Rainichi! (Visit Japan!) New Layout

Pfunk Mar 2, 2022

  1. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    OK, I may go on for a minute here, but I have had this in my head forever and I'm stockpiling enough stuff that I can finally go ahead start this thread.

    I grew up in a tiny nowhere, Ohio town where we'd stop our Little League games whenever the Chessie came by on the tracks behind the field, because we were all turned around watching it and waving anyways. My dad used to take us on daytrips to the Ernest Warther museum and it was the most amazing place ever. I can remember hearing the horns and running from streets away just to watch them pass, if we weren't already sitting out with lawn chairs and coolers with other people from town, just waiting to wave and cheer. Trains have always been freakin' cool.

    But then I grew up to have a different appreciation of them... from joining the Navy in 1999 until I moved back to Ohio in 2013, I lived in San Diego. And Yokosuka, Japan. And Boston. And New York... all places with commuter trains. Places like Singapore blew my mind because the city is built straight up and there is a MASSIVE train that runs through the center of it like its aorta. Even in Australia, one of the best days of my life was a local I'd befriended taking me on a train ride up a mountain to an artist village you can't get to any other way. I've gotten to see some amazing things, places, and people onboard trolleys and trams and commuter trains. I've always wanted to have a train layout, even as a kid, but mine looks much different now than it did back then.

    I'm a techie, and I'm the oldest geek I know. I love color, and "pop", and modern, and playfulness, so of course Japan became my blank canvas for a train layout, and not just recently - I've thought about this for years and years. The thing that blew my mind the most about the trains there is the way they use the space around the trains - there are almost entire cities under the tracks in Tokyo, it's amazing. The entire mass-transit matrix of the city is beyond insane, but for as failing an enterprise as trains are in Japan most of the time, they are everywhere and are super cool.

    I was only there for a few months at the end of my enlistment and I always wished I'd had more time to venture out and see more. So, for this little world I am about to make, I want to recreate a few of the things I did get to see, some of the things I didn't but wanted to, and some of it I'm just going to make up because there's no ceiling on imagination. I want to mix new and old and am not really out to do any faithful reproductions or anything too eccentric or even overly accurate, I just want to have fun.

    This is how I've always wanted to go at this.

    What I was NOT expecting, however, is what a pain in my pooper that gameplan would be! Most of what I want isn't even available for sale here, so I have to pay more and wait longer to have it sent from overseas - did not think about that (seriously, I have a pre-order on a train that won't even be available until June. JUNE!). A lot of what I want is older, and harder to find / more expensive now - did not think about THAT. I am redoing the kitchen this summer and the stairs are open to the basement, where the giant cloud of sawdust and drywall dust will surely drift all over any layout I start building beforehand - definitely did not think about that. So, this project is going to take me much longer than I'd ever dreamed of, but the last thing I want to do is cut corners or half-@$$ something just to have it, so I guess I am in this train thing for the long-haul now.

    Pun 100% intended.

    So that's the story and my motivation behind this idea, and here's how I plan to go about creating it...
     
  2. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    Top level - this is my city. An elevated loop, two tram loops on turnouts. Downtown district, residential district, and an airport. Have some kits, want to scratch-build a lot of it, as well. Lots of ideas, need to get the track first to find out exactly how much room I have to mess about.

    Middle level - this exists simply for the Narita Express, legit one of the sexiest trains ever made. I originally just wanted it to pop out at a rural station where there is a festival taking place on the shore, then added the idea of a shrine next to it, then lost my mind entirely and decided the train was too cool to barely see so I want to make an underground shopping plaza like the Porta district underneath Kyoto Station and have plexiglass sides to hold any derails but so you can still look in from all around. Which means I also have to make an underground station on the other side. Oye.

    Bottom level - this one is ever-changing, but the basic gist is that there's two large loops around an ocean inlet - one length of oil cars, one of container freight. Which means, of course, there is a refinery on one track, and a container port on the water for the other. This one will be the last one made, but the one I think I have some of the most original ideas for.

    All in all, if any of this turns out half as good as it is in my melon, it's going to be well worth the time and money. It's something I've always wanted, and something that over the years I have found a lot of ways to make it personal, so I am pretty excited.

    For now.

    In six months I may be throwing soldering pencils and popping LED strips with a rock on a curb like they were red-paper caps, but for now I am pretty geeked.
     

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  3. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    4' wide/deep layouts require walk-around access to both sides. You may have enough reach to touch something on the far side, but setting it back on the tracks, etc. is a no go at that reach.
     
