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Converting Our UK Layout to Japanese - Yamanouchi Oshika


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however we have a club 'working weekend' in a few weeks time, when I will be carrying out some much needed additional work.


How would your club like to visit the US and have one of those very productive weekends in my basement?  :grin

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We've just had our club's working weekend, and I'm pleased to say some progress has been made.


Because our club room is a little small, we decided to hire a local village hall for a weekend. Every village has a hall in our area...and there are a lot of villages, so getting one was not too difficult or expesive. This gave us a chance to erect both our N and 00 gauge layouts at the same time, and do some much needed work...


I have been giving the scenic changes to Yamanouchi Oshika a lot of thought, and came to a couple of conclusions. The new bridge woud not really add too much to the overall appearence, but would slightly hinder access to the point work it would inevitably have to span. Also, the industrial estate idea was dropped due to lack of space. I say dropped, but actually this was moved.


There were three main areas worked on. The area along the back, where the tram depot is located; the backscene and the small industrial park towards the front.


Firstly, the tram depot has gone; replaced by a new car park for the station, a road, petrol station and industrial units. Secondly, the backboard has been heightened, giving us more scope for a decent backscene. In addition to this, the area behiond the tram stop has been opened out to give more space for townscape - a couple of the new Kato office buildings are on their way to fill this :grin. Finally the small industrial units towards the front have been rejigged to make them look a little less English.


Finally I took the opportunity to run a few bits, including my recently arrived Tomix 1156-100 on Coca-Cola livery and a new UK-outline freight locomotive.


Picture 1 shows the overall view of the hall


Picture 2 is of Yamanouchi Oshika before the work started


Picture 3 is a work in progress view


Picture 4 is the more or less completed industrial area, with petrol station


Picture 5 shows one of the Kato E259 NEX sets with the modified backscene vistible to the right. We have pulled the board right back, giving us quite a bit of space to play with...


Picture 6 is of the Tomix Coca-Cola 115.


Finally picture 7 is of my new UK class 58, doing what it should do...hauling 36 coal hoppers. Very nice indeed... :grin








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Claude - That is a sensational layout! In particular I like what you and the club did with the construction of the road.

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Thanks for the comments guys...


There is still loads to do on it...this is the current 'to-do' list; it will grow!


  • Complete the backscene
  • Add pedestrian stairway and lifts etc between town and station area
  • Complete carpark; lines, markings, accessories etc.
  • Construct and place a pair of small maintenance sheds - staff buildings etc.
  • Remove loco shed - too British!
  • Add fuelling point to the site of shed, with tanks, pipes etc.
  • Cut short outside loco siding - nearest the wall - to accomodate tanks
  • Add barriers and signage to the motorway flyover
  • Complete new section of town behind tram stop - I have two of the new Kato office buildings coming from HS to go here
  • Rebuild tram stop
  • Tidy and electrify tram line, also add masts
  • Additional details to existing town - transfers on buildings, tidy pavements, more people
  • Improve the platforms, hide joins and smarten up - may include replacing the outer platform (nearest the viewing side)
  • Add footbridge linking station to all platforms
  • Add canopies to platforms
  • Add masts to the branch line
  • Possible new embankment area towards the front of the station at the town end
  • Improve the concrete backing wall at the end of the platforms beneath the town
  • Replace the brick arches behind the branch platform with concrete walling
  • Improve the area around the engineers sidings, add new dirt track and hardstanding area
  • Tidy the freight yard area...add road markings and sort out a number of very obvious joins
  • Add new maintenance shed for track machine; build the Green Max maintenance vehicles that have been gathering dust for quite some time!
  • Generally add people and detailing parts...pallets, boxes in industrial estates, yards; bins etc in the town
  • Possible redesign of the front of the layout, including removing the wasteland area and adding more industry, possibly served by a siding.
  • Add signals
  • Improve a couple of outstanding issues with wiring
  • Overall improvement to the grass and scenics. At the moment it looks like we have been scattering each board individually as the scenery subtly changes shade on each board. Need to blend this a little better



Obviously, as well as the chance of more being added, some of these may drop off as time goes on.


Also, we have had another show confirmed. This will be next March at Abingdon...

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After a break for a couple of weeks, work restarted on the layout last night. Whilst our working weekend was mainly involved in construction, last night was destruction. Two main changes involved the removal of the UK-outline loco shed and the start of some track remodeling. The track nearest the front of the three in the loco area will remain unchanged. The middle one will now serve a fuelling point of some sort (until we change our minds of course  :grin) and the third track - nearest the wall) has been cut sort.


The remodeling is due to a number of factors. The loco shed was not suitable for Japanese prototype - certainly in UK modeler’s eyes as we have been using the PECO shed which is very well known here - and we are seeing a general reduction of loco-hauled trains, therefore reducing the need to stable engines between duties. Originally there were plans for a regular loco-hauled diagram terminating in the station. This would have resulted in the need for several extra loco movements. Now all terminating trains will be units, so all we need the loco yard for is stabling freight engines...and even then we are only looking at about three locos maximum.


