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Starting a Club in Bandar Lampung, Indonesia. Log Journal


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So these are the logs of my efforts in establishing a model railway community. I'd really like your feedback and guidance on this

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I spend a couple of days asking for directions from the model railway community in Java. Influencers, creators and modellers (Of which has been in the field for over 20-30 years now. As well as asking a couple of my best mates on how to approach the Lampung community, since I'm from Palembang, and even though we're on the same island, our personalities and way of communication really differs.


After an extensive search, I found out that railroad modellers in this city, compared to cities in Java, are nonexistent or solitary. There is a diecast community however, and they mostly trade RC helicopters, monster trucks. The majority is commanded by Hotwheels and Majorette Diecasters, and the community is quite active and open. Luckily, today, they had a Diecaster gathering and a hotwheels competition. Though it said hotwheels, they are open for me to introduce them. 



So the first day of any progress was when I paid a couple of thou for coffee and table space in the meet. I've spent some time with whatever track I got on stock, not yet sold, to be displayed. The challenge was that the radius of my Fleischmann track is rather large (398-419ish) and hardened thin fleischmann cables certainly did me no justice. But I am glad I still have a double slip, it enabled me to upgrade. and create an interesting track. 



I also picked out a couple of buildings from my layout, and two boxes of Arnold Turnout switches. I carefully selected the locomotives I would feature, and since I had most of my fleet and product in the shop for a thorough clean, I only had a couple of locomotives. I brought over 5 trains to the meet, two shorties one Atlas and one TOMIX, an Arnold DB BR 194 crocodile, an Arnold SBB electric RE/4/4 and the KATO Grand Hikari Shinkansen. Along with them are an assortment of wagons.



Setting it up was a challenge when I got there, I was fortunate that the organizers were quite accommodating and welcoming that a train enthusiast is in their midst. I ended up having enough room to double track, as well as have two end stations. I've also featured the Corgi Diecast Britannia, and my Minitrix carriage that I modified. I didn't have a cheaper controller ready, but I had a Tech 2 20V controller, with brakes and momentum control (Something they really find tremendously interesting. 



At first it was difficult to set up the track. Fleischmann joiners are tighter than R1 curves. The plug is also quite far from the table, and to make matters worse, the controller is far from the ground cables of the turnouts. It was a bit unnerving, and my tremors were back as I placed the track. But overall it seems they had very nice feedback regarding model trains. They started asking price to start, how does it work, normal things. They are also interested in the price, in which I tell them that although these are classified as "expensive" hobbies, it doesn't mean that it's expensive to begin. I certainly shocked a couple of people, because they had thought that they would need to spend over 350 USD to enjoy a simple loop. Of which, I said that 60 dollars could be enough to begin. 



The highlight was the Shinkansen as the strongest and fastest engine, as well as the DB BR 194 Crocodile carrying the lit up minitrix carriage. The MVP however, were the two shorties, particularly the Arnold 4069 Davenport Switcher




They seem to be really interested in the moving coupling rods of the locomotive, crouching under to look at it moving. They really compare it with the TOMIX C type 2021 multipurpose diesel. In which, though weaker, is more photogenic and better on video. Pulling some open flatcars. 



The community is interested in starting, and hopefully they decide to. The problem I have now is getting cheap controllers. I mean, real cheap, like less than 15 dollars. I would need to do a cheap approach for others to begin model railroading. 


So upon the ending they are really interested and invited me if there is another meeting, and wanted to discuss a model rail tabletop exhibition if the diecast community were to have another gathering. They also asked me to create a brochure on introducing model trains, the scales, brands, tracks and how it works, etc. They also tell me that this is the introduction, and that persistency would be key to establish the community


Couple of takeaways from this. I have to be a bit neater on the trackplans, and maybe get smaller radius curves. I also need my own extension chord too, as well as have a good extension to the stepdown of the controller. I might have to switch to KATO next time, but I suppose Fleischmann does the job. Better prep and setting up. Also, I might need simpler reading material such as the brochure or flyer. Start making a contact card too. 


But this is interesting tbh. I realized that at the beginning, I might not need to create a proper exhibition layout or a T track yet. Getting some interest is needed first. So let me go through my plan and let me know what you think about it. 


I'll be hosting tabletop layouts in cafes as mentioned before. Only instead of a baseboard, I'll be using the provided table, and a grass mat. Brochure on the side with an ipad to register info. Gain interest by advertising this in a dedicated Insta and FB. Maybe get some help from Social Media promoters. 


Once I have enough respondents (And my research is in a good progress) I might consider to create a T-track club gathering, and perhaps a pop up shop. I found a spot near the center of the town that was leased to a small laundry chain. The laundry chain has relocated but they have some time on their contract, and leasing out the place. I'm considering to create a pop up shop for a month or two on model railroad. Might also dip my foot a bit on Gundam, Hotwheels and Action Figures. I'll re plan later on. 


So that's a solid start, I think...


