a low spots in the center and let the gloss medium find it own way through the contours.  The gloss medium as shown in this photo goes on white before drying clear.

I put down 1 layer of the gloss medium and let that dry.  Then I went over the deeper areas with a very dilute mixture of green and blue acrylic paints.   After the acrylic paint had dried, I added another coat of gloss medium.

Where I wanted to simulate running water I brushed on the water effects product.  Using the brush and a bamboo skewer, I creating some wavy texture.  This was done where the streams were running down hill and also around the rocks.  This product also goes on white and looks terrible at first as shown in this photo but will dry clear.

Having seen this trick somewhere I had to try it. After the water effects product had dried, I applied small amounts of white paint to the ridges left by the water effects with the pointed end of a bamboo skewer to simulate white water. These are pointed out in this photo by blue arrows.

After adding one more coat of gloss medium, here is a looking down view of the completed river water with the bridges still removed.  I will still be adding some rocks and other details before re-installing the bridges.

Of the methods I've tried for modeling water I like this one the best, particularly for running water.  It's not the fastest but seems to offer the most control.