Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another MODEL RAIL Radio podcast

Well, I made it on to another MODEL RAIL RADIO podcast! I wish I had more time in my day to be a part of these fantastic podcasts - they are a lot of fun.

The basic breakdown is somewhat simple. You contact the SKYPE call host (Usually Tom Barbalet) and he adds you to the meet up. You are able to participate in the chat portion of the show from that point. That's usually a lively spot full of content and links to check out.
Then, if you have something to add to the podcast, you can request to be added to the call. The format of the calls are rather loose and free flowing, so the information moves quickly and there are usually multiple sections and conversations that take place during the show. There are marathon sessions for the show as well - some ending up to be around 5 hours!

iTunes link to the show - http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/model-rail-radio/id335536272#

If you're interested in hearing my ramblings, they hit at around the 25 minute and 56 minute marks. I talk about my Old Town section a bit as well as planning and pieces. 

I was also on show #44 :)   Around the 2hr 49 minute mark.


Being on the show is always comfortable. Newcomers are usually greeted in the chat and made to feel welcome. On my first venture into the show space, I said hello and was immediately welcomed and brought into the conversation.

There are other model railroading podcasts out there, but the style and flow of MODEL RAIL RADIO is perfect for me and my commute. The free form style and numerous guests ensure that each show is PACKED with information.

Check out their website as well - 

And there is also an active space on FACEBOOK - 

This podcast is a must for model rail fans.



Very interesting - I checked the layout plan for the Setagaya layout and it looks exactly like what I want for my future layout!

It has the "Historic Area", transitions and "Big City Area". It even has an awesome subway section below. Just goes to show - you may think you have a new and exciting idea...and you probably did. But, it doesn't mean that someone else hasn't had that same idea already. :) Everyone's take on an idea is different, however, so it's always interesting to see what comes out of an idea when seen through a new vision. 

I love the Setagaya layout. It can be found here:  http://japanese-trains.com/setagaya/

The  website makes me a little crazy, but the layout is fantastic. The layout is based on the Setagaya tram line in Japan. The rich details, multi-levels and someone simple track work makes this the ideal benchmark layout for me. 

Looking at the layout above, I have to smile. It's EXACTLY what I want to do down to the positions and spacing of the sections. It's uncanny. So, not I have something to get both inspiration and knowledge from. 

Sadly, it looks like this layout was dismantled back in 2006. 
Check out some of the section images. 


Monday, January 30, 2012

Japanese Layouts

Some cool layouts from Japan.

Great amount of detail in these layouts.It looks like this is footage from a few of the International Train Festivals they have going - the 11th and 12th, I believe. cool hearing some of the conversations as well, though I have no idea what is being said, of course. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Old Town Action Plan

Hello again to all those playing at home. :)
I have a tighter action plan for Old Town worked out. Of course, this may change within the hour, but it's nice to have SOMETHING down.
The board is working out well. My original thought about needing more structures is on hold. I think there may be enough to get the visual density I want to achieve down as it stands now, so I'm going to hold off on additions for now. But...you know...I already have them picked out and my birthday IS coming up...so...yeah...I'll end up buying more. :)

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10160555 Brewery Buildings
http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10108828 Tomytec Buildings
http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10104758 Tomytec stores

And, eventually, I want to expand a bit to include a fishing port....


But, for now, the breakdown is someone clear and simple. Some of the areas of note are:

01. The temple area is now raised - set on a styrofoam base. The wall area of the base will have this stone wall look. 

03. I really love the "Town Square" feel of this image and would like to translate it into my layout.

07. & 08. The feeling of this image is something else I'd like to capture. People strolling, shopping and taking photos. Small streets and pathways that keep things close and "small town" feeling.

And I've been snagging lots of photos so I can try to match weathering and how the buildings are laid out. I want to make sure I have several elevations as well. This will help to break up the overall landscape. In shot 12., the raised foundation style will help to get that split in elevation.

Exciting stuff!

Comments and suggestions welcome!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Soyokaze Stories: A Visitor

Old Town station

Old Town parking

From the notebook of Ken Kutaragi

"I'm glad I took the train instead of driving. The experience was fantastic and the small station by the temple was endearing. The tram ride took me through some of the most beautiful countryside I've seen and it seems that it took about the same time it would have taken on the Nittsu bus from downtown, but it was far less crowded and confined feeling.

I plan to revisit the restaurant Kogane no and hope to see Mrs. Teshigawara when I'm there. (Though, I must admit that it's her daughter I'd really like to see!) The food was amazing and the view of the Temple at sunset is something out of dreams.

Staying for the night may have been the best decision I've made all week. The fresh air and the sake have made me homesick. I wonder if it's raining in Saitama right now. "

Translation: Kate Marx-Cooper


Mr. Shimabukuro got his last three boats delivered as the sun started to fall. Mrs. Teshigawara was nice enough to let him store the boats on the side of her restaurant until he works out the additional storage needed.  Shimabukuro will open his boat rental space late this winter.


