Jump to content
Japanese Modelling & Japan Rail Enthusiasts Forum
Darren Jeffries

The Introduction Thread...

Recommended Posts

I'll give it a go ;)

 

Name's Martijn Meerts (just Martin will do pronunciation wise ;)), I live in Oslo, Norway, just outside the city center. I'm originally from The Netherlands however. I also have some vague intention of moving to for example New Zealand, Australia, Canada or America at some point, possibly even Japan. It would likely only be for a few years, but I figure that's the best way of "visiting" a country and seeing all the sights ;)

 

I'm 31 at the time of this writing, single, no kids, tiny little room with access to a kitchen and bathroom, which I'm renting from some people that used to be friends, but are now roommates. I try to avoid them as much as possible. There's some hopes I can rent a basement apartment sometime later this year. At this point, I have no space whatsoever for any kind of layout.

 

I studied car mechanics, business administration and information technology. I worked as a car mechanic at Renault/Chrysler and later at a company specializing in car electronics. It was at that company where I got to work on some nice cars including various Ferrari's, and one of my personal favorites, the Dodge Viper. After a while I lost interest in the standard everyday car workshop activities, so I quite that job and started working as a web designer/developer and 3d modeler. After moving to Norway I continued as a web designer initially, and I currently work as web designer/developer, Flash/Flex developer and system admin. I still do a bit of 3d modeling in my spare time, and recently also started learning video editing. I work almost exclusively on a Mac at work, and recently also made the switch to Mac at home, where I now have an 8-core Mac Pro as well as a Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro.

 

As for the trains, I grew up with them. We've had them for as long as I can remember. We used to have a large H0 layout with Dutch prototype up on the attic. While getting older, we wanted to look at a bit more realistic operation, but H0 didn't allow that due to being too big. We sold it and bought a Minitrix N-Scale start set. That collection steadily grew into a reasonable sized one by now. My father still works on it, and I believe he has about 23 digital locomotives. The layout is entirely computer controlled as well.

 

As for myself, when I moved to Norway, I didn't take any of the trains with me. In stead I "re-started" in Norway with Marklin H0. I have a variety of locomotives and I still buy the occasional new locomotive. I intend to at some point build a static layout in H0 based on the Era 1 Royal Bavarian Railways.

 

My first contact with Japanese N-scale was Kato's 800 series shinkansen. I'd known of the existence of Japanese N-scale models, and I'd often been looking at shinkansen pictures, but at the time I didn't know of any dealers. At some point the local train store in Oslo had the Kato 800 series in stock, which he got through Noch (Noch imports a few Japanese models into Europe.) The quality impressed me so much, that I immediately ordered the Kato 800 series shinkansen as well. I also started searching for a dealer that had more to offer and that knew more about the various brands. I ended up using Japan Model Railways in Germany, because the owner proved to be by far the most helpful of the ones I contacted. I would say about 98% of everything I have by now is from Japan Model Railways.

 

I'm also planning on buying some Lenz 0-scale at some point. I've seen some of their models, and they are quite frankly amazing. Initially they'd be for displaying only, as they need quite a bit of space to put up. Of course, they're big and sturdy enough to be run outdoors.

 

Other then that, I'm also into building model kits of any shape and size. I have for example 1:350 versions of the Yamato, Musashi and Yukikaze with appropriate photo etched detail sets. I also have some Japanese castle kits, several Gundam models (4 of which are scale 1:144, and I intend to make a module using them), and a 1:16 scale remote controlled tank. And then of course there's the 1:24 scale all metal kit of the C62-2 steam locomotive of which I have 24/100 issues so far.

 

Currently I'm working on various decoder installs (as you have seen already), as well as 1 diorama and a 2nd diorama in planning stages. I've also slowly started work on the 1st of 6 or 7 modules based entirely on various Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki movies. And then I've started early planning work on the Tokyo Station modules, which will likely turn out into a nightmare project, but that's the fun part of it =)

 

Other hobbies are playing the occasional game, for which I not only use my Mac (which also has vista installed using bootcamp), but also 1 of several consoles. I also listen to music almost constantly, and watch plenty movies. For this I've bought a mid to high-end sound system which will later be expanded to a 7.1 surround system with full HD projector etc.

