Adelaide trip photos - June 2003
Castle Hill July 2003 - best layout !!!
All the details above are to be found on this page ...
Another award and more changes
Setting up the layout
Setagaya is featured in the February 2006 issue of Continental Modeller magazine
Last exhibition :-(
THE END - it's ALL gone !!!
Other related pages
Read comments made about the layout
Details of buildings used
How to model Japanese buildings
As you can see, I have split the page into two parts, as the amount of pictures (even as thumbnails), meant the download time was getting excessive.
With all the new city buildings released recently (6 from Kato and
another set with alternate colouring due soon), as well as others
already taken off to make room for the new ones, and more still that
have never been seen yet, there is not enough room on the 'Setagaya'
layout to fit them all. Add on to that all the new older style
buildings from Tomy, Bandai, Happinet and hopefully Kato; as well as
temples from Byodoin and Horiyuji and it is twice the problem. So it
looks like it is time to expand the layout again ...
I have decided to extend the layout by 600mm each end and this will add on to the 300mm extension already fitted, making a main board of 1800x1200mm, with two extensions of 900mm each - total length = 3.6m. The LH end will get the older type buildings and temple(s), and the RH end will get the big city expansion. I have already acquired another different Atlas Hi-rise building, but have not decided how tall to make it yet. The light board will have to be extended as well, and this time will overhang right at the front of the layout, instead of about half way back - this will eliminate shadows on the front buildings.
Of course with such a length, longer trains are possible, and the route of the Setagaya tram line will also be extended further in the city area. So many people see the layout and ask where the Bullet trains are, that I have decided to add them !!! The Shinkansen loop will be behind and slightly higher than the current elevated suburban line, but will rise and cross over the station at the LH end to loop back around behind the mountain.
So here are some photos of a mock-up I did to test the track configuration and make sure the trains could handle the gradient.
This is the LH end, where the mountain will have to be extended to hide the Shinkansen track as it loops around the back of the layout. There will be a large temple building here, together with other style houses and souvenir shops.
In the middle, the Shinkansen track will cross over the suburban line, so that the curve radius to get to the back of the layout is not too tight.
This is the RH end where more city buildings will be placed, and the suburban and Shinkansen tracks will parallel each other (like on the Saikyo line).
The new length end modules and the new light boxes have been constructed and fitted, so here is some mock-ups so far ... as I sold my digital camera, and have not bought a new one yet, the photos were taken with my new phone/camera, so the quality is not the greatest !!!
Once again looking toward the LH end.
The view of the Shinkansen track crossing over the suburban station. The blue you see in the background is a city panorama photo that I printed out to see how it would look as a background.
Looking towards the RH end - you can see another large city building on the shelves behind that has not been allocated a space yet. You can also just see the two tram track that will run across the layout further at the front before disappearing under the Shinkansen track. There will be a Tomix automatic level crossing where it crosses the main road that was next to the bus terminal (which is to be moved further to the right).
Looking at the very RH end - you can see how the black building has magically doubled in height !!!
6th February 2005
All the new lighting structure and baseboards have been completed and painted, the Wiring for the Tomix automatic level crossing has been completed, and the arrangement of the buildings has been nearly finalised.
Here you can see a general view of the left side of the new area - the bus station hasn't changed much, but the tall Tomix buildings will now span the road, not the railway.
This is an overall view looking towards the right end. You can see the way the 2 double overhead tracks weave their way amongst the buildings.
This is a view of the right end looking back toward the middle of the layout. The blank space in the very corner will be the new Kato park scene.
An overall view of the end section, showing how tall some of the Atlas buildings have become !!!
Here is a close-up of the crossing area, and you may notice how the overhead footbridge has changed direction !!! You may also be able to see the traces of how the tram line used to turn towards the back, but now continues further across the front of the layout.
I am waiting for more double overhead track to arrive from Japan, so I can finish the new Shinkansen track on the left side, and start constructing the mountain extension. I am using the following diorama as a guide for what this new section will look like ...
16th February 2005
Finished connecting the point motors and the rest of the wiring for the tram line, and then laid out the suburban and bullet tracks over the top of it. They are supported by custom built wooden risers. The level crossing has also been wired up, and operation checked successfully. I created a large bannerboard to go over the front of the lightboards, for signage and to also stop the spot lights from being visible to the public.
I also created a backscene from a panorama photo (thanks to Dick Harris) which I had printed on one long piece of photo paper. Here is a 'small' sample of what it looks like (the actual photo is over 6 feet long !!!). I repeated some of the scene at each end to make it longer, but that will be hidden behind buildings.
26th February 2005
Painted the ground area on the RHS with Woodlands Scenics 'Asphalt', and getting ready to paint and ballast the track. The hillside on the LHS is starting to take shape. The backboards on the ends have been fitted and painted. here are some (poor quality) progress shots ...
Here is the hill on the LHS starting to take shape, with sheets of foam to be cut out to the required shape. The bullet train track here will disappear into a tunnel after a gradual curve (which becomes a lot sharper in the hidden section).
The new city section, having just been painted with asphalt.
A rare view of the back of the layout - this is from the LH end showing the bullet track as it comes out of the backscene over top of the suburban loop. There is only 'just' enough room on the board for the controllers (now 8 needed) to fit in.
From the RH end you can see how the bullet track (rear) rises over the suburban one (front). The track behind the bullet line will be used to store a third train, either for running variation, or to have a Dr Yellow set available for track cleaning.
By popular request, here is a plan with all the latest additions - as I have said before - my freehand drawing is atrocious !!!
6th March 2005
I can't believe that I found time to update this page !!! Since the last update, I have bought and fitted more Perspex for the front anti-child barrier, built and started to paint the scenery on the LH end, and hopefully re-arranged the city area on the RH end to look realistic, as well as hiding the track in the right places.
Here is a front view of the new city end.
Looking towards the RH end from the centre.
Here is the new scenery area on the LH end, compare to the picture above of the diorama sample I used for inspiration ...
Two things I always wanted on a layout - Tokyo Tower and Fuji-san. Well at least now I have TT in the background now !!! This road area is where the tram line used to go.
A decent background makes a lot of difference compared to plain blue paint, don't you think ???
10th March 2005
Nearly finished :-)
A general view of the LH end - compare to the middle picture in the previous set !!!
