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Jimbohara

Hi from Michigan!

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I had a used department store model railroad as a kid. I don't recall it working often. It was just the tracks, some diesel locomotive and I don't remember the cars very well. But later on, our family was friends with another family that moved from Japan and I saw my first detailed n scale train and click together track. I think it was a Kato but I wasn't aware of the brands at that time. But the precision and detail was really cool to see.

 

Today, about 30 years later and after a trip to Japan with my wife (her mother is from Japan and at the time had a house she inherited from her mother), I decided to dive back in. I've been reading off and on about DIY DCC controllers and I have the parts to make mine now. I also purchased some Kato trains:

 

* Tokaido Line 5 car set (10-522)

* DE10

* 2 x Kato 8002 container car and 1 x Kato 8003 container car with caboose

* Kato 11-103 motorized chassis

 

I also purchased a filament-based 3D printer to see what I could make particularly with buildings but also to put on top of the 11-103 motorized chassis. That is going well -- my first attempt that actually resulted in a body is clearly not to scale (it's too big). So I'm searching for a small locomotive to model that would roughly be the dimensions of the Kato 11-103.

 

For track, I'm trying Atlas Code 55 flex track. I ordered a bunch of track and both conductive and non-conductive connectors. But nothing more -- we have a train show and sale coming up this weekend and I'm going to see what is on offer there:

 

https://a2trainshow.com/

 

To get the DCC-side going, I'll use a piece of 36" flex track and put together the parts I've ordered. I also have an inexpensive DCC decoder that I'll try in the Kato 11-103 motorized chassis (LaisDCC). It all looks fairly straight forward however if I make a mistake, at least I won't be taking out a nice DCC decoder!

 

So my plan is to get things working on a piece of flex track and then move onto my first layout which will be inside the top of a large glass coffee table. It has dimensions of approximately 23.75" x 45.75" x 5.75" or 600mm x 1,160mm x 145mm. We have two young kids so I will likely add some side viewing panels of acrylic or glass. Not shown in the picture is that the other side has two drawers but thankfully they are not the full depth of the table body -- there is a good amount of space to put some electronics there and a cord would drop down to run to the wall (with an extension cord -- idea being it's not going to be going all the time just when we're actively playing with it).

 

https://imgur.com/a/86xrQ

 

Long term plan is to have a larger layout once we buy a house and I have more experience. As suggested by my username, I'd like to model Jimbohara station and maybe 3 other stations or scenes along the route from Tokyo to Takasaki. But that is all a rough plan off in the future.

 

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Welcome aboard. I am also a new user here, but I have found the old timers to be extremely helpful and friendly. I think you will get lots of good suggestions on how to move forward with your Japanese railroading dreams.

 

Kurt

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Welcome Jimbohara! I think you’ve found the right place for your hobby here. 

 

The layout project sounds great. Going to be tighter radiuses in there so not all equipment will run on it. Also with flex track on tighter radiuses you usually need to add some spikes at track joints if they are on a tight curve as they tend to want to kink at the joint. Small nail next to the track can help move the joint into a smooth curve. Experiment some with flex track on the bench and waste a pice or two to get your system down and use it to learn how it behaves. If it gets frustrating you can aloways look at the tomix or kato track, they have a lot of tight radius options now to do smaller layouts like this. Also a number of interesting plans out there. Start a project thread on this if you are interested!

 

great approach on the Dcc, start with more expendable and simple stuff while learning! 

 

The engine shell is a fantastic first whack! Resolution looks pretty good for a filament printer. Which one is it? If you feel like it feel free to put up a review here, lots of folks are getting interested in 3d printing and would be interested in your experiences and unit.

 

it will be interesting to see how it works for structures, not see much of that yet. I guess you need a good bit of filament to make any good sized bit of walls but that price seems to be coming down as the hobby is growing here. Again very interested in seeing how it all goes.

 

cheers

 

jeff

Edited by cteno4

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@cten04 I'm using the Creality CR-10S. It can print up to 300 x 300 x 400mm. I like it so far but there are definitely some pros/cons. This is my first 3D printer and I'm still working through some issues with it but overall I'm happy with it (with some caveats). Doing a review post is a good idea -- I'll do that probably after I get some parts in to make a change to it (I want to synchronize the z-axis lead screws to avoid it slumping on one side when powered off -- easy to workaround just gets annoying after a while so want a non-workaround fix).


