Thursday, August 16, 2018

Replacing some problem turnouts

With only a month to go before the next exhibit, both Paul and I have been working on the modifications to the track on our module ends to have the next layout "joiner-less" as explained in last April's post Joinerless joints for a quicker set up.

In past layouts we have had some problems with some equipment getting through the crossover at one end of my Musashi-Koyama module set so I decided to replace those turnouts with new Peco code 55 turnouts at the same time.

Because the Micro-Engineering and Peco turnouts have slightly different angles I had to remove some of the track back to the beginning of the platform to get everything to line up right.  This photo shows the new cross over and track to the edge of the module.

Paul had ordered several Peco double track spacing guides and gave me a couple.  This is what we are using for a standard on all the double track module ends that we are modifying.

The original Micro-Engineering turnouts will be rebuilt and reused on my American prototype home layout.

Monday, August 6, 2018

New trains on the JR Nambu line

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that we had used the JR Nambu line for part of our day trip to Ome in June of last year.  We rode between Musashi-Kosugi and Tachikawa but this line is actually part of an outer loop line around the Tokyo area.  We had used this line a few times before and have noticed newer and newer trains assigned to this line over the years.

I took this photo of a 205 series train when we rode the Nambu line in November of 2011.  At that time this line was one of only a few in the Tokyo area still running these and they were later replaced with the 209 series.

On this latest visit the 209's were gone and in their place were the the E233 series.  This was no surprise to me as I had already read about this change on the Tokyo Railway Labyrinth blog.

I had been wanting to buy a model of the E233 for some time but had not decided yet which line to buy.  After riding the Nambu line with this train type I decided to get this one.  I liked the extra graphics on the sides of the end cars and a 6 car train was just the right size.

So on the last day we were in Tokyo I visited a few of the shops in Akihabra.  Kato had recently released a model of this train and it was in stock in several shops so I was able to shop for the best price.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

AsiaNrail at Train Days 2018

Train Days is an annual event held over a weekend in September at the Los Altos History Museum.  Either Peninsula Ntrak or AsiaNrail, or both have been part of this show almost every year.  We have been invited back this year and it is confirmed that we will have the AsiaNrail layout and we hope to have the Ntrak layout there as well.

This year's event will be on the weekend of September 15th and 16th.   Hours are 10:00am to 4:00pm both Saturday and Sunday.  Admission is $5.00 per family and parking is free.  The museum is located at 51 So. San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022

This layout will be the debut for my new module.  I have been working on it on and off since April and am now placing the final touches on it.  Inspired by last years trip to Kyushu, this module will be viewed from both sides and the cloud back drop shown in this photo is only temporary.

This layout will also be the first on where we will not be using any rail joiners between the modules so it is hoped that setup will be easier.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The JR Ome line

Here is another post from our trip to Japan last year.  While in Tokyo we made a day trip to a sake brewery in Sawai which is about 40 miles west of central Tokyo.  To get there we took the Tokyu-Meguro line to Musashi-Kosugi, then the JR Nambu line to Tachikawa and then from there we took the JR Ome line.   We had been on the Ome line before but had always gotten off at either Fussa or Hamura to meet some of Nona's family who live in that area.  This time we would be going almost to the end of the line.

The current trains on the Ome line are the same as on the JR Chuo line, 10 car consists of E233 series with an orange stripe.   The train stops in Ome where the line goes from double track to single track with passing sidings at the stations.

At Ome station, 6 of the 10 cars are removed from the train with 4 cars continuing.  I had always noticed the Chuo trains were made up of a 4 car consist plus a 6 car consist and now I know why.
Now here is something you don't see in Japan very often.  Between Ome and Sawai we were the only passengers left in our car.  Nice break from the packed trains in Tokyo.

Looking west from the platform in Sawai.   The line continues for several more stations climbing into the mountains.  At the end of the line there are some quarries.
At Sawai we got off the train and walked about 1 km down hill to the Sake brewery.  After visiting the brewery we walked back up the hill with several bottles of sake.

The Ome station looked quite old and in fact Nona mentioned that it looked the same as it did in the 1960's when she was a kid visiting her uncle who lived in Ome at that time.

Another view of the old shelter on the platform at Ome station.  I am glad to have visited this line when we did because I recently read that some of the stations on the Ome line are going to be rebuilt soon.

