Japan Train and Rail Blog

A website about trains and model railways and associated subjects in Japan and other countries.

Thursday, February 25, 2016   9:06 AM

Layout video, February 2016

A short video of the layout in its current state of construction from a driver's point-of-view.


Posted in My Layout | add a comment

Wednesday, December 30, 2015   1:05 AM

New website for Graham Farish Poole-era products

Via the N Gauge Forum I was pleased to hear about a new website dedicated to "Poole-era" Graham Farish products,  Thefarishshed.com. It's still very much work-in-progress but contains some useful background history on the company, which was based in the Dorset town of Poole until its takeover by Bachmann around 2001. While many of the Poole-era models were not the most detailed or reliable, they did represent a major part of the British N gauge market for many years and have a certain appeal for many.

As I have an interest in "historical" N gauge models, I have acquired a couple from the Poole era and hope to restore them to working order, and this site should certainly be very useful. Of particular interest to owners of past and more recent Farish models is the section on split gears, which helpfully lists useful sources of parts.

Friday, April 17, 2015   9:14 PM

Lima N-Gauge Class 86

Recently I acquired a Lima N-Gauge Class 86, not to run as a serious locomotive but in part out of curiosity about older N-gauge motor mechanisms, and possibly to experimentially modify. It was sold as a non-runner with a missing coupling; the coupling was easy enough to replace with one from Kato, and the non-running was caused by the brush having come loose from the motor (luckily it was still held in place against the motor body by the spring, though I do have some spares).

It runs somewhat better (or less badly) than I expected and seems to cope with the Kato pointwork reasonably well. It definitely needs some maintenance, which I'll get round to some time. Here's a video of it running on my temporary layout:

The motor is the ancient pancake type and mounted directly on one bogie, which means there's not much space for it to turn inside the body, which gives it a tendency to derail on tighter curves. The electric pickups are from the non-motorized bogie only, which increases the risk of stalling, particularly across points.

Saturday, April 11, 2015   7:11 PM

Hornby Shop in Tokyo

Hornby has some great childhood memories for me - my "first" was admittedly Lima, but for a long time Hornby was the model railway company with its entrancing catalogues (the layout featured in the 1980 edition was the thing of a young boy's dreams, and their Zero 1 control system was something I had to have - but way outside the available financial capability...) Though I still have a few Hornby items, for me OO (aka 'Orribly Oversized) is history and it's hard to imagine any other way but the N-gauge way, so I wouldn't really want to go out of my way to look at Hornby. However this shop, the only Hornby dealer in Japan (and probably the only one in East Asia) is a few minutes away from my house by bike so it would be rude not to pay a visit:

Hornby Shop in Tokyo

Saturday, December 13, 2014  11:21 PM

MicroAce JR 203 EMU and Modemo NT44

Latest purchases:

MicroAce A8280 JR 203 / Modemo NT44  Hakone-Tozan Tetsudou MoHa 2

On the left: a Modemo Hakone-Tozan Tetsudou MoHa 2 (モデモ 箱根登山鉄道 モハ2形 2輌セット, model number NT44). Built in 1927, 3 of these cars are still running on the Hakone Tozan line (link). This is a two-car set from a 2004 batch; while the bodies are identical, only one car is powered. Though second-hand, it was in mint condition (including the additional supplied parts, which were all present and unused) This is my first Modemo train; it's a very nice, fairly quiet runner and handles my steepest gradient just fine. As it should do for a mountain climber. It's evidently designed to be run as a two-car set; the headlight only works on one end of each car. It does have problems with some of my Kato #4 points, but that's not its fault.

On the right: a MicroAce JR 203 EMU (マイクロエース 「ありがとう203系」号 基本6両セット, model number A8280). These trains were built in the early 1980's for through-running from JR's Jōban Line to Tokyo Metro's Chiyoda Line and the last one was taken out of service in 2011. This model represents that final train and is decorated with a "Farewell 203 Series" headmark. It's a lovely model and runs very smoothly, though it has also taken a dislike to some of my Kato #4 points, albeit different ones to the Modemo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014   9:31 AM

Hobbyland Pochi sale event in Yokohama

Hobbyland Pochi, a reseller of second-hand model trains (and the odd bit of miscellaneous paraphenalia) is holding one of its regular sales events (鉄道模型フェスティバル / tetsudou mokei fesutibaru) in Yokohama from Saturday January 10th to Monday January 12th, 2015. This is a holiday weekend.

The event is open from 10am - 6pm on Saturday/Sunday and from 10am to 5pm on Monday. Entrance is free and prices are usually reduced compared to the normal shop price; often there are bargains to be found, especially if you go early.

The Hobbyland Pochi website doesn't seem to carry any information (I'm quoting from the leaflet I was handed earlier this week, pictured below) but it should appear on this page soon.

Hobbyland Pochi Yokohama sales event

Tuesday, February 5, 2013  12:54 AM

Stairlift at Meiji Jingumae Station

I never realised before, but there's an underground passageway which traverses across the top of the Chiyoda Line platforms at Meiji Jingumae station, leading from the entrance at the top end of Omotesando close to JR Harajuku Station all the way down to the crossing with Meiji-dori and the new Fukutoshin Line concourse. Omotesando runs downhill, so the passageway - which has presumably been there since the Chiyoda Line part of the station was built - has quite a deep stairway roughly halfway along, of which half has been crudely converted into this "stairlift":

Meiji Jingumae Station - stairlift 

Posted in Rail | add a comment

Sunday, January 27, 2013   6:05 PM

Jinbocho Station - mystery tunnel

The other day I got the Hanzomon Line from Jinbocho Station, possibly for the first time ever, and my first impression was how dirty the Hanzomon Line platform is, at least compared to other stations in Tokyo. The picture below gives an idea, though it doesn't really catch the dusty atmosphere.

Jinbocho Station on the Hanzomon Line

The above-ground station entrances are a bit dingy too. On the other hand I've used the Toei Shinjuku Line from there a few times in the past and don't recall it being unusually dirty.

Posted in Rail | add a comment