A closer view of the road winding up the mountain. I found some trees to simulate the cherry blossom.
12th March 2005
Thanks to my good friend Ed Leong, here are some photos taken at the Springwood exhibition ... they were taken as stills but with a video camera, so the resolution is not as high as you would get with a 'proper' camera.
Here is a Tokyu 300 series winding its way between the buildings - I don't think there is actually anything new in this shot.
Close-up as it goes over the new level crossing - can you identify the source of each of the 3 buildings ???
A close up down the street near the new bus terminal - oh oh - looks like an unwelcome visitor is about to arrive !!!
More of the new bus terminal area.
The Bullet train races by on the new section of track.
On the way up the hill to the temple, there is a small shrine cut into the side of the hill.
Of course you would not come this far without finding some vending machines !!!
A tourist bus waits next to the cherry blossoms near the top of the hill at the temple.
Only very small buses can make it up the steep winding road to the temple.
Overall look toward the LH end of the layout. It's a shame we didn't get a good shot of the temple itself.
Another Award and more changes !!!
I had not finished all the little details I would have liked to add before the Springwood exhibition, so in the couple of weeks before Canberra I had time to do that. here are some photos from the Canberra exhibition, once again thanks to Ed and his movie camera. I do have my new digital camera on order, and promise the next set of photos will be top quality (7.1 megapixel :-) Compare some of the shots to those above, and you will see the extra detail that was added.
At this exhibition, I was pleased to win the "Best Exhibit" award, as voted by the exhibition organisers. I believe I was also very close behind the layout that won the "Most Popular" (public vote) award.
I managed to get better close-up shot of the temple building this time. You can see I also added some more Torii gates to the steps.
Here you can see down the street of the older-style area at the base of the hill.
This is the winding road going up the hill.
You can see where one of the Torii gates was taken from, if you compare to the previous photos. There was only one other Torii gate on the layout previously - can you guess where it was taken from ??? I also shifted some of the stone lanterns.
A view of the steps leading to the temple, and the tourists visiting there.
Here is a shot of the Shinkansen tracks running above that part of the town. Dr Yellow makes a rare daytime appearance !!!
A close-up of the street area, where you can see a group of high school students going on an excursion. Don't ask me how those buses get in and out of the parking area :-)
Another shot of the old wooden shops in the street, as well as some taxis waiting for a fare.
A 500 series Shinkansen heads of the bridge that spans the suburban station. In the middle at the front, you can see a new 4 storey apartment building that I got recently. Because it is of European origin, it is a bit hard to hide all the places for chimneys on the roof.
Another shot of the 500, looking a bit further back towards the city. The photo backdrop looks very effective here I think ...
Looking at a part of the city, where a lot of buildings changed position, and you can also see Tokyo Tower.
This shot is looking back over the city from further to the right end.
Looking back towards the right end, where the suburban and Shinkansen tracks curve around the skyscraper area.
The main street running down the middle of the city are had a lot of changes made to it.
Here is a view looking straight down the street.
Another view of the same area, looking more toward the left.
This view is from the right end of the layout looking along it's length towards the left end. You can see all three above-ground lines here.
Of course our friend had to make an appearance again !!!
But if you don't watch too closely, he is gone in a flash.
Looking down the street at the front of the layout, you can see I added a road construction scene, and lots more poles, signs etc (from the new Kato Diotown accessories).
Here is an overall view of the bus terminal area at the front.
Another view of the same area, looking the other way. If you look closely at the brown building 2nd from the left, you may be able to read the large yellow sign, that says in 60's flowery lettering "Parachute". If anyone can tell me the significance of the sign, I will send them one of those excellent Kato buildings for FREE !!!!
An overall view of the new right end of the layout. It's very hard to get a decent shot that show how high the black building really is !!!
And an overall view of the new left end.
A shot of the underground - I don't think anything has changed here.
People always want to see what is around the "other" side - well this is what you would see if you stuck your head around the corner at the right end.
And here is what it looks like from the back - you can see all 4 loops of track here at different levels.
19th May 2005
Today the new Kato old type wooden shop series is released, and I will have them in my hot little hands next week. These together with the latest Tomy Machinami series, and the new Kato Diotown parks and other city accessories mean that I need more space on the layout to all all these items - I don't want to take out too much of the existing scenery !!!
I cannot really extend the length of the layout any more, as that would mean another change to the light structures. I also thought of adding a little more to the fronts at each end, but that would mean a change to the Perspex barriers.
At the LH end, I have decided to make the following changes ...
1. take out the front track used for Setagaya train storage after the washer and inspection platforms. I never used that line usually anyway, except for display. This will give me space for a row of buildings in front of the car storage shed and they will be right at the front of the layout so I can use the new Tomy buildings that have interiors.
here you can see the empty space being prepared. Compare to how it used to be here.
here you can see a mock-up of what the new buildings will look like in position.
2. take out the small shrine built into the hillside right against the LH end, and make a row of souvenir shops rising up along the roadside toward the temple. This is quite commonly seen in Japan - you cannot go anywhere famous without going past rows of old style restaurants & shops selling items like these for the visitors to take home as momentos.
Here are some pictures of the new Tomy shops - most of them have interior fittings ...
Here are some pictures of the new Kato buildings - they look very nice ...
I will have to think more about what to do at the RH city end, but this is what I want to fit in somewhere ...
The park and car park didn't get used, but most of the smaller items can be seen on the layout.
4th June 2005
Work has started in earnest on the changes to the LH end, and here are some progress photos ...
Here is what I hope will be the final position of the buildings, using most of the new Tomy ones right at the front so you can see the interior details.
Looking at the same scene from the other side.
I am also pleased to announce that 'Setagaya' has been approved for an article in 'Continental Modeller' magazine, probably some time late in the year. Don't ask me when, as it depends on how long it takes to write an article and get the photos ready, and what the lead time the magazine also has with the current batch of articles waiting for publication. I will be having photos taken the weekend after the Castle Hill exhibition by Ralph Cooke, who is the magazine's most used photographer other than ones from Peco Studio, and many of you may remember the excellent photos used in the magazine for the previous Australian layout articles. We will hopefully be able to get one of the few multi-page centre foldouts as well, to show the whole layout in one shot !!!
