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British train enthusiasts journey to Japan to tour rural rail lines

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velotrain

"Until recently, Japanese-made model railways were of much higher quality than British ones, according to Dibben, and so some people got into Japanese railways through building models."

 

I find this somewhat hard to believe, unless he's actually speaking of commercially produced model trains vs. "model railways".

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scotspensioner

I got into this because in part of the poor performance of my collection of Hornby trains and also a lack of space to run them due to domestic issues.My wife says she now misses hearing the swearing which she could hear emanating from the garage when I was out there running the Hornby trains.

I'm now in the front room and it's silence.Im also more relaxed with the Japanese trains.

On another front it's been a fabulous learning experience because I knew very little about Japan previously.An internet tablet gives me access tonal an via Google and YouTube and without these I would never have built the collection I've got.

Age,health and lack of wealth are the factors which stop me going there myself

Japanese model trains -- one of the best things I've come across!!

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marknewton

"Until recently, Japanese-made model railways were of much higher quality than British ones, according to Dibben, and so some people got into Japanese railways through building models."

 

I find this somewhat hard to believe, unless he's actually speaking of commercially produced model trains vs. "model railways".

I reckon they mean commercially produced models. When a journalist attempts to paraphrase a railfan or modeller, something always gets lost in translation.

 

Incidentally, Peter Dibben's N scale Japanese exhibition layout featured in a recent edition of the UK publication "Continental Modeller". A very nice little layout, too.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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buckingham

I reckon they mean commercially produced models. When a journalist attempts to paraphrase a railfan or modeller, something always gets lost in translation.

 

Incidentally, Peter Dibben's N scale Japanese exhibition layout featured in a recent edition of the UK publication "Continental Modeller". A very nice little layout, too.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

I was fortunate enough to see Peter Dibben's n scale layout Hironocho last Saturday at Southport MRS.

It is beautifully modelled and a simple out and back layout.

He gave me a lot of his time in our discussion.

This is a very small clip of the layout.  It is the top bit, not the loop beneath.

https://www.facebook.com/japanrailsociety/videos/vb.1462056627383799/1707296789526447/?type=2&theater

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marknewton

Thanks for posting that! :)

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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scotspensioner

I was looking at you tube last night and came on two Japanese programmes about Peter Dibben and his layout.

The sponsor(?)is Yukohowes and the titles are

1) Meet a Japanese Model Train Collector in Manchester and 2) Let's visit Manchester Model Train Show.

Peter is interviewed at home in both programmes and the layout is shown close up.

Usual reservations about lady reporters apply!

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kvp

embedded:

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scotspensioner

Many thanks for embedding the programmes.My computer skills aren't up ticking this sort of thing!

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Davo Dentetsu

"Until recently, Japanese-made model railways were of much higher quality than British ones, according to Dibben, and so some people got into Japanese railways through building models."

 

I find this somewhat hard to believe, unless he's actually speaking of commercially produced model trains vs. "model railways".

Unless they've improved the UK stuff within the last hour, I doubt that's true

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velotrain

Based on your saying "stuff", I take it you're speaking of "commercially produced model trains", and not "model railways" .

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Claude_Dreyfus

Although UK model railways have improved markedly over the last few years in terms of detail, there are still question marks over performance and reliability. Sadly, considerably fewer modellers ditched the unreliable British N gauge to take up Japanese modelling than groups like the JRS would have liked; and the number of exhibition layouts is still low (although since selling Kanjiyama, I am contributing to this derth as I have not started my new project yet).

 

Some dropped N gauge altogether, a few went Continental or American, but most did what the British seem to do best; they stuck with UK N gauge and spent their time moaning about it. Sadly most Japanese train purchases in the UK seem to be as a novelty.

 

I saw Peter's layout a couple of years ago (TINGS, back in 2015). A very nice little model.

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kvp

The term model railways could actually mean the whole spectrum, so not only model trains, but tracks, accessories, buildings and everything that is needed for a layout. And japanese made implies commercial availability (the so called off the shelf). The words until recently and much higher does not state the current relationship, so i think this might be politeness.

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Wonderbolt

I would say UK jmodelers are rising in number, I've known I few people new to the hobby who have gone straight for Japanese n.

