Monday, February 22, 2016

Shinkansen curves in place

Andy D. gave me some fantastic advice the other day and I put it to use right away!

I wanted to get some banked curves going for my Kato NEX, but I didn't want to get the double banked curve track Kato offers. My layout was all set with single track and I didn't want to switch things up like that at this stage of the game.

Andy saw my post and chimed in with the fact that you could cut the Kato single curves, then give them a bit of a curved twist, but said that they would stay in gauge if I was careful.

photos from Andy

photos from Andy

I gave it a go with my little saw and it worked like a charm! The area around it needs some finessing and bedazzling :::grin::: but the track has the curve I wanted for sure.

Yes, the plaster material will be painted up and dolled up with scenic materials. :)

The saw system worked like a charm and was very manageable. However, I said, " round I'll try my snips. It'll be a bit faster than the saw, I bet." Well, it was faster for sure, but it tweaked the track a LOT, sending it into a major twist - like a dying snake on hot tarmac. heheheeh So...yeah...if you do it, use the fine, micro-saw! :)  

I'll have three or four spots where I'll use this trick. Loving the look of it. 


I believe that most of the buildings and the like that I have will fit in nicely with the new design. I plan on getting the track dialed in, tested and approved before tossing too many buildings back onto the layout, but I had to place a know....just to see. :)

I had forgotten that I got a HEAVY EQUIPMENT set from Fujimoto Hobby ((Full set pictured on HOBBY SEARCH)). I ordered it along with my N•EX, but it was shipped from a different location evidently. It took far longer to get here. It's always grand when I manage to forget about these overseas orders. Instead of checking the front area for boxes every three hours, I am pleasantly surprised when my daughters come to my office and knock saying, "Daddy, you got something in the mail!"   :)

This is quite the set of trucks and the like. I'll apply the decals, weather them up and scatter them around the layout in various places. I think they'll be a nice addition to the Shizuka, Soyokaze and Kiwamura landscapes.

Thanks for continuing to be part of my world, Dad!

My Father passed away several years ago. It's been a rough process for me, but I have so many happy memories of him that it's been bitter sweet - leaning more towards the sweet side than the bitter.

He actually survived a heart attack a while back and was with us - retired, happy and healthy - for close to 20 additional YEARS. Over that time, he got to see three grandchildren brought into the world and was able to get a super solid and spectacular relationship with me - something that had been rocky before the first heart attack and recovery.

So...there's a silver lining to the tale for sure.

Recently, my Mother found a bunch of bonds that my Father had purchased for me over the years. Just a few that he had popped some extra cash on here and there.

I joked that Dad could fund my hobby from the beyond and my Mom thought it was a fun idea and something that he would have really liked. So, I cashed the bonds in, split some of the funds with the house, then placed the rest in a sort of TRAIN FUND I could pull from for my redesign. And, it's come in handy.

I was able to finish off some purchases I've wanted to make and get the layout redesign purchases dialed in without having to strain the Home coffers. This was a happy little birthday gift for me for sure and something that really put a smile on my face after many somewhat sadder moments wishing my Dad were around to help with my hobby pursuits. He would have loved being a part of it and now he has been. A major part of it, really.

So, aside from the track items, the Kato 3034-3 EF210-100 Late Type Single Arm Pantograph Loaded Car will be added to the roster as well as more cars for the Kato 10-848 Series E259 `Narita Express`  to round that out.

I plan on building a kit that my Dad might have liked and dropping it onto my layout, but knowing these other items are now here because of my Father brings a smile to my face every time I see them now.    <3

Saturday, February 20, 2016

More track progress and some inspiration

This process has been interesting.  I'm not your average model railroader. I don't use track programs. I don't do my bench work properly. (I just cobble it together so I can get started on me real joys.) And, I'm not looking at duplicating prototypical setups. I'm in it for me and for me only and I think I come by it honestly. I'm making the layout for me, not for others. So, I have fun with it.

That said, I'm having fun with it. :)

It's a great process - this tearing up of old items. I'm able to fold in knowledge that I've gotten from working with my old layout setup and I've improved on the whole of it a lot. I know have something that's leaning towards something I'm really enjoying without having to div into the world of DCC or anything like it. My main focus is and will always be the scenes. The trains are a secondary love.

I've split things into three parts as you might have already seen in the video above. High Speed, trams and freight and shipping. I have a lot going on in a relatively small space, so I've tossed in a little of what I like all around like seasoning.

The concept is that I have three cities - Shizuka (larger city) Soyokaze (tourist city) , and Kiwamura (industrial city). I've mixed in some of the switching items and passenger items I've grown to love, so it should keep me busy for a while.

Everything is pretty much the same, but in a different arrangement. I have enough going on to keep me busy. 

I made an effort to keep things lively, folding in elements that I wanted to see on my layout like passing sidings and areas to "park" items. Areas to park passenger cars so I didn't need to remove long trains to run other long trains. Some shipping and industry interest. And, of course, areas to create interesting scenes - the main focus of my layout.

I've been able to actually think through my wants based on what I've played around with before. Now I have something I can run from one location, something that I can see from one locations, and something that has a LOT going on, which I love. 

