Monday, September 28, 2015

Wide Tunnel

So, now I have another thing to name - the wide tunnel. I also need to name the city that is in the extension.

So, here is the deal. The tunnel I purchased didn't fit with the space between tracks that I had going. It's a tricky spot and it was easier to make a larger tunnel than to fix the track spacing. So...what to do? Make a larger tunnel!

IT was a somewhat simple process - chop one side of, then pop the two tunnel parts together.

I blocked the seam with some additional pieces.

Then, I filled in the sides a bit to give a little more thickness to build around. I wanted to use more plaster gauze for the hillsides around the tunnel entrance.

Waste not, want not. I used the pieces I chopped for additional side elements. :)

Sprayed it all up to blend the additions and presto.

In place somewhere around here....

I built the hill over the tunnel portion with cardboard for structure, but ended up taking it back out so I could work on the track leading up to it first. I also need to address the wire feeds at the top of the tunnel - make them look a bit more prototypical if I can. There are four of them, but only two tracks. :)

I'll go back to this after getting the track 100%.


I've started the little roadwork scene in Shizuka. It's a work in progress, but it should be interesting. Some debris and cables and rock will be added later.

I'm also still making an effort to get James Gore a few paragraphs on Japanese paper structures to be included in his book on card stock modeling, but I've been stopped a few times with parent duties and my Mother's trip to the ER recently. (She's fine - a diverticulitis flare up. Horrid stuff!)   I'm aiming to get something composed sometime this week.

GO GO GO, Modelers! :)

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Plastering

I finally dove head first into the plaster gauze portion of things. I've been playing around with track designs for a few weeks and it was starting to get into the "analysis paralysis" phase where it was being way overthought. So, I had toalked to my wife about it briefly and she said, "Why don't you do it...give it a shot...and if it doesn't work, you can just tear it out and try again, right?" Well...yeah. :)

THE PLASTERING :) iPhone overview

So, I jumped in and it went rather well. It was a different experience than the first round I did in Soyokaze and Shizuka. I felt more prepared, had things planned out way more this round, and jumped in with the expectation that It would be what it was and I would work to make it the best I could do. That's all I can do, right? :)

My system was pretty straight forward. I chopped the plaster gauze into small, easy to apply strips and used one of the large sand buckets we had around for the girls for water. I had to keep in mind that this stage didn't have to be PERFECT PERFECT and that I could go in and fill as needed if the track wasn't set properly. BEFORE doing all the scenic work this time - not like what I did on the Soyokaze and Shizuka sections! LOL  It's much harder sorting things out when there are grass and tree areas you've spent a bunch of time on. I was just so excited when I started those sections that I plowed ahead without paying much attention to track.

The first part was the left side of the layout area. This was the most planned and set and didn't have complex elements like getting to the far back wall and building the little mountain I had planned for the corner. I thought I'd start with the simple stuff first. 

I tried to think through items that needed to be addressed during this stage - like over pass areas and roadways - so I could try to avoid re-working the areas later in the process. 

The road underpass and retaining wall - far easier to deal with now.
The front underpass area. Both of these will be detailed later.

Then it dawned on me.

"Of crap! I have not locked down all the foam parts yet!" :::head smack:::: 

Soooooo....yeah...I went in and addressed that. :)  A little Gorilla Glue did the trick. 

The other tricky thing that I ran into after completing the left side was working around to the back of the layout space. Soyokaze and Shizuka had this handy pop up space towards the back where I could get up and close to the back of the layout. This space....doesn't have that. The area to the right is close enough to reach over with my long arms, but the back corner is pretty far away and is a tricky spot. I have to leave a space for one palm to settle so I can reach back into the corner if I need to. My wife suggested that a wall post might work as well - something bolted into the wall I could lean on to get up and over.

I had never done a large hill on a layout, so it was fun working out the logistics behind it. I've seen many ways of approaching the hill, so I just dove in and built a simple under structure for it, then started applying! 

Not bad. A great base to start popping scenery materials on! Again, the look and feel I'm going for is something like this area of Japan.

After I did a sweep of the plaster areas and looked them over, I pieced the track sections back together and managed to gett hem back into the proper spots again for the most part. :) I have some reworking of areas to do where the track isn't lined up in the center. Not sure where it got off. We'll see. It should be easy to fix at this stage.

