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KenS

Planning Sumida Crossing 2.0

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KenS

I'm back, and planning a new layout, although actual construction is at least a year away, probably longer.  And I'll likely re-use the name Sumida Crossing, as I'm lazy and don't have a better one.  I'd entertained the idea of calling it Shin Sumida Crossing (New Sumida Crossing), but that would quickly get stale.  And despite the title of this post, I'm not really going to call it Sumida Crossing 2.0.  So I'll probably just stick with Sumida Crossing.

Name aside, I'm starting to firm up my ideas for the track plan, and I'm looking for comments.

But let me back up a bit.  The reason for my long absence from the forum was partly due to losing my motivation when I realized the original Sumida Crossing either needed major rework due to problems, or to be replaced.  I was also saving for a house down payment, and trying to avoid the lure of buying more trains.  Then other aspects of my life got really busy, although not in the sense of anything particularly bad happening, just busy.

Then I started house-hunting, and that and the move consumed more time.  But as of last month I'm in the new place, and now I know roughly what I have to work with in terms of space.

Unfortunately, it's going to take some work to make the space usable.  There are the remnants of an old room to be removed, and then a new room needs to be constructed to keep the dust out, and a drop ceiling added (for the same reason), along with lights and electrical outlets.  And that's going to take time and money, and having just bought a house I'm a bit short of both.

For those interested, the old Sumida Crossing still exists, but it's disassembled, and suffered a bit in the move despite being designed to be taken apart and moved.  The buildings will be reused, and I may strip the surviving scenery from the tables and re-use those for some other purpose, but the layout is basically beyond repair without a major time investment.  Which gives me even more motivation to work on the new one.

The space I have available is fairly large: 13' x 23' (3.96 m x 7.0 m), although I may not have all of that by the time I frame it, and insulate the outer walls.  It's mostly clear, with a small bit of support framing in the middle of the space that likely has to remain.  However, given that I really want to run full-size trains, this is actually a rather compact space, for all that it's about four times the size of the old Sumida Crossing.

There's also a low bit of concrete protruding into the space (lower-left on diagram), part of the chimney support structure. But it just prevents walking in that area, I can easily build the layout above it.

In the diagram, the left and bottom areas are open (except for the chimney support), and the top and right are the foundation.  I could place the door in either area, but it's better if I put it at the top left (away from my wood shop area, and its dust).

My key desire is to model modern (early 21st century to today) JR East trains on tracks and scenery based on real-world examples in central Tokyo. This would include the Chuo-Sobu line along the Kanda River and the old Edo Castle outer moat opposite Sotobori park.  Having a yard (like Tabata) where I can park trains is important, and I'd also like a section of the Sobu line east of the Sumida (and the bridge over that river), and some kind of freight. And I really wanted to model the big curve north of Ueno Station, perhaps not all 10 or so tracks, but 4-6.  However, I'll probably end up settling for some other large curve.

Additionally, I want some freight, but given the time selected, there is no freight on either the Sobu or Chuo-Sobu lines, or on the tracks between Ueno and Tabata yard.  Freight is kept north of Tabata, and on the western side of the city where the Yamanote Freight Line parallels the Yamanote line, and still serves some freight as well as a rich variety of other trains including the Narita express.

Oh, and I do want fairly large stations and spacing between them, suitable for 10-car trains (those are about 2m, or just over 6', in length), so I don't want to try to cram too much into this space.

I sketched out several designs, including a long peninsula running top to bottom, but I don't really have the space for that, so I eventually moved to an around the walls design with a "bump" on the center-right wall to run around the supports and provide a place for trains to reverse direction.

That lets me treat the room as two dog-bone layouts that overlap in the middle, so I can model different lines on the two of them.  That also means I can limit initial construction to one of them, and hopefully make more progress on it sooner.

My current iteration is the one shown here, which has part of the western arc of the Yamanote and Yamanote Freight Lines on the lower section, an extension of that limited to Chuo and Chuo-Sobu trains along the right-hand wall, and the Sobu line east of the Sumida river on the upper portion.  All of these are busy four-track systems.

I may also try to fit in a light rail system on the lower portion, although neither the Toden Arakawa nor the Tokyu Setagaya line is in exactly the right place to fit the stations I plan.  I'll have to apply some artistic license if I want one of those.

I also have room for a large storage yard (lower left on diagram), which I'll call Tabata since it's in about the right place, and perhaps a small scene of the Sumida Freight Terminal just north of Tabata yard as well, which would be a good source/destination for container trains.

There are going to be some compromises. I doubt I can fit the 15-car trains typical of the Chuo Rapid express line through Ochanomizu. Even to fit in 10-car trains, I'm going to end up with no more than three stations. I'm not sure any trains visit all three either, although Yellow-stripe Sobu trains might go as far as Okubo, but I think they reverse at Shinjuku. 

