Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More good times in December

Well, November and December have been pretty lovely times.
My in-laws got me a few cool trains and trams which I love. The Kato 1-421 Hiroshima-Hannover Tramis a cool piece. It has a nice, lean look I like.

This KATO train is something I've been looking into for a LONG time. Years, I think. But, it needs a wide radius, so I had to wait until I had a space to run it. So, it was the prime time for my subway idea.

 I had space under the two tables that make up my current layout, so I thought that a subway would be perfect. Larger radius curves and some additional running area - perfecto. Yes, I still hold knocking through my wall close to heart, but that will happen later. For now, a subway will be perfect. So, I grabbed some wood and started planning.

I'm not a woodworker, but I manage. I have square corners and I can get things working. So, I just started putting stuff together.

I started with the track plan, laying track to work with the wood I purchased. Again, flying by the seat of my pants. :)

My two year old assistant :)

I'm sure there are hundreds of better ways to make this happen. With the power of groove music and thinking about my late Father helping me, I managed to get this wonky idea to work! heheheh  My back is still sore from the lifting. Ask for help? BAH! :)

This KATO train runs like a dream. Now I need to implement the ideas I called out in my last post. I think things will work out.

 In other news....

I love my Modemo. I just wish it was running better. I need to look into recent advice about removing the traction rubber on the tires for better electrical pickup.

 There's going to be a heli-pad in the harbor area. I got some fun copters recently and want to use a helipad to show them off.


There's a fun bridge here in the East Bay that I thought people might be interested in. It run along side a auto bridge and isn't in use anymore - least I don't think so. But it's fun. The auto bridge can lift up and out of the way and so can the train section. It's a fun piece and might be an interesting addition to a layout.

It's been nice making time to work on this stuff again. I missed it. It's a great departure from my work - getting away from computers for a while.

I want to do my backdrop and I was playing around with the "HOW" today. I think I'll use the existing brown paper as a base, then measure the space and match things up that way - using the brown paper as the template. It's already there - why not use it as the base for my background project.

I'll measure where things are - harbor, temple, villiage, roadways etc - then draw in what I want.

Next, I'll pull the paper and roll out the canvas I have. I'll sketch in the areas I need, then start paining. The whole thing will be around 15 feet or so. It should be an interesting project and one that will really add to the layout. I have been seeing some coo backdrops being done, so I can't wait to see what a proper, painting backdrop adds to my layout. I just hope I still have my painting chops! 

Lastly, I wish you all a happy holiday filled with things you love. I still count myself lucky to have a space like this to play in and a wife that gives me the space to play within it! :)

Merry Hollowdaze to you! :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Working and...whoa...I'm working!

Wow...I'm actually working on the layout again instead of just planning. That's fun. :)

I was playing around with this round building idea. It might take care of my desire for a walkway as well if I put both of them together. I've taking a coffee can and Pringles can and plan to use them as bases for buildings adding windows and the like. We'll see if they actually work out. It might just be silly once it's done.

The two cylinders are far away at the moment, but it's I move them closer, I'll be able to connect them with a flyover walkway. Might be fun with people crossing back and forth. I also plan to add windows and other details to sell the idea. Could be fun.

The big thing is the subway and how it's starting to come together. I have a general action plan - we'll see if it works out.

The station is rather straight forward. I'll have the platform and a really nice overhead area. Maybe some lights as well. There will be a series of view block walls that will have details added to make it look subway-like. But the biggie will be the little monster scene. I want it to be a little nugget that people will see and say, "Uh...is that the military doing something with an underground monster there?" :) 

I'm currently building another novice base for this to live on with Helper Number 2 (my two year old) and it should be strong enough to prevent warping and the like. I do enjoy working with wood even though I'm not REALLY sure what I'm doing. hehehehe

I plan on working on my backdrop over the holiday break as well. I'll post photos if and when progress happens on that front.

Lastly, I need to get my trains running better! The KATO train I had on my tracks ran like a dream, but the Modemo tram isn't working well at all. I added another drop and thought more power to the line would help, but perhaps another track cleaning is in order. It's odd that the KATO runs so well. Maybe it has more power pickups. I'll have to research it.

Happy hobbying! :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

December planning

'Tis the season. The go go go of work is at full tilt with both work and freelance fronts and 100%. Add in the kids and sleep and it's a party. :)  But, I'm still rolling with some small, forward momentum here and there.

I've been giving more thought to the layout on the whole as it stands now. What needs to be done before adding a bunch of new things. There's A LOT of things I could focus on. The backdrop is one of the items on the list. Currently, I have brown paper blocking the faux wood panels. hehehe

The plan is to buy primed canvas (ordered) and paint my own backdrop.

Yikes. :) I used to paint all the time, but now.....we'll see how it goes. I'm aiming for "painterly" over "photo realistic". I'm just not sure how it will go. It's going to be better than fake wood panels - that's a given.

