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Ibaraki Shorty Planning (Mito Yard Draft)

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Initial planning is under way for our modular layout which will combine a T-Trak mainline connecting to two extended loops specifically for running B-Train Shorties.

The mainline, using Kato track, running along the long back edge of the modules is JR East, Joban Line from Mito Station to Katsuta Station, and continuing off-board in both directions for standard T-Trak connections for use in bigger T-Trak set-ups .  The mainline modules will be T-Trak triples, 36" long and 17" wide.  The loops will stack 2 more modules vertically — each loop section, including the connecting mainline module, being 36" x 51".  I'll post a sketch later when I have time to make a somewhat cleaner one than what we've done up in pencil for the very initial drafts.

The B-Train loop coming off the Mito Station area is the Kashima Rinkai Tetsudo, and the loop coming off Katsuta Station is the Hitachinaka Kaihin Tetsudo.  These loops will use Tomix track to take advantage of the Mini and Super Mini curves and turnouts for running B-Trains.

 

My first questions are on power unit choices for the Shorties.  We have collected a few Shorties and power units over the years, and are gathering more now to meet our specific plans.  I understand that the Bandai powered bogie chassis are all-wheel drive and work better than the Kato ones; and that the upcoming Kato 4 wheel units will have better motors than the Bandai.  All our track will be level to make module connections easy, and we won't have to worry about small motors trying to climb grades.

 

We already have some Bandai 4-wheel Power Unit 1.  Will these work well enough if used in a pair of locomotives working together?  Or should we be thinking of upgrading to new Kato ones?  While not native to Ibaraki usage, we do have a pair of ED75 locomotives that came with a Koki set that could run as a pair.

 

We already have some Bandai bogie Power Unit 3.  We will need more, and I've set up various searches for them.  But since the Bandai power units are scarce these days, I'm pondering filling in with some Kato ones.  I would reserve our Bandai units for pulling longer strings of cars — Joban Line motor + 4 coaches, DD51 + 4 wagons, Cassiopeia + 8 coaches (and a 2nd power unit in the luggage car if needed).  Wondering if Kato ones might work well enough with smaller passenger trains on the Kashima Rinkai (motor + 2 coaches) and Hitachinaka Kaihin (motor + 1 coach)?  Or do they have trouble making it through turnouts without all-wheel drive?

 

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cteno4

Cat,

 

one question on the 17” deep. Does the club you run with do larger corners? Usual setup use the 14 3/8” corner modules for running on single width 30” banquet so usually don’t want to do a deeper module than 14” (so as to have a space for cables down the center) unless you have matching modules that are skinnier to give the extra depth room for the other side.

 

also FYI triples do start to get bulky to transport.

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Cat

The deeper module should be able to work with the New England group.  They had somewhat of a flexible layout at the Springfield show, and we got to chat a fair amount with the main organiser there.  Will probably see them again at another local Greenberg show in March.  He was OK with the description of our plans.
 
The Joban mainline will actually be set-up in reverse from standard T-Trak with the Kato track running along the back of the 17" modules instead of the front.  With the extra depth of the triple-deep 17" modules for the Shorty loops, our special table needs would be to create a small peninsula to hold it.  The reason for 17" is the T-Junction depth can be used to connect the Shorty loop by placing the turnouts in the center and fanning out: http://www.masterpiecemodules.com/T-trak_N_Scale__Specialty_Modules_Branchline.php#3

Yes, I'm aware of the bulky transport aspect.  The good news is these would be a lot less bulky than some custom miniatures gaming modular tables I've built and hauled around.  Now, the model of the Greater Boston Area for playing kaiju battles, that's a bulky one (also took a lot of help from a number of friends, we do more work on it each time we can get a large enough crew togehter to haul it to a show and get it up and running)!

 

Planning on attaching buildings and some scenic elements to the modules with magnets so they can pop off for better storage and transport.

5CratesSzd.jpg

AB08Wszd.jpg

G54CitgoBlog.jpg

G99Citgo.jpg

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cteno4

Cool

 

jeff

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Cat

An assortment of Tomix track has arrived and proper analog layout planning has just begun.  Using actual track with actual B-Train chassis works very nicely.  Here is the test layout for a siding track at Oarai station which will hold a 3-unit train and should be able to fit the smallest Tomix double-sided platform at 37mm wide between the tracks.  The tiny 35mm long straight section breaking up the reverse curve is ample for the Shorties to slide through with no visible problems.

Next shopping step is to acquire one of the aforementioned platforms for a physical confirmation.  It will be needing some chopping down to Shorty length.
 