For the filament, it's fairly inexpensive. A 1 kg roll costs between $15-25 USD (my current favorite costs about $20-24). That locomotive body used 1.35m or 4g of filament and we could round up to 5g for wastage (I'd guess wastage is closer to 0.2g) and we'd still be at 200 locomotive bodies for about $24 or 12 cents a piece (not including electricity -- just filament). But the reality is, with prototyping, I do a bunch of prints to get parts right. Like getting it to clip on to the Kato chassis took maybe 5-6 prints that were around 5mm high until I got it good enough. So actual cost is tricky -- I think with buildings, it'll be similar with prototyping but once I get down what works and what doesn't, should be fairly efficient. I'd really like to print the intricate tile roofs seen in Japan but I'm not sure this printer has enough resolution for it. It might just barely if I print the roof/tiles so most of the detail is on the z-axis.

 

Thanks for the tips on flex track -- I'm going to be completely new to it. I need to watch some more videos on how to lay it. I wouldn't have guessed at that kink point but thinking about tension and such, it makes sense that would be a pain point. I'll keep that in mind and I'll definitely follow your suggestion and waste some track playing around to make sure I understand how it works. I need to watch some more Youtube videos on flextrack too.

 

 

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Welcome.  Sounds like a fun project for 3D printing.   Keep us informed as you go.

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Thanks for the info! Yeah even doing larger building walls, I guess you will get a lot out of a kg of filament! Even with a smaller printer I’ve knoodled on doing modular walls like the greenmax kits had as they could be fairly small sections and just layer as needed.

 

thing I like about printing walls also is that it’s very easy and quick cad work to mess with.

 

one of our club members just finished an assemble it your self filament printer and has been playing a lot. He is just starting to get to train stuff now. Looks like his first one with be a large reduction gear for turntable project.

 

Curved Joints always caused the issues for me in the past with flex track and we’re where I had to fiddle with it a lot and the tighter the radius the more the stress.

 

look forward to seeing your progress on the coffee table layout, it’s always great to watch them come along and always new ideas pop up!

 

your kids are very lucky to have a dad who can make them toys and trains!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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I would test and re-test your Japanese rolling stock on code 55 track: straight, curves and especially turnouts.

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Welcome! It looks like you jumped right in the middle of modelling. Would you be so kind to share the name or type of the DCC system you are building? (btw. DCC could be easy and complex too, depending on what capabilities you want)

 

ps: code 55 is the smallest usable rail size for standard japanese N scale wheels, but it depends on the ties as those with high plates and screw imitations on the inside tend to be bumpy, while peco code 55 has the inside screw heads omitted for clearence (i don't know atlas code 55)

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Thanks for all the welcomes. I'll definitely do a layout building log when I start. I forgot to mention I'm here due to Sumida Crossing -- I stumbled upon that site quite a while ago and it kindled my interest but I was living in an area that I knew I would be relocating away from. So I put model railroading on hold until now.

 

@Khaul It sounds like you expect problems -- can code 55 be not so great with Japanese rolling stock? If so, I might pick up one or two pieces at the local train show to try before opening up the big pack of flex track I ordered (so I could exchange it for some other track). I read about the flange issue but I assumed it was in the past but you hint at other potential issues with the turnouts. I'll go google but happy to know up front I should go another way. If it's known bad, I'll exchange it right away. What would you recommend?

 

Or is it more making sure the flex track is carefully positioned/flexed to avoid issues?

 

@kvp I'm going to use a DCC++ ESP32 base station. So this:

 

http://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?threads/dcc-esp32-base-station.112634/

 

With a Arduino motor shield or a BTS7960-based motor driver. Apparently, the Arduino shield is more tested and it has plenty of power for my usage so I'll start with that. I like this kind of thing so I'm about as interested in that as I am in the model railroad. If I just wanted it to work, I wouldn't go this way :).

Edited by Jimbohara
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The track arrived today and everything seems to be rolling fine on a straight line. I'll test some more on curves later today. By my research, it seemed like most of those problems were in the past but it can be tricky with old stock. So hopefully, that is correct -- just got a bit worried with all the warnings :).

 

I'll go start a build thread.

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