This view is looking east from the Ome platform.  We returned the way we came but with a stop in Tachikawa and dinner with family who live there.  We arrived back in Musashi-Koyama around 10:00pm.  It was a long day but a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

New wiring for the Kaigan module

I have not forgotten about the new module I started in April.  With the module frame modified I moved on to working on the track and electrical wiring.

All of the old wiring was replaced and the underside was repainted.  All of the new connectors and a gap switch were mounted on a section of aluminum channel.  Throttle and turnout power are carried through the module.

There is a gap in the rails in the middle of the module to allow for a boundary between two different throttle zones.  If it is not needed the gap switch can close the gap. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Nice surprise in Kyoto

Part of our travels around Japan in May / June of 2017 was to return to Kyoto to visit an area of the city that we had always run out of time to see in past visits.

Our destination was the bamboo forests in the Arashiyama area of the city.  We had stayed the night before at the hotel inside the main Kyoto JR station and the next morning took the JR Sanin main line to Saga-Arashiyama station.

During the short walk to the forest entrance I spotted a building just a short distance from the station that had this sign out in front.

Of course this caught my attention so we decided to stop in on the way back from the forest.

The Diorama Kyoto turned out to be rail museum with an operating HO scale Japanese prototype layout.   It went though day / night lighting cycles.

This layout also had the largest suburban areas I have ever seen modeled on a layout with trams running in some of the streets.

Trains were running continuously on several lines but there were also a couple of lines available for visitors to run a train after inserting a 100 yen coin so I gave it a go.  Great fun !

Friday, May 4, 2018

The trams of Nagasaki

Our hotel in Nagasaki was near the Shiambashi tram stop on lines 1 and 4 and this is where I took the first 3 photos in this series.

Number 1702 running on line 1.  A more modern type tram in what appeared to be a standard color scheme for the more modern trams.
Number 1303 was also running on line 1 and appeared to be the same type of tram but in a bright yellow and green paint advertising scheme.  Many of the trams were custom painted for advertising.  The same is done at home on buses, trams, and even commuter train cars.

Number 377 is another one running on line 1.  It was an older type tram done up in a blue and white paint scheme advertising Suntory coffee.
Walking a few blocks took me to a new location where lines 2, 4, and 5 run.  Number 1205 is another modern tram in the modern standard color running on line 5.

Near this spot the tram tracks branched off from the street and crossed the river channel on a bridge of their own as number 1503 is doing here.  If I ever do a layout that includes trams it will have a scene like this.
Number 202 was running on line 2 and is an older style with a green and pale yellow paint scheme which seemed to be standard for the older trams that did not have an advertising paint scheme.

Next is number 366 in an all yellow paint advertising paint scheme running on line 5.
Last is number 504 in the green and yellow paint scheme running on line 2.

I got lots of tram photos but we also rode these trams to various places we visited while we were in Nagasaki.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The trains of Kyushu

Last year Nona and I spent a month in Japan during May and June.  I took lots of train photos but have been busy with other things and had not had a chance to post any of them until now.  About half the time we were in Japan we were traveling by train throughout western Honshu and on Kyushu.  It was the first time either of us been to Kyushu and we wanted to see as much as possible so we mostly kept moving.

From Hakata station in Fukuoka we took a Kiha 185 "Yufu" to the town of Yufuin in the mountains.   We had wanted to get on the Kiha 72 Yufuin-no-mori but it was sold out.  After spending a night in Yufuin, the next day we continued on this same type of train in the same direction to reach Bepu.
The 883 Blue Sonic took us from Bepu on the eastern side of Kyushu around the northern coast  back to Hakata Station in Fukuoka.

We rode the Kyushu Shinkansen round trip the length of the island between Hakata and Kagoshima.  The trains we rode were 8 car consists of the 700 series.

The round trip between Hakata and Nagasaki was on the Kamome 885.

We spent a couple of nights  in Nagasaki and while we were there we rode on their excellent system of trams.  I got lots of photos of those that I will save for another post.

Of all of these trains the one I would like most to buy a model of is the Kiha 185 Yufu.  It would be perfect for the AsiaNrail layout.