Here are some test shots he did at the Springwood exhibition, to send to the magazine as samples for approval ...
3rd July 2005
As I have a week off work before the exhibition, I have been a bit lazy and not done much this month, but I have been doing some 'buildings' - redoing completely the Shinkansen line storage tracks, putting lights in the new Tomix shops and making a new Neon sign.
The storage tracks use the new 'Y' point and I have made the holding tracks in the middle of the two lines, rather than on one side. Therefore there is no conflict with a train going in or out of either track and the mainline. I also expanded the storage for two trains rather than one, and each track can go to either mainline. I had to put in more straight sections than I planned, so the 'S' curves would not cause derailments. It's a bit hard to explain, so here is a picture ...
Here is the new Neon sign - it has a background and 4 different coloured kanji, and they all flash in different sequences. Can anyone tell what it says ??? See below for a movie file of the animation !!!
11th July 2005
After many many trial placements, I have worked out how I want some of the new Diotown city accessory items placed on the RH side of the layout. If you look the the second of Ralph Cooke's photos above, you will see how I had to 'demolish' two of the buildings to fit them in !!! I was able to use the Police station (this will look good with the new Police figure set), ATM building, subway entrance and a small part of the park set. Other items like the Kiosk and lottery shop, telephone boxes and vending machines will be scattered around the rest of the city.
22nd July 2005
I had the week off work before the exhibition, to get everything finished. The main job was to make the new mountain area, with the Kato Diotown shops, so here are step-by-step details of hiw it was done.
First all the buildings and reusable scenery materials have been taken off.
Then the old scenery is ripped out, and foam added to form the major landscape contours. A stepped wooden base had already been made to suit the size of the buildings.
Plaster sheet is covered over the foam to make the ground shape.
The road area is formed, and the ground is painted a brown colour.
The road surface is painted, and 'grass' added.
Buildings, retaining walls, and crash barriers have bee put in place.
Trees and bushes have been added to complete the task.
A view up the hill of the new street.
Of course if you have been to Japan, you will know that there are always some hungry 'wildlife' around the tourist areas at some of the major temple areas eg Nara :-)
31st July 2005
Well the HMRS exhibition has come and gone, and again 'Setagaya' won the "Best Exhibit" award, as judged by the other exhibitors :-) Quite possibly a fitting end to it's career !!!
Here is a couple of photos of the layout setup at the exhibition - there are at least 4 areas changed since the last exhibition's photos - can you find all of them ???
5th August 2005
Last weekend was the professional photo session, and we spent the best part of two days taking less than 20 photos !!!! When each photo takes around 1/2 hour to set up and take, with up to three lighting sources, you can tell that they will come out good - below is a sample print - the rest you will see in Continental Modeller later this year!!!!
Here is the first sample print that was done as a proof to check exposures / light readings etc. You can see very clearly a lot of the changes to the LH end of the layout. For the technically minded, the camera used was a Canon EOS-1 with a special lens that had three axes of shift available. (WARNING - large file size)
I also took some pictures of the flashing neon signs I have put on the layout this year, here are some movie files showing them in action ... they are ".MOV" files & need Quicktime or Media Player to play them.
all three visible
Readers may remember a while back when I announced my
appearance in a number of publications, including 'Setagaya' to be
Continental Modeller magazine later this year.
Further to this, I have just received the proofs of the photos taken in August of the layout, for submission to Continental Modeller. They have turned out beautifully, and while there are 28 different ones, I don't know how many will actually be used in the article. I also have to write the text for the article, and captions for each photo, so don't hold you breath waiting outside the newsagent to buy the issue when it is published :-) I don't know what their lead time is, but I would suggest at least several months, but I believe that it may be February or March 2006.
Whilst the pictures are excellent and I would love to share them with you, unfortunately the ownership does not lie with me, so I cannot scan or post them anywhere without permission until at least the article is published.
Many people have wondered what is going on when I carry the layout sections into a venue for an exhibition - it looks like the layout has not been finished yet !!! The fact of the matter is that many of the larger buildings are transported in large storage tubs, and placed on the layout once everything else has been set up. This is because I am afraid that some of the larger buildings may come loose during transportation, and may be damaged themselves or cause damage to the layout. Because most of the layout is just flat street scenery, most buildings with bases just fit in a space between the street or footpath edges. Sometime the hardest part is remembering where each building should be placed !!! Most of the smaller buildings are glued down now, but I remember the first exhibition I went to where every building was removable (I originally planned this so that I could vary the position of some of the buildings to create more interest). However with just roads, a few cars, light and electricity poles and not much else, the layout looked like Hiroshima circa 1945 !!!
This shows where the LH end module joins on to the main layout middle section. Another apartment building covers the gap mostly, as well as extra scenery material on the hillside. Because the Tomix track just clips on to the support piers, it is easy to add or remove a section to allow the boards to come apart for transporting.
This shows where the RH end module joins on to the main layout middle section. Once again, buildings cover the join in the boards. And again, you can see two sets of the overhead tracks have removable sections. The tram track uses the Tomix sliding adjustable length track section to fill in the gap.
Here you can see the buildings that are 'missing' from the centre section of the layout. Most of the buildings on the LH end are small and do not need to be removed.
An overall view of the RH end of the layout, where very few buildings are actually stuck down. You can see how the two levels of overhead freeway road in the back corner come and go nowhere; these were placed to hide the two sets of track disappearing into the backdrop - fortunately the judicious placement of buildings hides this anomaly !!!
Another view from the RH to middle of the layout, showing the 'missing buildings'. Without the various buildings behind the overhead tracks, you can see the excellent photo backdrop a lot better :-)
12th January 2006 - After a shorter than normal wait, the layout article has been appeared in the Continental Modeller magazine February 2006 issue. There are 8 pages of text and pictures, and most of the submitted photos got used (except those with Godzilla in them !!!). Only two of the subway shots came out with a slight colour shift - the rest were excellent. At this point I would like to thank Ralph Cooke again for his wonderful skill and patience in taking 2 days just to take a couple of dozen photos. Unfortunately, Setagaya it did not make the cover, nor was the full length shot of the layout done as a full page spread or multi page fold out - but of course the article composition is not my choice.
Below are small samples of the pages, obviously I cannot post larger, more readable versions for legal reasons.
