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Welcome to Yūrakuchō.


This is the layout I have been working on for around 6 years, with construction starting last year. The plan is to recreate 1 kilometre of track around Yūrakuchō Station (有楽町駅) as accurately as I can.

Openning on the 25th June 1910, the station has two island platforms serving the Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku Lines. Running alongside these lines is the Tōkaidō Main Line (including Jōban Line services terminating at Shinagawa) and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen.


A picture I took of the view from the station, in October 2019, looking towards Shimbashi.



Another view from the opposite end of the platform with one of the towers on Tokyo Stations Yeasu exit visible  in the distance.



I am building the layout in two phases, each one representing half a kilometre. It will essentially be two layouts that can be exhibited separately or joined to form one large layout. 




Edited by Kamome442
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About the Layout


To plan the layout I scaled aerial photographs to 1:150 and traced over the tracks and surrounding buildings using Sketchup. Phase 1 is to the south of the station, it is the easier of the two halves to construct and features eight tracks elevated on brick arches and an elevated expressway running behind the tracks.


The completed plan of phase 1 in sketchup



The second Phase is more complex which includes the station with several large bridges and buildings. Curved baseboards follow the swan neck curve of the tracks as they move through the station area and align themselves for a final approach into Tokyo Station.


Phases 1 and 2 together.



Originally I had planned a third phase that would include all the underground lines, visible in the image. I am not currently planning to do this last phase as I have more than enough to get on with.


Edited by Kamome442
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This certainly has the potential to be a really exciting layout... particularly with the correct track widths. Really looking forward to seeing that out and about. Most definitely following progress here.

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Progress so far


I constructed the first baseboard at the end of 2018, it was pretty much a testbed for most of 2019. For the track I am using standard N Gauge track on the Shinkansen and hand made 7.1mm track for all other lines. The shinkansen lines use FiNetrax concrete sleeper flexi track.


The 3’6” track work in the area uses a heavy duty low maintenance sleeper which is quite distinctive and I wanted try and capture its appearance. I found article published by JR East about the development of the sleeper which included its dimensions.


Initially I 3D printed the sleepers however this was proving time consuming and expense. I then tried creating a mould of the sleepers and cast them in resin. This was much faster however due to shrinkage I was never able to get the moulded chair to properly grip the rail. After several sections lifted I removed the track work again. At this point I was beginning to feel pretty down beat about the whole project.


Then late last year FiNtrax announced they would be making concrete style turnouts for flat bottom rail. This would include injection moulded chairs that slide onto code 40 rail and push into a milled base. I contacted the owner to see if they would be willing to supply the chairs separately. Thankfully they were amazing and sent me enough chairs to complete the first board.

The sleepers are now laser cut from 1mm HIPS plastic with the two 0.95mm holes for the chairs to push into.


Here is the first test of the laser cut track in the middle with standard 9mm track on the left. You can see sleepers waiting for their rail on the right of the picture.



Edited by Kamome442
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Thank you Claude, I am really looking forward to getting out on the exhibition circuit and meeting lots of Japanese Railway fans.

Edited by Kamome442
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Almost forgot the completed board, showing the eight tracks from front to back, Keihin-Tohoku towards Tokyo, Yamanote towards Tokyo,  Yamanote towards Shinagawa, Keihin-Tohoku towards Shinagawa, 2 Tōkaidō Main Lines, 2 Tōkaidō Shinkansen lines.



The track laying is currently on hold as the boards on either side have bridges that need to constructed first.


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I will give a quick overview how I developed each part of the layout until we are up to date, if you want me to go in to more detail on anything please do let me know. First up, the baseboards.


The boards are laser cut from from 2mm MDF, with an internal diagrid that is aligned by 3D printed blocks sealed inside the board. The blocks also include recesses for legs, baseboard connectors and hex nuts to give external attachment points for the backscene and Perspex screens.


A 3D printed box at each end of the board houses the wiring. The plan (if I can get it to work!) is for these to automatically create an electrical connection by pushing two boards together.


I wanted to keep the dimensions of the baseboards as compact as possible in order to reduce the amount of space they take up when moving them to and from exhibitions. There are nine boards for the whole scenic section (four in phase 1 and five in phase 2).


