Model Railways / Model Railroads

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).

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".


Wednesday, July 11, 2018  12:45 AM

"Nine Scale World" maintenance guides

The bi-monthly magazine "N" (エヌ) by Ikaros Publications has, for the past couple of years (from volume 77 onwards), been publishing a fairly regular feature detailing how to clean up/improve older Japanese N gauge models. This was originally called "ジャンク活用術" (janku katsuyou-jitsu, "Making use of older models") but in recent issues it's been titled "Re Model". (Note: "ジャンク"/junk generally refers to second hand models which are basically not in as-new tip-top condition, typically missing packaging, accessories etc., or have some minor repairable damage; it can refer to genuine spares-or-repairs candidates but 95% ot the time something labelled as "junk" will be perfectly usable).

This is an overview of the available articles for reference; articles from volume 100 and earlier are taken from a listing in that edition which contains an overview of articles in all 100 magazines to date.

  Volume Page Title (original) Title (translated
* 108 42 TOMIX DD51 (旧製品) Tomix DD51 (old version)
* 100 42 TOMIX 113系 Tomix 113 series
  99 42 中村精密 蒸気機関車 Nakamura Seimitsu steam locomotive(s)
* 97 46 しなのマイクロ国鉄事業車編 Shinano Micro JNR departmental vehicles
* 96 90 TOMIX 国鉄キハ02形 Tomix JNR Kiha 02 series railcars
* 95 52 KATO 103系(一般型) Kato 103 series (original Kato version)
* 94 90 KATO 24系寝台特急「あけぼの・日本海」 Kato 24 series sleeper "Akebono/Nikonkai"
* 93 90 宮沢模型 381系パノラマしなの Miyazawa Mokei 381 series "Panorama Shinano"
* 92 90 エンドウ 103系・73系 Endou 103 series / 73 series
* 91 90 KATO 165系 Kato 165 Series
  90 90 マイクロエース 485系 MicroAce 485 Series
  89 90 KATO マイテ49 Kato maite 49 (saloon end car)
  88 90 KATO EF65ゆうゆうサロン Kato EF65 "Yuu-yuu Saloon"
* 87 90 エンドウ都営地下鉄 10-100形 Endou Toei Chikatetsu 10-100 Series
* 86 90 KATO 103系低運転台 Kato 103 series (low cab version)
  85 90 KATO クモニ143 Kato kumoni 143
  84 90 KATO キハ40・キハ58 Kato kiha 40 / kiha 58
  83 90 TOMIX サロ481 Tomix saro 481
  82 90 エンドウ 京王5000系 Endou Keio 5000 series
  81 88 KATO 205系・103系 Kato 205 series / 103 series
  80 88 KATO 189系 Kato 189 series
  79 88 KATO 189系 Kato 189 series
  78 96 KATO コキ10000 Kato koki 10000 (container wagon)
  77 90 宮沢模型 165系「なのはな」 Miyazawa Mokei 165 series "Nanohana"

(volumes denoted with an asterisk are in my personal possession)

Back in the increasingly dim and distant (well for me at least) 1980s, when diesels were blue and trains were still done properly (loco at one end hauling coaches or wagons), the Class 27s were very much a far and distant (from my Midlands perspective) Scottish class, rarely if ever sighted.

However as with many of the early "pilot scheme" classes, they started off life elsewhere, with quite a few being allocated to Cricklewood and Leicester during the 1960s. Though I've always been aware of that, they still seemed utterly unconnected with my main region of interest, the West Midlands, until I came across entirely by coinicidence a photograph of one topping the Lickey Bank at the head of a freight train.

Interest piqued, further research revealed more evidence of the class in the Birmingham area (though an awful lot of hits were false positives triggered by the the "B" in "BRCW", not the location of the photograph or sighting) - Quite a few seem to have made it west and south of the city. Following is a list of online references I've found, in rough chronological order.

Also of interest is this thread on RMweb: Leicester class 27's