We are fans of buying actual catalogs every so many years because it is very pleasant to sit down with a glass of whisky and everything right there to look at.  This year, we splurged and got both the Tomix Guide 2019-2020, and the new Kato 2020 catalogues.  Being able to easily browse through everything and see the dimension notations is most helpful.
 

Oarai2leTrackTest.JPG

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Cat

Getting a good start on kitbashing the signature buildings of the layout, especially the stations, is a key part of our track planning.  The first kit up for its bashing is Ôarai Station.

When we bought this Green Max station kit, the intitial thought was that the ground floor would provide the basis for the ground floor of Mito Station, and the upper floors would provide the fodder to dice and splice to make Ôarai.  However, once we had the kit in hand and could inspect all the parts, it was instantly clear that the ground floor walls of the kit would be perfect for the ground floor of Ôarai as well as using the upper floors for the upper level. 

 

After the wall pieces are cut to size and fitted, the next step will be to carve a brick texture into them.  That's a pretty straight forward process using a cork-backed ruler, XActo knive, and tiny dabs of putty.  So this  five storey kit will get drastically shrunk down to two stories.  We're not going for an exact scale model, just a good visual representation for use with the Shorty trains. 

Exactly how we build out the back of the building will be decided after we have a much more solid grasp of the track plan.  In the meanwhile, I can fully cut and carve the front and sides, with the back to be decided once the track and available space is settled on.  The back end of the model will definitely be a lot more shallow than the actual building.
https://www.google.com/maps/@36.315168,140.563241,3a,75y,270.68h,88.74t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1swlXCZ55gLKct5YVWXhQ11w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en
 

From these kit bits will come our station:

OaraiKitbashPhase1.jpeg

Edited by Cat
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Cat

Last night's project was a first rough draft of track placement layout for the Mito Yard Module.

The original idea was that we would use a transfer table in the middle of the module servicing yard tracks on both sides to get maximum yard capacity in a compact space.  In a 3' long module, this would have worked out for us with an asymmetrical design of shorter tracks on one side of the traverser and longer tracks on the other side with a matching longer bridge.  Three equal tracks would have been too short for 5 unit passenger trains.  Alas, we came up an inch short on being able to get an access track from the mainline to the traverser on the short side.

 

So on to Plan B then.  A more traditional ladder yard can fit in a 3' long space for Shorties, and we are happy to have the newly opened up triangle of space for scenicking.  The NTT Docomo building (the tallest building in Mito) will fit nicely by the side edge, and we can have a little crew area and parking lot for our JR East road vehicles.

 

Using the few turnouts we have on hand right now as measuring units, we laid out the rough track work.  Once all the actual turnouts for the ladder are in hand, I'll also look at shortening up the straight track segment on each of them.  It looks like I can safely shorten each straight section by 6-12mm.  The good math willing, we can match the turnouts to the narrow track spacing of the lovely Tomix yard set.

 

The Kato single crossover is the mainline tracks that will run across the full length of the module.  The actual piece there will be a left-hand crossover, not the right as shown.

 

On the prototype, there is a freight terminal just down from Mito Station, and a passenger yard just up from Katsuta Station.  For our operations, we're just combining that into one general storage yard for all the equipment.

 

MitoYardTest1.jpeg

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Cat

Bit of a frustration the last few days trying to hunt down a clearance gauge for modern American equipment so that we can play T-Trak with others.  Autoracks and double-stacked container cars are popular on the show circuit.  We've always worked with tiny early steam equipment, and now Shorties for our foray into the 21st century, so big size clearances haven't been an issue before.

[rant on] Apparently the NMRA can't imagine anyone needing a gauge for any equipment after the 1970s, and NTrak can't imagine anyone needing a gauge with platform notches. [rant off]

 

I have seen photos of a plastic extender for the metal NMRA gauge, but my google-fu failed me in attempting to acquire one.  A helpful person on the T-Trak group was providing me with measurements, although in scale feet.  Luckily I made my saving throw and realised that he was presuming American scale feet of 1:160, not proper Japanese 1:150!
: 3
 

Applied math, rounded up to the nearest millimeter, and cut out my own widget.  If I did not fail my math quiz, 18' x 23' in 1:160 scale feet rounds up to 35mm x 44mm.  Now this evening we can begin planning for station layout. May well add a little extra clearance, but it will be most helpful being able to check for the minimum requirement.  Whee.

 

MyClearanceGauge.jpeg

Edited by Cat
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