There are three basic shapes to the boards:

Rectangle:  L90cm, W45cm, H2.5cm (three in P1, two in P2)

Square: L45cm, W45cm, H2.5cm (two in P2)

Curved: L (at widest point) ≈93cm, W45cm, H2.5cm (one in P1, one in P2)


The two square boards in P2 replace one rectangle board so that a join doesn’t fall in the middle of the largest bridge on the layout.


This picture shows the corner of a board. On the inner face is a board connector and magnet to join with other boards, a hole on the outside edge conceals a hex nut to attach the protective screen. On the top you can see part of the printed block that pushes through holes top and bottom to align the board during construction.



On the underside you can see one of the recesses for the legs near the top and inside of the wiring box.



Currently I have build five boards (all P1 and one square board for P2), the remaining four boards have been laser cut. When I get around to making them I will post some picture of the construction if anyone is interested. Next time I will talk about how I am making arches and viaducts.


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Beautiful work joe! Kudos! Amazing what you can do with lasercutting, stuff that would take hours and hours to with traditional shop tools! You’ve also sourced some great hardware, always hard to find these days.


we experimented on our current club sectional layout under construction with using magnets and loose bolts in the end of the modules to make automatically connecting electrical connections between modules. In the end it proved a bit more work to do on the 20 modules that align up along different sends and sides plus 6-10 connections per joint so we decided to not do it. Also we found a small voltage drop with all of the bolts we tried using (Due to their corrosive covering, which we worried may add up. Instead we have busses in each module and have feeders on all the end pieces of tracks so in the end a loop on the layout only has about a dozen track junctions so it may not have a power drop. If it does we can easily wire in a second layout feed or worst case motorcycle connectors between each module.


so can you pop off the bottom piece of mdf to get access to the wiring?



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Thank you the kind words Jeff and for sharing your experiences.


The plan (in my head at least) is to have slightly sprung copper strips mounted on a block that slots into the groove on the lip of the box. It is quite possible it will end up just being a recess that holds a standard 9 pin connecter if I can't get it to work. The layout is really just eight loops to have loads of trains moving on the scene so the wiring is pretty minimal.

The bottom doesn't come off, it will for the fiddle yard where the bulk of wiring will be. There will be a bus running around the layout. It will actually run over the top of the layout accessed through the back of the arches and drops down into this space at each end. 

If I can get the automatic connection to work I will still add some redundancy. A way to quickly add a jumper cable over a board join as I can guarantee there will be times when you get a bad connection.




Edited by Kamome442
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we looked at using various connectors imbedded but just too much to try to get them all perfectly aligned to be worth it. we were looking at a unit that would sit inside a slot cut in the side/ends of the modules (its sectional so sometimes connection is on the end and sometimes on the side). then once layout is assembled with its lock pins (just like yours but went cheap with dowels!) we would tighten the plates down when everything was in position. seemed to work ok on the test but you had to make sure to put them together dead on and worried that with the like 1 or 2mm wiggle that can happen over 5x3m layout it may get into places where they just dont engage perfectly every time assembling the layout.


ours were basically bolts going thru the module side and the head in a recessed hole on the outside so they could at best just go a little past flush. round magnet just behind the head to latch two bolts together. thought again was to just route a slot in the end and attach a panel on the inside that had all the bolts in it and bolt heads go in the slots.


great watching this layout come together!




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Oh wow this is one professionally planned project, thanks for sharing with us! It looks great, and cant wait to see the finished product! 

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JR 500系 - Thank you very much, I am glad you like the work so far. I am having a blast problem solving and learning new techniques along the way. 


Jeff - Wow thank you for the information, that was a creative solution you were trying out. I know it is going to a massive headache to get an effective system, if I can even make it work. Rest assured I will have some conventional connectors on standby, just in case!

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Making Arches


The arches and track bed are laser cut in the same way as the baseboards and slot into locating holes on the board. Detailing is done in 10 thou styrene, cut on a Silhouette cutter (an insanely useful tool). Layers of styrene are built up to the correct profile and then the brickwork is added. There are three brick patterns used, these are engraved into styrene on the cutter. The final cut to get a row of bricks is done by hand then applied a course at a time.


