Japan Train and Rail Blog

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


Friday, March 10, 2017  11:26 PM

Replacing Arnold couplings with Kato ones

I recently aqcuired a rake of Kato Taki 1000 oil tank wagons (set 10-1167) to go with my EH-200, and while they're perfectly decent wagons the default Arnold couples really do stand out and look clunkier than usual. Normally I'm not too bothered by Arnold couplings and can "unsee" them, but these had to go - replaced by the Kato coupler (part number 11-707). Mildly fiddly to assemble and put in place, but they make a huge difference:

Kato Taki 1000s with Kato coupler




Sunday, March 5, 2017   5:24 AM

Models of Berlin's Stadtbahn

As previously mentioned I'm creating a station which is inspired by Berlin's Stadtbahn, and was wondering what models might already have been made of it.

The first obvious candidate is the layout at LOXX Berlin, which is centred around a somewhat compressed version of the Stadtbahn roughly between Zoo and Ostkreuz (which is happily captured in its original form). Some pictures in my Flickr album.

Also in Berlin is a model of the Stadtbahn between Marx-Engels-Platz and the former East Berlin Haupthbahnhof (now the Ostbahnhof), which pays particular attention to the tram system (YouTube video of this layout).

model shop in Weilheim (Upper Bavaria) presents these pictures of a customer's layout.

A German forum thread with some scratch-built strucures: http://www.stummiforum.de/viewtopic.php?t=123403

And from the UK there's this blog with another (evidently never completed) take on the Stadtbahn, and this club layout under active development.

Any other links or suggestions welcome.


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Sunday, March 5, 2017   5:19 AM

Introducing Engelscher Markt

I lived in Berlin for many years, and spend an awful lot of time near or passing through the station now known as "Hackescher Markt". It's one of a string of stations on Berlin's Stadtbahn, a 4-track brick-built viaduct running roughtly east-west through the city centre and was originally constructed as part of a scheme to link some of the terminus stations which had been built haphazardly by various private companies during the mid 19th century.

Originally I wasn't planning to do anything particularly German on my proposed layout, but a chance acquisition of some second-hand Faller viaduct sections during a visit to Berlin a while back got me thinking, and I realised I could sneak in a little viaduct station vaguely inspired by the Stadtbahn. The choice fell on Hackescher Markt because I'm familiar with it, moreover it has tramlines around it and I want trams on my layout anyway. However it won't be anything as grand as a proper model of the station - for a start there'll only be two tracks, not the two S-Bahn and 2 Fernbahn ones of the real version. The viaducts will be the relatively plain Faller ones, nothing like as fancy as the prototype, and I won't be attempting to model the rather handsome station hall either (partly as I want to actually see the trains and the layout behind the station).


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Saturday, January 14, 2017   2:50 AM

Dismantling a Tomix E1 power car (original tooling)

I recently acquired this very fine Tomix E1 Shinkansen, albeit as a 3 car set as part of a trainset pack ("SD Max 90010").

Tomix E1 Shinkansen (original livery)

Despite being around 20 years old, the set was in excellent - except one of the couplings on the power car was broken, and as it's an integral part of the bogie, not simple to repair.

Fortunately Tomix provide replacement bogies (part number 0494), so I hoped it would be a matter of removing the original bogie and installing the new one. Not being sure how the bogies were mounted I decided to strip it down as far as possible.

Step 1: remove body - it unclips fairly easily.

Step 1 - remove body

Step 2: remove grey undercarriage cover:

Step 2 - remove undercarriage

Step 3: remove interior/seating unit

Step 3 - remove interior/seating

This turned out not to be necessary, but we see the chassis is covered by a membrane strip (similar to MicroAce units) to protect the motor and electircally inslulate the monobloc chassis.

Having got this far, it became apparent that being a monobloc chassis, the bogies are designed to clip in place, and are held in position by the circular plastic "lip" at the top of the bogie tower. They can be removed with a bit of careful twiddling.

So far so good, but it turned out the the replacement bogie (lower left in the above picture) is of a subtly different design, presumably for a newer version of the tooling for the Tomix E1, and while it could be coerced into place, it didn't really fit and was clearly not suitable as an as-is replacement.

All was not lost, however - a bit of work with some nippers and a pin vise enabled me to bodge the new bogie's coupling attachment onto the old one, which looks ugly but isn't visible when the train is coupled.




Dan of The Farish Shed has, following a suggestion from my humble self, very kindly created a servicing guide for the Farish Poole-era class 25 (and class 33), an example of which I possess in a non-running state. I'm a bit stuck for time at the moment but I fully intend making use of it in the not too distant future. Meanwhile here's the locomotive in question:

poole-class-25-diesel-25326-catalogue-no-8305.jpg



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.

久しぶり車載カメラでレイアウトを撮影してみました。まだまだ建設現場みたいな感じですが、何となく進んでいる気がします。


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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.