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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The bus stop scene

Yet another gift that I had received and am using on the expansion module is this TomyTec bus stop set. It comes with two complete bus stops each with 2 benches and some signs.

I did not use the bases that came with the kit but instead integrated the brick parts into the sidewalks that were on the sector plates that were already in place.  One bus stop is on the new expansion module and the other is across the street from in on edge of the existing module.

This scene is about a block from the station.

The joint between the two modules is between the sidewalk and street so the bus in on one module and the bus stop on the other.

Looking across from the location of the photo above this is the other bus stop.  This was shot taken with the smaller module sitting on the work bench.

In a future post that strange green building in the background will be explained.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A building being demolished scene

A great way to fill in those odd empty spaces on a urban Japanese layout is to add a construction scene.  In Tokyo there always seems to be construction going on.  Because Tokyo is already fully developed in most cases something old has to be torn down before a new building can be put up and that is what I'm showing in this scene.  One building is torn down with debris being hauled away and a neighboring building still standing will be next to be torn down.

I had this area on one of the original modules that needed something but I did not want to block the view of the row of Green Max houses so this type of scene seemed like a good solution.

A base of .040 styrene was made to fit the area.  To model what was left of some perimeter and interior walls I used .two courses 080 x .080 styrene strip that I carved up to resemble broken concrete using my hobby knife and spue cutter.

Diluted white glue was spread within the walls and Woodland Scenics talus material was sprinkled into the glue.

After the glue had dried I applied Testors acrylic aged concrete to the walls and the talus.  On the talus I dipped the brush in water first to make the paint dilute so it would spread into the crevices.

To make larger debris I used a metal nibbler tool to cut chunks from left over scraps from kit bash projects.  I also threw in some broken scale wood scraps and small chunks from cork roadbed scraps.

These larger chunks were built into a pile on the site held together with diluted white glue.   This pile was painted in several colors representing concrete, wood, metal, etc. then everything on the site was given a coat of Testors black detail wash.

This TomyTec dump truck came with a very plain load.  I used it as a pattern to cut a piece of styrene the same sized then plied up some of the large scraps and saturated it with diluted white glue.

So here is the almost finished scene.  The older building still standing was left over from the TomyTec sake shop kit and heavily weathered.  It also hides one of the screws holding the scene to the module.  The large blue back hoe hides the other screw.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Installing TomyTec traffic signals

Another of the gift items I had received was a TomyTec set of traffic signals.  The set includes 8 poles with traffic signals and pedestrian walk / don't walk signals and 4 control boxes.   I noticed that the green lights on 4 of the poles are actually blue but don't know the meaning of that.

My three way intersection with three cross walks on the expansion module would need 3 sets of traffic lights and six pedestrian lights.

In this photo of the intersection I have placed labels showing the type, location, and direction of each signal needed.

P = Pedestrian
T = Traffic.

Because of the odd angle of my intersection I needed to change the angle of the pedestrian signal in reference to the traffic signal on two of the signal poles.  To do this I cut the pole in between the two signal heads and glued them back together at the angle needed with a polystyrene tube  for re-enforcement.  A third traffic signal pole was used without being modified.

The poles were repainted Floquil CN gray which was a close match to the original pole color then given a wash of  Model Master black acrylic weathering wash to bring out the details.  The set comes with a base for each signal pole.  I did not use the bases but found them handy to hold the poles while painting and weathering them.

Three of the poles were cut off between the signal heads to be used as a pole with pedestrian signal only poles.

To do a typical 4 way intersection it would take 4 of these plus 4 unmodified signal poles so a single kit with 8 poles could do it.

Here is a shot from a similar angle as the one with all the blue labels with all of the traffic signal poles installed.  All six signal poles and the control box are visible in this photo.  There is still much to be done on on this intersection scene but so far I am happy the results.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Street markings

I have always wanted to apply some sort of street markings on the Musashi-Koyama modules.  Adding the small expansion module with it's streets seemed like a good time to do it.

Shown in this photo is a Kato set of road stickers that is part of their Diotown series of products.  I would need quite a few of these to get enough of the white striping and they seem to be hard to find right now.  I did not even see them last year when I visited the Kato store in Tokyo.

