Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Soyokaze River Shelf Layout: Sept 25th Update

Faked in backdrop. I'm going to print something as a backdrop to the shelf that's very close to this.

Well, things are rolling right along on the Soyokaze River Shelf Layout. I'm excited about the progress. I've gone through with multiple scenic passes, dolled some items up and have laid in two rounds of people and scenes - my favorite part of this. After taking a look at these photos, it became clear that I need to roll through one more time with some major touch up work. The camera is BRUTAL when you get down deep and start taking close ups. I want to hit small areas like building foundations and "dust off" streets and the like.

I also noticed that I have some "leaners" here and there - people that didn't quite make it vertical in the scene. I need to roll through and fix that. I used a new cement for the people and the results were better than I've gotten in the past from standard white glue or plastic cement, so I'm happy about that. I recommend it. Duco Cement. It's like Super Glue, but it's a little thicker and I found it to be much easier to work with. (Even fixed a broken vase top that my Mother had)

I plan to hit the plants and trees with scenic cement after everything is where I want it. I have not used it yet, so I'm planning on testing it out on my old Soyokaze layout first to make sure I'm using it properly.

Then, another detail pass on buildings, water, people and roads. I'll put in some lines and rooftop variation here and there. I think that will be the final step. We'll see once I'm done. Another week or so for sure.

This has been a grand process for me and I've added some new skills to my virtual toolbox which is always good. I'm pacing myself and accepting the time that is available to me instead of whining about not having time to work on hobby stuff.

An oldie but goodie from an old Landmark Forum class I took at one point: It's not that you don't HAVE time to do the things you want, it's that you are not MAKING time to do them. If you really break things down and look at them earnestly, you'll see that in most cases this is correct. Watching TV? That is potential hobby time. You're just choosing to watch TV instead of doing hobby items. Which is FINE, by the way. It's just more "empowering" if you say that YOU are the one doing it, it's not being done to you. Anyway....

Looking at this small layout shelf, I can see how a full layout - about 11 times the size of this shelf in my case - can take a long while to "complete". I have trains running, so it'll be an ok wait! :)

More photos can be found here:


Talk about work plans or lunch plans? :)

Grandmothers brag about their grandchildren   :)

Pedestrians and vehicles share the road. The road is not open to all through traffic.

Things tend to move a little slower up in the Soyokaze River area.

Poets, lovers and tourists love the Soyokaze River Bridge

Friday, September 20, 2013

Shelf layout progress photos

The Soyokaze Shelf is coming along.I have the first layer of scenic elements down.

Layout progress photos

Photo update of my shelf layout. The Soyokaze Harbor area, Soyokaze and Shizuka.
I have everything roughed in and I'm happy with the overall flow of it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Problem fixed, problem created and remembering my Father

Heh, I fixed one issue and caused another. Standard Operating Procedure in the hobby, right? :)

I only wanted to have one track for the mainline. Space wise and cost wise, I thought it would be the better way to go. However, I was faced with my Kato Uniplate section having an unused and unconnected spot where the Kato Unitrack main connected with it. It was making me a bit crazy in that OCD sort of way.

"But....:::twitch:::....the track just....ends? That...:::twitch:::....that doesn't make sense. I mean...the train would just run off onto the deck...."    heheheh

But, something came to mind when I was putting my daughter to bed. I often have hobby related tasks and issues running through my head, letting my brain process things while driving or sitting in the dark patting my daughters head in the dark as she falls asleep. Things roll through and solutions and ideas often get worked out.

I thought of just connecting track and having it's story be that it's going off to other cities and towns in the area. To make things even better, I checked the Under The Layout Storehouse and they had the Station Malcolm Ordered and Forgot About in stock!    :)    I was able to use the station on the long length of track that now runs in front of the Shizuka side. Once I get my backdrop wall up, it will show the tracks leading off into the distance on the other side of the track. Worked like a charm.

However, when I switched the Main over from the outside Uniplate to the inside one, other issues came up and I had to super clean and refit parts of the plates to get the tram to run through. As it stands now, it's still not 100%. I need to go back in something.

All in all, I'm super happy with things as they stand now. I like the complexity of the Shizuka section and the density the structures are providing currently. Adding the additional structures I have to build and some of the smaller details will make Shizuka as visually rich as I had hopped for.

The Soyokaze side is shaping up as well. The space is less dense which will allow for some nice scenery. I also have ideas in place for the roadway that will lead over the hill to the harbor area. The water element of the harbor is something I'm working on now. The cracked and leaking mess of the shelf layout has me rethinking my process for water in such a large area.

I'm also working out the transition from the Unitram plates to the plywood deck. However the addition of the station areas is making this seem like less of an issue.

Wow...the "Bright and Shiny Future" I used to talk about is here. It's rather exciting. Sadly, my Father is not here to be a part of it. I think that's something that has been on my mind of late. Life pressures have been flowing for the last few months (I won't bore you with details - nothing major) and I think about what this experience would have been like if my Father would have been around to help me with this layout and be part of the enjoyment. He had a love of trains as well and built me my first layout when I was 10, so doing this with him from time to time would have been a hoot. I plan on hanging a picture of him up by the layout. :)

He wrote this in one of the emails that I received from him before his passing on November 27, 2011 when I had sent him a link to progress on my old Soyokaze layout:

Your layout is wonderful. I had not seen all your improvements. (I attempted to leave a comment on your blog but it kept asking me for a profile.) It would not accept my comment.

I basically said that my dad would have been proud of you for your attention to detail. I think I told you that he made most of the strucures that we had by hand. He even made some of our rolling stock.

