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medusa

Nekomori - a temporary layout and scenery

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medusa

When I started my japanese model railway, I had nothing but a loop of tracks on our dinner table in my mind. First modeling was mainly technical, I repaired a number of locos I bought 2nd hand and just needed a loop to do a testdrive.
Oh, I knew the wonderful photos of JR layouts in the web (a large number were from this forum here) but I simply had and still have no space for a permanent setup. So, I put together my Kato tracks on the white tabletop on weekend. Well. Reminded me to snow and became boring pretty fast.

When I got the Shinkansen 500 as birthday present, I started to think about some temporary scenery. A future high-speed viaduct track is a fine idea, but it looks really pretty only if it has something green below it. (I quickly dropped the idea of an urban scenario since that's a lot of buildings to store... requires too much space.)
Most simple was a piece of green cotton fabric as base. Bought it from a local storehouse and painted some rice field border pattern and a road on it. For storage, it can be simply folded to a really tiny size (well, from time to time it needs to be ironed to get the wrinkles out).

About the track layout, my personal taste is "less is more" on model railroads. A rural scenario will require a minimum amount of landscape to convince me. A big station was out of question. So, the layout became basically of concentric loop topology. Basic version was with no interconnections between the loops. (Let's see what comes up later in my mind.)
Next, seeing still our furniture behind the simple scenery and tracks made me think about some background photo.

I build some cardboard frame to keep poster-size landscape photos upright. The posters are kept by tiny supermagnets in place, and the frame can be taken apart for storage.
The main cardboard bar in the center is hollow. I made its height compatible to Kato's viaduct tracks I planned at that time as a future expansion. Width is sufficient for double track. So, the main loop can return through the ground floor of the bar while the viaduct line later will return on top of the bar.
I modeled the cardboard frame and poster parts with kind of theater set in mind so the trains can enter the scenery from the return tracks behind the center poster. Of course it looks much better if the exits of the tracks are hidden behind some kind of hill models. Next chapter opened. :)

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The wooded hills are made from thick cardboard pieces (I had some storage boxes left from our last move, that's quite stable stuff). The hills are hollow shells so they easily can be stacked for storage. Painted them dark green on the outside and glued trees (dyed Iceland moss) on all three.
Since there was so much moss left over, I made some additional tree groups and hedges from it (I have still plenty of the stuff left).

The fun thing at this point of the story was, what was planned as a very simple background for a Shinkansen line now started to become something on its own. As I write these lines I still have no elevated high-speed tracks (but will get some soon, finally).
I decided a landscape of rice fields in some distance from Mt. Fuji in the background may be much prettier if a small village resided in it. Which of course would need a very small one-platform station and an EMU stopping at it. :)

Because my love and me like cats so much, the village quickly got its name: Nekomori. You find on the photos most of the buildings are of Tomytec, figures from various sets. The photos are somewhat outdated, made most of them in the past for posts in the 1zu160 forum. Meanwhile a have some more accessories. As these things go...
BTW, it was not easy to find N scale cats. Finally I got some 1/148 from UK, but I had to paint them myself. My old eyes are not the best any longer, so I did that under a big magnifying glass using an 000 size brush. Phew.

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Some crisis popped up when I noticed that my brand new EMU acquired at that time has colors of the Yokosuka line. Well, (sidebranch of?) Yokosuka line on one side and a view to Mt. Fuji on the other side means probably Nekomori has to be somewhere in Kanagawa prefecture.
Further, I found out at that time the "Yu" and "Ni" in the EMU's name read "for mail and baggage transport".
Oops.
I'm not a rivet counter at all, but I needed a good story for this to convince myself. *takes a deep breath*
Maybe it's again that story of platform 6 1/2 (which of course never can be found by muggles), maybe there is one in Ofuna station and the forgotten Nekomori sidebranch of the Yokosuka line starts there... and because there is not much mail volume on that branch, the friendly JR East people take the high school students of Nekomori down to Kamakura and back...? :D

Fortunalely I managed to get the right bus for Kanagawa prefecture. I would have felt really too much Baka Gaijin buying a Hiroshima city bus (or the like) happily driving around Mt. Fuji... :(

 

(to be continued)

~Diane.

Edited by medusa
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velotrain

Perhaps your EMU could be of the YuNiNeKo class, exclusively for the transport of cats ;-)

 

You could add a coach, so their owners could travel on the same train as them, and maybe a cat café car?

 

I'm attaching a couple of images from along the Nekomori during a slow time in the schedule.  Actually, based on the condition of the track, this line doesn't see much traffic at all.

 

 

gallery_941_192_84044.jpg

 

 

gallery_941_192_172087.jpg

 

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utrainia

Love the railway, really simple but quick to set up and store, and it looks really believable too.

