Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Back from the N Scale Convention

I recently attended the 2015 National N Scale convention that was held in Sacramento, California.  This was the 23rd annual event put on by the N Scale Enthusiast organization and each year held in a different location.  Besides a show with layouts, they also have clinics, tours, auctions, manufacturers and sales tables, and other activities.  It's a busy several days and not easy to do it all.  This years event had almost 500 N scale modelers attending from all over the US and a few other countries.

The event was held at a Double Tree Hilton hotel.  One decent sized room was just for the layouts.  There were 4 layouts each representing something a little different in modular layout standards. Each layout group there could have put up larger layouts but we had to keep them small due to space constraints.

  • Peninsula Ntrak - From SF Bay Area, about 130 miles away.  Uses basic Ntrak 3 track standards. This layout had Nn3 on one module, a large staging yard with lots of trains running, and plenty of detailed scenes. 
  • San Luis Obispo Model Railroad Association - Brought their Bendtrack layout from about 300 miles away.  Lots of great scenery on this layout.  Bendtrack is a double track standard and uses end loops.
  • Silicon Valley FreemoN - Also from the SF Bay Area I see them at most of our local shows.  FreemoN is a single track standard using junctions and end loops and track is code 55.  This group has fine scenery and details on all their modules.
  • Sacramento Valley Ntrak - This is the local Ntrak club which uses some optional Ntrak standards such as the mountain division track and alternate blue.

It would have been great to have had the AsiaNrail layout set up as it would have been a 5th type of standard and of course being Asian prototype would have offered something completely different.  Paul was out of the country and could not make it to the convention so I had my Hot Springs junction module in the Peninsula Ntrak layout as the only representative of Japanese or Asian prototype.  The photos below are all from the Peninsula Ntrak layout.

The club I belong to, Peninsula Ntrak had this unusual triangle shaped layout to fit the space available to us.  We did this using a pair of 45 degree curved modules one of which is seen in the foreground of this photo.

My Japanese themed Hot Springs Junction module was in the layout without any of the AsiaNrail modules attached to the mountain branch line.

Next to my module was this new module done by Tom Knapp that had a Nn3 narrow gauge line looping behind the sky board.

Peninsula Ntrak's Julia Jackson won the award for the best module of all of the layouts with her 6 foot Jackson Corners module shown here.  This module has been around a few years now but still attracts a lot of attention.

Another new module that was in it's first layout was this club corner with a vineyard / winery and a festival.  The scenery was done by Julia who has been rebuilding the scenery on many of our club modules.

I really enjoyed attending this convention. The last one of these I went to was in 2005 in San Diego. I'll try not to let another 10 years slip by before attending my next one.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hot Springs Junction wrap up

Over the past few weeks I've been working on finishing all the little things that I wanted to have done on the Hot Springs junction module before the N Scale convention in Sacramento.  Some of those I have covered in more detail in recent posts.  In this post I will wrap up the rest.

Traffic Mirrors

I wanted to add a couple of traffic mirrors on the winding narrow road between the station and the hot springs hotel.  These were scratch built in a similar way to the one I made for the Musashi-Koyama modules in the December 2011 post Seeing around the corners.

Wood rail fence

I felt the edge of the cliff in front of the hot springs hotel should have some sort of fence.  I wanted some sort of wood fence that would fit in with the scene.

I found the Peco NB-45 fence set to be just the thing.  Like the Kato gutter set featured in the last post, this set gives you plenty of material to work with.

Overhead wires

In last Novembers post Overhead wires for Hot Springs Jct. I had identified Tomix 3005 overhead wire structures as being just the right fit for the Ntrak lines.  6 structures were assembled, painted, and installed along the Ntrak right of way.

At this point, the module is packed up and ready to go the N Scale Convention.    This has been an on and off almost 3 year project from the time I started to rebuild the old module and I consider this module to now be 100% complete. I don't think I've ever been able to say that about any other layout or module I've built and it feels good.  Of course there will always be something to be repaired or renewed on the module, or prehaps some tempting new products that come along that I will want to add.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Installing Kato 23-227 gutter set

Back in the fall of 2012 in the post Previously unnoticed track side detail I had mentioned the long row of concrete tiles that run along for miles next to some of the railroad tracks in Japan.  In that post I had also speculated that these may be covered cable ditches for communications cables because I had noticed pipes connecting sensors and signals to these rows of tiles.  At that time I had also identified a Kato set that had parts for building something similar.  Recently I picked up a couple of these sets, Kato part number 23-227.

The set includes 4 spues of parts like the one shown in this photo.  The tiled sections are about 5 inches long and there are 4 each of 2 different widths.  There are also a couple of vaults with lids and tees and 45 degree bends.

For this project several sections were attachd together and reinforced with .030 x .060 styrene strip underneath.  A vault section was added to one end of each assembly.

After brush painting concrete color overall, and aluminum color on the vault lids.  I used the clear E6000 adhesive to attach the assembled sections to the roadbed between the yellow and blue Ntrak lines.  Here D cell batteries held things down while the adhesive sets.

This photo shows a finished section after installation.  There is a vault on each side of the river.  My theory is that one or more conduit pipes would exit the vault and go under the road bed and under the bridge to the vault on the other side to continue the path.

This was an easy and fun project, and added a nice touch to the Hot Springs Junction Ntrak right of way.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Adding a water feature

When I finished the river scene on the Hot Springs Junction module last summer, I left a waterfall that did not seem to have a source.  I had run out of time before a show and just put down some quick scenery.  What I had imagined was to have a stream enter the module feeding into a pond which then fed the waterfall.

This photo I took in Kyoto this last March shows a type of concrete stream channel that I had seen in many places in Japan and wanted to include as part of the added water feature on the module.

To model a channel like this I cut out a channel in the existing scenery parallel to the road and between the road and the Sake shop.  Then a concrete painted styrene channel was glued in and scenery built around it.  The bottom was painted with Floquil Gunmetal and then with acrylic gloss medium.

I dug out a little depression in the existing scenery and covered it with plaster cloth.  That was painted a blend of blue and green acrylic. For the water I gave the Envirotex product another try and it came out great.

The stream bed was done in a similar way with the plaster cloth and acrylic paints.  Several coats of acrylic gloss medium was applied.  After the gloss medium dried, Woodland Scenics Water effects was applied with a brush to get some flowing texture, then a final coat of gloss medium.

Here is an overall view showing the area around the Sake shop.  The concrete channel enters from the upper left, passes the building and empties into the pond.  Then the natural stream leaves the pond to become the waterfall.