These have been done by Micro Ace in 2 or 4 car sets a few times but are currently sold out.  Guess I will have to wait for the next release.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Joinerless joints for a quicker set up.

For display layouts made up of many small sections, installing the connecting tracks is one of the most time consuming and tedious jobs.  Back in the 2014 post "We don't need no stinkin rail joiners" I presented how the track connection between the Hot Springs Junction module and the small extension module was being made without using rail joiners. 

Following the success of that single track connection, I then added a double track version of this when I built the 2 Meter module to extend the Musashi-Koyama module set.  This has now been used a few times with continued success.

Prior to our most recent layout Paul had also changed the interface between the 2 sections of his Shifen Station module set.  This interface has 3 tracks and again we had good success with it.   That area is shown here before the interface was modified.
We decided at this show that we are now ready to take the next step of modifying all of the module track interfaces to joiner-less.  As I am laying new track on the Kaigan module it was laid right to the edge of the module.

I built this small module to use as a standard to align both the length of the rails and the alignment.
I placed 2 tracks on my standards module with the tracks spaced 25.5mm apart which is the AsiaNrail standard for double track.

In this photo the blue arrows point out the right hand rail on each track.   Hopefully we can have these all done before our next layout setup.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Concept for the new curved module

With the Musashi-Koyama modules and my American Prototype home layout being ongoing projects it would seem like starting another module is crazy.   Sometimes for me having something small to work on and actually completing is needed to get re-focused on the bigger projects.

I have had several ideas for this pair of skinny modules with 45 degree curved tracks but decided to use the ones that would take advantage of the depth of the module frames.

On this first one I wanted to create a scene of a rail line that closely follows the coast line.  The geography of Japan requires that many of the coastal rail lines do this.  This will be simple, with a single track and no structures.  I am calling this the Kaigan module which in Japanese means shore or coast.

In this photo I have cut away a section on the inside of the curve and added a new bottom from a scrap of Masonite.  This will be an area where there has perhaps been some erosion or landslides so will get some tetra-pods and rock to prevent future problems.
New Masonite fascias have been added to both sides.  The one on the inside of the curve is to allow for a bit of a lip to hold the Envriotex I am using to simulate the water and on the outside of the curve is a higher profile to support the hillsides the will be built up there.

The legs have received a coat of black semi-gloss enamel and the module frame a coat of primer.  New cork roadbed has also been installed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Starting a new AsiaNrail module

With the 9 day long Hiller exhibit now behind us, I have started on a new module project.  This is not exactly a "new" module and is actually quite old, let me explain.

Back in the 1970's Jim Fitzgerald, Paul Ingraham, and a few others here in the SF Bay area had a modular layout standard they called "Interail".  The dimensions were metric, and Paul's AsiaNrail module standards that we are currently using borrow some parts of the Interail standard.   From Paul's memory they had set up this Interail layout about 10 or 12 times including at the NMRA National Train Shows in Calgary in 1979 and in San Mateo in 1981.

A few of Paul's current AsiaNrail modules had originally been Interail modules and he had a pair of old Interail modules that had originally been built by Jim that he gave to me.

This is one of Jim's old Interail modules.  The modules are in metric dimensions.  They have a 22.5 degree angle on each end and if put together can make a 90 degree turn.

The first order of business to bring these old modules back to life was to give them legs.  These legs would need to adjust in height between the two heights we use on the AsiaNrail layout.  I had not made legs for this narrow of a module before but had some experience with legs for narrow modules from helping Paul set up his modules.

I decided on a design that uses pairs of 2 inch wide strips of cabinet grade plywood that are held together by 1/4-20 bolts.  The upper sections have 2 holes with Tee nuts set 8 inches apart while the lower sections have 3 holes set 8 inches apart.  To raise or lower the legs, different holes on the lower sections are used.
The first photo showed the legs at the 43.125 inch height.  This second photo shows the same set of legs raised to support the module at a 51 inch height which is the normal for AsiaNrail.  The cross supports on the top and bottom are bolted to the legs with 1/4-20 bolts into Tee nuts that are on 1/2 inch thick plywood wings that are attached to the leg sections.