It was SO HARD to rip finished work up, but it's so worth it.

And, a little PSA for folks who may not have layouts as of yet. All this is just for fun. If you don't think you'l be able to do good bench work or you don't think your efforts will be approved by the model rail masses...pick your battles. You wanna have fun or do you want so do what's approved by others? bench work and track work would NOT fly with many model railroad folks and I know it. I get that they want to do things a certain way - totally fine. But, this process s for me and or me only, really. I share it because I don't have a lot of folks I hang out with that care about model railroading.  I'm just having fun.

If you're on the fence about making something happen for yourself due to "analysis paralysis" or what others may think, but you really want to have something up and running, just go for it. I tell ya, it's worth it! heheheh  I'm having a blast and I'm loving the results!  :)

Happy modeling!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The "Little Pest" Depot

I'm loving this little depot in Budapest. A great design.


From what I can gather, I BELIEVE this particular station is the Little Pest Depot, located in Budapest Hungary.  Built in 1887, the depot once serviced the country's horse-drawn tram network along the Zugligeti Road, a main thoroughfare.  The pictures above and below were taken post-1896 when the city installed its first electric railway system.

This particular depot serviced the 58 tram, and thus, was known as the 58 Tram Depot.  It was eventually taken out of service in either December of 1976, or early the following January.  Unfortunately, vandals and the elements have taken their toll on this unique building, which was already creepy enough 100 years ago! 

Some additional photos from


Track Planning

Note: There's a video towards the bottom of this post. :)

I'm rumbling along through the layout redesign and planning. While it's a fun project, it's a painful one when I start thinking about where I was and where I am now. Ouch.  :)

However, I hope that what I have going will be an improvement. I'm liking it so far.

I started with looking at my curves. Yeah, they needed to change if I was going to run longer trains. So...out with the old.
The new, larger train friendly curve

Track and station: OUT! :(

I did some fancy footwork and plotting to see what could stay and what needed to go. Turns out I yanked up over 80% of my track. I'm looking at this as a good thing - making more of an effort to place it properly and make sure it's working BEFORE bolting everything down. 

The Soyokaze Hill section at the top will be moved...somewhere. Not sure where yet.

This testing process means laying stuff down, running things around on it, then seeing if I like the arrangement and seeing if it's working for all the things I want to do with the layout. The first thing I got going was my high speed rail track. This loop runs around the outside of the layout area. I had to get this up and powered so I could run my new Kato N•EX!!!!  :) Love it.

The first pass I did seemed to be working well, but I wanted to keep things simple and "on the ground, so I wanted to find a way to get three sections in play without overpass, underpass, or tunnel work. I had one area that swept out for the high speed, so I thought I'd rethink it a bit.

High speed sweep out - top left area.

So, I took the high speed in and this created a space for my little switching area and shipping area. 

From bottom to top - Tram Track • High Speed Track • Shipping Track • Outbound and Factory Track
Again, having a ROUND ONE and ROUND TWO of this layout really helped my decision making and planning. After the Kiwamura section was set down, there were many things I wished I had included. Little things like a larger area for shipping, more area for the factory track, and a runaround track of some sort. Having played with the old section, I new what I was missing and I was able to add it into this planning.  This area is close, but needs more thought for sure.
The new Shizuka section is something I have not touched much since the first pass at laying everything back down. It could stand some attention as well, but that's a bit easier to take on.

Rolling out of the Shizuka area, I have the high speed rail on the outside and the tram track on the inside. I still need to look at solutions for some dead spots, but that's just a matter of sitting with it for a while. I'm even looking at having a little inlet area with water rolling under the bridges. Go back to my old, old, OLD layout design with the little swan boat area, perhaps.

I like the snake-like look of the tracks rolling off here. Not practical, but interesting. :)

Left to right: High Speed track • Tram Track • Currently dead track section going nowhere

Moving right along. I'm going to sit with this arrangement and see what develops. I can already see areas that need second, third and fourth passes for sure. But, that's the beauty of setting things down and seeing how they work - you can iron out issues before moving forward.

This is something I didn't take time with in ROUND ONE and it showed. ROUND TWO was better, but it was still clunky and awkward. I'm hoping that this ROUND THREE will be the charm. :)

I did a quick little video to show the progress to date.

More soon!

Monday, February 15, 2016

New Layout Design in Progress

I was going to write a detailed description of my process for my layout remodel, but work and real life go in the way. So, here is a short pictorial with some random descriptions. :)

The location of the redesigned layout area.

Up with the tracks!

Goodbye, subway. Hello new layout table!

Silly. :)

The first steps - slapping some legs on.

Connecting the new layout section to the older section. Relatively seamless.

Distorted pano shot of the situation.

My Father passed away a few years ago, but he would have loved being part of this process. I think of him often when I'm working on things and playing some classic funk and groove tunes. He also loved Hostess Cup Cakes, so I snagged a pack from HOME DEPOT and ate it while working. :)

Playing around with the new Shizuka section and a high speed rail section towards the back of the layout.

Working out the transition from the new section through to the older section. looks like some more track sections are going to be torn out. Time to move more buildings. 

More soon!