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Yeah I was thinking of blackening and they maybe you just need to do some lighter washes to pick up the recessed details and polish the top. May retail more detail and crispness.


Ha I think it’s a physical Pokémon hunt built into the manhole covers. Have to be brave finding them in the middle of busy roadways, but hey that’s what adds spice to the game!


i think I mentioned this book before, it’s awesome! Sadly oop and super expensive now.




And of course for under your pint so you don’t leave rings on the layout!



they etching could probably be shipped cheap in a first class envelope! 





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@Claude_Dreyfus thank you for your thoughts, the Tactiles would certainly be easy enough to do. With the manhole covers I would want to try and work out how many of each to put on a sheet as some are more common than others. Assuming the cover with the cherry blossom is most common on streets I would want more of those so you don't end up with a sheet that has lots of unused parts left over. Also the covers I have designed are Tokyo centric I would probably want to slowly expand the designs to cover different prefectures or cities. I might set up a thread for suggestions and feedback before committing to any design.


@cteno4 I have been looking a the latest designs the detail is much finer and I think a layer of paint will be too much, for these I may have to blacken them and add washes. You have mentioned the book, it looks like an awesome resource! If I do work on a range of manhole covers I have take the plunge 😬 Looking at postage I should be able to get away with a first class small envelope it would make the postage around £2. If I needed to move up to 'large letter' to allow for a padded envelope it would be around £4.


I have drawn up a rough design, slightly larger than a credit card.



I figured I could probably use a gift card style sleeve to protect the etch from moving around too much during its journey through the post. At that size I can get 352 Tactiles (176 of each design). It would work out to around £8 ($9.75, ¥1350) including the higher postage. A little less if it will fit in the smaller envelope. Any thoughts I guess that is not crazy expensive.


The manhole covers are a little harder to work out as they are different sizes but using the cherry blossom as an example I could get around 140 of those in the same space.


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Don’t mean to be pushing you into a business! They are just so awesome! 

happy to loan you my copy of the book if you get interested. There were a few good websites I found like a decade back with a lot of manholes documented by city and even departments and such that sponsored various special covers.


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@cteno4 Sometimes you need a push! I have just placed an order for tactiles. The sheet will be 95mm by 56mm so a little larger that a gift card. I did some tweaking and managed to get 396 tiles in that space.


I have ordered a small batch of 30 and for now I will sell them through my Etsy shop. That way I don't have to deal with peoples credit card details, something I am not entirely comfortable doing. They should be here in around a month.


Thank you for the offer to loan your book, I will have to start a thread to see what people would like. I have a feeling this will be a huge rabbit hole to fall down! 


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On 6/26/2022 at 11:40 AM, Kamome442 said:

A while back I made up some street signs (nothing more than basic shapes; circles, triangles, rectangles). They always felt a little featureless so I added brackets on the back to give them a bit more character.



I finally caught up with this thread and aside from wanting to say how awesome the work being done on this layout is, I also was struck by how ingenious it is to add bracket details to the signs. It's such an innocuous detail but it definitely gives them more "character" as you intended, I think. I know these are relatively simple compared to the manhole covers, but I would totally throw a pack of these in with my order as an extra, especially if it helps justify the shipping for the order, haha.

Regardless, this is an idea I'll have to steal as I was recently getting obsessed with wanting to make those station "parking" signs that denote where certain-length trains should stop at the platform. Not sure what the actual term is for them, but here's a couple of screenshots from a Youtube video by HKASAMA.




I was just going to do something simple but I never really liked how only one side of an n-scale sign like these tends to look good (even if that's sort of how it works in real-life too). Having those details on the back would give it nice visual interest from all around, even if it's just a small item. 

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Welcome @arkh thank you for dropping by to say hello, its always great to hear peoples thoughts. To be honest you probably deserve some sort of medal for wading through 19 pages of me waffling on 🤪


I am glad you like the signs, I am really pleased with the finished look too. I can certainly make up an etch of these, I will draw it up at the weekend. I actually have a bunch of artwork to add to the front of them too. Not just for Japan but America, Europe and Australia too.



I was planning to save them onto a .pdf to sell as digital download. Then people could print them on waterslide transfer paper for what ever model they were making. They would work well with etched frames. 

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On 6/29/2022 at 8:07 AM, cteno4 said:

Ha I think it’s a physical Pokémon hunt built into the manhole covers

Gotta catch ‘em all!




