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yakumo381

First Japan Rail Layout

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yakumo381

Having been visiting Japan regularly for almost 15 years - mainly on business but latterly on holidays spent travelling around almost all of Japan on JR Rail Passes to photograph the trains - I have finally started my first JR layout.  In the past I have always modelled UK practice - always in N gauge - but a few years ago changed when I modelled the PeruRail line from Cusco to Aquas Calientes - having visited Peru on holiday - mainly for the challenge of capturing the switchbacks and tight curves.

 

Attached is a picture of work in progress on the as yet unnamed JR layout - all Kato track and buildings so far but am looking to try other brands when I visit the N Gauge International Show in the UK in September. Track layout is simple 2 track tail chasing but the actual track length is disguised as I have an extended loop that is behind the embryonic mountain which fills in the front of an area under the stairs that break in to that corner of the room.

 

Trying to capture the dramatic change you get in Honshu where the mountains suddenly give way to flat land on the coast with wide gravel shrewn rivers and rice fields. Not being a rivet counter, I will be happy to mix trains from anywhere in Japan as I am looking to get the right ambience rather than model a specific area.

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grumbeast

Looking great!

 

It's nice to see so many curves. Should really break up the run especially when you get more buildings down

 

Graham

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KenS

Sounds interesting, and those fields look good, what are they made of?

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Bernard

Really nice start. Is the top of the mountain an access point to the track? I look forward to the progress of your layout.

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scott

Looks like you're off to a great start.

 

the actual track length is disguised as I have an extended loop that is behind the embryonic mountain which fills in the front of an area under the stairs that break in to that corner of the room.

 

This sounds like a useful idea--if you have time, it'd be great to see a picture or sketch of how the hidden loop is laid out.

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Bernard

yakumo381 - Is that also used as a hidden staging area? Also would you mind posting more photos of your layout? I loved to see more details of your layout.  :icon_thumright:

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Sir Madog

Nice looking layout!

 

Care to post the track plan? Not that I am overly curious, but I am still in the process of planning my first Japanese outline layout in N scale, also using Kato Unitrack.

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yakumo381

The fields were defined with polystyrene (old ceiling tiles) then contoured with papiermache then a layer of interior filler (the stuff you use to repair plaster walls) followed by painting with poster paint. The filler is the cheapest I could find to make sure it was very granular and I painted it using a stiff brush while it was still wet so that I could texture the surface.

 

The mountain is all papiermache over a chicken wire former with a top layer of filler which I made look craggy by sculpting as I put it on then sanding with grit paper followed by paint - first an overall coat mixing the colours straight on the filler to get graduation then drybrushing to highlight the surface features - the flat area is where I intend to put either a castle or a temple or maybe a pagoda.

 

The layout is on a "egg crate" style baseboard frame of 2"x1" soft wood with a top made from marine ply. It is mounted on two "L" shaped tables from Ikea that are mirror images with the end of one under the stairs in the corner which is where the tracks loop. I have to access the area behind the mountain by my crawling underneath and along - fortunately I remembered to leave space at the end to just be able to stand up. This also gave me storage space under the layout to put my JR photo collection in, which are in A4 leverarch files, as I could get a book rack underneath. I always get my JR photos printed as 6"x4" as I find them easier to flick through than on the laptop plus I always collect emphemera on my travels so have lots of JR handouts, tickets, brochures, paperwork, serviettes, etc. along side them.

 

The hidden loop is just that - it is as long as the visible layout side - but I have space there to put storage tracks in the future if I need to expand. For the moment my wife has raided the local supermarket for me and managed to get stacking plastic baskets that are used to deliver fresh veg to the store in and which they just throw away but are ideal for rolling stock storage.

 

I did sketch a rough plan out - I used to be a draughtsman in the distant past - just to get an idea of how much track I needed but Kato track is good but only reasonably accurate so you still need to spend time trial fitting it altogether. Even so I still needed to use the "magic" extending track sections to take out the tolerance build up and have some spare sections over which I will use up in the future.

 

Thanks for the interest - I will post updates as I go along. My approach to a layout is to try to get the contours right first so the track sits in the scenery rather than on it and to quickly try and cover the whole baseboard even just with fields and trees. This is so that when I add buildings and construct roads and so on, I have to "dig in" to the surrounding land which I think gives a much better result in the end plus allows the layout to evolve as time goes on without it always looking half finished. I am also trying to make sure the layout does "look" and "feel" Japanese so anyone looking at it for the first time will realise where it is set without a detailed explanation.