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  4. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    Yep, have a large basement this is going in. No backdrops, is a 360-walkaround for sure (y)
     
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  5. MetraMan01

    MetraMan01 TrainBoard Member

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    There’s a N scale module club in DC that model Japan. You probably have already seen there sight but just in case its japanrailmodelers.org. My next assignment out of Yokota will probably be DC so I’m excited I’ll be able to check them out in another year or two. They might have leads on hobby shops or online retailers near DC that they buy from or who stock JPN stuff to meet their demand.

    Shinjuku and the Kato store were off limits earlier in the pandemic so I had to order from their Japanese website-www.e-katomodels2.com/shop/default.aspx. Had to run stuff through Chrome to translate.

    You probably have seen these sites already but just in case. I’m going to have a shelf or something to model the a bit of the local area near me here when I get back CONUS, so I’m going to try and load up on structures at Hard Off/Hobby Off and Popondetta before I PCS. But I know i won’t get everything I “need” so I’ll be in the same boat you’re in eventually.


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  6. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    I had not seen their club before, but I really enjoyed reading about it - they seem to be on a very similar wavelength, thanks for sharing.

    As for me, Plaza Japan and 1999.co.jp (Hobby Search) have been getting an awful lot of my paychecks the last few weeks HAHA have had to scour the internet and Ebay for a couple of older kits I wanted, as well. In fact, one of the building kits I've wanted most for probably a decade or so just left Florida this morning, should be here Friday! It's just such a slow process, not nearly as simple as driving over to a LHS for my RC buggy or rocket parts when I was a kid.

    We get our fiscal-year bonuses the first paycheck of every March so next week I should be able to pony up for enough Unitrack to at least get started arranging and figuring out space for my city tier. Those freakin' turnouts, though - wow. Kato sure is proud of them lol

    It's funny, but aside from one little Atlas house, all the houses and apartments I wanted had to be preordered. The apartments especially are pretty massive kits so I don't want to get too into anything until I know how much real estate just those are going to eat up, but as soon I can gauge how much space I have left after setting out the prebuilds, then I can start planning the scratch-builds.

    For the time being, though, is all about just getting stuff in general!
     
  7. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    these are the apartment buildings I was talking about. Greenmax isn't even releasing them until next month, so I haven't been able to find footprint dimensions. Am thinking big, though!
     

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  8. MetraMan01

    MetraMan01 TrainBoard Member

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    Those look great-I’m going to have to keep my eye out over here for them before I leave. Thanks for the heads up.

    I pick up a lot of used unitrack from hard off/hobby off and Popondetta in person. Usually half of new prices stuff. Turnouts are much harder to find used but you can find all sorts of straights and curves. If you weather your track and add t he Kato ballast on top, you can blend out all the color variations. Those places have websites too but I don’t know if the shipping costs will eat up what you’re saving buying used.


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  9. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

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    Welcome to the club.
    AmiAmi is consistently 10-15% cheaper than HS, because they don't keep most stuff in stock. I use HS for big orders of small things e.g. track, structures, building collection, but AmiAmi for train pre-orders. E.g. my Tomix 215 series that just shipped out was 24140 yen there vs 28260 yen at HS.

    A couple track plan things:

    It looks like you've got the R150 switches on your freight lower level. Your freight trains will have a tough time on those. The R481 (#4) works, but some cars pick the points on these so you shouldn't buy them without planning to file down the ends some. I usually recommend folks go with all R718 (#6) for that reason.

    For curves, almost everything will run on R249, but R282 will be more trouble-free, and the R282/R315 double track pieces look pretty cool. I would also try to connect the different loops and levels, not necessarily for regular running, but just so you can move trains between them without using your hands.

    Looking forward to see how this progresses.
     
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  10. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    yup, have several pre-orders for rolling stock and container cars through those three bouncing weirdos. They have fun stuff for sure.

    I don't have them yet, but have already purchased the locos for that level - an EH200 for the oil line, and a pair of renewed design DE10s for container line. I chose both for maneuverability, but like I said - that stupid picture changes almost daily lol When I get to that part, will take a closer look at the track and turnouts.


    I had considered this since there is plenty of room under the center level for a helix, but decided against it, because I like having a bunch of little trains doing their own thing instead. Feels more authentic to me. That, and a helix = a cubic buttload more track to buy! Am already getting itchy watching all this add up so quickly :confused:
     
  11. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    figured that was a suitable meme since CBJ is retiring Rick Nash's jersey as we speak :notworthy:

    Anyhow, even after I typed that, my brain went into full overload trying to figure out a helix or ramps or incline/decline and grades and everything else to get that Express train "down" to the lower "level". I made a post asking about it on the layout board and spent most of the day at work today thinking about it, scribbling out every wacktastic idea you can fathom.

    Then it hit me - why go through all the extra work and engineering moving that train up or down at all? Just run it on a turnout from the middle loop in the first place and out over the bottom as another elevated. That way I still get the middle loop to my rural station, but also more train action out into an otherwise kinda -meh- design.