Old Town - Revised

The model train hobby seems to be mostly about planning and revisions to said plans - about 80% by my rough calculations. :)

Old Town is being re-thought again. The original plan was to have the Old Town section laid out on KATO road plates. However, after taking a look at some locations in Japan, the organized and wide space the plates offered didn't match the vision I had or the real locations I scouted. So, another revision was needed to match my minds eye.

I snagged a plywood sheet from Home Depot and had it cut down to fit on my current dresser location. This was the best option right now - the space was already being used for the setup and - since we've signed a year lease recently - we're going to be here for at least a year and the magical, future space of my combined layout isn't happening any time soon.

This new area will allow for me to build out everything from scratch. I'll have smaller street areas, walkways, lots of foliage areas, a raised section for the temple area made from 1" styrene sheet and will have the look I really wanted for the Old Town section. I think this new revision will also mean re-doing the parking lot. I may just hack it in half and manage it that way.

All in all, I'm excited about this new direction. I'm trying not to let my excitement about it drive me too fast, however. I think that keeping a slow pace and thinking things through will give me the best results. There are a few break out spots in my life coming up where I'll have a block of time to work on the project, so I'll ramp up to those spots as they come up.

If you have comments or suggestions, please feel free to toss them out there! I'd appreciate anything that might help out in this process.



Friday, January 13, 2012

Taiwan, Pingxi Train

I love this. :) Fantastic reference video. Daunting, but I'd love to add some of these elements into my layout!

Taiwan, Pingxi Train
The Pingxi Line (平溪線) is a 12.9 km long, single-track branch of the Yilan Line of the Taiwan Railway Administration. It runs through the Ruifang and Pingxi Districts in the New Taipei City.
The railroad was originally built to transport coal. It was completed in July 1921.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Old Town - The boat rental spot

Old Town is getting an addition to it's tourist trade. A pond area where people can rent paddle boats and rowboats. I'm setting the area up so that there is a run of shops, restaurants and even a little farm (maybe one that produces fresh produce for the restaurant next door?) that move out to the end of the Old Town section where the pond will start. Right now, it will just be a hint of the pond area with the building that sells tickets for it and lots of action with people waiting in line, walking out to the boats and in boats heading out. It should be a fun addition.

I was going to use straight styrene for the project, but I think that I will actually use a blend of styrene and foam core to get the look I want.

TOMYTEC buildings are pictured primarily. The docks, boats and and building comes in a set.

Visual Scene Accessory 080 Boat pier 

Briddon: Plotting and Planning -- Revised plan

I just finished half of the MODEL RAIL RADIO podcast:
Model Rail Radio Special: South Australian Take Over [December 29, 2011]

It covered a lot of Aussie model railroading and what they are doing "Down Under". Besides an amazing cast of characters, it talked through a lot of the planning that was involved in getting these layouts to be realistic representations of the areas they are modeled after and it also went through the planning of industries for the layouts themselves. This got me thinking about what I wanted for my future layout and how I wanted it to look.

Again, I model Japan for my big layout modules - Old Town and Downtown. In my recent Google Street View prowlings of Japan, I saw a lot of buildings, streets and alleys that I wanted to include in my layout at some point. That and the massive amounts of details and little things stuck places really got my mind moving away from what I posted earlier in many ways.

I currently have things set on a square - just blocked in perpendicular to the edge of the layout. After seeing images from Japan (mostly around Tokyo) I see that there are many angles to the roads and layouts. MANY angles. I was thinking the Unitram plates through and I think I'll end up setting the main square of the plates at an angle, then building off from there to get a little of the look of Japan's angles going.

I also plan to do a lot of scratch building of buildings to match the unique look and feel of some of the buildings. (( Post about that to follow shortly ))

We won't be moving any time soon, so...yeah...I have a lot of time to think this stuff through. :)

Just looking at the two photos below makes my mind swim. I can really get into the little details like bicycles, plants, weathering and the like, but I can also get into some of the larger detail elements like all the signage and the various buildings and layouts. That's going to be the fun part for me. The nice thing is that - even without moving - I can start in on items that can be placed on my current work layout.

And, of course, the dense layout of Japan means that I can actually add more buildings to my work layout, too! :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Moving Bus System 2

Ok...I'm a little obsessed with TOMYTEC's bus system now. :)

The downside I see to the whole of it is not having moving cars, too. You'll have these buses moving around, but no other action. However, if you're like me and love buses, these battery operated little goodies would be a fun addition to the layout.

There are some nice videos out there by other obsessed folks. :)  I love this one from a show. The small layout is something that I find inspiring as well. The detail and simple design are really nice.