 

Some crisis popped up when I noticed that my brand new EMU acquired at that time has colors of the Yokosuka line. Well, (sidebranch of?) Yokosuka line on one side and a view to Mt. Fuji on the other side means probably Nekomori has to be somewhere in Kanagawa prefecture.
Further, I found out at that time the "Yu" and "Ni" in the EMU's name read "for mail and baggage transport".
Oops.
I'm not a rivet counter at all, but I needed a good story for this to convince myself.

 

Well a small rural town probably needs lots of supplies bought in, especially these days when everyone is buying stuff online. Perhaps it is a 3rd sector line and the local council has reached an agreement with the post company to transport the mail in return for reduced delivery fees. Besides, it looks like the second part of the EMU has plenty of seating, and if they are coming from afar they are probably bringing luggage, suitcases and cats in cat-carriers!

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Kabutoni

Nice ideas going on here! I'd almost say this could be a branch line of the JNR Sagami line, but during the era these trains were in operation, the Sagami line was pretty much without overhead wires.

 

You could also imagine this line as a branch line of the Chuo Main line, as trains in this livery also ran there.

 

What company exactly is the bus from (I'm not too knowledgeable on that)?

 

P.s. the スリーエフ convenience store is pretty spot on for rural Kanagawa ;)

Edited by Kabutoni
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cteno4

Diane,

 

Excellent! Great stuff, you can do a lot with temp setup and cheats like your backdrops!

 

On a project we had to animate a fly through of a coral reef and the animators blanched at first trying to do the whole 3D model of the reef with the budget given, so to keep on budget we did the same thing as your layered photo cutouts (of real reefs) and arranged them good orientations to the flight path and it came out brilliant! And under beget so we did like 4x what was planned. Simple effects can go a long way when you have constraints!

 

Cheers

 

Jeff

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medusa

@velotrain:

really cute photos.

I think KuMoYuNiNeKo cars inevitably run on the Meow line. :D

 

@utrania:

In fact I bought the second car because I think of it as passenger car. However, the included receipt stated the 83-800 also is a Kumoyuni type.But at least the 82 and 83 ran really together as 2-car units (as far as I understood).

I keep that idea about cat-carriers in mind... maybe Nekomori has a bright future as a holiday resort for cats (and, their owners...).

 

@Kabutoni:

The bus is of Tomytec bus collection, I believe it is "tsurumi rinko" (don't have the original box left to check for). Seems as single item it's no longer on sale at AmiAmi.

About convenience stores I saw a report on NHK world TV. Got the imagination no community in Japan can be without one. So of course I had to get one for Nekomori, too. Glad I was lucky with this one.

Thanks for the hint with Chuo line. I will have an exciting Saturday afternoon with Google Earth and a map of Greater Tokio rail transport line network. ;)

 

@cteno4

A temporary layout has its surprising moments. Besides from the fact that it never looks exactly the same, during setup sometimes little stories start to develop. See below what happened when the EF65 arrived last year...

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Edited by medusa
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Kabutoni

@Kabutoni:

The bus is of Tomytec bus collection, I believe it is "tsurumi rinko" (don't have the original box left to check for). Seems as single item it's no longer on sale at AmiAmi.

About convenience stores I saw a report on NHK world TV. Got the imagination no community in Japan can be without one. So of course I had to get one for Nekomori, too. Glad I was lucky with this one.

Thanks for the hint with Chuo line. I will have an exciting Saturday afternoon with Google Earth and a map of Greater Tokio rail transport line network.

 

Ah, yes. Tsurumi Rinkō. Only hearing the name brings the smell of sea and heavy industry to mind. I think not a single line there runs through a rural area... It's all pretty much a built up steel and concrete jungle there. Then again, you never know if the company has one offbeat line. Even Enoden runs bus services all the way to Yokohama station a few times per day! ;) The easiest solution for any Kanagawa bus company is Kanachū (Kanagawa Chūō Kōtsū, a part of the Odakyū Group), which can be seen virtually nearly anywhere in the prefecture and beyond.

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medusa

Kabutoni,

 

I studied a little bit about Chuo line. Thought first it's going too far north, leaving Kanagawa entirely, but then ...

 

Let's take that from a more scientific approach. The Wikimedia photo I took as base for my background was made from Hakone. So I drew a circle with that radius around Mt. Fuji, and it met Chuo line about at Otsuki. The azimuth is different from there but since Mt. Fuji is a nearly perfect cone this doesn't matter much.

Second I digged into satellite photos of the landscape near Otsuki. To the south, the valley of river Sagami is quite the kind I like: flat alluvial plane with fields, surrounded by wooded hills. That's exactly what I already have.

Moreover, a little more south there seems to be a high-speed track crossing the valley. Absolutely the scenario I want for Nekomori!

