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MatrixFY

Chibi-Den - Shorty Z Shelf Layout (First Layout)

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MatrixFY

Hi all!

 

I've been away from the forums for a few years, and didn't have an actual layout (or the space to put one) at the time. Now, however, I own my own house with a large-ish 20x11' area earmarked for all the N-Gauge stuff I have in storage. Unfortunately, that space is locked behind a couple of more important projects and a set of extensive renovations, so I won't get getting to it any time soon. Sadness.

I've decided that, since I have the train bug NOW, I need something to work on while my full sized space is unavailable. I should also do some practice layouts before I get into a huge, complex thing and find out I'm doing it all wrong.

 

To that end, I've found another layout-able space and started planning around that. Since Rokuhan came out with Shorty-Z stuff since the last time I looked at train stuff, it looks like a great, cheap way to ease myself in.

 

I've got an 8' by 11" shelf to run on, and I'd like I'd like a looping layout loosely (very very loosely) based on the Enoden. I care more about miniaturized things than prototypical accuracy, so I'll be doing as much lighting, etc as possible. Unfortunately, the closest thing to a tram is a Kiha52, so I'll be customising a couple of those to run on it.

 

I'm planning on using Rokuhan track. I'd consider Z-scale flex track, if anyone around me had any in stock.

 

I'm also planning on DCC, hopefully using the DIY arduino DCC stuff. The Shorty Z is a super cheap way to experiment with DCC, so I'm quite excited to play with it. 

 

I've spent some time playing with track in XTrkCad, and I've tried to make it not boring. I'd love feedback on what everyone thinks on this. The top one is the bare track layout, and the bottom shows some rough road/station layouts. The blue line is a drainage channel - one of the things I saw when wandering down the Enoden in Google Maps was a dual road bridge/single rail bridge in a row, and I'd like that on the layout. There's also a short section with in-road running.

 

chibiden-2.thumb.jpg.78ba148b63c4dfa5512e94bb53101a18.jpg

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MichiK

That's sweet!

 

The only thing I'd reconsider is the length of the two bigger stations:

As long as you stay with two-car-trains (which would be perfectly ok with your chosen subject) there's no problem, but once you'd like to run three-car-trains things will become a bit tricky. A three-car-train fits just so into a 220mm siding without blocking the other track, but you have to stop your train very precisely to do so. A little extension by 55mm would much alleviate things.

 

2 hours ago, MatrixFY said:

Unfortunately, the closest thing to a tram is a Kiha52, so I'll be customising a couple of those to run on it.

 

Actually, there is a Enoden type 100 train available. It's only of the (in my eyes unfortunate) sticker-on-shell type, but might suffice as a temporary measure (and you have some train signs at hand!).

Another option for a proxy of one of the more modern trains could be Aozoradensya's lasercut 103 series kit.

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MatrixFY
2 minutes ago, MichiK said:

That's sweet!

 

The only thing I'd reconsider is the length of the two bigger stations:

As long as you stay with two-car-trains (which would be perfectly ok with your chosen subject) there's no problem, but once you'd like to run three-car-trains things will become a bit tricky. A three-car-train fits just so into a 220mm siding without blocking the other track, but you have to stop your train very precisely to do so. A little extension by 55mm would much alleviate things.

 

Duly noted. I'll see about adding that in.

 

2 minutes ago, MichiK said:

 

Actually, there is a Enoden type 100 train available. It's only of the (in my eyes unfortunate) sticker-on-shell type, but might suffice as a temporary measure (and you have some train signs at hand!).

Another option for a proxy of one of the more modern trains could be Aozoradensya's lasercut 103 series kit.

 

That lasercut 103 series looks really nice! And the fact that they have an actual Enoden set is tempting, but there are two problems I see with it. AFAIK, Enoden runs 2 car consists? At least that's what Wikipedia has to say. It seems like they have it as a 3 car group simply because that's what the blue train cars come as. Second, I was going to say  that the blue cars aren't electric either, but it appears the Enoden set has a pantograph printed on it! I don't know how much of a difference it's going to make in Z scale (All of my stuff is currently in boxes, so I don't have anything in Z to look at right now. I'm not going to get a chance to rescue my z scale stuff from where it's stored until this weekend...), but a printed on pantograph seems a bit silly.

 

I might get one set and run a 2 car consist of the Enoden ones, as much as for reference as anything else, and a single Kiha52 bodged into an electric version. I'll park the 3rd sticker type in the yard, or use it for a mixed consist with the fake electric Kiha.