My 7 year old son has since informed that this is Aggron, Bosugodora (ボスゴドラ) in Japanese. We saw this by the river in Kokura. It is apparently a steel type, I wonder whether chosen due to the steel works in the area (Can’t keep up with Pokémon, preferred when he was 3 and into Thomas) 

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So that posts don't get lost in the pages of Yurakucho, I have created a new thread for the items I put up for sale. There is a link below, if you have any advice or ideas of things you think I should consider making it would be great to hear from you.


As for progress on the layout, I started work on painting the arches. I have not been looking forward to painting as I don't really have any experience. I spent some time practicing on paper and watching various tutorials for weathering. In the end I decided to paint each brick individually with a mix of two similar colours mixed in different ratios. 



I was originally going to mask each row of bricks to get a nice clean finish. This worked well on the paper however the surface for the actual wall meant that paint was getting under the tape. I had to just do it by eye, from a normal viewing distance it holds up well but once you get closer it quite easy to see where I haven't aligned the brush stokes correctly. I am hoping that after a dirt wash or two it will come together better. I do want model to hold up to people using a camera to take close up pictures so I am considering tidying up the bricks with colouring pencils. This should give a little more control over how much colour is applied and where.



I have also started working on the first batch of 270 lanterns for the layout. Here are some of the various sizes.



A small and medium lantern with a person for scale.



These are pretty simple to make, I drew up each size using reference images from companies that sell lanterns. I printed them with a 0.9mm diameter recess in the top. I put an LED in the top and back fill it with resin.



🚨Unnecessary Detail Alert🚨


I do enjoy adding little details that 99% of the viewers will never notice. 

I was tying to work out which size lantern was being used outside one of the restaurants under the bridges, that are mounted in a wooden frame. According to one site I looked at size 12 were the most commonly used for this type of display. When I checked these against the frame I had drawn up they didn't fit. 



It is quite conceivable I drew the frame to the wrong dimensions or that they used the smaller lantern. A size 9 would fit the hight but would be too slim. It was a little annoying as I have already had the frames etched.  When I double checked the images of the restaurant I noticed they had the same problem as me, there lanterns didn't fit either so they wedged them in deforming the bottom of the lantern.



Only one thing for it, a set of lanterns with dented bottoms 😁





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i expect the characters painted on these lanterns exactly as show in the example using your split hair brush!


nice work as usual! Sure beats the few I did by hand with styrene tubing and sanding them oval on a pin. You going to open a shapeways store now or sell these in your Etsy store? 



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Thanks @cteno4, I will be adding the characters somehow! Not sure yet but I might try using waterslide transfers I am note sure how they will work on an uneven surface.


You just reminded me I do actually have a shapeways store! I haven't looked at it for about 6 years, it was getting a little expensive for my tastes 🙃

I hadn't considered selling 3D prints but I would consider lanterns as they are pretty quick and easy to print up. 

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This Kobaru Torii with lanterns came with a water slide decal set to mark the lanterns. It worked quite well. Those lanterns are injected molded plastic, so they are very smooth. That makes them nice to place decals on. I did use some decal solvent MicroSol to get them to lay down smooth. The characters are more the size of the larger primary characters in your photo, not the smaller characters at the tops of the lanterns.



This kit is available now from Gallery Sakatsu





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Thanks @maihama eki I was aware that Kobaru had made a set with lanterns but I hadn't looked at it in detail. I like how they are made up as two hollow parts that fit together so that you can feed an LED through the top and then clip the bottom on. Interesting they seem to be moulded in red plastic, I assume due to the thin walls it just gives a warmer colour to the light. 

Their lanterns seem to be cylindrical in shape, mine tend to be wider at the top and taper down towards the bottom. I have a feeling that the surface curving around the diameter as well top to bottom might make applying transfer more interesting. I will give it a try, failing that I am going to have to start practicing writing Japanese characters.


All in all a very atmospheric set from Kobaru that I bet looks great on a layout.


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On 8/16/2022 at 11:31 PM, Kamome442 said:

Interesting they seem to be moulded in red plastic, I assume due to the thin walls it just gives a warmer colour to the light. 

The Kobaru lanterns are avalable in white too. Both red and white sets come with a large selection of waterslide transfers that are printed in tri color. In all, very nice though a little pricy.


I'm watching with interest your progress and wish you all the best.