This entire area is going to be improved over the next few weeks...


At the opposite end, the very European brick arches behind the station area have gone. These will be replaced by a more Japanese concrete will, with a few advertising hoardings for added interest. Also added are two of the new Kato office blocks, in the newly created town area behind the station. The intention is for these two to dominate the scene, and they certainly do that!


In addition to this, I also had a chance to run a few new bits. The two mainstays of the line's local services were put through their paces; a pair of Kato 115-1000 units, as well as four (!) new EF64s. two of these were new Tomix releases, another Micro Ace example – EF64-3 – arrived due to me using some of my Hobby Search points and the Kato brown liveried EF64-37, which seems to have gained the nickname ‘Profiterole’…on account of being brown and operating the Chuo(x) main line….groan! It is the Chuo line pet loco, and I suspect will have the same role on Yamanouchi Oshika.


These additions bring my Chuo fleet up to six EF64s and 1 EH200…






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A few more bits and pieces were done last night on the layout...most noticably was the sourcing and siting of the platform canopies. These come from the Kato Unitrack platform sets, and look very effective. Sadly I cannot use the Kato platforms themselves as they are too narrow and too tall. A huge amount of surgery would be required to fit them for what I see would be limited benefit. Still a couple more to come; hopefully will look the part by next week.


There will be some further redesign of the station area...we are now planning to extend the carpark over the furthest bay platform, therefore enclosing it. There will still be access in the event of derailments and for cleaning.


We also now have a Kato footbridge, and the plan is here to build an extension across to the station building. The platforms themselves will be repainted, and we have also removed the ramps at the end. These will be replaced with the usual Japanese practice of a fence and some staff access steps.


Further up the line, we have removed the outer carriage siding. It has not been used at all during the layout operations, indeed it has not been wired up fully, and is partly occupying the site of the engineers sheds,



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Another video to post for Yamanouchi Oshika. This time its a stranger...the Tomix Dr Yellow. Not too many of these see use on the Chuo Line!



Progress has been steady this week, with the site of the fuelling tanks being levelled off and having some new surface added. We have also started work on the back scene...more of that next week.


In the meantime, we have enlisted the help of the resident spiders for the overhead wires! Not a great picture, but I think you can more or less work out what I mean!


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Just a quick update here...


We've been playing around with backscenes, however they can be tricky to get lookign good. It is also not helped by the length of the layout...we have to find 16' of backdrop to look convincing behind a fairly urban layout, without continuous cityscape...we are after all not in Toyko but a medium sized town. I also wanted to avoid the usual huge mountain range, although it woudl not be too out of keeping with the area we are modelling, mainly because it would look like so many other layouts on the circuit...mainly German/Swiss/Austrian...


I should add that I am no fan of just a plain blue or grey backdrop...it seems odd to me for there to be so much attention to detail on the layout and then nothing behind..to me all this does is emphasise that it is a model. That said, getting the backscene right is a hard job. So with that in mind, don't be too harsh on these pictures below  :grin...they are only lightly (and very crookedly) attached to the backboard to see how they fare from a visual point of view.


You will also see that we have only gone a short way along the back...I'm trying to sort out the best possible situation for the town, although there are one or two ideas being formulated that may help here.





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Only a couple of us from the N Gauge group were at the club last night, and unfortunately a consensus was reached very quickly about something which had been bothering us for quite some time...the visible section of track behind the yard.


Perhaps one of the reasons why we had gone off this idea was quite simply the novelty had worn off. Another was that it had become out of place for the scenic evolution of the layout...the road had become too close to the backscene, thus limiting our scope to blend the scenery effectively with the backscene, it was also hampering plans for our long-time number one bugbear...the hidden return curve behind the flyover.


Perhaps it was unfortunate that those that were at the club were of a more 'creative' persuasion, and within a couple of hours a large amount of scenery from behind the yard had gone, and a new form was taking shape.


Perhaps most striking is the reduction of size in the yard. It was felt that there was a lot of wasted space in this area...in fact there is a fair amount on the entire layout. The scenery will now encroach more on the yard giving the impression that hillside has come up beside the railway at this point. The road can still be seen in the background, however this will be covered by hillside, the road will take a new course, swinging forwards and crossing the railway on a viaduct, marked out by the strip of white plasticard.


Behind the yard will now be a terraced hillside, with a few buildings scattered around.





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Claude - There is a white strip laying across the layout, what will that be used for? I like the idea of the wall separating the yard from the motorway.

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Claude - There is a white strip laying across the layout, what will that be used for? I like the idea of the wall separating the yard from the motorway.