 

When I get going, I will probably try my hand at 3d printing custom shells instead. I've got a 5w laser engraver, both fdm and sla 3d printers, and almost no budget so I want as much of my stuff done DIY as possible. 

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MichiK
4 hours ago, MatrixFY said:

 

AFAIK, Enoden runs 2 car consists? At least that's what Wikipedia has to say. It seems like they have it as a 3 car group simply because that's what the blue train cars come as. [...], but a printed on pantograph seems a bit silly.

 

That's quite true: Series 300 and later have a Jacobs bogie, and - obviously! - can only be run in twos (or fours). The older series 100 (and 200), however, still had two bogies per car, and thus were perfectly able to run as singles.

The printed pantograph along with the wrong shape of the body are my main concernes with the sticker-type bodies, and are the reason why I consider this only as a temporary measure. You could paint the roof, of course, and stick on a lasercut pantograph, but that still leaves the wrong bodyshape...

 

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MatrixFY
6 hours ago, MichiK said:

 

That's quite true: Series 300 and later have a Jacobs bogie, and - obviously! - can only be run in twos (or fours). The older series 100 (and 200), however, still had two bogies per car, and thus were perfectly able to run as singles.

The printed pantograph along with the wrong shape of the body are my main concernes with the sticker-type bodies, and are the reason why I consider this only as a temporary measure. You could paint the roof, of course, and stick on a lasercut pantograph, but that still leaves the wrong bodyshape...

 

I'm not overly fussed by prototype. I've collected a bunch of N-Scale trains with no real regard to where they belong, so my n-scale layout will look like a schizophrenic mess. The enoden sticker set is slightly more accurate than a pair of Kiha52s with pantographs stuck on top, and they're cheap, so they're good enough to experiment with for now.

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MatrixFY

I've updated my layout for longer sidings, and changed the mini-yard around so it should also have more than 220mm of room in it.

 

chibiden-3.thumb.jpg.2fceb88a6f44e1df4efd90682a2e407d.jpg

 

I've priced out the cars, DCC decoders, and track and it comes to about $800CA for the lot. That's a bit much to do in one go, so I'll have to pick and choose, or find some way to whittle that down.

 

I'm going out to my Dad's place this weekend - I'll try and rescue my Z-scale stuff from storage. It'll be as much as a surprise to me as to what I find as anyone!

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Sheffie

You can always start with one non-DCC train, and build up from there. Difficult to cut down on the track, without adding to the workload (and track isn't too expensive, except for points)

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MatrixFY
28 minutes ago, Sheffie said:

You can always start with one non-DCC train, and build up from there. Difficult to cut down on the track, without adding to the workload (and track isn't too expensive, except for points)

The only track issue is, as it sits, I have 2 curves that are sold in packages of 6 only, but I need one each :P I'll see if I can re-jigger the layout to use more of them and less of another piece (which, sadly, is sold in packages of 2 😞 )

 

I"m also going to forgo the dcc decoders for the turnouts for now, and cut out a train (was going to get one of the nifty looking, but utterly inappropriate, special 3-car trains). I also had an extra powered set and decoder that I'll ignore. That knocks about $250 off for now.

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MichiK
Posted (edited)

I'm not sure about the left station, now:

When entering the run-around-loop a train has to pass a triple-s-curve, which might (or might not) look a bit unelegant. Turning the station by 180° would reduce that to double-s-curves with also a longer distance between the s'.

Also, I suspect that the 25mm more depth between the station and the layout edge are not much of a gain in terms of scenery.

 

But this is nothing to worry about now - you can try out which version looks better in just a few minutes!

 

2 hours ago, MatrixFY said:

[...]😞, and cut out a train (was going to get one of the nifty looking, but utterly inappropriate, special 3-car trains).

 

A very sensible decision - that stuff is highly addictive!

Edited by MichiK

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MatrixFY
15 minutes ago, MichiK said:

I'm not sure about the left station, now:

When entering the run-around-loop a train has to pass a triple-s-curve, which might (or might not) look a bit unelegant. Turning the station by 180° would reduce that to double-s-curves with also a longer distance between the s'.

Also, I suspect that the 25mm more depth between the station and the layout edge are not much of a gain in terms of scenery.

 

But this is nothing to worry about now - you can try out which version looks better in just a few minutes!

 

Whoops! I didn't meant to turn that around. My Xtrkcad is acting a bit funny, saying it didn't close down properly, then loading an old version of the layout. I didn't mean to have that left station turned around. I'll turn it back when I get the chance.