On the Hot Springs junction module's station platforms I had used Builders in Scale HO scale yellow highway striping to create the platform edge warning line and had liked the results.  I posted about this in June of 2014 in a post titled Scratch built platforms - Part 3

So I picked up two versions of this same product in white at my local hobby shop.  One version has solid lines just like the yellow one and the other version has dashed line of varying lengths.

I was concerned that being HO scale the lines might look over sized but they are actually just a bit slimmer than the lines that are on the bases of some of the kits.  This photo shows a side by side comparison of a TomyTec bus stop base and my striping work on the Musashi-Modules.

To do the boundary lines I used a .010 x .250 strip of polystyrene as a guide lined up along the edge of the road and held in place with blue painters tape.  The painters tape I used is the type that is for delicate surfaces.  It takes a bit of practice to keep the lines straight.

I used a narrow paint roller handle with a hard plastic roller to press the lines down once they were in the right position.

Gentle curves like the one showed in this photo can easily be made.  I also did sharper curves around a 90 degree corner but those were quite a bit harder to do.

I had originally planned to use the dashed lines product for the cross walks but realized that it would create too narrow of a cross walk.

So I cut a 3/4 inch strip off the end of the solid line product to use for the cross walks.  This would scale out to about 10 ft or 3 meters which is about right.

When applying the cross walk lines I used a square cut piece of polystyrene sheet as a guide to line up the edges and the spacing between the lines was just done by eye with the spacing between the lines being the same as the line width.

The line ends were close but not perfect.  This flaw seems to be the most noticeable so I used a straight edge and a hobby knife with a new blade to even them up using the two shortest ones as a guide.  The cut off sections were then gently pulled away.

When all the basic lines and the cross walks were done, all of the streets were given a little weathering with Bragdon weathering powders and a coat of Testors Dullcoat.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Basic layout of expansion module

After experimenting for a few days with placement of features on the extension module the photo below shows what I decided on.  This layout is freelanced but based on some features that do exist at this location. There is a wider street, that intersection has traffic signals but the intersection is 4 way.  There is a small Tokyo Police Box (station) on this street which is a two story building. When the surface rail line was in service there was an electrical sub-station next to the tracks and the Police station was in a slightly different location and was a small one story building.

The seam between the two modules is at the top of the darker road surface.  As there has been good results using a joiner-less track connection on the Hot Springs Junction Ntrak module I am trying that out again here with two tracks.


The streets are done with 2 layers of .020 Evergreen polystyrene sheet which has been secured to the module with Liquid Nails for projects.  On the original modules I had airbrushed all the streets with Floquil SP light lark gray but this paint is no longer available.  On the expansion module I have airbrushed the streets with some Floquil grimy black which appears way to dark for my liking.  What I will probably end up doing is hand brushing all the streets on all three modules with Model Master reefer gray so they will match.

Sector plates

The three areas around the streets which have been air brushed with Testors concrete are .040 thick sheets of polystyrene sheet with an addition .040 thickness of sidewalks.  These "sector plates" are not attached to the modules and can be removed and taken to the bench to work on.  When installed on the module the sector plates are held in place by the buildings which have 4-40 screws extending through their bases.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Modeling Japanese Buses

As great as the passenger rail systems are in Japan, there are also a great many buses.   It makes sense as there are going to be places where the trains don't go and a connection can be made by bus.  Bus stops are often just outside a train station and can easily be included in a modeled scene.  Lucky for us modelers that TomyTec offers some great models of Japanese buses.  Below are examples of three basic types.

Bus tours are very popular in Japan and this is a model of a Japanese tour bus.  There are many companies that run these tours and some of the buses are quite colorful.

There are trains that go to the airport but another option if you have a lot of luggage is an airport shuttle bus.  These make stops at many of the major Tokyo hotels and several of the train stations.

This is a model of a typical city transit bus.  They are smaller than American transit buses and less luxurious than the Japanese tour and airport shuttle buses.  The same Suica card used for the trains also works to pay for a bus ride.

All of these bus models have fantastic details both inside and out.  Even the license plates are readable.  This one is from Shinagawa-ku which is the same general area of Tokyo where Musashi-Koyama is located.

The transit bus body can also be used with a motorized chassis to work with the TomyTec Moving Bus System.

This is the package that the transit bus comes in. Included in the package are some bus stop signs.  The tour and airport shuttle buses come in a cardboard box.

The transit bus was given to me as a gift and I will be using it along with some bus stop shelters that were also a gift on the new extension of the Musashi-Koyama modules .