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yakumo381

Progress update. Work has been focussed on putting scatter materials on fields and building a road flyover with Japanese style concrete reinforcing on ramp sides. Also some more new buildings - ordered from Hobbysearch but unfortunately UK customs adding VAT plus local ParcelForce delivery taking an extra cut to walk it through customs means that any saving benefit has been more than wiped out. Will limit to items unobtainable in the UK in the future. Having been running in a Kato DD51 but it has started to stop/start for no reason so looks like it may be taking a trip back to the supplier as loath to open it up given it presumably invalidates the guarantee. Also have a pair of Series 40 DMU in correct Hokkaido colours - originally ran on my Peru layout (see two pictures after JR layout) - for several years without any problems but now relocated. Decided JR layout is in Hokkaido and named the station Niihama. The original station is in Shikoku on the Yosan Line but I like the name and the station layout fits in with what I have modelled so lifted and shifted it a bit further North. When I visited Niihama I was taking pictures of a freight loco shunting the yard when one of the JR guys came up to me waving his finger - I immediately though he did not want pictures being taken. Far from it, he explained using his hands that if I waited the loco would come over to the platform for me to get a better photograph! (see last picture).

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Claude_Dreyfus

...plus local ParcelForce delivery taking an extra cut to walk it through customs means that any saving benefit has been more than wiped out.

 

Tell me about it! Those charlatans seem to stiff me a good £20.00 just for pleasure of holding my purchases up and slapping VAT on them every time I bring a parcel into the UK!  :cussing: I accept VAT is one of those facts of life, but not impressed paying a second handling charge bearing in mind I pay enough P&P in the first place!

 

Gets off soapbox!

 

Anyway, I certainly like what you've done so far...this looks to be an extremely promising looking layout. Out of interest, is this planned to be just 'a layout that never leaves home' or is the intention to join the small band of Japanese layouts on the exhibition circuit? There are still too few of us in the UK! I like curved track, and as a scenery fiend particularly like the openess of your landscape. Your objective of creating a suitable ambience is certainly working.

 

Away from the Japanese, I am most intrigued by your Peruvian model; that again looks very effective...

 

When I visited Niihama I was taking pictures of a freight loco shunting the yard when one of the JR guys came up to me waving his finger - I immediately though he did not want pictures being taken. Far from it, he explained using his hands that if I waited the loco would come over to the platform for me to get a better photograph! (see last picture).

 

Which to me kind of sums up the attitude of the Japanese

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yakumo381

Niihama is not for exhibition circuit as I would have to totally dismantle it to get it out of the room! Both layouts are long term - just hoping my wife doesn't get the urge to retire to the seaside in the next 10 years ;-)

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Fat Al

Oh my God! What a brilliant layout! I love the elevation changes in your layout, it adds so much more to it!

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westfalen

Ah, another post (pun unintended) that makes me take back any complaints I've made about Australia Post, all they've ever asked me for is my signature.

 

Back to the layout, that's starting to look good. I like the curves, they draw the eye away from the edge of the layout and from eye level the road overpass also breaks up the scene so you're not looking at the whole layout at once, hence disguising the size of the layout. Will the bare area in front of the station be a town scene?

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KenS

Somehow I missed the post last week with the photos.  What a great layout.  I really like the road bridge over the tracks.  The way it curves down to the buildings just looks so natural, and without the angular look that's so easy to end up with on a model.

 

The Peru layout looks (looked?) quite good also.

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yakumo381

Made further progress on Niihama with the addition of a siding and service depot plus planted some trees, flooded the rice fields and raised a Torii Gate. Still thinking about the bare area on the side, now next to the service depot, which is above where the controllers and switch levers sit on a small table underneath. May add a road next to the service depot with buildings - probably houses - on the other side possibly slightly raised up to give a feel of looking down across their roofs at the station. Depends on what I can pick up at next month's N Gauge International show.

 

Had an "ahhh sh*t.." moment when I knocked over a bottle of Mek-Pak liquid poly cement which flooded the new siding and switch. Had to rip up the track and get the switch into water to wash it off. The plate underneath had started to melt so had to then take it bits to save the actuator. Fortunately not too much had got inside so it still worked when dried out but took some time to work out how to get it back together and working smoothly again. All the printing had gone from the sleepers so also had to repaint it. Moral of this story - do not treat a bare area as a convenient work surface to build kits on.