With the 'Two Sides of Japan' layout project now taking shape, I have decided that this will be the last year that Setagaya will be exhibited, for 2 reasons ...
I don't have the space to store two layouts
I need most of the buildings etc off the layout for the new one
I have replied to three exhibition invitations for the year, and they are the two largest shows in this area (Sydney & Newcastle), and Melbourne, which I have not been to before. Having been to Adelaide in 2003, I will then have been to all the major cities on the eastern side of Australia except Brisbane (who didn't think the layout was good enough !!!). So if you want to take the opportunity to see the layout for the last time, please make an effort to attend one of these shows. Each of them is quite large, and you will also see many other fine examples of model railways at it's best. I am also planning to add a static display next to the layout, with posters, maps etc of Japanese trains, as well as having videos of Japanese trains playing continuously. So I hope it will not be just a layout, but a whole show in itself.
YOU choose what the layout will look like !!!
As there are still a good range of new buildings being released, I am at a loss to work out what to do with them. Kato have recently released a range of old style wooden commercial buildings, with a few more still to come, and they have just done a range of wooden houses. Tomix will have series 4 & 5 of the Machinami collection available as well. As most of these items are an older type of structure, they would suit the less urbanised LH end of the layout, so I have been trying some sample placements of a few of the new buildings to see how it looks.
You can see a couple of the changes here - the red-roofed Greenmax buildings has been moved to the side, and I have added a Tomix shop & one of the Kato shops (that was replaced in the hill area by the Taxi office). To do all this, I took out the Greenmax factory building.
I will be trying more arrangement as more new buildings arrive, so will take photos of the various mock-ups, and let you, the viewer, choose which one you like the most !!!
I have also been experimenting with some other minor changes - see if you can see any changes in this picture ...
I also decided to take away some of the buildings that were placed behind the Shinkansen line in front of the backdrop. With such a nice photo mural, it was a shame to hide a lot of it, and I also wanted to bring back to the front the tall Tomix office building with the advertising signs on the front.
Here you can also see the Tokyo Tower more clearly.
On the other side, I have toyed with the idea of taking out the large gray Atlas buildings at the front RH corner, and replacing it with a range of other buildings - however the main purpose of this large building was to block the view of the trains going thru the hole in the backboard, from the people standing in front of the layout. Here are a couple of ideas ...
This uses the new Kato Diotown Bank building, which fits nicely on the corner. I am not so sure of the Tomix one behind it though ...
Another option is to use on of the newer Diotown city buildings ???
Here you can see I have been 'vehicle-bashing' !!! These large van trucks are often seen in Japan with both dual front and back axles, so I made one from the excellent Tomy truck range.
How tall does a building have to be before it looks ridiculous ???
Most exhibitions in Australia are in public or school halls that have stackable rows of portable (sometimes folding) seating. So what they do is line up the seats in front of the layouts with the seats facing outwards, so the little kiddies have something to stand on to see the higher layouts better. Even so, they can get a little too close sometimes, so I have provided quite tall Perspex barriers on my layout so that no-one can get their hands anywhere on the actual layout, especially for the subway station that it right at hands level !!!
Some of the pictures already posted on this page that illustrate this are here | and here | and also here.
Having said that, I am going to an exhibition in Melbourne in June that does not provide any seating, so I will have to come up with some kind of stanchion system. just as I was thinking about what to do, a thread appeared in the new Yahoo! 'T-Trak-N' discussion group, about other people's ways of solving this problem. Many have some sort of heavy base, with a removable pole that is used to support rope, chain or tape. So yesterday I went to the local hardware store, worked out what items would best suit my ideas and then waited for ages in line while some pimply-faced kid working part-time after school tried to find the prices for all the items that they did not have labels on :-(
I ended up getting a sheet of 19mm MDF, 4x 1m lengths of 20mm PVC pipe and fittings and 8m of bright yellow plastic chain. The MDF was cut into 8x 300mm squares, and then glued together in pairs - that makes a pretty heavy base. A hole was drilled in the middle of this, and a pipe fitting with female thread was put in this hole and secured with Liquid Nails. The male thread fitting was put on the pipe, along with a cap fitting on the other end. Holes were drilled in the pipe near the top, and about 600mm up from the bottom - this will be used to thread 2 lengths of the chain as the barrier. The chain is bright yellow and very visible, the pipes and bases will be painted black, except for the edges of the bases (which will be chamfered), which will be yellow for visibility.
So it will just be a matter of putting the 4 bases, the 4 poles and the chain in some spare corner of the car or trailer, and at the exhibition placing the 4 bases along the front of the layout, screwing the poles in, and threading the chain though :-)
here is the final result.
More options, and some new track
I have decided to take out the convoluted Shinkansen storage tracks (see '3rd July 2005' section), and make it just one normal loop for each track, as well as one extra storage track for a Dr Yellow/track cleaning train. By using the Tomix curved points (only as trailing - I am reluctant to use these as a facing point for high-speed trains), I can now get a full 16 car train in :-)
These loops will also be controlled by the Tomix Automatic operation Unit, which will allow the two trains to swap over each time they go around, and also to pause before starting out. This will means that an observer at the front will get to see 4 different Bullet trains in succession, but not immediately after each other - all without operator intervention !!!
I have also replaced most of the Shinkansen track at the front with the new double slab type track.
Here are a couple of other options for building placement.
By taking the Tomix building with 'video screen' to the RH side, I have been able to put this tall Kato building here.
This makes a big difference to the city skyline.
17th April 2006
Here are a couple more options to consider, now that I have the Tomy Machinami #5 set ...
The two tall buildings could have a mall in between them.
The two older buildings from the Machinami set fit in very well at the other end.
22nd April 2006
I have tried to add a more realistic sign to the Tomy office building with the circular advertising hoarding on top. I am sure I have seen pictures of a famous building in Ginza that looks like this ??? Anyway, I have a large selection of advertising to print for signs, but nothing long and thin enough (unless it repeats). I would also assume a sign like this may be electronic, and rotate, so you could repeat a smaller sign around the circle. I have done this with the following sign, which is advertising for the Spiderman movie ...
The only other sign I could find that was long enough was for 'Yodabashi Camera', and by printing it in the right proportions, it just wrapped around the whole building nicely. Again, I assume something like this would rotate so you could read the whole sign.