Shizuka is working out for the most part layout wise. I like the overall layout of it. It needs a LOT of work for sure, but it's coming along. The track is nice and the flow is working for me. I have more cars on order that will fill in the space as well as more cheap painted people to populate the area. Both of these are poorly painted filler that will add to the overall see in the background. I'll keep my good figures for foreground and mid-ground areas. 

There will be a walkway between buildings (center of image below) that is based on prototype scenes I've seen. Lots of things like bike racks, signs, vending machines and the like in that area. There will be street and sidewalk work done eventually as well - especially since I have the layout locked down now.

I have another area to address as well - a spot where the track is different that I plan to have a work crew working on for fun. I think it will be a nice detail to disguise the need I had to make the track a little longer in that area.

Shizuka hill is pretty good, though it needs more cars and people. The back corner (top right of image below) needs to be addressed. The shopping area will probably look more real with additional cars added to the lot and additional shoppers shopping. I think an overpass will be added from the hill over the street and too the shopping areas.

Soyokaze Township
Things are moving along in the township area as well. Closer on the redesign for sure, but it needs one last tweak before I'm willing to call it done.  I think it will really pull together when some of the street markings are added - that's a global, but the buildings still need to be adjusted. It's just not everything I want as of yet. But, close.

There are still areas that have not been dealt with where bare, painted deck work can still be seen. Again...time heals all wounds. :)  I'll deal with it.

This little area - while fun - is still a head scratcher for me at the moment. Something will happen here. It's RIGHT in the front of the layout. Just a matter of sorting out what. Maybe the vendors will be here. Might make sense.

The bridge needs to be locked in and locked down. Still very floaty.

The amazing floating bridge. :)

This whole section needs to be addressed as well. A road will lead into the painted backdrop, walkways will be added and the track in the back of the layout will be sceniced and dialed in. Things like the pink building's parking area will be blended in as well.

Soyokaze Village
I'm far happier with the village area now that I've reworked some items. I gave thought to stone streets, but I like the look as it is now. Really, it just needs a TON of people now. Shopping, eating and sightseeing all over. That's going to make a world of difference. 

This back area needs help, too. I'm not sure what's going on there. Potential for another scenic nugget. The farm area is fun and I have workers for it I can put out. I just needs a little more work going on. Time to look through all my reference materials.

Soyokaze Temple
The temple was one of the first things I got done. It's 905 to 95% there. Tourists will be added and that will help, but I also need to dial in the parking lot area. Barriers, street markings and the like. I need to address street markings globally. The "how" is top of mind. I was using GUNDAM ENAMEL MARKERS and they worked well, but it was hard to sort out what markings should be where.

Soyokaze Harbor
Like a broken record, more people working. More things going on. It's coming together nicely. I'm happy with the overall layout and the number of buildings in the area. Some tuning will help, but I'm digging it. The little science building in front needs some help. Really just needs cementing into place and some paint touch-up work.

And lastly...
The Subway
Funny story about that subway. LOL

My in-laws are lovely people. Really very nice and caring sorts. My Father-in-law travels to Japan on business and my Mother-in-law went back with him this last trip. She asked if there were things I wanted and my first impulse was to send a shopping list to avoid shipping costs! hehehehe  But, I didn't want to saddle them with dragging things around, so I suggest a few items. They went above and beyond, getting me the HIROSHIMA RAILWAY TYPE 200 HANNOVER TRAM - a long time want of mine and the KATO JR sets that I've been drooling over for years now. Perfect for me subway section. I started planning it out at once.

Then, I got home and realized that it was the "dummy" set with no engine. LOL Part of me sank when I was pulling cars saying, Maybe the engine is in this one. I felt like my four year old daughter - knowing that it's not going to happen, but still saying, "Well....maybe now? Now? Now?"  Nope...no engine. All dummy cars.

I was sure I could get an engine to fit or even get the other full set to have an eight car subway, but after seeing all the work listed above, I thought, "Hey...maybe this is a good thing." I can build a small, subways section for the front to show, but it doesn't have to be wired and a full track. I was rather relived, really. I can do a small diorama and stick it under the Shizuka section and be done. Rig it with lights and the like and it will be a great piece. In time, once other stuff is done, I can rethink the subway and make it a real, working track, but for now....I think it'll be fantastic as a diorama , no function piece.  :)

The subway diorama will live right under this section. It'll be a lovely addition.

I also got some information via the KATO UNITRACK Facebook Group that I had completely forgotten about regarding power. My trams run horribly. :) I thought it was just dirty track, but then the folks in the group reminded me about power drops when I pinged them about the issues. I was thinking the KATO power pack was just not a powerhouse, but they mentioned a feeder for every three feet of track or so. I have.....one feeder for the lot! LOL    So....yeah...on my list as number one to see if the trams will run better with more feeders. (Comments welcome)

I have a lot of the list. Not sure when I'll get around to ding any of it with all this freelance work coming in. Of course, freelance cash is nice. It allows for some overseas purchases this month! :)