I'm going to add in tunnel openings at the wall hole as well! I need to kitbash them a bit to work with the track distances.

The water section under the bridge in the back is going to be a bit of a pain in the arse! hehehe

The town buildings are in an interesting clump at the moment. :)
Then, I need to make sure things are still running properly after I get everything back together. ((Still need to address the very back corner section - I had a slip with the under structure I made for it and have to get the track together to address it))  After it is ground gap filled and run-tested, I'm going to lock the track down and start a base coat of paint going.  Again, the focus will be taking my time with this stage so I don't need to go back in and fix things later.

I have a lot of interesting spots in this area now. Things that I wanted to have on the Soyokaze and Shizuka areas, but that I couldn't wedge in at the time. I'm looking forward to adding in more little areas of interest during the scenery stage. I also need to work out the road flow - that's going to be another major series of planning sessions!

I'm happy about the time I'm taking with this part of the layout. Another stage of growth for me in the hobby. :)

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear from you! 



Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lighting for Dummies (aka Lighting for ME)

Woodland Scenics is making it easier for the electrically impaired like myself. :::grin:::  Their lighting system is rather simple to set up and really adds a layer of simplicity to what I ordinarily view as difficult.

I'm not sure why, but my brain's wiring doesn't understand or process the electrical world. At all. I start to run through the process online and at one point everything turns into a swirl of facts and figures that I'm completely lost in.

While this system isn't as inexpensive as just putting something together with LEDs and wires yourself, it makes things MUCH easier for folks like me with....issues. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

NRAIL September 2015 Video

The September 2015 Video Update with shots of the extension, some train running and some of the people I've recently set up.

You can also view this video on the VIMEO site itself by clicking the link.

NRAIL_Sept 2015 Update Video from Malcolm Johnson on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hobby Day

I got a little hobby time in this past Labor Day weekend and it was a lot of fun. While I could have EASILY worked on hobby projects the whole time, I mixed in a little cleaning and the like to make sure the house was in order. :::grin:: My wife took the kids up to see her sister in Sacramento and I got to work on my ever growing list of hobby items I want to tackle.

The first thing I did was play around with the track arrangement yet again. What I had was fine for the spur off to the right, but it wasn't 100% what I was looking for.

This is how things started out:

Then, after tearing things apart a few times and making various passes at the arrangement, I came up with something that was almost the same with a few tweaks.

Essentially, I just made a little more room for the factory area and gave it a dedicated line that ran out to it. There will be some other type of mico-industry on the other side - TBD. Things will be tight, but that's what will sell this, I believe. After looking over some Japanese factory shots, I think a tight area would be leaning more towards what the protype looks like.

After a while, I moved away from track work and started in on adding some more people to Soyokaze and Shizuka. I did a mix of "floating scene people" mounted on plastic and "locked down people" that were glued directly in place in their scene location. The floating people allow me to move folks around if I'm trying to shoot a particular area and want more people there.

I like this worker in the truck. :)

Harbor workers talking about fish prices.

I wanted to get a little Sika deer look going in the Soyokaze Temple area like the deer in Nara Park.

image from -

I need to get a few more packs of deer and have them wandering around Soyokaze Village as well!

I've been doing more bike riding as well, so I needed to start adding my riders in, too.

I have another round of Shizuka building planning to do. I have three additional buildings coming and they'll need room.  I took a pass at a little rearrange while I'm waiting - I like the results.

The buildings I purchased from "mdaveb" on eBay worked well with my existing items. I was really happy with the purchase and his service. He did a great job kitbashing the buildings. He even included photos of the buildings they were based on. Very cool of him.

The building on the right was one of the purchases from mdaveb

I made a few purchases for the extension. I can't wait until they come in! I've tweaked the track a bit there so I might make that NEX train purchase in the near future! Whoo hoo!

My other purchases - all but $10 paid for by selling some old toys! I tell you, that's some great motivation to continue to go through my old junk for more eBay selling! I even managed to get a few more people packs so I can avoid doing all the painting I need to do on my basic, cheap figures in order to make them look right. hehehe

Kato 7012-1 DD13 Early Production (Model Train) N Scale|1/150 Diesel Locomotive

So now....more playing around with the factory area, naming the extension, and working on another NRAIL video update! Stay tuned!