Additionally this design ends up with a fair bit of hidden track: in addition to the four reverse curves, Chuo-Sobu trains probably can't look back at Ochanomizu, but would have to run past Kinshicho to the reverse-curve at the end.  I don't really like hidden track: it's hard to maintain and takes as much work as visible track to build, but you get very little enjoyment from it.

So while this ticks all my boxes, it's probably not the final design.  I've at least six months before I start framing the walls, probably longer.  And benchwork is unlikely to happen before fall, if then.

I'm throwing this out now to get comments: do you see potential problems I've missed?  Things I could add or change to improve it?  Or even entirely different ideas for how to achieve the goals I listed above?  Let me know.

Ken

new-room2b-1117x551.jpg

new-room2-walls-b-1109x550.jpg

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cteno4

Ken,

 

congratulations on the new house! It’s going to be really fun to watch 2.0 rise! We have missed your wise voice around here and it will be nice to have it back and watch your new adventure.

 

Cheers

 

jeff

Edited by gavino200
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railsquid
1 hour ago, KenS said:

There are going to be some compromises. I doubt I can fit the 15-car trains typical of the Chuo Rapid express line through Ochanomizu. Even to fit in 10-car trains, I'm going to end up with no more than three stations. I'm not sure any trains visit all three either, although Yellow-stripe Sobu trains might go as far as Okubo, but I think they reverse at Shinjuku. 

 

If you mean Chuo Tokkai (中央特快), they're all 10 cars (though JR is planning to add two bi-level cars to each Chuo line E233 set which will bring that up to 12, though they'll need to extend a lot of stations). Azusa services which run to/from Tokyo station will (I presume) have up to 12 cars.

 

Anyway, sounds ambitious, good luck!

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KenS
1 minute ago, railsquid said:

 

If you mean Chuo Tokkai (中央特快), they're all 10 cars (though JR is planning to add two bi-level cars to each Chuo line E233 set which will bring that up to 12, though they'll need to extend a lot of stations). Azusa services which run to/from Tokyo station will (I presume) have up to 12 cars.

 

Anyway, sounds ambitious, good luck!

 

No, I'm referring to the orange-stripe Chuo commuter trains.  Kato sells (sold? I haven't looked recently) 10+5 sets replicating two trains joined together, which you'll apparently see during peak hours on the tracks east of Shinjuko (and probably elsewhere) to increase capacity.  Out west they separate and run to two different endpoints.  I have a couple of those models, and want to use them.

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railsquid
Just now, KenS said:

 

No, I'm referring to the orange-stripe Chuo commuter trains.  Kato sells (sold? I haven't looked recently) 10+5 sets replicating two trains joined together, which you'll apparently see during peak hours on the tracks east of Shinjuko (and probably elsewhere) to increase capacity.  Out west they separate and run to two different endpoints.  I have a couple of those models, and want to use them.

 

Yes, those are the ones I'm referring to. RIght now they run with a maximum of 10 cars, sets which split are 6+4.

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KenS

Oops, nevermind.  I can't even remember my own collection.

 

My 10+5 trains are for the Joban and Tokaido lines.  I'd swear the Chuo Rapid also had them, but it's been years since I researched that, so probably not.

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railsquid

Definitely not (well they didn't last Friday, which is the last time I travelled on the Chuo line ;). Though as mentioned they intend to expand the sets to 12 cars.

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Kiha66

Glad to see you're back Ken!  The Sumida Crossing layout (and website) was very inspiring and helpful to many a member here, so I'm sure the new one will be even more so.

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katoftw

Now I'm expecting Doug Coaster to start a new thread tomorrow. 😂

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Das Steinkopf
2 hours ago, katoftw said:

Now I'm expecting Doug Coaster to start a new thread tomorrow. 😂

 

No that ain't gonna happen in a hurry.

 

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Sheffie

Obviously the initial project was epic in its scope... and perhaps the sheer scale of it was part of the problem? I don't know exactly why you stopped work on it. The important thing, speaking as someone with zero experience in modeling or railway layout construction, is that you learned a lot from the mistakes, but more to the point (speaking as someone with far too much experience as a software engineer)  that you design your future project to be proof against not just those mistakes but ideally against whole families of similar mistakes and problems. So, at the end of the day, I'm very excited to see what you can come up with, and at the same time I'm hopeful that you can design it with a certain amount of flexibility and robustness so that it can withstand future problems.

 

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn. I was hugely impressed by your first layout and I hope the next one brings you much joy.

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KenS

Not out of turn, and exactly right.  Sumida Crossing wasn't my first layout, more like my third (fourth if childhood counts) and I swore I wasn't going to make several beginner mistakes, then made them anyway.  You'd think I'd learn...