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Difference between a yard and a meter

When I started building the Musashi-Koyama module set in 2010 I tried to follow the AsiaNrail specifications carefully.  Everything in the AsiaNrail standard is metric, track spacing, track set back from the modules edge, etc.  The one thing I had overlooked was the dimension of the module frame.  I built a pair of modules 36 x 18 inches !

The depth of the module is no big deal but the length is.  This module set has been in several shows now and the way we have worked around it has been to use it as an end terminal on a branch line.  That's OK but it would be great to get it into the loop part of the layout and Paul has a nice 2 meter long staging yard that would match the length on the opposite side of a loop if this module set were the correct length.

It seemed like the best way to correct the problem would be to build another small module that could be attached to one end and bring the length of the set up to 2 full meters.  The length of the module would need to be 6 - 3/4 inches and the depth could be anything up to the 14 inch depth of the main modules.

So I built this small extension that can be attached to the right end of the pair of modules.  It is 6-3/4 inches wide and with it added the module set will be a full 2 meters.
With the top and bottom sealed and cork roadbed in place I am now mulling over what to do for scenery on this extension.  I do have a number of items already that will fit in well.

Anyone who has built a display layout or modules knows one of the biggest motivators to getting things done is having a show to take the layout to.  Because of schedule conflicts I have not had the opportunity to have modules in an AsiaNrail layout for almost 2 years and have been working on an American prototype home layout instead.  It is now planned for there to be a joint Ntrak / AsiaNrail layout at the Los Altos Train Day event on September 17th and 18th so I am motivated to finish this new small module and perhaps get some for scenery done on the main modules.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Adjustable height leg system

To make the height of the track correct so that the AsiaNrail layout can interchange with an Ntrak layout Mountain Division track using the Hot Springs Junction Ntrak module, the AsiaNrail layout has to be lowered from 51 to 43 inches.  Back in the fall of 2014 we did a layout exhibition using this configuration which included for the first time the Musashi-Koyama modules and at the time I simply shortened the legs.  All of Paul's AsiaNrail modules have adjustable legs and that's what I need to have for the Musashi-Koyama modules as well.

When I had shortened the leg assemblies to 40 inches I had to make new top cross boards.  Those boards never got painted as I knew I would need to someday make the height setting adjustable to use the modules at the 51 inch height again.

This is what the leg assemblies looked like after I had done that first modification.  Now I am cutting again at the locations shown in this photo.

A new pair of legs was added to the upper section inside of the cut off sections of legs that remained at the edges of the top cross boards. 1/4 inch thick plywood strips were added to one side of each leg so that when put together the legs are sandwiched in between.  10-24 bolts and tee nuts are used to hold the leg at one of two different heights.

Here is a photo of one of the completed leg assemblies set in the lower position.  A leg height of 40 inches will set the track height at 43 inches with the screws at the bottom of the legs at about halfway in their 2-1/2 inch adjustment range.

The black parts are the original structure and the unpainted parts are new material.  When finished everything was repainted with a black enamel.

Here is the same leg assembly set at the 48 inch height.  This sets the track level at 51 inches.   Some modifications were also made to how these legs go together in their stored mode for transport.

With the experience of modifying this set of legs I will be building an entire new set of legs for the Hot Springs Junction Ntrak module.  I currently have two 4 foot Ntrak modules but only one set of legs.  An adjustable leg set for the Hot Springs Junction module will allow it to be used in either an Ntrak layout or in an AsiaNrail layout.  It will also allow me to have both of my Ntrak modules in a layout at the same time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Beyond the Palm Arcade

It's been way too long since I've added anything to the Tokyo in N Scale blog.  The modules are for using in a display layout and I have not had any opportunities recently to display the modules so my focus has been more on my home layout.  Hopefully I will get a chance to display the modules this year.

During our trip to Japan in November 2011, Nona and I took a walk all the way through the Palm Arcade to see what's on the other side.

This photo shows what it looks like at the far end of the Palm Arcade.  It has a structure very similar to the one at the station end.

We were surprised to find that the street itself continued on for as far as we could see and that it hosted a busy retail district of it's own.

Eventually we came upon this rail crossing and small station.  This is the Togoshi-ginza station on the Tokyu Ikegami line.  It's one of those old time small stations similar to Green Max station kit # 27.

It was another pleasant afternoon exploring Tokyo.