Hi Bernard,


The white strip is the site of a new road overbridge. The road that currently runs across the back of the layout will be diverted across this; the original course of the road will become hillside with a few buildings

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Slowly, but surely we are progressing.


Last night, the new wall behind the yard started to take more form. This will be a concrete retaining wall, holding back the hillside. In addition, the bridge carrying the roadway over the branch line has been moved forward in preparation for the road to be divered on a bridge across the tracks and towards the front of the layout.


The Kato offices that were in the yard are now to be moved closer to the station, more or less in the shadow of the new road bridge, which will be carried over the tracks on fairly chunky concrete pilings. The who effect is intended to restrict the space a little more, hopefully conveying more of the compact nature of urban Japan than the layout does currently.


A mock-up of the bridge, designed mainly to get the curve right, and be clearly seen in the first picture. The suro 81 carriages hauled by 'Profiterole' (see earlier posts!) give an indication of height, although the bridge will have a gentle arch as it crosses the railway.


The next couple of pictures show the latest arrival, yet another EF64 has joined the fleet; the Kato blue example. We now have a fleet of seven of these locos...about right for the Chuo line I would say!


Finally, 'Profiterole' demonstrates the banking on the downgrade curve heading into Yamanouchi Oshika quite effectively. This banking allows us to have occassional daft moments and run full speed Bullets without launching them into orbit!





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That last photo looks like a still from a Youtube video of the real thing.  Very effective scenery, and I love the banked curve; very realistic.



Second that, an example of subtle scenery with a bent towards "less is more" making things look more convincing.  A suggestion to further enhance the scene would be to paint those prefab warehouses in the background a more neutral color of grey, off white or beige- Japanese buildings tend to be subdued in color, plus the neutral colors makes the viewer focus more on the mainline.

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In the meantime, we have enlisted the help of the resident spiders for the overhead wires!


Ack--spiders! I love spiders, and I'm happy to have them in the basement, but I wish they didn't think our tunnels were such an ideal place to spread webs.

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Thanks for the postive comments!


Some significant surgery has been taking place to improve the return curves at either end of the layout. This involves a couple of lengths of track being soldered into one huge length to smoothly take the curve...without track joins anywhere on the curve. Net result; a huge area of track has been lifted and relaid (or at least a start has been made here...)


Further along, the base for a new road overbridge has been cut out and roughly positioned. This can be seen in the distance in the first picture and in more detail in the second.


A few changes can be seen here. The large Kato building, displaced by the new retaining wall along the back of the yard, has now been sited here. The white mess beside it is a rough ground covering put down prior to sanding and painting as a road section. This covers the site of the old outer siding, the remains of the trackbed and point can be seen on the extreme left. Another siding has been trimmed back to make room for a small train crew hut.


The large block of wood in the foreground is only a temporary support for the road bridge, which will be concrete with similar pilings to the bridge carring the main road seen in the first picture.


The third view shows the road incline to the bridge starts a little way back. There will be a few modifications to this, as the curve is still a little too abrupt at the start.


We are planning to spend an afternoon on the layout next Friday to really get some tangiable progress made here. Its looking a bit forlorn at present...




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I like the sweeping curve of the bridge. That has a very modern feel to it (I don't recall seeing that kind of structure prior to the mid-90s).


And the building nestled into the start of its curve is a good detail, as if the bridge was placed to avoid the earlier structure, and has to curve as a result.


I can't wait to see how this looks as your group gets more done on it.

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Thanks again for the positive comments...


Yesterday we spent a bit longer on the layout; working from mid-afternoon onwards. I would love to have said we made excellent progress, but the time flew and although quite a bit was acheived, not as much took place as I would have liked.


The major track replaying was completed, althought one or two adjustments are needed prior to the ballast being put down. Most significant is the bridge, which has been put into situ. Don't worry if you think it looks a bit spindly, it has not been finished. A lot of concrete walling will be put into position, and some can already be seen in the new tunnel portal for the branch. This will also be tidied up a little.


Picture 2 shows the modifications to the station area. We now have an extension to the carpark crossing the branch platform. Really this is an attempt to make better use of the space and to give us a car park that this more in keeping with the size and location of the station. The area that was originally going to be the carpark will now be occupied by offices.


More will be done to the track work next Friday afternoon...not by me though, I'm back at work ...and hopefully we'll get the bridge and surrounding area completed then. Incidentally, you may also see that the backscene fitting has started...currently this is just plain wall lining paper...I have plenty of picture to add to this over the next couple of weeks.



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Just time for a brief update...


Tonight work has been continuing on the bridge...now all that needs doing is final painting, the addition of the road, as well as street lights etc. In addition, work has started on the landscaping behind the bridge. The hillsides will be pretty steep at this point, really hemming the trackwork in at this point...hopefully it is starting to take shape here... :grin




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