June 2013 Monthly Status

Another month gone by, but I do have something to show for this one.

The backdrop for the hilltop scene has been painted in primer and let cure. I’m going to work on the mounting structure this week. The photo for it has also been printed (US$72 at my local print shop) and is laid out letting the ink dry fully. I expect I’m a week or so away from gluing it to the backdrop, and by next week should have it installed.

Along the way my plans changed to make a 18” tall (46 cm) backdrop instead of the larger one I’d planned, and the image was adjusted slightly to match, but it’s still basically the same. There was no single reason for the change, just a feeling that 18” fit the area better, and would maintain the “low key” backing I was looking for better, whereas a taller one might tend to overshadow the real scenery. I can always re-do it in the future if I change my mind, total cost with wood is under US$100 and I’ll gladly write that off on a failed experiment, after enough time goes by that I’m sure it is a failed one. Right now, I think I made the right choice.

I’ve also been working on the Village area, and actually done some painting on the Tomix apartment. And I’ve started tearing down the other models to begin painting and lighting/detailing them. I’ll work on several in parallel along with the Tomix apartment. Some notes on the buildings I’m working with are on the Village Buildings page.

And I’ve been doing some work on how I want to build the roads and sidewalks of the village area. I mentioned the planning in general last time. More on the details in some future post when my ideas have settled more.

A bunch of stuff arrived from Japan this month. Among it some track I needed to build a test-track on my bench for continued work on the Tram Controller project, and some Tomix viaduct I want to experiment with for the future Helix (although that may sit on the shelf for a long time; I need it now to measure and check clearances for the hilltop construction, rather than for work on the helix itself).

So, a fairly busy month for the layout, all things considered.

Rethinking Storage Tracks and January 2013 Status

While I’m spending a lot of time playing with decoders, that’s not the only thing on my mind. One idea that’s been eating at me for a while now is to redesign the under-table storage tracks. I’d originally planned to locate these under the Urban Station scene, reached by a helix that led down to them from the “unsceniced” end.

On reflection, this was less than ideal. First, any access to the underside of the layout for wiring work would require removing all of the trains from storage. Second, the helix to reach them would be quite long, at five and a half turns, which would be expensive and overly complex. Third, if I needed to work on the trains, I’d be kneeling on the concrete floor and reaching into a narrow space to access the trains on the back track, which pretty much guaranteed I wouldn’t be able to do much. The only thing it had going for it was that I could store a full-length sixteen-car Shinkansen (2.5m or eight and a half feet long) down there.

Getting Organized

I’m not a very organized person. That may sound odd, given that this “blog” has a fairly extensive set of associated pages that are moderately well organized. But while I’m at least competent at organizing information, that skill doesn’t extend to the real world much at all.

When I started building the layout, I only had a few trains. Over the next two years I bought quite a few more, and partway through that the one shelf I had set aside for storing them became full and I expanded to half of a second. That filled, and there were no more available. Green Kato boxes began getting stacked in odd corners, on the layout itself, on the workbench, on shelves in the living room, and even in a small stack under the coffee table. For a while I managed to at least keep track of what I had and where it was, but late last year even that began to break down. As I mentioned last week, I somehow forgot to photograph one of my new trains (which was one of the few things I’d always done reliably, so I could keep track of them). And this summer it took me a week to find one of my older trains (the box was in a really odd place).

A Final Track Plan, I Hope

I spent most of the last month refining the track plan, first with the height and approach tracks of the Urban Station, and more recently with the mess of track at the right end of the Riverside Station scene (above). This last part has always been a headache, as I just couldn’t get everything I wanted to come together.