For anyone's information, you need to print something just on 1" x 6.25" to make it fit.
10th May 2006
After a long period of negotiating, I have managed to acquire the Australasian/Pacific rights to the 'TrainSpeed' model railroad speedometer range. This clever gadget uses ambient light to calculate the speed of the train based on two sensors mounted in the track. I am planning to use these on the Bullet train lines originally, and maybe some of the other lines later when I have time to add them in. A sample setup to see how it worked, and to check the calibration was a snack, and here is a photo to show it in operation. The Tomix 500 power car could get up to about 350km/h, and the closest I could get it to it's 'proper' top speed is shown below...
I have also nearly completed the information board that will stand on a small table next to the layout at exhibitions - the hole in the bottom is for a monitor that will be playing video of Japanese trains.
I will also have a scale 37.5' video billboard on the layout soon, courtesy of the Jeff Reynolds of the Washington DC JRM group. He was lucky enough to get cheaply another of the units that they have on their layout, which is a small personal video player mounted into one of the tall Tomix skyscraper buildings. A selection of Japanese movie trailers, TV ads, and music videos will play continuously, just like you see around Shinjuku or Shibuya !!! Picture will be posted when I get to set it up and load the content.
14th May 2006
The Audiovox PVR arrived on Friday (12th), and I have finished cutting out the heart of the building to make it fit it. Luckily, the height of the screen was exactly the same as the floor height of the Tomix building (where each floor section snaps together), and I just had to fill in the sides a little, and allow space for the power supply cord. I am now creating content to run on it - most ads and film clips from Japanese TV shows. The unit uses ASF as the file format, and comes with a converter program to take other movie formats, change the format and cut down the resolution (and file size) to suit the 2.5" LCD screen. Also fortunately, the power adaptor's American plug is the same as the Japanese one, and it will run on 100 to 240V automatically. The layout runs off 100V, so it will plug in directly to my power transformer outlet, and with an adaptor plug I can also run it from the normal power supply here in Australia).
This picture shows the new screen in action, as well as the final placement for the buildings at the RH end of the layout.
Here is a closer view of the building.
The old 'fake' video screen that used to be on the Tomix building, has now been moved to here.
27th May 2006
Here are some photos showing the installation of the TrainSpeed device ...
Here are the two units mounted on a piece of plastic card.
This is the front of the card assembly.
After cutting a hole in the front of the layout.
Test fitting of the mounting.
Finished mounting & wiring - and it works !!!
Painted & explanation signs attached.
June 2006 - Melbourne Exhibition
A successful weekend was spent in Melbourne over the Queen's Birthday long weekend at the annual exhibition held by the Waverley Model Railway Club (of which I used to be a member, and secretary, when I lived in Melbourne). All the new features were very well received, and based on the comments by the many members of the public, as well as the other exhibitors, it is a shame that the club did hand out any awards. For the first time, I have also included photos taken by people.
Here is a shot of the overall stand, with the new information display to the left, and the new home made barriers in front. Because the exhibition was held in the hall of a Hungarian Community Centre, I assume the large panorama photo on the wall behind the layout is of Budapest, however one older gentleman looked it it, and wanted to know if it was of the river he had taken a cruise on in Tokyo (I assume the Sumida River) !!!!!!!
A close up of the information display board, with the 19" screen playing Japanese train DVD's. The photos are of the trains seen on the layout, as well as other unusual looking types and maps of the Tokyo systems to show people it's complexity.
As well as the new buildings in the rural town, here you can see one of the digital speedometers, and how I somehow managed to get a bullet train running at EXACTLY 300km/h !!!
A rarely seen shot of all the rubbish UNDER the layout, where you can see ... A/ laptop computer (with speakers) that plays a Yamanote line DVD for the sound effects ... B/ speakers for the Personal Video Player in the building on the front of the layout - behind this is the subwoofer ... C/ large 240->100V transformer that runs all the Tomix controllers and accessories. Photo thanks to Tetsuko.
Also rarely seen is photos of the BACK of the layout. At this show, the layout was right inside the front door to the left, so the back of the layout was the first thing you saw if you came in and looked in that direction - however many people wanted to see 'what was going on' or 'where the trains were coming from and going to' after viewing it from the front.
This is the back of the LH end of the layout (the 'mountain' end). The green controllers are for the elevated tracks, and the blue ones are for the subway tracks. Photo thanks to Tetsuko.
This is the back of the RH end of the layout (the 'city' end). The green controllers are for the tram tracks, and the blue ones are for the bullet trains. Just behind those you can also the automatic train controllers for the bullet lines. The one switch box connected to the RH bullet controller is to allow an alternate train to swap over on the inside line. The many switch boxes connected to the LH tram controller are for the various tram storage tracks, both at the back and front of the layout. The overhead and subway tracks are just loops of track, with no alternatives available. Photo thanks to Tetsuko.
There were always lots of people looking at the layout.
A close up of the video screen in action, showing a Suzuki car ad.
A view from the back of the layout looking along the tram line - here you can see the Enoshima cars doing 'foreign' duty !!!
The new city end of the layout, with the shopping plaza straddled by two department store buildings and their overhead walkway. Because the layout was right up against a wall at home, I have not seen this view of the layout until the exhibition !!!
Closeup of part of the new shopping plaza, with the relocated subway entrance and ATM building.
The relocated subway entrance and ATM building came from there, where I moved back the Police Station (kouban) to give a better view of the rows of bicycles outside the subway entrance (behind a 'No Bicycles' sign!!!), and gave the residents a public toilet :-)
I also added a very small kouban to the street behind the bus terminal.
The old 'fake' Hitomi video screen got relegated to a building near the back of the layout. This shot shows the effectiveness of the photo backdrop.
Godzilla made an lofty appearance as usual, this time in the guise of 'Mechagodzilla' !!! Photo thanks to Mike Walters.
Another mythical Japanese monster also put in a secret appearance near the poster advertising his latest movie, and was correctly identified by at least one viewer :-)
Of course things will always go wrong when there is someone pointing a camera at the layout :-) Photo thanks to Mike Walters
There were other nice layouts there as well of course. This is a steam powered Victorian Railways 'Spirit of Progress' set, on the host club's excellent 'Victoria Bridge' HO layout. Attendees at the HMRS exhibition in Sydney next year (2007) will hopefully be able to see this layout as a special visitor.