 

15 minutes ago, MichiK said:

 

 

A very sensible decision - that stuff is highly addictive!

 

lol. Yes. Yes it is.

 

I was hoping to use arduino based DCC accessory decoders, but finding an appropriate circuit seems tough. One company has a DCC interface that looks like it's made of a couple of discrete components and an opto-coupler, but they don't have a circuit diagram - they sell the completed product instead 😕

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MatrixFY

I've eliminated one block of curves, substituting it for the other excess type. That cuts 1480yen off the price. Still looking at about $385ca before shipping for the track.

 

chibiden-4.thumb.jpg.30955457c24df925d93684c3b57fbc10.jpg

 

I did another variation that opened up the middle a bit, and eliminated a 1 package of expensive curves, but introduced expensive straights instead, coming in at about 1000yen more the the last one. 

 

chibiden-5.thumb.jpg.e6d02ab43ea2c45fe212db4f638409c8.jpg

 

I think the only real way to drop cost on this will be to get rid of some turnouts. Either get rid of the mini-yard, or one of the stations.

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MichiK
16 hours ago, MatrixFY said:

I think the only real way to drop cost on this will be to get rid of some turnouts. Either get rid of the mini-yard, or one of the stations.

 

I wouldn't do that, it would remove too much operational possibility.

 

You might, however, stretch your expenses a bit in time, e.g., replacing the left station temporarily by a simple straight track and start with the scenery on the right side. By the time you come to the left side you have

- either changed your mind

- or gained more money for the full station.

 

If you are not afraid to fiddle a bit with track (a Dremel tool helps a lot) there's also some potential for real cost savings, because there are quite high fixed costs per track piece. So the target in general would be to use fewer but longer pieces.

E.g., I'd ommit the leftmost 25mm straight (in the chibiden-4 plan) and move everything from the station up to the bridge by 25mm to the left (forcing the drainage canal to run more diagonally - I consider this as a plus). If I see this correctly, there's a 110+55+25mm combination just right of the bridge. This could be replaced by a 220mm straight cut down to 190mm. Then leave out the 25mm straight at the yard entrance, replace it, e.g., by a 55mm straight, and use a right switch in the yard (to do so you'd have to cut off a bit of the trackbed of the one sidings, but that's not a big issue). Thus, all the super-expensive 25mm pieces are eliminated!

Of course, this needs some thorough thinking to obtain really the cheapest combinations.

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MatrixFY
Posted (edited)

Some good ideas there! The general layout is more or less fixed at this point - I'll just have to work out the details.

 

In the meantime, however, I've remembered that I have a single box of train stuff at my house - The rest has been stored at my Dad's and I won't get a crack at them till this weekend.

 

So I cracked it open, and I found that this box had a bunch of my z scale stuff in it!

 

IMG_20190307_062703.thumb.jpg.33f5026383e46e1bcf61fc7d0a24ff7d.jpgIMG_20190307_062728.thumb.jpg.20a2642109e5b76a1d2d4f835d88d6c6.jpg

IMG_20190307_062808.thumb.jpg.8aabe45e8f051ab30d33a0e9bf35e8cd.jpgIMG_20190307_062945.thumb.jpg.da1695c204ab2e72055f0023b76fe8fe.jpg

 

The ZJ train was a terrible runner, AFAIR. I don't think I ever got the chance to run the Rokuhan set. The only other train I have in Z is the ProZ Yamanote E231-500 starter set.

 

As for Z-Scale track, I think I have a mish-mash of Micro-Trains and ProZ stuff. I might have some Rokuhan in storage, but I don't know for sure.

 

The other thing I managed to find in the box was my collection of Sankei Kits - No less than 25 of them in Z-Scale!

IMG_20190307_063250.thumb.jpg.a0d3bdc5ab3b4f4c959035d030305996.jpg

IMG_20190307_063340.thumb.jpg.e555b5407848cfd91eac8f732636cd0b.jpg

 

I'm probably going to try and avoid using them on this layout - As it's a practice layout I want to try different DIY solutions, including trying to duplicate the Sankei construction techniques with my existing tools and materials. 