 

Having a rather well paid job, a fairly cheap place to live, and no real money sink (otherwise known as girlfriend/wife), I tend to spend somewhere around 450-550 euro per month (700-850 USD at the exchange rate on the date of this writing) on train related items, but that's really just a rough estimate. Sometimes it's a bit less, often it's a bit more =)

 

So, that's that. If you want to know something more, let me know =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone. Ive recently become intrested in model railway collecting. I believe i want to get Kato N Scale gauge but i dont know where to go from there. I have spend a lot of time searching on the internet and i havent found anything really useful. Could someone tell me how hard it is to make a train circuit, and where can i buy trains and tracks online if i live in the UK? What set would you reccomend? A starter set would be good. Futhermore i dont know what power packs to get >.>. Im such a begginer i dont know where to start:'(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You've come to the right place! I don't know where best to get stuff in the UK, but both Kato and Tomix put out excellent starter sets, which include a train, an oval of track, and a throttle (will need a converter for the throttle), for not very much. The determining factor will be whether you want to invest in Kato's Unitrack system (better because it is more widely available) or Tomix's FineTrack system (better because it has a larger selection of track). (compare: http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10049696 and http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10050583 )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other threshhold question which I think you need to ask youself is whether you want to go with the straight out of the box DC set up that comes with those sets or whether you want to invest in a DCC set up. I say this is threshold because you dont want to expend money one way if you decide to go the other way later down the track (pardon the pun).

 

A good source of UK stuff is:

 

MG Sharp

http://www.mgsharp.com/japanese_n.htm

 

Rail of Sheffield

http://railsofsheffield.com/

 

Holt Model Trains

http://www.holtmodelrailways.co.uk/index.html

 

Tonys Trains

tony@tonystrains.co.uk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MG Sharp are good. I have had good experiences. Also try JR Models on eBay. They carry lots of KATO.

 

My experience though is that buying from the UK is quite expensive and that you would be better off buying from Japan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bernard   

Hi kuletungeb and welcome to the forum.

The best advice I can offer you is to ask lots of questions! A lot of the members here are extremely helpful and can offer lots of information. You might even want to try starting with a small layout plan before building.

Here is a link to small layout plans:

 

http://www.cke1st.com/m_train2.htm

 

You can even discuss with members here their opinions of the plan an maybe some modifications you might want to do to it.

Whatever you do, it's great having you part of the forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So would you guys reccomend the 500 series shinkansen starter set. I really like the 500 shinkansen however i think i prefer the original 0 series shinkansen. So nostalgic! If i was going to purchase the 0 series i would have to buy the other parts by myself but i dont know what to buy for a track. Also could someone reccomend me some train stations. I would also like to know about DC and DCC. Thank you all for your comments so far. I guess the best places to buy are ebay and japanese shops.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I just linked to the 500-series sets because they are so popular. Buying the bits separately costs a bit more, but not so much as to make it unpalatable. In fact, my first purchase was a nice Kato commuter train (Yamanote line E231-500), and a Tomix set that came with an oval of track and a throttle, but no train (the My Plan LT, but also check out the My Plan DX, which is bigger).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a link to Kato USA's page on Unitrack: http://www.katousa.com/N/unitrack.html

Lots of good info on Unitrack there, including a list of what's available, and how the various pieces fit together. Sadly, there is no good similar page for Finetrack, at least not in English. Anyone else got a good link for that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a complete starter, i would personally go with the Kato Unitrack starter set.

 

As you get more experienced and you want to start setting up a permananent layout you could move on to peco finescale or flexitrack. The really good thing is that there are adapters available to connect the unitrack to peco or other track.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess it really depends on what you want. Personally, I don't have a starter set really, but on the other hand, I've been doing this trainstuff for longer than I can remember.

 

I have both Unitrack and Finetrack, and I prefer the Finetrack. It looks slightly better than Unitrack, and comes in many pieces. There's also a converter piece to go from Finetrack to Unitrack, so no matter what you start with, it's never wasted.