In an exclusive first, I also have from VIDEO from this show to share with you !!! Due to the size of the files ('.ASF' files of around 3Mb each for about 20 seconds of footage), it is rather low quality, but will give you an idea of the action that goes on with the many trains running. I would suggest you download the files first (by right-clicking, then choosing 'Save as' ..), before running them with your movie player program.
Here you can see 2 bullet trains passing - a 100 and a 500.
Here you can see a closeup of the video screen and then a couple of trains.
Here you can see a tram then a couple of trains going overhead.
Here you can see the 2 suburbans trains, as well as Dr Yellow.
Here you can see 2 bullet trains again.
Here you can see all the trains running around the BACK of the layout.
Here you can see the 2 suburban trains again.
Here you can see the 2 trams passing each other.
Here you can see Dr Yellow, all 4 trains on the curve and then the 500.
Here you can see 5 trains in sequence - just missed one of the suburban trains.
Here you can see a pan of the whole display, including the information display and video, and zooming in to look at the digital speedometer and the video billboard.
Here you can see the beautiful HO 'Spirit of Progress' - the loco is brass but most of the cars have been scratchbuilt !!!
August 2006 - getting ready for Newcastle
1. More 'gadgets' have been added to the layout - I have replaced the current sound device with a better more advanced version called the 'Dreamplayer'. This is a device that can play up to 4 different WAV files from an 'SD' card, and can also be controlled by 4 inputs (eg switches, DCC triggers etc) and control 4 outputs (eg lights, replays etc). It is from the guys at 'www.pricom.com'. So I have used their background city sound file, and added in some Japanese train sounds and station announcements, as well as other Japanese background sound effects. I saw it reviewed in the latest 'Model Railroader' magazine, and jumped on one as soon as I found a local shop 15 minutes from me was the local dealer !!! This will also replace the laptop computer that I had under the layout playing Yamanote line sound effects.
2. The sound module that I had previously also has a siren effect, and I have wired that up to 4 flashing LEDS, that are hidden behind the buildings in front of the overhead line's station. So when you hear the sirens, you will see the flashing lights of some sort of emergency happening !!
You can see the red lights under the Shinkansen bridge, but all you can see from the front is the flashing red lights reflected off the buildings and overhead station.
3. I saw some LEDs that change colour by themselves, from red/green/blue/purple/orange etc, so I have put them inside a building near the front of the layout, and put a large sign in front of the window.
Because most of the sign is black, all you see is the white lettering changing colour, so it looks like some type of neon sign. There are 3 LEDs, and because they do not change colour at the same speed, eventually you have a rotating shift of colour patterns at different parts of the sign.
A large advertising sign for Japan's top female pop singer Kumi Koda (and one of my favourites) has also been added to a building, and some of her video clips play on the video screen below.
Sorry these pictures aren't very good - I couldn't use the flash as it would drown out the effects.
I also fixed up the operation of the Tomix Automatic Train Controller, so that 5 Bullet trains could be selected (it was because I had two wires around the wrong way, plus one of the light supports was a little too wide !!!).
Here are the 5 trains that will alternate on the Bullet train lines. The 500 & 700 will alternate, as well as the 100 & 0-7000. The Dr Yellow can be swapped manually with the 0-7000.
A group of school children run from the 'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman' :-)
Last Exhibition :-(
The October long weekend (for the Labour Day holiday) is traditionally the time for the NSW Branch of the Australian Model Railway Association's annual exhibition, it is the largest in Sydney, and also the last major one on the exhibition circuit's calendar. So it is also the place to be seen and the place to go if you into the model railway hobby. I planned that this would be the last local showing of the layout, and that it would be fitting to go out with a 'bang' !!!! As is common in Japan when there is the last run of a train service, or a line is closed, I created a 'Sayonara' headboard for the layout, and this drew a lot of attention. In the same way I did at Melbourne & Newcastle, I also had the information display board, and the train videos playing. As you can see from the list awards received (listed below), I think the end was quite fitting (and has attracted many initiations for shows in 2007 !!). I don't know of another layout that has received four awards out of the dozen or so that are given out at this show each year - http://www.amransw.asn.au/exhibition/exhibition_2006.html
Low-lights of the show were the complete non-operation of the 'Dreamplayer' sound effects module, which has given me trouble since the day I bought it and has now gone back to the dealer with a very big 'please explain', and unfortunately all the extra flashing light effects (as described above) could hardly be seen from the front of the layout, because of the amount of overhead light. :-((
Here is a close-up of the headboard - little did I know how inaccurate the sign on the right would become by the end of the show !!!
Close-up of the previous 3 awards won by the layout.
An overall view of what the stand looks like before too many people crowd around and block the view :-)
It doesn't take long before there are crowds all around the layout.
Lucky I had a premonition before the show to prepare a variety of the 'counter' signs as seen at the right of the 'Sayonara' headboard. This was replaced after the Saturday night awards ceremony.
This is the Wombat Award, which was presented on the Sunday morning. The Most Popular Layout award, as judged by the public votes, is not announced until the close of the show on the Monday afternoon as everyone is rushing to pack up and get out of the hall. In this case, the layout won by the largest majority of votes that the organisers had ever seen - normally the voting is quite close.
Here my regular operator Mr Ed (right - also known as 'Edo-san') and myself (left) are proudly displaying the perpetual trophy for the 'Best N Scale Layout' :-)
When the high speed bullet trains have an accident, it is usually a real spectacular balls-up !!!!
Because of the many and varied problems I had with the Tokaido line bullet trains on the Saturday, I changed over on the Sunday/Monday to Tohoku line sets, and for some unknown reason, they ran nearly faultlessly.
On the last few hours of an exhibition (when there is not usually as many patrons), exhibitors often like to play 'silly buggers', so for the first and last time on Setagaya, steam was seen to run on the Monday afternoon!!!
Making an appearance was C57-180 with it's 'Banetsu Story' passenger set (the new Kato on with the lounge car in the middle), alongside D51-498 with a preserved 12 series passenger set. Both of the locos are from MicroAce. Luckily these trains are also seen in the Tohoku area, so they fitted in with the bullet trains :-)
Big crowds came to see the never-seen-before sight of two steam trains running in parallel on the suburban lines, and people were hanging out of windows in all the surrounding buildings to catch a glimpse.