For leveling and fine height adjustments, there are four 5/16-18 bolts on the bottom feet.
When not set up the pieces are re-assembled into a storage configuration with the leg sections being sandwiched between the cross supports.
Here is the module up on it's new legs.  There is not much on either of these modules except for code 80 track and lots of old ground foam scenery.  I have some plans for these that will be much more interesting and with the differences in type of track and wiring I am going to completely strip these down to the wood structure.

So being satisfied with the legs, the next step will be to paint them and then move on to the module itself.

Friday, April 6, 2018

2018 Hiller Aviation Museum show

All this week we have had the AsiaNrail layout set up at the Hiller Aviation Museum's annual Trains and Planes exhibit.  The Ntrak group had just had a layout two weeks before this and did not join us this year so this was a stand alone AsiaNrail layout this time.  However are not alone in the museum.  A large FreemoN (N scale) layout, a G scale layout, and an O scale layout are also part of the exhibit for the whole time.  This weekend there will also be an HO scale Swiss narrow gauge layout as well.

Each of our layouts are always a bit different and this was no exception.   We had a triangle of about 2.5 meters on each side with a long branch line and two short branch lines.  The main line was single tracked with a passing siding of some sort on each side.
The staging yard was kept busy with us running everything we had all week.  For this layout we tried some blue table cloth fabric for skirting, pinning it to the bottom edge of the module frames.  It seems OK but I think we need a better way to attach it.
Most of one side of the triangle was made of of my Musashi-Koyama module set.  The Plexiglass shields that did not quite fit right last time had been trimmed just a bit and fit perfectly this time.  They worked great in keeping the kids hands off things.
The longer branch line consisted of my junction Ntrak module and some of Paul's shorter curved modules.  This was the first time we had used the junction without the rest of the Ntrak layout.  I think some of those plexiglass shields will be in the future for this module. 

Here is a link to some great photos on the JNS Forum taken of the layout at both this years and last years shows.  This exhibit runs through Sunday, the 8th.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Hot Springs as an AsiaNrail module

Several years ago I rebuilt one of my Ntrak modules to include a junction between the Ntrak Mountain division track and AsiaNrail.  When I did this, I also had the idea that the module could be used as part of an AsiaNrail layout without using the Ntrak part.  The scenery was designed to be appealing from either side.  So far this module has been used in several joint Ntrak / AsiaNrail layouts and several Ntrak layouts without AsiaNrail.  With this upcoming week long exhibit at the Hiller Aviation Museum, the Ntrak layout will not be there so the opportunity is here to try out this concept.

Most AsiaNrail modules are no sky board, viewed from both sides.  So I made a profile board to replace the sky board for this layout, shown in this photo.  This covers the open back side of the hills where the turnout motors are.  The plan is for this module to be at the end of one of the branch lines.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Subway construction site details

Another item that I picked up on my visit last year to the Tomix store in Saitama was kit number 051 from their Diorama Collection.  I had seen two story prefab buildings like this on construction sites in Japan so wanted one of these for the subway construction site.

Here in the states these things tend to be single story mobile home looking things that are towed from site to site.  This is where the bosses hang out and have their meetings and such.

There was more in the kit than what the photo on the box suggest.   3 outhouses, 2 stacks of pallets, 6 sheets of material, and 3 stacks of girders.  There is also a sticker set.  The building is the only thing requiring any assembly and that was quite easy.
The office and a container from a TomyTec truck were placed over the screws that secure the construction staging area across the street from the subway site.  Extra tower crane sections, vehicles, figures, and details from the TomyTec set fill out the scene.
I recycled some of the old fence that was replaced in the last post.  I cut it into sections of steel deck plate which were stacked waiting to be installed.

This is what they look like after some paint and being installed in the scene.  Notice that some of the decking has already been installed on the concourse level of the station.
The truck the container came from got a new flat bed deck and another stack of those steel deck plates.  Another stack of steel deck plates was attached to one of the cranes to show the truck being unloaded.  Brass wire was used to make the cable saddle for the stack being moved by the crane.

Here is an overall view of this scene with one of the cranes.  Black thread was used to simulate the cables. 

The cranes are the tallest things on the module and I remove them for storage. 

I still think there should be something more substantial to the base of the crane but do not know what it should be.

The outhouses from the TomyTec set were placed around the site.  These things are normally pumped out once a week and I have included that function in this little scene.