 

You'll probably also want to see what kind of trains you want, and high prototypical you want it to be. For example, most shinkansen consist of a total of 16 cars, which means they're about 2.3 meters long. Of course, you can run them in shorter setups, 8-part shinkansen are very common as well.

 

Apart from the shinkansen though, Japan has some real nice and unique trains, and some very popular tram lines as well (Enoden especially is a popular topic to model).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

 

My name is Bill, I'm 39, and live in Ohio (USA).  I'm a graphic designer and website developer for a small IT startup company.  My actual title is "Creative Director", but with less than a dozen employees, titles don't mean much.

 

Anyway... I'm new to the RR hobby.  I had a Lionel train set as a kid, but only set it up at Christmas time, and can't remember much about it.  It had a diesel engine, and I think the track had three rails.  The cars were huge.  It was more of a toy than anything and just ran in a circle under the tree.  I had no thoughts of trains until now.

 

My "main" hobby is plastic scale modeling.  WWII aircraft, ships and armor.  I have a very strong interest in the Pacific Theater and tend to model alot of Japanese stuff.  I guess I'm a Japanophile, which is what led me here.  A good friend owns a local hobby shop which is probably 75% train stuff.  Hanging around there piqued my interest.  I don't know anything about this hobby and after a weekend's worth of surfing, wound up here.  I have a million questions for you!  If there is a FAQ, please point me to it.  If not, let me know where to go to ask all the newbie questions that you've probably long tired of answering.  :)

 

Thanks!

 

Bill

 

Oh... you can see some of my models here:  http://www.porkchopper.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bernard   

Bill,

Welcome to the forum and you have some beautiful scale models on your website. As you can see we are a relatively new forum so we don't have a FAQ area but ask all the questions you want. There have been questions asked already that I've said to myself, "I didn't know that?" Plus I have found through the sharing of information and knowledge here, it's prevented me from making mistakes on my own layout.

 

Okay, I guess it is time to give a little background about myself.

I live in Long Island, NY just outside of NYC where I work. I've been working in the film industry for 30 years as a producer, editor, director & writer for an independent company. We make documentaries with our specialty being the Olympic games. 

 

I've always have been interested in model RR since my father bought me my first set when I was 5. I came home from the hospital after I had my tonsils taken out to find this S scale American flyer train set up in our basement. (I still have them today)

 

How I got interested in the Japanese RR. We were filming the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics and I got to ride on a Bullet train, it was an amazing trip. I had a morning off from filming and located the nearest hobby shop. No one in the shop knew English nor I Japanese but we managed to communicate. I wound up purchasing 3 Kato train sets, the rest is history.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Narrowed it down to two sets. Tomix Yamanote SD set or and 500 Shinkansen series set. I need help deciding between these two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both are good choices. The 500 series is of course very recognizable, and one of the most sci-fi looking train in active service. Every time I see it I'm still surprised it's actually real ;)

 

On the other hand, the Yamanote has a lot of charm, I really like the colours on it.

 

You should probably base your choice on where you want to go with your trains. Whether you want to make a scale version of something that exists in real life, or whether you want to design your own layout. Also, which part of Japan would you want to model, and which time period etc. And then of course. Personally, I think the 500 series looks a bit strange with only 3 or 4 cars, it really needs 8 at least, preferably the whole 16. The Yamanote on the other hand looks just fine with only 3 cars. I think I would go with the Yamanote in this case (even though the 2nd Japanese train I ever bought was a Kato 500 series ;))

 

One thing you need to remember though, the controller in the start set may not work for you, as it uses a Japanese power plug and needs Japanese voltage. It's of course possible to find converters for that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its the two slot one right. Dont worry about that. Ive got many of them since im partly japanese so i have quite a bit of japanese electricals. ;D Im now thinking of the Kato Osaka loop line. Since when i go to Japan i stay in Osaka and i always take this train ;D 8 carts for 11,000 or so seems good. However im worried it might look a bit bland. Also are there any track parts sets i would buy seperately. I dont know which one to choose any more. Btw the setting i want is urban but im not going to make a permenant layout for awhile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you mean the 201 series? I always thought that was a handsome train. Hardly boring at all, especially if it has meaning for you! The price you quoted is good.