Somehow, steam also appeared on the tram line, in the form of a C11 - and a news helicopter caught the sight for the evening's TV bulletin !!!
A regular visitor on the layout is Godzilla, and this time he was hungry enough to get some dinner !!!
I did not take many other photos of the layout at the exhibition, as not much has changed since the last ones, except for some small details scenes with new vehicles and accessories etc.
Here some of the items from the Tomy 'Truck Collection' were added to the roadwork scene.
A couple of limited edition Bandai trucks were added here, and you can also see Kato's traditional Japanese people in kimonos in this older part of the city.
Some of the buildings in this scene were re-arranged.
Liberal use was made of the new Tomy 'Nissan Fairlady' vehicles from their recent 'Car Collection' series ...
... as well as the new Tomy Mini-buses.
A couple of Takara buildings were put in this part of the layout, and can be seen better from the back than the front.
Because I expected that after this show I would not be setting up the layout ever again, I did take hundreds of detailed photos at home, and these will appear on the page later as a last 'tribute' !!!
An unfortunate story must now be told relating to the end of the layout.
(gets on soapbox)
At the last Sydney exhibition mentioned above, I was approached by a representative of the Brisbane branch of the Australian Model Railway Association, showing interest in the layout attending their show in May 2007. Keen readers may remember the situation in 2005 where I had expressed interest in attending this show during that year, and had to harass and badger them to even get answers to my emails and letters and to getting an invitation sheet sent to me. In the long run, they replied and said they didn't want to have the layout at their show, because it was 'not good enough' or 'different enough' !!! So I went to Canberra instead, and won the 'Best Exhibition Layout' award (which I promptly took a photo of and sent a copy to the people in Brisbane- and funny! - I never got a reply to that one letter either :-)
When I mentioned this situation to the gentlemen, and said I wasn't very happy with his club, he apologized and said they had had problems with a 'bad committee', and a major purge had cleaned out the 'black sheep', so everything was back on track again. The final decision and invitations would be done late November/early December, so I again said that I would be interested in attending their show, which is one of the largest in Australia, and is always well spoken of by attendees. I really wanted to do this show, as I have been to all the other major exhibitions in all cities on the east coast of Australia. In fact one of my club's layout attended this show a few years back, but more on that later ...
Just last week I finally received their invitation form, and was shocked to see the amount of remuneration they were willing to pay. Based in the size of the layout (they have a small category - under 10sqm, and a large category - over 10sqm), I was to receive 17% less money than I would if I did a local show here in Sydney. For those who do not understand what is involved, a quick geography lesson is needed - Brisbane is around 960 kms from Sydney, and is a two day drive usually done with an overnight stopover at Grafton. Because the show is held on a state public holiday long weekend, it covers 3 days rather than 2, so when you add up the 2 days also spent travelling each way, it is a 7 day away from home exercise with 5 nights accommodation needed. The poor people who actually live in Brisbane and want to take a layout to the show will receive 75% less money than the 'standard' amount paid by most clubs here for a local exhibitor. I mentioned that our clubs took a layout to this show a few years back - well they got paid accommodation for 3 at Grafton for 2 nights, as well as in Brisbane for 5 people for 3 nights AND a sum of cash. In my case I only have one other person. How things seem to have changed !!!
When I mentioned all this things and queried the situation, I was told that in 2004 they made a loss and had to dip into their meager (sic) club reserves and the next year only made a small surplus. So they are budgeting on the same levels of lower attendances and other increased costs as for previous years, and therefore, among other things, are cutting back on exhibitor's expenses. To quote, "Unfortunately, this may lead to mainly 'local' layouts only being exhibited."
The simple fact of the matter, that everyone with whom I have spoken to about this also agrees on, is that you have to pay good money to get good layouts to have a good exhibition, and you will only get good layouts to attend if you have happy exhibitors. Put on a poor show because of the same old layouts as seen previously, or lack of variety etc, and people will not come back again the next time. In Australia, the railways in each state are quite different to each other, and an exhibition will normally have a majority of layout featuring the trains of the home state. What this means is that a layout from another state will be very well received because if is some thing different that most locals will not have seen before. This concept of course also applies to trains from other country e.g. Japanese. No exhibitor want to appear greedy or expects to attend an exhibition as a profit making exercise, but exhibitors do expect to at least be able to cover their costs, and as I have already said, I would get more money doing a show here at home than spending 7 days on the road.
I would fully expect that not many exhibitors are going to want to attend this show given the current farcical situation, so therefore with another poor showing under their belt again, this Brisbane exhibition is simply going on go on a downward spiral that I can't see ever being able to recover itself from :-(
The other thing that really annoys me is that while I have been waiting to hear this nonsense, the layout is still packed away in it's trailer from October, because I needed to know if I was going to do this show or not before I either ...
brought it inside and maybe did more work on it to get it ready for the show, or
took it inside the garage to cut up in preparation for starting the new layout.
So now I have wasted over 2 months that could have been put towards getting the new layout started (see http://Japanese-Trains.com/2sides/ ). It goes without saying that after these TWO bad-tasting incidents, this exhibition is now defiantly on my 'black list' and I will never be attending up there again in the future with any layout, irrespective of how much money they may try and offer another time !!!!!! It is just unfortunate that the poor people of Brisbane, that deserve to be able to attend a good exhibition and see good layouts (mine as well as others), will now never get the chance, thanks to the lack of knowledge and experience, or just plain ignorance, of the organisers regarding what it takes to attract good exhibits to a show and what is a fair and reasonable method of remuneration :-(
(gets off soapbox)
Last (unused) enhancement
Fortunately, I did do one thing that was to be used as an enhancement to the layout for its last show, and that was to add another video screen. When my wife went to Japan a couple of month's ago, my shopping list for her included a Play Station Portable, which has a nice wide 9.5cm screen, compared to the 5cm standard ratio screen of the current video device. I intended to use this screen mostly for showing music videos, and to use the older screen for movie and anime trailers (with which frequent block of commercial advertising of course. In fact I have just found some clown on You-tube that has posted ALL the advertising that was shown over a 24 hour period on a Japanese TV station recently !!!).
