Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Report from Train Days 2018

This past weekend we had an AsiaNrail layout setup for the 10th annual Los Altos Train Days event. As we have done before, the Peninsula Ntrak club also had a layout in the same room with the mountain division track on my Hot Springs Junction Ntrak module being one of the 5 branches of the AsiaNrail layout.

Here is an overall view of the AsiaNrail layout taken on Sunday morning before the show opened.  This layout was like a 4 point fork with the link to the Hot Springs module being the handle of the fork for a 5th branch.

With no connecting tracks to install the setup and tear down went more quickly.  We did have to play around in the beginning keeping the alignment of the rails whenever modules got bumped.  It seemed by late Saturday everything had settled in fine and we had no further derailments.

In past layouts with this configuration I had mounted the control panel on the front of the Hot Springs module but this time it got mounted on the back inside the Ntrak loop to keep the kids from messing with it.  One of the Ntrak guys would move the points when needed.

This photo is actually from the Hiller exhibit last spring but shows Paul's junction module which allows for two independent point to point operations or interchange.    For this layout one long point to point operation was between my Hot Springs and Mushahi-Koyama modules.

Besides Paul and myself, we had 4 other operators so a total crew of 6 which was just right for this setup. 

The public attendance was estimated by the museum to have been about 3,000.

Thanks to Junior Flores and Julia Jackson for letting me use some of their photos.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Update on the Kaigan module

I had wanted to test both the track and electrical interfaces on the new module with the Hot Springs Junction module.  When I was setting this up I realized that I had never installed the trolley poles on the small interface module and the scenery seemed a bit lite or faded compared the the main module.

So after a bit of work here is the view after adding a bit of greener scenery to the small interface module along with the trolley poles.

The track and electrical interfaces worked fine with repeated testing so this new module is ready for exhibit.

Last I had 1/4 inch Acrylic shields made for this module and attached to each side with 8-32 thumb screws.  These won't been needed in every layout setup but I wanted them for this next show as we won't have any rope barriers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Exterior stairs finished at long last

Just over two weeks left before the Los Altos Train Days show.  I am making a final push to get some more scenery done and have been focusing on some buildings that have been left half done for quite some time.

Here is the prototype photo of the exterior stairs on the side of what I call the mister Donut building.  I built the model of the building back in 2011 and started the stairs at that time but never finished them until recently.

These types of stairs are common on commercial buildings in Japan and I wanted to have at least one example of this.

The stairs were built as a separate assembly which made them much easier to work on then.  I tried to match the paint color of the original building as best I could and air brushed the stair assembly before gluing it to the side of the building.

Here is the photo of the finished building.  It feels great to finally have this project done.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Finishing up some old scenes

There are a few areas on the Musashi-Koyama module set that have remained only partly finished for several years now.   The work to replace some problem turnouts and extend the track to ends of the modules is now done and there is a bit of time left before the next show so I am going back and finally finishing up a couple of those.

The scratch built mister Donut building now has tenants on every floor after I added some signs made from the stickers from various kits.  I am also working to finish the exterior stairway for this building.

The two story building next to the mister Donut building is also now fully occupied by a french restaurant and a deli on the first floor and a 24 hour Internet cafe and a real estate office upstairs.
I have also been adding a few more people and some motor bikes in various places.  I use a tweezers to hold these 2 wheeled vehicles in place while the adhesive sets as shown in this photo.

So, besides hopefully operating better with the new turnouts this module set will have at least some new scenery items in place.

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.