I wish that we had made pictures of his handy work. It was a different time and space then.

As I sit with my daughters - one of which is just interested because she wants to grab the tram as it runs by so she can taste it in classic, eight month old style!   :)  -  I remember how much fun I had hanging out with my Father as he built my old HO layout on a door back in the day.  Nothing can replace the feeling of sharing something you love with someone you love.

Ok....mushy stuff is over!  :)

Happy Hobby Times, All!


Monday, September 16, 2013

September 13th Update

The Shelf

The shelf layout is progressing nicely. I'm taking my time with it and chipping away at parts of it when time allows. This process is working mostly because there are no other options at the moment, so it HAS to work. :)

I'm taking a painterly approach to the overall look. I think it works well and it falls right in with the look and feel of my idol, Akihiro Morohoshi.  I love the look of his work. I'm working from the bottom up, taking passes at the rocks and dirt layers before moving to foliage and the gravel and soil layers that will be physical, not painted. Standard procedure, I believe.

I managed to mask the issues I was having with my water. I like it overall, but I tend to make it much rougher than it should be. I still like the look however.

Pacing myself like this is a good, zen-like exercise in patience. I only have so much time during the day, so I fit in what I can when time allows. It's working well and it allows for planning and moving forward in an organized way with no wasted moves.

More shots here:

The Layout

I got the switching bug! It's a lot of fun and I'm not even doing it on a major scale. I have three switches on the layout (only one is wired at the moment, which makes things interesting) One takes trains out to the harbor area of the layout and two function at the harbor to get things moving on that side. I've started to do SUPER SMALL switching puzzles involving the tram and the harbor work train. It's grand! :)

I've had a few accidents already, costing the people of Soyokaze loss of funds and time. :::grin:::  All involving switches. However, once things get properly wired, I think that the accident rate will drop.

I'm running a few things, but plan on taking one of them out of service for the time being. I have a little, chibi tram from KATO - N Pocket Line Street Car Set. Really cheap and, while it was a fun placeholder, it's seen it's final days until my daughter gets old enough to run trains.

I snagged the KATO N Pocket Line Electric Freight Train (in blue) for my harbor area and love it. It's working well for that area. A great size.

And lastly, I went with the MODEMO NT119 for my main tram and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I need to weather it a bit, but it runs well and fits within the overall style I was looking for. The red is grand in the landscape, too - really pops.


I'm not sure about my transition point between the village area of Soyokaze and the city area of Shizuka. I'm using the Unitram plates and it makes it difficult to sort out going from them to the bench work deck. I think it will just be a mixture of scenic and building materials.

Overall, I'm happy with the layout as it stands now. There is some separation between the Soyokaze Harbor, Soyokaze and Shizuka areas,'s not as much as I would have liked overall. hehehe Always the case, right? I've thought about building out the layout so it goes down and around the corner. This would buy me about another 5' x 4' amount of space, but it means that I'd need more track and materials, so I think that will be on hold for now.

More to follow. Again, this update is going out days after it was started. I already have another one ready to go! I think the take away is: Shorter updates more often. Yup!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sept 1 Layout Update

I'm starting to figure things out on the layout. It's amazing how I can have so much more space, but it's still not the space that I thought it was going to be.

I have my track and my stuff is coming together, but I lost track of what I was doing for a moment. Tom Barbalet of the Model Rail Radio podcast had a great point once. There's something about having the actual track and laying out the actual track to get a sense of things. It's a great process, but I have purchased to much track. I know that now. I have some excess track going now, but have what I need to complete my little circuit.

Harbor area switching and the area for the water (under my hand)

I got a loop going in the Soyokaze section and I was happy with it overall, but - while cleaning dishes - I remembered what the purpose of the switches was originally. I wanted to have the harbor section be a little action area for some light operations. Basically, switching on a super small level. It'll be fun, I think. 

My assistant, Miss T   :)

After speaking with my assistant, I reset the switches and got things rolling the way they were meant to be. I'm happy about the way things are looking so far.

I rolled in some elevation in the area between Soyokaze and the Harbor area. This took care of the feeling I had that there needed to be some elevation between the water and the main village. The harbor will occupy the area beyond the white foam. The green foam will have more of the temple area laid in. I need to level set the track and work the foam so the track lays in more. I plan to build up support walls and the like. Based on what I did last time, I think that cutting and shaping the foam will work well for this.

 All in all, it's an interesting process. I've been rather busy with life and work of late, so things crawl along on the layout. I feel that this will be the case for years and years. I've accepted that fact and I totally see that this is a hobby, is meant for relaxing and not stressing and I have my eye on the things in life that really need my attention right now - Family. However, when time allows, I dabble. :)

In other news, I have my little shelf project that I'm trying things out on and that's coming along nicely so far. Last night I managed to apply a layer of Water Effects. I'll see how things worked out when I get home tonight. I hope that the Water Effects will help mask some of my mysterious water cracks. We'll see after it gets a little paint.

Also, if time allows, I'll be working the clay portion of the project to create the street area. I'm rather excited about it, but I'm still looking for something that will help with the patterns I'm hoping to get into the clay for the street and brick. I was going to do the whole street in bricks, but seeing as I'm in N scale, I'm not sure I want to spend the time doing the WHOLE street in bricks that are this size -- . So, I may do a few sections of brick highlights instead. I also plan to try out the gutter idea I had. I'd love to get this gutter look between the street and buildings!


((    NOTE: It took me 4 days to complete this blog post. :)   ))