 

So, big thanks for that hint! Seems the magic platform 6 1/2 is on Otsuki station. :)

And about the bus, seems I better look for one from Yamanashi prefecture. (Anyone here needing a Rinko?)

 

~D.

Edited by medusa

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kvp

Just a quick remark for the baggage emus: Some of them actually did get rebuilt into passenger sets for smaller rural lines when baggage services ceased, so with a little bit of imagination, you can say it's a rebuilt combine set. (some iida lines sets were like that irl and also painted in yokosuka livery) That would make it a kumoyuni-kumoha pair or in this case a kumoyuni-kumoneko set, especially if some of the seating is actually cat baskets built into the old mail sorting racks.

 

I really like the layout and the scenery, especially how it could change every time it's set up.

 

ps: a NeKo car actually means a lightweight sleeper car in old JNR terminology and sleeping is what cats usually do... :-)

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Kabutoni

I live near the Sagami river valley (I actually live in the Sakai river valley) and I can say that Kanachu buses dominate the area there, as this is right through Kanagawa prefecture. It's the same setting as your layout's environment and the Tokaido Shinkansen crosses the valley around Kurami on the Sagami line. The Sagami line runs parallel to the Sagami river and is entirely single track and electrified.

 

The atmosphere is more of a private railway network, as it used to belong to Sotetsu before the war, so there are lots of curves and the line can be isolated from the JR network by cutting only a few points in Chigasaki and Hashimoto. Ypu can even excuse yourself to run freight on this line, as until the late 1990s freight trains used to run here between Chigasaki and the Atsugi military base near Yamato city.

 

I'll try to dig up some pictures from around there. If I can't find any, it's a gokd idea to hop on the bicycle and snap some shots anyway. I haven't gone rail fanning the Sagami line side yet.

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JR 500系

Really nice layout with an interesting theme! The Japanese love cats so this would be interesting indeed! How about a cat-shaped station like Kishi station on the Wakayama line?  :)

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medusa

About the Kumoyuni 82 I read that a number of them were modified as mobile workshops for maintenance and emergency repair. I was not aware that some 83's were modified as Kumoha, but it was one of the "what if.."s I thought about (and bought one). ;)

 

I really like the upper reach of the Sagami river, and it is really stunning such a location I had only imagination of really exists. Did some virtual walks/drives in Google Earth on an number of locations in/near Sagami river valley. It's a wonderful place, certainly right for Nekomori. When I finally visit Japan i must do a short trip there.

 

Cat-shaped station building... guess Japan is the only contry where this can become reality. Maybe, if ancient Egypt would have had some forerunner of a railroad, there would have been a chance, too. :)

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kvp

Check the 123 series for some examples of baggage cars turned into passenger units. They were 143 baggage, 143 tractor (shop) or 147 postal units. One of your cars is a baggage, the other is a postal unit, both in the 72 series family and one conversion was the kumoha84. Although the kumoneko aka. the motorised light cat sleeper car with cab sounds way better.

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medusa

Dived today into AmiAmi, Kanachu buses seem to be sold out at the moment. Well, guess they will be restocked some day.

 

Digging through my old photos (searched some for other posts here) I found the very beginnings of Nekomori in summer 2015:

 

post-4432-0-60798900-1481839285_thumb.jpg

Edited by medusa
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Kabutoni

That looks pretty neat! This somehow reminds me however of Ibaraki (where my wife is from). Big farm houses and rice paddies. A temple/shrine here and there hidden in a little forest and a railway line cutting through the patchwork.

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medusa

Guess it was satellite photos of Ibaraki or Chiba I searched first for an appropiate rice field pattern... and I was quite pleased that road and railway lines simply cut into the fields like on a model layout. :)

 

Despite of the grey dim winter days, this weekend I made some photos of the actual state of Nekomori. Since in a few days there will be new hardware coming in (already counting the days like a child...), this will be probably the last documentation of the Nekomori layout without Shinkansen line. I don't expect everything will be the way I plan it so there may be larger layout changes neccessary.

 

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The total shows some EF65 towing a couple of strange cars while it overtakes the local EMU waiting at the station platform. Nekomori has some new detail: first, I found some poles for electric lines. Some of the poles even have tiny transformes at the top. I glued washers under the bases to make them more stable on this temporary setting.

Overall I have some more cars, and by searching more satellite images I found many japanese villages are surrounded by greenhouses. Bought one set to check, and I like it. Will get some more in the future.

Last but not least the shrine in the hillside has got a blossoming cherry tree.

 

EDIT: typos....

Edited by medusa
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medusa

Soooo.....

 

getting my Yule present and after some preparations yesterday, today was first setup time. I used my normal background and landscape stuff but not yet Nekomori itself and no sidebranch of the Chuo line running KumoNeko cars. ;)

Today's test was only about if the viaduct track fits at all.