 

You are going with Tomix track, right? Tomix tracks come in "sets" that basically all add something to the basic oval. The "My Plan LT" set comes with an oval of track and a throttle. From there you can buy one or more of the expansions. B Pattern adds a siding, C Pattern adds a bridge, D Pattern adds a second loop with a crossover?  E Pattern adds a curved siding, X, XR and XL Patterns make it a figure 8. I have the LT (oval), B (siding) and C (bridge), which all combine into a nice figure-8 pattern with a station stop. You can also purchase double-track sets, but none of these come with a throttle.

 

Lastly, if you can't find some of these sets elsewhere, do try Rainbow Ten. Ordering from them is a little...unorthodox? But they're who I buy most of my stuff from (http://www.rainbowten.co.jp/english/index.html).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah ok thanks. I will get the Osaka Loop line then (103 looks very similar to Chuo orange line). Kato works fine on finetrack right? Is it possible to go into more detail on the types of tracks or is there a website with some diagrams. Ive been to some online stores which have some of them. Also does a power pack come with one of the sets thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bernard   

Is this the set you are looking at?

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10061251

 

It's a nice looking set.

 

CaptO has given an extensive & detailed list of all your track options and some include the transformer, but at Darren has mentioned if you are in the UK, instead of getting a transformer from Japan, that you will have to put a converter on, how about purchasing one in the UK that you won't have to convert.

 

A big advantage of the Fine track that you plan to buy, is that since this is not going to be your permanent layout, it will be easy to take down and put up again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CaptO has given an extensive & detailed list of all your track options and some include the transformer, but at Darren has mentioned if you are in the UK, instead of getting a transformer from Japan, that you will have to put a converter on, how about purchasing one in the UK that you won't have to convert.

 

I've started a new thread on FineTrack. Whee!

 

There is one reason to get the Tomix throttle, and that's so you can use the Tomix feeders. Otherwise you either have to purchase feeders separately and then modify them to work with your throttle (which may be as simple as cutting the connector off the end, as I did to use my Digitrax Zephyr), or finagle a different way to feed the tracks, which doesn't work real well with temporary layouts.

 

That said, I don't think the throttle that comes with the starter sets is that great. It's functional, but it's not my favorite at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bernard   

I didn't know that about the throttle. Does the throttle act as a wire buse in DCC in some way? So different parts of the Fine track get "boosts" from the throttle through feeders?

For a beginner this is good to know, it seems to be a preset and you don't have to worry about a decline of power at further points in a layout. It seems to be a nice feature. Does Kato Unitrack have the same type of throttle? (You see CaptO, you've opened up a new line of questions for me and I find it interesting.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't know that about the throttle. Does the throttle act as a wire buse in DCC in some way? So different parts of the Fine track get "boosts" from the throttle through feeders?

For a beginner this is good to know, it seems to be a preset and you don't have to worry about a decline of power at further points in a layout. It seems to be a nice feature. Does Kato Unitrack have the same type of throttle? (You see CaptO, you've opened up a new line of questions for me and I find it interesting.)

 

It's nothing that fancy at all. Unlike Unitrack, which has a special feeder track, (almost) any piece of FineTrack can be used as a feeder. There is a special wire that connects to the throttle (like with Kato throttles). But the other end has this fork-shaped connector that slides under the rails: Each piece of track has a sort of hole beneath the rails just for this purpose. It just means that you don't need a special feeder track, you can use what you have. It's a very good idea, I think.

 

So, I just cut off the connector to the throttle, and wired the feeder into my DCC booster. In fact, you could use multiple feeders to power many pieces of track in this way, but for most temporary layouts, you only need one feeder (two if you want to double-track your main line).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont think i can buy the train and the track seperately since it is quite costly and i wont have enough money. I guess i will have to go with one of the starters(not saying the starters are bad at all). Also now i have to choose between the 500 shinkansen and the Yamanote line again  ??? Though slightly giving the edge to the 500 shinkansen since it comes with a extra cart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get the impression that I am the only person here that uses Unitrack exclusively.

From now on, just call me "Nigel no mates"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×