 

The Peruvian layout still exists although slightly neglected this year - needs a good clean and the bugs that have mysteriously appeared in the wiring sorted out. To get the feel of climbing out of Cusco and descending down to Macchu Pichu, this layout has really tight curves (approx 7.5 inch rad) and a switch back (with approx 15 deg slopes) which - like the real PeruRail - wears out the locos. These are mainly Bachmann SD-40s with some chassis detail cut away to let the bogies rotate further which then wears out the gear train whilst the slopes and rock dust from the scenery wears out the motors. Do not need sound modules as an aging Bachmann motor & geartrain grinding away sounds close to the real thing!

 

Got a business trip to Japan in October and so will be travelling from Kansei Airport via Shin-Osaka to Iida in Nagano and back using the Haruka Limited Express, the Tokaido Shinkansen and then the Inaji Limited Express. Have a free day on the Saturday before I return so anyone have any good ideas on trains, other than Shinkansen, to take out of Shin-Osaka? Any local freight or traction depots in view of stations within easy reach?

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Bernard

Beautiful layout! The rice fields look great.

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Mudkip Orange

The fill for the roadway overpass - and the little access lane that hugs the bottom to serve the farmhouse and other buildings - is top notch, and a better model of Japanese road infrastructure that most other J-layouts I've seen. Good show.

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yakumo381

Having seen "SubwayHypes" thread with pictures of his family's temple garden and as I have not made a lot of progress with Niihama over the past week, I though I should share with you what happens when you let an obsession with Japan that started with trains stray into other parts of your life. Attached picture is my back garden in the UK. Fortunately this is one area of my Japan obsession that my wife is happy to join in with.  :grin

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yakumo381

A brief update: Not made too much progress having been laid low by a virus I picked up on a business trip to Germany. Went to the International N Gauge Show in the UK and spent too much money on more Kato houses, cars, people, containers and container wagons. Poor £ to Yen exchange rate means individual cars from TomyTec now cost £2:50 a go and the stands selling Japanese trains had only limited stock. Felt I had bought a lot but when put on the layout seemed to dissappear into the scenery - oh well it's only money. Started to fill in open area on side with a road and a small hill with concrete reinforcing and a small access road ready for some more Kato houses. Also need to get something to kit bash the Station frontage from as got an island platform but nothing for my 2mm people to access it from - anyone got any ideas?

 

Go to Japan on Sunday for a week - 2 days travelling to Iida from the UK (1 day on trains), three days business, 1 day travelling back (again on trains) and then 1 free day in Osaka ahead (photographing trains) before flying back  :grin

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scott

Felt I had bought a lot but when put on the layout seemed to dissappear into the scenery

 

I feel the same way about the time I spent making trees....

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KenS

Also need to get something to kit bash the Station frontage from as got an island platform but nothing for my 2mm people to access it from - anyone got any ideas?

 

I'd suggest something like this, or this.  You'd need to adjust the height to have one end land on the ground and the other on the platform.  Another option would be to use one of these to suggest a tunnel.

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yakumo381

Currently in Japan on business and taking any opportunity to get some train travel in. Saw this garden outside Natsakugawa Station on the Chuo main line and thought it would be a good space filler for the gap at the front of my Niihama layout opposite the station. Anyone else had a go at N gauge Japan gardens or Onsen on their layouts? Also for some reason been given Japanese language only tickets so far this week instead of dual language - cut backs at JR or are the ones with English for tourist season only?

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yakumo381

Thanks for the suggestions KenS. Saw on the Chuo main line a Station called Chikusa which appeared to have the prototype of what I am looking for: a footbridge off an island platform over the running line and a couple of sidings before coming down on the side with the exit to a road. Now to find one of those footbridge kits to bash.

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yakumo381

Now back from Japan having been to the Kato shop in Esaka on the way back. Managed to get a D10 cold weather version plus a set of containerr wagons and various items for detailing the layout. Had a train ride back to Osaka in time to photograph the "Twilight Express". Spent sometime watching a JR construction team putting in a temporary platform as part of the new overall roof build. Now looking to put some time into Niihama to complete the scenery at the front - have already added a traditional house with a garden to match including incorporating some stone chips I picked up in Iida to add to the authenticity. Waiting for an extension to the Station to come in the post so will post more photos when this next stage of layout building is complete.

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Kamiyacho

Great tree!

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