 

I can't wait to see what other goodies I squirreled away oh so long ago. I've forgotten almost everything :P

 

One of the Sankei kits is a duplicate I bought for testing/practice building, so I cracked it open to see what it's like, and bloody hell is it ever tiny! The trains are one thing - I don't have a whole lot of day to day interaction with them so you forget that they're big things, and that in Z, they're very small things. But the Sankei building is something like 1" square! It's a bit of a shock to see just what I'm getting myself in to :)

 

 

Edited by MatrixFY
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MatrixFY

So, I brought most of my train stuff back to my place, and the only Z stuff I found was the ProZ E231-500 set, and a Zephyr DCC starter set. I 'm pretty sure I'm missing some micro mark turnouts and the ProZ controller, at a minimum. Hopefully it's just buried in one of the many boxes of N scale stuff. I'll have to sort through all the other stuff tonight and see what I can dig up.

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MatrixFY

Holy Nerf guns, Batman!

 

When I went through my boxes, I found that I was missing some items, so I headed back out to my dad's place, and we found a few more N scale boxes, and another box of Z stuff.

 

Behold - the Rokuhan Motherload! 😄

 

rokuhan.thumb.jpg.9de62707dcb3313a5842403e3f92fdf6.jpg

 

I can't wait to dig in and find out how much of my layout this will cover 😄

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MichiK

And down you go the slippery slope of railway madness fun!

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MatrixFY
1 minute ago, MichiK said:

And down you go the slippery slope of railway madness fun!

 

That ship sailed long and ever ago. My N-scale collection of stuff is... extensive for someone who's never had a layout. I was a "rail prepper", gathering stuff for the layout I'd build "one day" 🙂

 

That was in the cash rich and space poor days, though. Now I'm space rich and cash poor 😞 I'll just plan around what I have for the most part.

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Martijn Meerts
33 minutes ago, MatrixFY said:

 

That ship sailed long and ever ago. My N-scale collection of stuff is... extensive for someone who's never had a layout. I was a "rail prepper", gathering stuff for the layout I'd build "one day" 🙂

 

That was in the cash rich and space poor days, though. Now I'm space rich and cash poor 😞 I'll just plan around what I have for the most part.

 

That sounds incredibly familiar .. Although I've been progressing towards cash and space, but no time ...

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MatrixFY
1 minute ago, Martijn Meerts said:

 

That sounds incredibly familiar .. Although I've been progressing towards cash and space, but no time ...

 

It seems that instead of the classic "Speed, Quality, Quantity, Pick Two" we have "Space, Time, Money, Pick One" 😮

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MichiK

Money can buy you time (at least to a certain degree) and vice versa. So it seems you should mostly take care to have space, right?!

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MatrixFY
Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, MichiK said:

Money can buy you time (at least to a certain degree) and vice versa. So it seems you should mostly take care to have space, right?!

 

I like the sound of that 😄

 

typeR.thumb.jpg.d1c49e13a15c0f96fc934d66552f884c.jpg

 

This layout runs me a cool 26.5k yen, about 6.0k less than the previous ones. With the parts that I have I'm down to about 12.0k.

Edited by MatrixFY
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MatrixFY

Slight change in accounts - Since I've decided on a theme and name for my layouts, I'm changing my account to suit. "MatrixFY" was for a non-rail project, so I'll be changing to ChibiNippon from here on out.

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ChibiNippon

And welcome to the new improved account, now with a profile photo. 

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ChibiNippon

This looks like it's going to be the final form. I've shrunk the sidings back down to 220mm, because this layout is specifically for Z Shorty, which means it's going to have, at best, 110mm trains running on it. My "real" z scale trains will be used on a secondary project, as another stepping stone towards my large N scale layout.

 

Track cost should be 12460 Yen

Train cost is 8410 Yen, including a spare motor car

DCC Cost is 7200 Yen for 3 train decoders

 

I'm not going to do the turnout decoders - I'll probably do something with arduinos. This layout is largely about cheaply experimenting with DCC and electronics - I'd rather fry a $20 motor module than an out of print $250 train.

 

ChibiDen-Final.thumb.jpeg.ee276248d106c4db5eecd29c3ab66768.jpeg

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ChibiNippon

The order is in! Came to about $550CA for both ChibiDen and Watashi No Machi, plus another $50-$60 for shipping. Probably my 2nd most expensive order from Hobby Seach ever, but I'm only about $250 out of pocket, which is acceptable. I also seem to have bought their entire remaining stock of the Rokuhan general purpose DCC decoders. Their entire remaining stock being 3, apparently. 

 

This is really just track and trains, though. The rest is going to be an experiment in electronics, and an exploration of the viability of 3d printing in Z scale. At least I know that if I can make it work in Z, then N will be a piece of cake!

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