The real life arches were built in a Western style, modelled closely on the design used for Berlin’s S-Bahn. Reinforcement work carried out in 1971 added a thick concrete band to the main arches, this was scored to resemble stone blocks.  So far I have worked on two main versions one with a plain band and one with a decorative keystone.


Reference photo taken during my trip in 2019 (The catwalk that runs above the arches will be etched along with the catenary portals)



The two versions of arch, with keystone and without (still under construction).



Some of the latter arches have had their keystones removed and the concrete rendered taking out the score lines. This has damaged brickwork above. I modelled this by cutting back the bricks with a scalpel.


Example of removed keystone and the damaged brickwork.



The arch style will change as the layout progresses towards the station. The arch spans reduce in size and loose the three or four mini arches between the main arch. Instead a decorative circular moulding is placed between each arch span.



Edited by Kamome442
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The Shinkansen Viaduct


For the viaduct I am using 3D printing. It saves a lot of time and gives a nice smooth finish that far more accurate that I could make by hand. I began by searching the internet for information on the construction of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen. I made a list of search terms and then translated them into Japanese using Google Translate. I copied the translations and entered them in the search bar. I was able to find a handful of original technical drawings of the viaducts design that included dimensions.


From there I drew up the final design in 123D Design, a simplified CAD software for beginners. The first section is on a curve and there is an elevation change. I repeatedly checked the design against Google StreetView to make sure the legs were spaced correctly. In real life there is a cut-through under one of the arches, I wanted make sure a leg was not in the middle of the path when you look through the arch. Once I was happy with the overall design I broke the deck into 23 section so that it would fit on the printer. I added a profile to both ends of the section to help with alignment and an overlap for added strength.


The overall design 



Close up of the end with a step to support a bridge span.



The printer uses UV curing resin that sets when exposed to a particular wavelength of UV light. To join the sections I coated the ends in uncured resin, pushed the two sections together and cured the resin with a UV torch. Using a clear resin allowed the light penetrate all the way through the structure.


The completed deck (view of the underside)



Now that deck is complete the next step will be to add the legs.



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Certainly that approach makes sense given the amount you need...my back-of-a-fagpacket calculations suggest phase 1 is around 12' long (doubled with Phase 2), making this a pretty sizable layout.


It will certainly have presence.


How are going about converting the wheelsets for the 3'6" stock?

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Claude that is pretty darn close! The angle of the curved board takes it to just under 12'



The full layout will definitely have presence. To be honest I doubt it will get out much as full layout as I am not sure how many venues would want a layout that big. I feel it is more likely half will be exhibited at a show one year then the other half the following year, to offer some variety. Then hopefully the full thing once or even twice a year once it starts to get noticed on the circuit.


Good question on converting trains, I need to cover that. I try to always use Kato for the trains I am converting, the plastic axle is so much easier to just cut. I use a jig that pushes the pins out a little. I had it made up years ago, it was 3D printed in brass by Shapeways. I will dig it out and take some pictures for you. 

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Thanks, always interested to see regauging techniques.


In terms of exhibitions, I found being involved with the Japanese Railway Society was helpful. Even if you aren't a member (or don't want to be) it may be worth getting in contact with Roger Comber, who is their layout coordinator sometime in the future. He arranged a few invites for both my previous terminus layout, as well as our club's old 16' layout.

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Just taken a picture of the jig for you:



I have a E235 that is just begging to be converted. I will take some action shots of a train being 'chopped' at the weekend.


I know Roger very well, he has been really supportive. He helped me to arrange the visit to Swindon MRC's show in March, Yurakucho's first official outing (it was pretty sparse back then!). He has known about the layout for a few years and has given quite a bit of advice on how it should look. I am currently writing a  Bullet-in article (when I am not procrastinating on the JNS Forums 😉) about the layout.

Edited by Kamome442
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Catwalks and Catenary


Where ever possible I have turned to technology to speed up the build time. Using a laser and silhouette cutter or 3D printing has allowed me to focus in the actual construction. For the catwalks and catenary portals I turned to etching. The lattice structure of the portals are especially intricate and fragile so using metal seemed like the best option.


