Monday, September 18, 2017

The slow burn of layout creation continues

The busy Dad got a little time to play around with the layout this weekend. This time I focused on the Harbor and Temple hillsides and the tram loop. Yes, the tram loop finally got some love! :)


So, I wanted a little more height to the temple hill. Nothing TOO crazy, but a little more. I wanted to get some more area for trees and the like, so I'm going to do away with the parking area and have the whole hill be the temple space. There will be a parking area at the base and people will be able to walk up a ramp or switchback path to get to the temple.

The overall height is where I want it now. I just need to get things level and even before I lock it down and plaster.  I also want to make sure my little elevator idea is going to work in the space. (Mentioned at the bottom of this post... )

I'm also not 100% on the water area in the harbor. I might break out my boats to make sure that there is room if I make the water portion smaller. I don't want things to be cluttered and I liked the way the fishing boats looked in the previous version. We'll see.

 I'm also looking forward to trying my Photoshop background project. Before I work with the plaster and all, I'd dial in the background, replacing the blue that I have up now with a planned and finessed Photoshop created background. This background would be tuned to line up with the areas that are currently on my layout. Roads, the ocean, fields and trees would line up with the modules and a nice, faded back view of distant mountains will be seen. I'll do the same thing in the Shizuka city section. Seeing as I do motion graphics and design for a living, I'm hoping that I'll be able to pull things together! hehehehe  The size is going to be interesting at 12 feet, but I am going to see if I can work in sections. I also need to check on printing costs.

And finally, I went back to a longer tram loop that will go through the whole of Soyokaze Old Town and Soyokaze Village. I think this will add a little more visual interest when the buildings are flowed back into the scene - the tram passing between and behind buildings as is makes its way. 

Again, not rushing is both challenging and rewarding. I'm just making sure I continue to more forward. For a minute there, I was going so slow that I was actually stopped. I would stand and stare at the layout and just be baffled about what to do next, so I'd end up just walking away. It seems like things are at a slow and steady pace now.

I need to make sure the track is level and make sure I take the time needed to clean up the mess left from the previous layout before moving ahead. While some areas will be fine, others need to be scraped and cleaned before I can re-work the scenery and track. This is proving to be a pain - the glue I used is REALLY good...and not coming off very well. hehehehe  Live and learn.

Planning where things are going is going to be a biggie as well. I need to see where roads will go, where buildings may be, and how the whole of them interact with the track. All of which I love doing! :) 

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Another layout revamp - again, for the better!

My goofy-ball daughter :)

I went through another round of track organizing and design post-vacation. I came back with a fresh view of what I wanted and what I was aiming for and, again, the slower pace paid off.

Video Update:

So...I was looking at the layout space and saw that I still had some squirrely bits on it that didn't make sense. I also had added a switch before my vacation only to find out that it caused an electrical fail that ruined my setup. 

I addressed the electrics first. It turned out that I just had a feeder in place that was botching the works at one point. I t was grand as well because I solved the issue right before heading out to buy more gear to try and fix the problem. Saved myself some cash. :) 

Then it was on to the bits that didn't work for me. Mainly the lack of space in the harbor area.

It was really congested and  I didn't think it made sense having a high speed rail line zoom past a fishing harbor scene. The line pushed the freight line out and ate up a lot of space. So, I moved the sucker. hehehehe

The original setup:

The new arrangement:

 This also fixed another area I wasn't thrilled with - this switch where the high speed rail had to do a little sweep out. It looked awkward when the high speed trains ran through it. Seeing the freight do it was kinda cool, but the other trains looked odd.


The new arrangement has the high speed line as a straight shot right through while the freight line pops out - it's working for me.

I also get a better auto underpass which checks off another box for me. I might raise the road, then drop it as it goes under the bridge. I'll have to see how it goes as I start in on that side of the planning.

I took the switch from the old arrangement and moved it over to the shipping area which allowed me to make that space longer. Another want checked off.


This is a better setup, but it introduced another issue- the height of the buildings and rails in relation to the water area. I had planned on raising the water level, but saw that it was going to introduce some other issues I honestly didn't want to deal with. hehehehe   But now, the rail area where I wanted to have loading of fish and the like is WAY higher than the building area. The image below is showing the buildings on the pink foam, but they are really going to be on the deck. (where the wood shows in the bottom right corner )  I was wondering how I was going to get fish loaded on the trains at that height. I couldn't take the train down in the space I had to work with - I was already up two inches there.

I was looking a a bunch of options to drive trucks up on little roads and the like, but all that seemed silly. Then I thought, "Why not add a little interest and whimsy in here at this point? Some magical realism."  Like...a funicular lifting system that can be loaded up and then goods elevated up to the train space! 

I looked at a few options like this truck lifter.....

But then I found this nugget and fell in love with the idea.

The Lärchwandschrägaufzug.

So, people will load at the bottom by the harbor buildings in an area like the one pictured below....

Then the items ( of the little load wagons....forklifts....etc....) will be trucked up the hill to the loading staging area by the train. I want to have enough space there for the train to ave a loading space around it where people can work and move things around. Again, another great scene space to flesh out.

I'm going to scratch build the whole thing so it will be all mine, but I'll base the mechanics on the Lärchwandschrägaufzug. I love the look and feel. 

I might incorporate some other bits from other setups. I need to do some cherry picking of elements I see here and there when I Frankenstein my version together.