And I managed to find a little review in English.

This makes it seem even cooler! :)

There are Bus Stop and Speed Control magnets that allow you to have even more control over the buses and how they move around the track. When the bus comes up to a Bus Stop magnet, it pulls into the stop, waits for 7 seconds, then moves on. Speed magnets can be used to ramp the speed and and down as you move into and out of bus stops.

In short, SO COOL!

I'm adding this into the list of possible additions to the future layout.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Around Downtown: Hotel Indigo


Around Downtown: Drake's

Visit is next time you're in Briddon!

Briddon: Plotting and Planning

I continue to plan and plot the eventual combining of my OLD TOWN and DOWNTOWN sections with a span of transition between the two and various industries throughout the set.  It's a fun distraction during the day. :)  I keep drawing things up and looking items up on the internet - fueling the fire that boils inside me to make this happen one day.

Currently, I have two distinct sections - Old Town at home on two dressers and Downtown at work on a utility table I have set up in my office. As I've said before, I eventually want to combine the two into one large layout. The dream.

I have the basic feel of the two sections in mind as follows.

Old Town is a tourist spot, really. People would come there to visit and sample a little Asuka and Nara Japanese architecture, food and entertainments. Ideal for families, Old Town will be a lush, open space with lots of trees and fresh air.

Downtown is a business filled, busy space with many tall buildings and lots of people and things packed into the space. (This will take a LOT of time to build out - ideal for a small layout) I'm basing it on the space and layout of Tokyo - compact and filled. This will provide a lot of visual eye candy as we see people going about their busy, City lifestyles. I really need a little more height and variance along with more small details. And, of course, lighting - something I'm both excited by and terrified of getting involved in! :)

The Transition between the two areas will be open space with some detail and industries. The main one will be an open water area that will have either fishing or some port activities going on. The fishing seems easier and more in line with the feel of the layout, so that's where I'm leaning. Though, I love the idea of doing something like this found on QUINNTOPIA's blog. I love the feel of the large ship in the scene. Small details and "action" spots will make the area pop, I believe.

I want to have some sort of background element wall mural - maybe with lights as well for cool, night time viewing - and a hill area about the Old Town section with some residential areas overlooking the valley that Old Town lives in. Just a hint of some residential settlement over the hills. 

I'm a structure guy and the trains are almost secondary. I love to see them rolling around, but my Portram broke a while back and I've yet to fix it. It's been months. But, it sits there next to a dummy tram - a dead prop - and that seems to work for me.  I want to have a fun, older tram rolling from Old Town to Downtown, but also want a modern JR train rolling along the outside. The JR will be underground Downtown and above ground around Old Town. (Different from what's pictured above.) I think it makes more sense to have it underground in the City, but seeing photos of Japan, this is still TBD.


For now, I continue to detail out what I have, work on small non-Japanese modules for fun, and to plan for a bright future in the hobby.

My lovely wife has a vision that I hold dear. I may have mentioned it already. She says she had this vision of us eventually owning a home with a small bar structure in back. People would come to the door as she's playing with the kids (or grand kids at this rate :) ) and ask for me. She points around the side of the house and says, "He's out back in the barn. Go on around." There in the barn is some wild, N scale masterpiece that people come from miles away to look at. I'm there working and welcome them in to take a look around and ask questions or take photos.

I love that vision. :)

OLD TOWN look and feel

OLD TOWN look and feel. Many plants and trees

DOWNTOWN look and feel. Compact and hyper detailed

Comments, questions and suggestions welcome, as always!


Moving Bus System

This would make a grand addition to the layout once I actually put everything together. TOMYTEC's Moving Bus System. It's fun to see the bus roll through, stop at bus stops, then roll out again. I guess the one downside would be that they are the only things rolling and it might seem strange. Other cars just sit in place and the bus rolls past. Other than that, I think it's a cool little system.

Miniatur Wunderland has a whole moving car system, so this is a nice, affordable option for people like me who are not hardcore computer programmers from Germany. :::grin::: 

Take a look!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Greenmax Tram Car Layout

AMAZING breakdown of a Greenmax Tram Car built inside a small box area by a master of the craft.
Watch this video - it'll knock your socks off.

Model Railroad GREENMAX Tram Car Layout Plamo Tsukurou Tutorial - 4 parts

Old Town: More Changes

Big changes in Old Town.  The new station stop for Old Town is in and it's bringing in a new batch of tourists and a new source of revenue. You can also see that preparations are being made to open the new paddle boat dock - another new addition to Old Town.  Two large duck boats sit poised at the opening of the new boat dock. We hope to have it open by the end of January.

The new Station and the two duck boats that mark the opening of the new dock

Major changes in Old Town - the Station

Monday, January 2, 2012