Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More N scale subway ideas

Some rather interesting subway ideas in this video. Yes, I'll be stealing them. :)  This guy is thinking about these items in interesting ways. Reminds me of some of Rios Tam's work. He, too, is working within a small space, but has managed to pack a lot of great action and scene work into the layout by thinking about things and working through cool ways to execute.

My idea about using the duct aluminum tube material is proving to be harder than I had expected. It tends to crimp and rip with ease, so getting clean cuts is rough. I was also looking the area over a few days ago and realized that if I went with my original plan of action, I'd be cutting off a view of 60% of the track which would be somewhat sad. It's the only area where I can run my longer KATO train.

This, in turn, makes a case for that longer run option - building out the subway section to run into my back storage room area and back.

This is another cool subway video.

Hmmmm....guess I need to do some more freelance work! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April Update

I'm starting to see steam building up for modeling again post mini family vacation and some time to breathe again. I'm starting to build a few more kits and have gone back to "what if" planning for the broadening of the subway section of layout. That and thoughts about getting into more of the scene work I have planned is starting to get me rolling again!

The subway expansion is something that both excites me and makes me cringe at the same time. While I love the idea of having a longer run for my larger train, the building of the expanded area will take some time and money. It's not off the table, but it's not going to be fast-tracked either.

The idea is still somewhat the same. I want to take the subway track as it stands now and expand it out into my other office workspace area - currently filled with boxes and detritus. :) I was originally thinking I'd need a helix, but looking at the level of the current area and the level of the self area that is currently in place in the other office section, I think I can make due with a small grade to make things work.

The new section would go from the track cleaner bottle on the right to the dark area on the left.

The only other issue would be the engineering behind it all. I think I'd end up Frankensteining additional materials into place, dropping a larger deck area onto the existing shelf in the back room, then running a large loop out and around. 

Again, in my mind, it sounds simple. However it's going to be a big hit to the wallet, so I might have to save up a while before making that kind of move. I'll still work on my subway section, but I might do it in a more modular style instead of locking things down so i can move it and re-work it if the need arises. 

I've added a few new KATO box buildings into the mix. I had to do a little "retail therapy" recently, so I snatched them up at the Ace Hardware in Berkeley. I was surprised to see that they had stocked several of these Kato buildings - they had not had them before.

I had to do my little internal dolling up of the inside. I can just have a blank inside. Makes me crazy. :) However, I don't super detail anymore. I'm sticking to splashes of color and some printed items to just make the inside seem more alive. I've learned that much of what I do isn't visible, so I check to see just what will show and I craft the internal work accordingly. Far less frustrating this way. "Yeah, there's a whole scene I worked on in a room there...just behind that wall."   :)

In addition to the little restaurant above, I snagged another one of the smaller Kato office buildings and added a little to it for show. Mostly an Elmers Glue Stick test to see how long it will hold up. ((I really should have spent a little more time cutting - I hate how these building sing edges look!))


I did a little pull back and assess thing recently and I was rather pleased with what I saw. I wanted to get a broad, lay-of-the-land for what I had in place already was a lot, actually. :)  It was fun to see. I got a little caught up in a pity party a while back ("MAN! I wish I had more time to work on the hobby! WHaaaaaa....") but things are actually rolling along nicely. I've started working on some major scenes, have some cool TBD sections I can still play with and the whole of the layout is working well for me save a little more tuning here and there in the town layouts. 

This will be a great little spot once it's painted and detailed out a bit more.

I've said it before - PEOPLE are going to add a LOT to these tourist locations!

Lights will help a lot as well, but I love the afternoon when light streams in through the back window.

I think the bridge could use another round of painting and detailing as well.

I'm not sure what is is about the little Town area, but I'm still not thrilled with it. I think more research and photo gathering may help here. I think it's just not dense enough. I'm going to take another pass at arrangements once I get my additional Sankei buildings built.

SOYOKAZE FARM still needs a better name as well. And, maybe a few more workers. (There are a few on a tractor in the middle of the photo above. Resting in the shade for a bit)

The Temple area will be grand when I manage to wrap my brain around electricity and light! hehehe I wanted to have little pin-light walkway lights and some larger lights lighting up the buildings. It will make a lovely little section. It's already pretty swell in my mind as it stands.

On the people front, I'm torn between setting people on plastic so I can move them around if and when I need to, or just mounting them down to the section they are in. I've mounted figures in the Soyokaze Town station, but placed the figures on plastic in the Village area below. Mounting them directly into the scene is more seamless - you don't have a big, shine area under the figures that way.I'm leaning towards doing that and hooking up the Chris Abbott suggested "vacuum with nylon over the suction tube" setup for cleaning to prevent figure loss. I happen to have one of those see-thru canister vacuums, so I'd be able to fish figures out if need be, but the nylon seems far cleaner.