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velotrain

By model railways I specifically mean the entity that the model trains are operated on, referencing the original quote "Japanese-made model railways".

 

Although, as Mark correctly pointed out, it's difficult to know for certain just what the journalists are identifying.

 

"Although UK model railways have improved markedly over the last few years in terms of detail, there are still question marks over performance and reliability."

 

I don't know if Claude is referring solely to N scale, or all UK model railways, and my primary concern is with the overall aesthetics - not operation.

 

My initial response to the OP was based on a general comparison of the frequently excellent - and often hand-laid (although usually not N scale), track I see on UK exhibition layouts, and the sectional track layouts/modules with ready-built commercial structures I see at Japanese train shows.  I also feel that the scenery is generally built to a much higher level.  No doubt there are many poorly done UK layouts, and exceptionally crafted Japanese layouts - but I've only seen relatively few of them.  No doubt much of it can be attributed to the relative housing situation, although UK modelers frequently speak of their own lack of modeling space.  It may be that the well-done Japanese layouts built by individuals are built strictly for the home, and few/none are intended for public exhibition.  The high quality Japanese layouts I see at installations / exhibitions are always from modular groups.

 

Just one man's experience - YMMV

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scotspensioner

In Britain everyone knows about Hornby but other manufacturers are little known.Up here in Scotland,I was looked on as an oddity when I went to Europe in the 1970s and owned a collection of Fleischman

Today I haven't been abroad since 1993 but I've retained my International outlook.Japanese railways and the country in general are largely a blank page which is slowly being filled in.Norman Ravens Katamitu was what set me thinking about it to begin with but it was years later and an internet tablet before I got down to it.

But dear old BR and steam still rule the roost-aided by Flying Scotsman! Modern diesel layouts are taking over butBritish layouts will always be the first choice.

Japan is a strange country far away is how it is mostly looked at.Yes they have Bullet Trains but have they got steam is a common question!

In an earlier post I explained why I went Japanese but there was another thing.If my garage door was open I had a visitor who was obsessed with 1960s BR steam and he was driving me nuts!Now I run my Japanese trains in peace!!

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kvp

The language differences might be the key. For example some people call them trams, some call them streetcars, some (including many japanese) call them electric trains or in short electrics. The last term usually means something completly different in english, yet both japanese and hungarian uses this exact term.

 

Imho model railways has the same different meaning between english and japanese in this regard. Also from an off the shelf standpoint scratchbuilt does not matter and those looking for something that works right out of the box won't be looking at handlaying track or even installing filler ties into peco code55 after soldering feeders all over and also ballasting. They just get some roadbed track from japan and run their trains. Then they might get a few cheap and nice looking japanese trains from the same source when local stock is only available once in a while after years of preorder. They might end up switching fully as available is always higher quality than long out of stock or never been made. (i also collect british BR 3rd rail south region /=seen around and south east of London/ emus in N scale and commercial models were almost non existent a few years ago, while on the other hand, japanese JNR emus seen around Tokyo are available in all possible versions and of much higher quality, besides being much cheaper)

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velotrain

kvp - what does this mean:  "from an off the shelf standpoint scratchbuilt does not matter"

 

scratchbuilt and off the shelf are indeed conflicting spheres.

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kvp

kvp - what does this mean: "from an off the shelf standpoint scratchbuilt does not matter"

It means that the original text was comparing the quality of the commercially available mass produced off the shelf model railway products (both trains and accessories). In this regard, british products were (and somewhat still) lagging behind japanese ones. Both in quality and availability.

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velotrain

I still don't get the scratchbuilt part.

 

While certainly more expensive than the Japanese, I think some of the British structures are quite good, and less toy-like than some of the Tomytec range.

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Claude_Dreyfus

In terms of aesthetics, there is more than an element of truth in what you say. Japanese, Continental (by that I mean German, Swiss, French etc.) and American outline modellers have been spoiled with a great range of accessories, track etc. This does lead to the temptation to populate a layout with essentially off the shelf kits and 'ready to plonk' models (mainly buildings). Drawback is that layouts run the risk of being somewhat identikit.

 

There are buildings on Hironocho that I have used on Kanjiyama, and have seen on Doug Costa's layouts, as well as a number of others. These are very different layouts, but there are similarities in terms of detailing. Occupational hazard when you are spoiled by quality accessories!