For the first step of designing the structures I start with aerial images to plan out their position and get a rough idea of the dimensions. I fine-tune the design using Streetview and reference photographs found online. This is useful for seeing the supports on the underside of catwalks.


I will be adding catenary wires to the model so I need to get all the attachment points in the correct place. This is where I turn to cab ride videos on YouTube. One of my favourite details about trains in Japan is that many of them have windows letting you look through the cab. From this perspective I can pause the video at each portal and record all the fittings and attachments.


A plan for one of the portals. 



The downside of etching is the price. A pack of styrene or a sheet of wood can go a long way and costs relatively little. With etching I want to make sure cram as much stuff as I can on a single sheet. I fill as many of the gaps as I can with little extra detailing pieces that will be needed later.


One of the etches I created. (a separate image is applied to the front and back of the metal, shown here side by side)



The finished etch (manhole covers and ATOS track equipment fill in some of the gaps)



I also make sure the dimensions are correct by making paper models of  the items I am etching and test fit them on the layout before placing an order.


Paper catenary portal testing clearances



We are almost up to date with where I am in the construction, just bridges and bridge supports left to talk about.



Edited by Kamome442
Change ATC to ATOS
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Bridges and Bridge Supports


So to the last recap and what I am currently working on when I get sick of gluing little bricks on arches. In order to keep this project moving I need bridges.


I always enjoy looking at how something has been engineered and try to build a model in the same way. I made a set of bridges for phase 1 in 2014, it was actually the first part of the layout I built. I originally used styrene with each two track bridge containing around 200 separate pieces.


Bridges side by side in various stages of construction.



Since then I have feel my modelling abilities have improved. It has been a hard choice, I was really proud of my little bridges when I made them however I know I can get a better finish. After seeing the level of detail you can get when I made the catenary, I am now redesigning all the bridges to be etched.


Some of the progress so far on the new etched bridges



The bridge supports are drawn up in 123D Design, again using reference photos and 3D printed.


This is a test fitting of the supports.



Most of the design work for Phase 1 is already complete, with just the bridges to finish up and order. My attention is now beginning to shift towards researching and drawing phase 2 structures. I mentioned before that I had to move a board join so that is missed one of the bridges. I have started planning out that bridge, it is by far the most complex structure I have worked on and will form the southern most point of Yūrakuchō Station. 


Here is my initial sketch for the 'big' bridge.



Wish me luck!!


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That's really impressive!

I also think that etching can produce the most detailed structures (I only have experience with the Kobaru products).

Question: How do you get these parts etched? Is it subcontracted or do you own that machine?

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Hi Madsing, Thank you. I send the drawings to an etching company, it took a while to find find one that would etch a single sheet. It is also not cheap at around £40 (roughly $50 or ¥5300) for an A4 size sheet so I do a triple check  everything before ordering. I am always impressed with people that make their own etches, for me the idea of using acids puts me off. 


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Just a  little experiment I am working on. 

There is a lot of construction work going on with one section of arches. The Scheme is called Hibiya OKUROJI and will create a modern retail space along a 300 metre section.

More information can be found here: https://www.jrtk.jp/hibiya-okuroji/


However I want to model the layout around the time I visited the site and that means making tarpaulin covers to go over the entrances to the arches. I have always found canvas type materials hard to scale. It needs to look delicate while being reasonably robust, it also needs to look like it is flexible with little ripples and contours. I first considered chopping up plastic carrier bags but I wasn't sure how to print the pattern onto the plastic. I felt painting it on would add too much mass and spoil the effect.


A reference photo of the tarpaulin covers.



So I am going to try using printable waterslide transfer paper. I will slide the transfer off the backing paper but not attach it to anything. I can gently tease it into shape adding little undulations to create the look I want while the transfer is wet. Once dry it should more or less hold its shape. 


My attempt at recreating the design in Illustrator.



I will post some pictures when get around to making some.



Edited by Kamome442
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Its fantastic. I did think about doing the same sort of thing with Harujuku. But don't have the time and space.


What will you do at each end?

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