The little Village area is looking right so far. I may do some more raised foundations to vary the heights of buildings a bit.

Downtown Shizuka is dialed in pretty well. I need to get details, cars and people in, but I'm happy with the overall layout.

The Soyokaze Harbor area is another detail heavy spot that I'm excited to start working on. I think I'll have to do more bulk people purchases and pain them up myself to save on cost. Buying enough figures to fill in the sections I have going right now will force me to rob a bank, I think. :) However, I have a few options that might not break me.

I can get 400 unpainted figures for around $20. Then, I would have to do all the paint production on them which...if I look at my time as billable hours...would be...a lot of $.   :)

Or, I could get 100 painted (non-hero painting, mind you, but find for background figures) that I could place right away for $12.99. While this works out to be a lot more than the unpainted figs, I think from a time perspective, they would work out far better. If I were to snag 300 or 400 figures, it'd give me a lot to play with for scenes. I could snag some "hero" figures for featured scenes and do rather well.

I have some Spring Cleaning tasks that need to be handled before any of this stuff. My office space is messy and cluttered. I need to spend some time re-working some of the crap I have in here, block off some exposed ceiling areas in the back room, maybe snag some shelving for more storage and pull the trigger on some overhead lighting for my train area to get that done. I think tomorrow morning will be a little cleaning and music party seeing as this is my work space as well. 

Then....I'll need to think about the garden......but, that's another story.  :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Berkeley Ace Hardware Layout

I had recently stopped by the Berkeley Ace Hardware and they seem to have made some nice scratch-built buildings for their window layout recently. If you have not ventured into their shop yet, you should. They have a large hobby area below with tons of models and model train fun.

2145 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

The layout was larger back in the 70s evidently with a series of HO trains running from downstairs up through a massive helix that ran from below to the window above, then back down. The guy in the train section had the task of taking down the helix when he first started working at the store in the 80s, I believe. 

The window layout no longer connects to the trains running downstairs, but the custom buildings are a lot of fun to take in when you visit. 


Friday, March 27, 2015

Summertime Blues

Mood music for today's post....

I made a N-RAIL SPOTIFY playlist

 It's one of these down periods of time where a bunch of items are taking me away from the hobby, which is a real drag. I actually use the hobby as a sort of therapy, so not partaking actually sends me into a flat spin of just trudging through life with a grumpy attitude.

Sure, there are things the bring me up - wife, kids... , but it's tough at times. It's nothing major - just the usual work and the need to do some freelance to get a little more cash flowing through the house. (Work doesn't know that the cost of living actually goes up EVERY year. Did you know that?) The added stress adds to bouts of insomnia, which leads to sleepy days, which leads to more difficult work flows.....repeat.
Fun sunlight on Soyokaze Harbor

The summer adds to the fun as well. We're starting work on a major garden re-org (No....this doesn't include a G scale layout running through it, sadly! heheheh) which is going to suck up a fair amount of time for a few weeks.

However, I've got time here and there once things calm down a bit, so I'll work in some hobby time in the near future with luck. I still manage to slip taking shots of the layout into my work day.

I've been looking into a few items here and there during family outings and errands. I'm looking to have my lights in in the next month or so, so I've started looking into various systems that might work.  My primary want is "daylight" light. I love how the change from "orange" light to daylight bulbs really brought things together on the layout and added a level of realism to the whole of it.  More on that process later.

One of the first modifications  - a hotel for my oldest daughter

 My usual RETAIL THERAPY® methods are difficult these days. :)  I'm not making time to do hobby stuff, so I'm not buying more hobby stuff at the moment - figures, trains, buildings and the like. I still have Sankei kits from Santa-san to build. Time to make it out to retail shops isn't something I want to mess with either, so I'm banking some freelance work "fun money" for later when I get around to buying lights.

So, I make an effort to keep my eyes on my computer screen instead of turning to face my layout until things chill a bit. However, the ideas are still flowing and Soyokaze and Shizuka will ramp up again in the near future. :)

Soyokaze River Village sits higher up in the hills

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bladerunner Model Shop images


Some fantastic shots from the Bladerunner Model Shop from back in the day. The level of detailing is wondrous. The modeling is very cool as well. It's grand to see the vision go from concept art to physical model.

I've done some 1/6th scale figure work in the past (My Sixth Scale Blog - )  with another project coming up in the near future. The level of detail represented is really getting me fired up for more 1/6th scale projects. My usual N scale items, too!

People always say, "Man! N scale is so small." Seeing this, however, fills me with hope to hit somewhere along this level with some areas of the layout as well. Things like this can provide some sweet scenescapes - hidden nuggets within the layout for people to find.