Japan Train and Rail Blog

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019   8:27 PM

Improving the Tomix train shed

The Tomix modern-style two-road train shed (複線機関庫, catalogue number 4212) is one of Tomix's classic N scale structures which has been in production for decades (note it was originally available under catalogue number 4012). Although it's a little on the chunky side, it is a plausible generic representation of the kind of multiple-road sheds commonly seen in Japanese train depots, and is a good basis for kitbashing.

A couple of links with ideas:


Friday, September 20, 2019  10:41 AM

Akihabara junk haul, September 2019

In anticlockwise order:

  • a pair of intermediate 103 series cars to expand a Tomix 4-car Yamanote line basic set
  • an intermediate E353 car to expand a Kato E353 series 4-car basic set
  • some side destination stickers for the Tomix JR 209-1000 Series (Chuo Line) set
  • a whole bunch of Revolution Factory detailing accessories


The Nonowa station mall at Musashi-Sakai Station on the Chuo Line has been using these promotional flags featuring the "face" of the classic 101 series commuter train (which was first introduced on the Chuo Line).

Advertising for the

Monday, August 12, 2019   5:20 AM

Improving Tomix "Second Generation" mechanisms (part 2)

In a previous entry, Improving Tomix "Second Generation" mechanisms, I provided a suggestion to improve the mechanism of these models by applying tape to the worm gear case to stop it vibrating against the chassis.

A year older and wiser, I've since discovered that while this mitigates the underlying issue somewhat, it's not a particularly effective solution.

The underlying issue, it turns out, is the interaction between worm gear and worm gear case - without sufficient lubrication, the worm gear will cause the case to vibrate, and sometimes "stick" slightly, causing the car to stutter, and possibly put more strain on the motor/and or cause a higher current draw than it should do.

The solution is simple, effective and obvious: lubricate the interface between worm gear and worm gear case.

Tomix worm gear box lubrication

Using a toothpick/cocktail stick I applied dabs of grease to the "tunnels" on inside of the case (above right) and to the worm gear itself one either end where it rotates against the case. Excess can be remove with the toothpick, and wiped on the exposed part of the worm gear (though this really doesn't need much lubrication).

Before doing that however, it's worth cleaning both worm gear and the case, to remove any existing grease/oil residue, and in the case of the worm gear, remove any built-up fibre which may have ended up wrapped around it (quite common with second-hand stock, and something I evidently missed last time).

Wednesday, July 31, 2019  12:09 AM

Steam locomotives on static display in the Tokyo area

An ad-hoc, incomplete list of preserved steam locomotives on static display within the 23 wards area of Tokyo:


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Saturday, June 29, 2019  11:49 AM

Tomix World to reopen in Tokyo next to Kanda station

It's just been announced that Tomix World, formerly located in Omiya and which closed in early 2019, will be reopening on Saturday July 27th at its new location close to Kanda Station in Tokyo.

The new address is: Kanda IK Building 7F, 2-7-1 Kajimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (東京都千代田区鍛冶町2丁目7-1 神田IKビル7F); Google Street View link.

The Tomix World website contains more details (at the time of writing in Japanese only).


Saturday, June 29, 2019  12:28 AM

BR485 / BR885

Flickr album with a bunch of pictures: DB 485 005 bis 885 709

Model by Roco:

Roco ET85 (BR 485)

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Sunday, April 7, 2019   2:35 AM

Tomix N Gauge EF81 (EF81-15)

Tomix N gauge model (Tomix catalogue number 2194) of a JR EF81 Bo-Bo-Bo dual voltage (AC/DC) electric locomotive.

This is a limited edition model released in ca. 2009.


Tomix EF81-15


Model reference

No product information available on the main Tomix website.

Data sheet provided by Uesaka Models2194 JR EF81形電気機関車(初期型・東日本色)

Prototype information and pictures

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Friday, September 7, 2018  10:53 AM

Overview of JNR ED7x class locomotives


ClassWheel arrangementNo. builtYears in operationRegion of operation
ED70 Bo-Bo 19  1957 ~ 1975  Hokuriku Main Line
ED71 Bo-Bo 55  1959 ~ 1982  Tohoku Main Line
ED72 Bo-2-Bo 22  1961 ~ 1982  Kyushu
ED73 Bo-Bo 22  1962 ~ 1982  Kyushu
ED74 Bo-Bo 6  1962 ~ 1978  Hokuriku Main Line, Kyushu
ED75 Bo-Bo 302  1963 ~ (present)  Kyushu, north-east Japan
ED76 Bo-2-Bo 139  1965 ~ (present)  Kyushu, Hokkaido
ED77 Bo-2-Bo 16  1967 ~ 1993  Ban'etsu-Nishi line
ED78 Bo-2-Bo 14  1967 ~ 2000  Ōu Main Line
ED79 Bo-Bo 34
 1986/87 ~ 2016 [1]
 1989 ~ 2016 [2]
 Seikan Tunnel

[1] date of conversion from ED75

[2] newly constructed batch

Friday, July 13, 2018   4:07 PM

Improving Tomix "Second Generation" mechanisms

See Improving Tomix "Second Generation" mechanisms (part 2) for updated advice on this issue

Older Tomix N gauge trains are infamous for their "spring worm" drive mechanism, whereby the motor is connected to the bogie gear tower via a long spring-like metal spiral. While presumably cheap to manufacturer, it does result in somewhat noisy operation, so from the late 1980s (IIRC) Tomix gradually phased this out in favour of a more conventional mechanism with cardan shafts connecting to a worm gear on top of the bogie gear tower. This second generation does however seem to have retained the older electrical pickup mechanism, with copper forms pressing down on the axles inside the wheels (similar to what Lima did, e.g. on the Class 31), which is more reliable than wiper-based pickups but not as elegant as current axle pinpoint pickups.

Anyway, while this second generation of Tomix mechanisms is basically robust and reliable, some can be surprisingly noisy. I'm not sure whether that was the case when they were new, or whether something's deteriorated with age, but certainly annoying on otherwise decent models.

After some investigation it seems a common issue is that the worm gear case is slightly loose and prone to vibrating against the chassis. This can be mitigated by applying strips of electrical tape to hold it in place, as seen here on an older Tomix 115-1000 series:

Tomix 115 Series with modifications to the mechanism

While it doesn't bring the mechanism up to contemporary standards, it does change the running qualities from "annoyingly rattly" to "decent runner".