 

This is summed up to an extent in the 'Inspirational Layouts' thread, most of the Japanese offerings being loads of track and Kato Diotown buildings. Not a lot on there is truly inspiring for me; although a lot of them are nicely presented and look quite fun to operate.

 

For many years, British modellers had to make do with basic kits, or low-quality card offerings. We purloined from other sources, modified or bashed kits or scratch built. This means that there is a greater element of 'modelling' going on, aided by a vast cottage industry of detailing bits and bobs. The number of exhibitions, and by extension, exhibition layouts also helps with the overall standard.

 

There are quality layouts and modelling from every country, but I do agree with your challenge to the idea that the overall standard of modelling has been improved by Japanese trains (the trains themselves, and accessories have significantly). I would even go as far as to suggest that the significant improvement in accessories for UK modellers, such as ready to plonk buildings, has had a negative impact on the standard of modelling, with less variety and a greater channelling of modelling to fit what is available.

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velotrain

I agree with almost everything you say, with very few exceptions.

 

" This does lead to the temptation to populate a layout with essentially off the shelf kits and 'ready to plonk' models (mainly buildings). Drawback is that layouts run the risk of being somewhat identikit."

 

I have to think that this applies more to Japan - with the limited number of structure suppliers, than the other countries you mention.  For one thing, here in the US we have literally dozens (likely over 100) of structure kit producers, with a good number of them being high quality "craftsman kits", and I also think there is more scratchbuilding and kit bashing here than in Japan.  We even have a convention that focuses on the craftsman kits and scratchbuilding.

 

I think there's also a greater effort to integrate structures into the landscape, while many Japanese structures are still on the sidewalk bases they came with.  I do recognize that in many/most instances that's done to keep them removable, either for transporting or not wanting to commit to a permanent arrangement.  There's also a lot of excellent scenic work coming out of Europe, particularly in narrow gauge modeling - which seems to attract those willing to make the extra effort.  I know that NG is also popular over all scales in the UK, although I see that NGSW has closed down after 25 years at Shepton Mallet.

 

"but I do agree with your challenge to the idea that the overall standard of modelling has been improved by Japanese trains"

 

I'm not even aware of this idea being presented in this thread, so I certainly haven't challenged it.

 

I'm with you on the 'Inspirational Layouts' thread.

 

I will admit to a certain bias against sectional track, and in particular precise ovals, which remind me of Lionel and "train sets".

In contrast, I truly enjoy the "random" curves that can be achieved with flextrack and admire the Fremo movement as having the most flexible and realistic modular system - and that doesn't even address the operational arena.

 

I agree with your comments on the history of UK modelling and think the following is largely (and sadly) true worldwide:  "the significant improvement in accessories for UK modellers, such as ready to plonk buildings, has had a negative impact on the standard of modelling"

 

I'd like to state that I am merely commenting on what I have observed - no doubt flavored by my preferences, and am all in favor of everyone modeling as they wish.

 

 

 

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kvp

While certainly more expensive than the Japanese, I think some of the British structures are quite good, and less toy-like than some of the Tomytec range.

Certainly. They just don't really exist or at least mostly not available. But i would be glad if you showed some examples (links) that are available right now.

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kvp

I agree with your comments on the history of UK modelling and think the following is largely (and sadly) true worldwide: "the significant improvement in accessories for UK modellers, such as ready to plonk buildings, has had a negative impact on the standard of modelling"

I think it's important to remember that most people aren't the best scratchbuilders. This means the only way for them to have a layout is to use off the shelf stuff. The lack of ready to plonk british and the abundance of high quality pre weathered japanese means many people who are less talented has choosen japanese instead of british as it's available. Of course having a bunch of amateurs building layouts lowers the average quality, but having lots more people building layouts increases the market, allowing more ready to run trains and ready to plonk accessories to be produced.

 

In this case i think having more kids and adults playing with trains is better than having a constantly shrinking group of professional scratchbuilders with high quality layouts and no way for an amateur to just buy and plonk down a whole layout for running their trains.

 

Having tried both methods, i prefer to get as much suff ready made as possible and only build what is special. This mostly means modding from an already good looking base set or kit to make things fit.

 

ps: those sidewalk bases are meant to be sunk into the base material and not removed...

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