So I worked out that unless I scratchbuilt quite a large building like a department store or something, I would need to use one of the Atlas skyscraper buildings to fit the PSP in. See below for the progress thus far ....
Here is an overall view of what the building will look like - the sticky tape is temporarily holding the front on, and the border around the hole need to be painted. The screen is quite high up because it was to fit behind the elevated bullet train line.
How the PSP is held within a frame inside the building.
The support frame itself.
THE END !!! (pt 1)
01/02/2007 - Well it has finally happened - the weather was cool enough for me to take the layout out of the trailer into the garage, and start to dismantle it :-(
Here is a photo record of the first stage, being the two end modules ....
the front of the RH end, as it is transported. You can see how many of the details are stuck down, and how many buildings are removable. The large circular hole at the end near the front is for the cables etc for the video player that sat in the tall city building. You can also see how the 'fake' road bridges in the background really are (usually mostly hidden by tall buildings.)
the back of the RH end. The large space in the corner is for the elevated suburban tracks and the 4 controllers used at the end of the layout.
after taking all the tracks off.
after taking off everything else that is reusable.
it's now just a timber frame ...
next stop - rubbish bin !!!!
the front of the LH end, as it is transported. Most buildings on this end were small, and I was more confident that they would stay stuck down during transportation than the larger buildings on the other end.
the back of the LH end. Because of the complexity of wiring for the Tomix Automatic Train Controllers, it was easier to have them all permanently mounted.
after taking all the tracks off.
after taking off everything else that is reusable, including trees, large bushes and all the rock casting that didn't break when I tried to get them off :-)
timber is all that is left after removing the plaster scenery shell (now in the bin), and salvaging all the usable sheets of foam that were used as scenery supports. I forgot to take a photo of the timber after I had smashed it apart. (see photo above of the other end if you like that sort of thing :-)
THE END !!! (pt 2)
15/02/2007 - This time I had to wait for the rain to stop, before I could take the main module out of the trailer into the garage - of course it really shouldn't have mattered if it got wet anyway :-)
here is the LH end of the main module, as it is transported.
this is what you see after taking off all the elevated suburban and bullet train track sections. The tram storage yard is now visible (and more accessible than it ever was in the past :-) You may also be able to see how some of the elevated track supports are made from painted spacers from MicroAce train storage cases !!!
after taking off all the track.
after taking off all the buildings.
after taking off the vehicles, figures, other details and anything else that is reusable.
once the top surface is taken off, you can see the subway tracks underneath.
now all the subway tracks are gone. All that is left is a timber frame, and the subway station/shops section.
here is the RH end of the main module, as it is transported.
this is what you see after taking off all the elevated suburban and bullet train track sections. You can see how the tram line snakes between the buildings
after taking off all the track. The 'worm tracks' at the back were for wiring to connect to the points in the tram yard, and were done with a router.
after taking off all the buildings.
after taking off the vehicles, figures, other details and anything else that is reusable.
once the top surface is taken off, you can see the subway tracks underneath.
now all the subway tracks are gone.
All this goes off to the rubbish bin again (I didn't want to put a preview picture, and possibly frighten anyone !!!!!) Please note the time was recorded as 17:45 on 15/02/2007 for any future mourning's.
this is all the wiring off the whole module, some of which I can hopefully reuse.
All the buildings have been kept for the next layout, and they are documented on this page. And here they all are now, waiting for their next assignment :-)
Australian Model Railway Association, NSW Branch Exhibition - Liverpool NSW - 5th to 7th October 2002
Adelaide Model Railway Exhibition - Adelaide SA - 7th to 9th June 2003
Hills Model Railway Society Exhibition - Castle Hill NSW - 26th & 27th July 2003
Epping Model Railway Club Exhibition - Epping NSW - 12th to 14th June 2004
Our Town Model Show - Newcastle NSW - 28th & 29th August 2004
Australian Model Railway Association, NSW Branch Exhibition - Liverpool NSW - 2nd to 4th October 2004
Springwood Model Railway Exhibition - Springwood NSW - 12th & 13th March 2005
Canberra Model Railway Expo - Canberra ACT - 2nd & 3rd April 2005
Hills Model Railway Society Exhibition - Castle Hill NSW - 23rd & 24th July 2005
Waverley Model Railway Club Exhibition - Melbourne VIC - 10th to 12th June 2006
Our Town Model Show - Newcastle NSW - 19th & 20th August 2006
Australian Model Railway Association, NSW Branch Exhibition - Hurstville NSW - 30th September to 2nd October 2006 (LAST EVER EXHIBITION)
When you go to exhibition, most of them give you a little commemorative plaque, and most people stick these on the front of the layout, to show which exhibitions they have attended. I had all of mine on the lightboard above the layout.
here they are now after I salvaged them.
Hills Model Railway Society 2003 Exhibition (Castle Hill) - awarded 'Best Layout' as judged by the other exhibitors
Canberra 2005 Model Railway Expo (Canberra) - awarded 'Best Exhibition Layout' as judged by the organisers
Hills Model Railway Society 2005 Exhibition (Castle Hill) - awarded 'Best Layout' as judged by the other exhibitors
Australian Model Railway Association, NSW Branch 2006 Exhibition (Hurstville) - awarded the following ...
1. 'Sydney N Scale Model Railway Club Award' for Best N Scale Layout as judged by members of the Sydney N Scale Model Railway Club
2. 'Iron Horse Hobbies Award' for Best Proprietary Layout as judged by the owners of Iron Horse Hobbies
(this award is for a layout built using predominantly commercially available items, not done by scratchbuilding)
3. 'Most Popular Exhibit Public Vote' for the best layout as voted by the general public over the three day exhibition
4. 'Larmour Family "Wombat" Award - highly commended' (2nd place) for most popular display as judged by a group of 5-8yo children (the winner was a large LEGO layout)
Please note that at many of the exhibitions attended (eg Epping, Melbourne, Springwood & Newcastle), there was no judging done or awards given.
Please also have a look at selected comments made about the layout - all have been taken from emails written by people who have
viewed these pages or seen the layout in person.
- all details subject to change without notice © Doug Coster 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of
this material without express and written permission from this
blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts
and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to
Doug Coster with appropriate and specific direction to the
Details current at 19/02/2007
Page opened 12/05/2002
Page closed 20/02/2007