 

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I first set up just the cardboard framework, no poster yet. As I found out yesterday in some preliminary measurements on my bench, the original center bar was not tall enough to allow the panto of a car in the ground floor to pass without contact to the bottom of the viaduct, I added one layer of cardbord. Today, in the "real" setup I checked that once more. Just to be sure, but all was fine.

One little detail is visible, that sort of failure like "someone has to tell the managers". I need some 124mm straight viaduct to make the loop perfect. At the moment, there is some single track viaduct part in as replacement. So, currently only the outer loop is usable.

 

post-4432-0-19845500-1482505182_thumb.png

 

Tested also if the cardboard stuff has right sizes to fit everything together. Some critical point is about the width of the viaduct, I feared first it was too broad to put the posters still in place (didn't recognize that when I built the cardboard frame). In the end it turned out all is fine. Since the viaduct line is so close, it sort of "graps" the bottom of the corresponding poster and keeps it in place. It's even easier to clip in the magnet then.

 

 

post-4432-0-49539000-1482505194_thumb.png

 

Final setup of today -- I was quite impressed of the viaduct. With catenary put on, it looks quite like the real thing. However, seems the radius is a little bit narrower than I planned. The front track is not at the edge of the table (like I planned). Will have to check yet if the single line EMU line on the bottom later has enough space besides the pillars of the viaduct.

 

post-4432-0-84488000-1482505207_thumb.png

 

Last image is about what I love in model trains. Of course, the Shinkansen 500 in all glory of the 12 cars I have, did the opening of my Shinkansen line.  Getting the right prespective, it looks almost real...

 

~D.

Edited by medusa
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serotta1972

That looks awesome medusa!  You're putting my little setups to shame, you're taking the temporary setup to a new level.   I might have to step up my game a little bit.  Thanks for the inspiration.   :)

Edited by serotta1972
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JR 500系

That is temporary? Man it looks great! And a very nice idea to use mats for temporary roads!

 

The last picture of the 500 series is stunning... the 500 series remains my upmost favorite train of all times...

 

Thanks for sharing!

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cteno4

Love the blending of the background image and the scenery section bit! nice job!

 

jeff

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medusa

... the 500 series remains my upmost favorite train of all times...

 

Same here. :D

 

 

I think photos like the one you like could be made on nearly all model train layouts. Mine is not special about that. The point is to get the right perspective. Normal model train photos look like made from a plane since the human normally looks (and takes photo) down to the table with the scenery. I learned much about that when I assisted my wife in taking photos of her dolls (she has a big collection of Momoko dolls, also from Japan).

You can make tiny things look real if you put the camera lens in a place where a tiny "observer" in the scenery would wait for a snapshot. In my train layout, somewhere beyond the table would be the (in model non-exisiting) hills on the other side of the valley. Clearly an observer on the hillside or a bridge could wait for a Shinkansen to approach.

Note all this is only imaginary but helps to find a place from which the view (in your head) suddenly pops to "hey, it's real". It is all about imagination. ;)

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medusa

Since the dinner table is naturally occupied these days, I had just the time for a short further test...

 

post-4432-0-98904400-1482676396_thumb.png

 

It's kind of cross-section of the viaduct and the local track as I usually set it up. Seems the local track on the ground will collide with the viaduct pillars as I feared. DANG.

Need an alternative plan. Main problem with the ground track is, it has to cross the road at an angle.

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serotta1972

Hi Medusa, may I ask about your layout background - was that bought or your own photo and just blown up and printed?  I'd like to get something similar.  Thanks.

 

-Junior

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medusa

I digged into japanese landscape photos on Wikimedia Commons. Just wanted to avoid any copyright problems so I chose one with a CC license. The background I chose is named "Mt.Fuji from Hakone" by user "PokeYourHeadOff" and released under Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA 3.0 so it's no legal problem to show it here as derivative work.

 

A good start for you may be to dig into the Wikipedia article about your favourite place in Japan. In nearly all Wikipedia articles you'll find some link into the Wikimedia Commns database at the bottom. Look there for "Nature of..." or Landscape of..." or even "Panorama of..." subfolders.

If you find one you like, try to download the highest resolution you can find (4000x3000 is minimum).

 

I had to do some work with GIMP (Photoshop also will do) with the original to get the right parts out of the image. Actually I tricked somewhat to extend the panorama, you can easily see the left and right "wings" of my background are the same. Just one of them is mirrored. ;)

 

In the end I copied the parts together on a common white rectangle and let it print out by some web printshop in size DIN A0 (about 80x60 cm). Cost was about 30 Euros, should be more or less the same in all print/ copyshops. Mine provided a UV stable clear scratch protection layer for free.

Edited by medusa
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serotta1972

Ooh thank you so much for such a thorough response. I will attempt to do the same.

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