    Then I hit the motherlode lol If I make it a DOUBLE track, that means I get to use those cool viaduct piers I originally wanted to paint a bunch of random colors. It means that I have somewhere to model Kayashima Station again (seriously, it's too cool not to have somewhere on my layout - it's a commuter station built around a centuries-old tree. It's so one-off!) It means those stupidly overpriced Brawa stairs and retaining walls that match what I wanted so well have a place to fit again.

    But most of all, this solves the biggest issue I've had all along... that I'm making a layout modeled after Japan and no Shinkansen. It's been bugging me this whole time, not going to lie.

    So, this is clearly the best solution, because it means I get to buy another train :ROFLMAO::love:
     

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  12. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    ...which would also mean the freight yard lines now look something more like this.

    at least with a few more pieces than free mode allows, that is! Outside train will be the oil line so smaller cars and center-pivot loco. Those cut-ins might need to be more gradual, but I should be able to get away with a quick juke to the side like this.
     

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  13. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

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    Solid choices all around.

    If you're going to 10 feet you don't really need a helix anymore, you can do a linear incline along one side. JNR put 2.5% grades everywhere and the old Usui Pass ran 6.67%, so 4-5% on a train layout is fine. Your long rakes of Takis really want to have a meet with a 383 or an E353.

     
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  14. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, the "jukes" (called S-curves) will have to more gradual! In many cases, it is not so much the minimum radius that can be tolerated by the rolling stock, but the magnitude of the change in radius that can be tolerated. S-curves like those are a problem.

    I use a formula to quantify the change in radius between two opposite curves as follows, given their radii (R):

    1/Req = 1/Ra + 1/Rb

    Solving for Req:
    Req = 1/(1/Ra + 1/Rb)

    When Ra=Rb, then Req = Ra/2 = Rb/2

    So you should compute and compare your Req for your S-curves, to the shortest radius curve adjacent to straight (aka "tangent") track, that your rolling stock (including locomotives), while coupled in a train, can reliably negotiate forwards and backwards (e.g. pushing and pulling).

    Also, when trackage gets that close to the edge of the layout, you need to plan for a barrier to keep derailed equipment from falling off the edge of the layout, onto the floor. Such a barrier can be either vertical, extending above the surface of the layout (perhaps transparent), or a "gutter" of sorts extending outward from the layout (and perhaps below the surface of the layout). Otherwise, you will damage or destroy equipment when it falls to the floor below.
     
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  15. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    messed around on AnyRail a little more today, feel pretty good about the way this looks. Went from phallic to summer squash lol but I'm happy with the idea of this.

    Just ordered all the Unitrack and viaducts for my city level. The four turnouts alone were half as much as all the lengths! Yikes. I needed all of it so that I can see where I'm at space-wise with the buildings I already have so I can plan, but am afraid I'm going to have to Johnny Cash the rest of the track instead of buying it all at once.
     

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  16. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    This is pretty much exactly what I was going for, tbh. I already have a 12-set of Takis, and that production 'Blue Thunder' EH200 is the one that's sitting in customs right now (like a genius I had to have a specific Kato model number even though there's multiple models and manufacturers of that specific loco).

    If I could find a set of the JOT 'feather mark' Takis that isn't absurdly priced, would really like to have a few of them in tow, too.
     
  17. Mike C

    Mike C TrainBoard Member

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    @Pfunk I take it you may live live in Columbus , or in Ohio at least ? .....Mike
     
  18. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    Yessir, I am from Ohio. I moved out of Cbus a few years ago and don't really miss it, but did live there for a few years while working my way through my degree at OSU. Very happily living in a town of about 12k now. Much better!
     
  19. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    IT'S HEEEEEERRRRRRE!!

    OK, so first off - the hilarious thing is that I bought this on the 27th and the only way to ship it was Priority USPS, which was $24 to ship from within the states. Says '2-Day' right on the box, just got it today. I would be mad about it, but this thing was such a chore to track down without paying scalp pricing that I'm just stoopid happy to have put hands one at all. Of all the building kits I've ever seen, I have wanted this one most. Contrary to what you - or Germany - may think, this is not a model of a train station.

    This is actually the mother of all kitbashes waiting to happen. Some styrene sheet, some colored plexiglass, LEDs, hours of scratch-building tiny parts that won't go together the right way and muttering every 4-letter word I have in my arsenal to cope with it, and this is actually an international airport terminal.

    Someday, this thing will be great. For today, it goes in the drawers with the rest of the loot am accumulating LOL Today is a good day for sure.
     

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  20. MetraMan01

    MetraMan01 TrainBoard Member

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    That’s sounds awesome. Good luck!


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