So....again...taking my time and planning things out is proving to be the wiser thing to do. Now that I've had some time to see what it is I really enjoy, I've been able to fold those elements into play. I highly recommend this approach.

I also need to continue building out the little diorama I'm putting together for a friend. I had to put it on hold due to vacations and family items, but I have it back on deck and hope to complete it in the next week or two so I can schedule a time to deliver it. Photos to follow.

Comments welcome!



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Little Visitors to the Layout

My Littles like the new layout setup! :)   Now we need to start back in on their layout! hehehe

My little goofball  :)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tour of Track Tuning

I spent a little time cleaning up the tracks and the arrangement and it's paying off. Again, the benefit of taking my time and really working things out before moving forward. I realized that I didn't have a good solution for running two passenger trains around. Sure, I could run one for a period of time, then run another, but I like the feel of having two at a time in service.

So, I took a long look at things and made some changes.


It took a minute to figure things out. I kept running into issues where the configuration I was trying wouldn't work or would work when I DIDN'T want it to work.

After a few efforts (...and failed attempts....)  I got something that worked and managed to clean up some wonky areas as well.  I cleaned up the main station area, making it a straight run instead of the odd curve I had when it was rolling out. I have a little mini-station area (top middle) that lets me run two passenger trains now.

Ahhhh....much better.

While I was at it, I straightened out my tram track as well, shortening the loop through Soyokaze and straightening the tracks so they don't swirl through the landscape. Now, they are just straight lines. Again, much better!  The area in the middle of the photo below shows the new straight sections.

Then it hit me. I was running the N•EX which is somewhat forgiving, but I had not tried my EVA Shinkansen - aka, PROBLEM CHILD. hehehehe   VERY unforgiving on all fronts. When I built it out, I was happy that It basically fit in the station now with all the cars!

However, when I ran it around, it hit a few snags. I figured as much - I really just have the track fired in at this point. I need to do a lot of work getting areas level and the like.

One of the things I hit was the bridge. Literally. :) I forgot that it needs a bit of straight track before going into the bridge section or it will clip it. A relatively simple fix.

Then it was one to issue two which was more of an esthetic look and feel rather than a running issue. I just didn't like the way it looked rolling out of the double track area and into the switch. I finessed the area and it's looking way better.

The little bow out makes things look much better when running!
The last thing I need to address is a section of track that isn't 100% level and the small bump derails one of the cars. This is something I planned on fixing anyway, so that's not a major deal. I have a lot of the track in to my liking, but I need to address the area under the track to make sure things are leveled and not roller coaster like! Even areas like the one above need to be addressed so there is actual LAND under the track! :) Then I'll go in in sections and start the plaster gauze process. But, AFTER running things a while like this.

So, I'll pack the EVA 500 back up and slap the N•EX back on until I have time to smooth out the tracks and get things properly leveled, etc.  That way I can keep running things.

Speaking of running things.....


Now that I can actually run things around ::::happy dance:::: I've been looking at buying more rolling stock and the like. It's really making me happy. :) I had to think about the things I REALLY wanted and not just...everything I wanted. heheheh  So, the winner this round were....

Kato 5079 Passenger Car MANI 36 (Modified SUHA 32) (N scale)

Kato 5003 Passenger Car OHANI 30 (N scale)  - I think I got two of these.....hmmmm...

Kato 8062 Freight Car TORA 90000 2 Cars (N scale)

Tomix 2719 JNR Refrigerator Container Wagon KOMU 1 (with containers) (N scale)
Another set of these for the harbor section. Still not 100% sure how that harbor is going to go with less space. That's something I might break out buildings for since the tracks are directly related to the fishing area. I'll pop the buildings into the section to make sure I have enough space for them AND a loading dock area. That's crucial. 

I also picked up another engine.....   ::::blush::::   The EF70 1000. Yeah, I can see why people end up with a lot of things to run when you can actually run trains! hehehehe   This will be a wokhorse for pulling the passenger cars.

The NEXT thing I want to get - maybe around Christmas - is some steam! I'm currently looking at some small stream like this lovely J.N.R. C11 Hokkaido Type 150W Headlight w/Coal-bunker Hokkaido Type (Model Train) !

We'll see how that goes. :)

I'm thinking through how to move forward now. I have many of the grades and things sketched in. Do I just glue what's there now, then go over it with plaster gauze, or do I go into measuring the wonky parts I've built up with foam core, then cut pink foam to fit instead?

Hmmmm....comments welcome. I'll be YouTube searching for answers.  While it did work out last time, I'm sure it's a bit wonky. I'm NOT going to be cutting plywood rams and the like. I just kinda know that about myself. hehehehe

OH! Then there are the backgrounds as well! Almost forgot! I want to do those BEFORE doing the track so I can climb up on the bench work to paint and I can move track sections as needed. Man...that $250 or so dollars for the printed background is looking pretty cool right now. :)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Rolling on the new tracks. No tears!

Loving the new setup 95%!  Not bad. Not bad at all! The one thing I'm going to look at incorporating is a track I can simply park passenger cars on. I think I have the room...somewhere. :::grin:::  Other than that, I'm getting my switching, passenger running, and long freight being able to run along with the passenger line on the same track in a full loop. THAT makes me SUPER happy!

Trains running.

Loving it. :)  Comments welcome.