 

Problems it had:

- I didn't take adequate care in putting down the subroadbed and roadbed in some places, nor did I glue track down, since I wanted it to be easy to break down.  This led to trains bumping platforms, or just derailing randomly.

- I built the track way too close to the scenic backdrop.  In fact, when I added a backdrop to the "unsceniced" end, I had some trains that bumped it and would derail, but I couldn't shift it back or the track forward, without breaking down the whole layout and moving it six inches, which was possible but more effort than I wanted to put it by then. And even without that, backdrops need separation from the focal point of a scene (the train) to look good.  This wasn't as apparent in 2D photos as it was in 3D life.

- I designed the "riverside" station with inaccessible track on the back side, which of course had problems and never worked reliably. 

- Using sectional track without feeders on every section worked initially, but as many people have written, over the long term dirt gets in or the couplers loosen, and electrical problems arise

- My original lighting plan (track lighting) ended up with more lamps than I'd expected by a factor of two.  Even using CFLs, it got *HOT* in my basement, not a big problem in January, but it was for about half the year.  There's a reason most big layouts use valences with fluorescent tubes (although I'll go LED this time around)

- the "subway" track never worked; it got dirty easily and I had to disassemble other tracks to lift the scenery off to do good cleaning, and the curves were probably a bit tight.  I loved the subway station (one of the few "scenes" on the layout I fully finished), and may do something like that again, but I need to find a better way to handle hidden track.

- I made the backdrops on the main portion sized to fit the photographs I had, rather than creating a backdrop size that fit the scene, and playing with photoshop to make a backdrop from multiple photos, sized to fit my needs; the huge backdrops made it almost impossible to disassemble the central portion of the layout withing crushing buildings (I basically could only do it after removing everying else first), which made taking the tables apart for wiring maintenance (part of my original design) impossible

 

Some things worked very well (the big curve mostly worked, although there were electrical issues in one spot I never solved, and by keeping my grades under 2% I never had problems with pulling power, even with 15+ car trains on the big curve, which has a grade at one end).  But I came away with a couple of key lessons for the next one:

- Good suboadbed is essential; if it isn't smooth, rip it out and do it again (and again) until it is; ditto for roadbed and track

- feed every section of track (one reason I'm moving to flex track rather than Unitrack)

- put scenery behind the track in front of any backdrop. It looks better and it's easier to build the proper spacing between the trains and a plastic model than between trains and a sheet of wood

- Light it properly

- have a plan, and build to the plan, don't plan to what's easy/straightforward to build

- don't make it too deep.  I thought 24" (61 cm) was okay, with the table midway between chest height and waist height, until I tried reaching over foreground models to do fine work in the back.  This time the rule will be 18" (46 cm), and I may use 12" (30 cm) in some places

 

Also, despite saying multiple times that I wanted DCC electronics with screw terminals, I ended up with a bunch of Digitrax gear that required soldering. Soldering dozens of small wires in a confied space per table.  Even taking the electronics away from the layout to work (which added hundreds of screw-terminal connections to connect my "electronics boards" to the layout sections) didn't make it tolerable, and for that reason I never completed all of them.  This time, keep it simple. Put the electronics in a fixed location under the layout that's easy to work on when sitting on a cushion on the floor, or perhaps on a pull-out drawer with long wires, so I can work standing up.  And buy from companies that use screw terminals or press-fit connectors!!

 

But I don't want to sound like I didn't enjoy it.  I enjoy construction as well as running trains, and I did run a lot of trains over it, even if they were almost all on the outter two-track "express" loop.  I don't regret it, and it was a "learning experience".  Hopefully I've learned enough to be willing to do what it takes to do it right this time.

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Densha

Welcome back, Ken!

 

Just try to you keep your plans realistically feasible this time! 😉

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paolo

I'm glad I finally have the chance of saying a big THANK YOU to the guy behind the Sumida Crossing website!

Being a total newbie in the process of building my first layout, your website is like the bible.

So thank you, Ken, looking forward to following the development of your new creation!

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nah00

Hi Ken-

Definitely was influenced by your website and the work you did. Just a few questions:

 

1. How high do you intend to to build the layout? 

2. For the open access, do you have an idea of the size of it and is it just going to be an opening or will it be a lift-out scenic feature?

3. Did you want to move completely away from soldering? I know it can be a pain but it does provide the best electrical connection. 

4. What's the maximum/minimum radius you're aiming for in curves?

 

And just an opinion, I definitely don't follow this rule on most of my layout at home but I would say go with 12" as the max width (24" if you can easily access it from both sides). The extra six inches is tempting but it starts to get close to crushing things territory.

 

Keep up the good work, I look forward to it!

-Nick

 

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