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Here is my completed Kobaru Torii to give an example of how the waterslide decals look on the lanterns.


This particular kit was molded entirely in white. The frame is assembled from 2 pieces and is hollow inside to allow the wires to be routed. Sorry, I didn't power up the LEDs in the lanterns. It would be a little hard to photograph them lighted.


I now know that I should have painted the lantern end caps black.



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I've finally finished painted the arches on one full board. 



It is a little hard to make out the detail so here is a close up of one area.



I have no idea how many individual bricks I have painted (I know should have counted them as I was going 🤪) but I can safely say I do not want to paint another brick for a very long time! I wonder what is next on my to do list?




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I made a start on the retaining walls, in real life these bricks here have very little contrast. I feel it might look a little artificial on the model so I have used a little modelling licence and added some lighter and darker bricks here and there. 



They will also be shiny, it was one of the things I checked back on my visit. They are not glazed bricks but they have been painted with a protective coating that is quite glossy. I am going to scale that back to a satin vanish so that they are not too reflective. I am also worried that flat shiny surface won't scale well so I will varnish each brick mixing in a little matte for some. Hopefully this will create a nice effect when the street lights are on.


You Should Have Told Me!


I was looking a some reference pictures to draw up a drain pipe that runs down the side of one of the retaining walls. I noticed that I had drawn up the others incorrectly. What  was the glaringly obvious mistake? Well I am sure you all spotted it but were being too polite to say anything, honestly I won't be offended you could have told me. Thats right I drew the joints with a round seal and four bolts when actually they more triangular and have three bolts 🤣



I threw the old ones away and reprinted a more accurate version. Phew that was a close one and I am sure you will agree the difference is palpable.


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4 hours ago, Kamome442 said:

that was a close one and I am sure you will agree the difference is palpable.

Well, it would be  had you modeled the prototypical 19mm bolt heads instead of the 22mm ones I see in the photo. That's discernable 0,01875mm in N scale and to my eye it lets down what would have otherwise been a commendable effort. I think you will forced to aggree that a little closer following of the prototype is called for. 


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Tom you are so full of it, if you had done your research you would have found out they were special 19.5mm bolts. Sheesh!



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I shot these lanterns in Otosuka, but the lantern display are moved in several stations of the Yamanote line, depending on the year.




@Kamome442  - I can  PM you the original file if you need (not the small one resized)

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Ooh stripy ones! I have been considering a little jig to be able to recreate those. Thank you for sharing those @JR East I am happy to have a go at trying to create some transfers. A larger file would be a great help certainly for the smaller characters. I did have a go but the smaller image got pixelated rather quickly.



8 hours ago, JR East said:

the lantern display are moved in several stations of the Yamanote line, depending on the year.


I wonder if they will pass through Yurakucho some day?!

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13 hours ago, Kamome442 said:

Ooh stripy ones! I have been considering a little jig to be able to recreate those. Thank you for sharing those @JR East I am happy to have a go at trying to create some transfers. A larger file would be a great help certainly for the smaller characters. I did have a go but the smaller image got pixelated rather quickly.




I wonder if they will pass through Yurakucho some day?!


I've sent you a .TIFF file, very detailed (link in private message apart)





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Thank you again for sending that over @JR East I will have a go at making up a set of transfers shortly. I will work on the lanterns once I have finished the road signs.


Watching Paint Dry


I needed a little break from painting bricks as it was beginning to hurt my brain. I am back on it now with the retaining walls. The progress is a little slow, painting bricks waiting for them to dry then adding the varnish waiting for that to dry.



I settled on vanishing each brick using a satin vanish, randomly mixing in small amounts of ether matte or gloss so that each brick differs from its neighbour. The results are quite pleasing.



I have also finished adding all the cracks in the road. I will add a dirt wash once all the layers of grey have been added. This section of road will have some slightly darker patches of tarmac where the road has been repaired.



I have also been carefully adding lenses to all the little floor lights illuminating the underside of the arches.



I need to settle on a colour to paint the inside of the arches before I can stick these in place.


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Rev Counter

Wow, having just read through all these posts start to finish I'm blown away by the level of planning, effort and detail that's gone into each tiny area of this layout. The whole project is truly a work of art. I'm particularly interested in the 7.1mm track and have been toying with the idea of trying to make some myself for quite some time. Your guide on resizing axles and the jig makes it seem dangerously simple enough to tempt me to have a go!

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