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Good start Ahmad! 

it takes a while to get use to setting up at events and realizing all the bits you need to make sure to bring. But it’s just practice and planning. Unitrak is really nice for setups like this as so stable and robust for any uneven surfaces and keeps well stuck together.


who knows maybe you will start bringing some of the solitary folks out of their homes! With covid it may be a while until some are willing to venture out for public stuff like this.


little portable layout or a small set of Ttrak modules would probably be the easiest to set up. The littke scenes on modules also really brings in more eyeballs and gets more folks’ gears turning on doing something like this themselves. The diorama aspect of Ttrak really catches a lot of people into crafts and more women as well than the more traditional model train setups do. It’s also something to pitch to a school or kids club to do as a project with each kid or pairs or even teams of kids building individual modules and then it all gets set up together. having some modules in different phases of adding scenery also gets folks into thinking hey that’s not so hard or large sized to do! If you can find a wood worker you can do the modules for $5 and track is about $5. Lots of super inexpensive do it yourself scenery materials and pdf printout buildings so folks can start pretty cheaply. Part of what you can then do at events is be working on doing some aspects of the scenery on a module as a workshop. Folks love to watch. We had a layout at grand central terminal in nyc years back at a big japan week event and we were there for 5 days so I would spend half my time just sitting building building and adding small scenery bits, figures, etc and folks would watch me for like an hour while I just worked and chatted with them. It really sucked them in to see stuff being made!

Also just putting a table of Ttrak modules in a loop at cultural events or at the library (libraries love interesting things that draws folks in) can find some folks interested or even someone who knows someone that may be interested to pass it along. many events love a table of trains like this as it’s a good kid draw and focus even if not totally relevant to the focus of the event. Talk to the organizers and usually they can see this and give you free table, power etc as you are helping them. It’s some work getting the ball rolling but once a few get into it things can pick up quickly.


ive been meaning to look at the really inexpensive 12v PWM controller boards you can get on ebay (under $5) on the oscilloscope to If appropriate for n scale motors, just pair up with a 12v wall wart transformer. Might be an option for an inexpensive throttle.





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So although some of my people arent from bandar lampung. They would still like to join in. 


I especially wanna feature you this guy. Had joined model railroading for about 1 month with a blank cheque. Often times he requests a model from me, a specific one in which he is deeply interested in.


Although his layout isnt exactly realistic, and may leave some creators with an aneurysm. I however like his spirit to go his own way, his own style. I suppose the idea is further supported with his resources


What Id like to show you however, is that unlike most modellers. He may be the only one (that I know of) in Indonesia, that has the maglev


So the story was, while he keeps on showing me vids of his diorama. He prides himself on finding the most unique things, I then said something about the maglev L0 N scale thats due to come. While he is uninterested on a coming soon model, he seems VERY interested on the tomytec maglev made a couple of years ago. Someone in the indonesian store is selling them, and I expressed my interest on the particular model.


So apart from a small and modest arsenal of both japanese and european N gauge, as well as an H0 magnorail decker bus, a sky tram, and the science kit to create tornados in a blender. He has the Tomytec maglev, gliding over KATO double track specifically for High Speed Trains.


When I see his diorama, I really like that he's not as serious as most modellers. As long as its unique and something he enjoys. 


So this is "The City that Never Sleeps" by Toni



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He seems like quite a serious modeler and the most important thing is he really seems to be having fun! Don’t think the new maglev would fit in his space anyway.


love the small addition on the end when he needed a few inches! My first layout as a kid i ended up adding 4 or 5 additions to the ends and sides as new ideas needed and inch or two here and there and eventually maxed out the space I had (well at least as much as mom would allow me to gobble of my small bedroom.)


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Martijn Meerts

Like Jeff says, as long as you're having fun with your layout, you're doing it right. What others feel should be correct or not is really not important (unless of course, you're building a prototypical layout and are asking some experts on the prototype for advice, in which case you might want to listen to them ;))



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So about the club layout. 


I was doing all I could to make it as simple, light and fixing it up the best I can with some toilet paper and glue. I posted it to some people in the diecast community of Lampung, who are mostly hotwheels and matchbox enthusiasts. I was then approached by my friend that's been doing figures and PVC structures in Bandar Lampung, he mentioned a diorama creator when I asked him for some static grass. Of course I came into the place with the thought of getting some static grassing and doing the rest myself. It should be an afternoon of static grassing and that's it. 


To my surprise. He looked at the diorama and I swear his eyes shone bright. He normally does static diorama for hotwheels and matchbox, so seeing the club layout really said to him "Damn this is huge" when it is considered small compared to what we normally do. He insisted that I leave the diorama on the weekend so that he can "prove himself" I said, whatevs man, I had some data and translation work. So I left that day. 


I say, I had NEVER seen someone so enthusiastic on something. I left his house at 4PM and until 3 AM he still gives me updates. He molded the area with plaster and cement while using some flock as well as his homemade static grass from Jute or Wool rope (idk, I don't go to rope school). He really wants to try getting this diorama done, and if I don't want to, it's fine, the upgrades he did was free. 



When I woke up at 4AM to pray, I saw his whatsapp, and gave a thought. If this were to be a club diorama, it'll be better if I had more hands going into it. It'll also be excellent to have a local dune doing the diorama, and much better to indoctrinate him to leave the hotwheels and join the train side. He just needs some funds to fix it up, and two weeks as well as my guidance to get it done. Not only did he did a good job and noting my limited time, I definitely could not blend this in so easily since we use really different methods.



I said fine, welcome to the club, and paid him 30 USD for the materials. He uses resin, modge podge and cement. Which reminded me of Kathy Millat's builds, to which he enthusiastically nodded for his inspiration. He's been spamming my Whatsapp every day to tell me what he's done, I was like, mate, I'm on duty with the oncologist. But he's that interested



I just met with him this afternoon to discuss on the light placement, further plannings. He really has big ideas, one of which is the access to the tunnel. Instead of having a simple access, he proposed a screwable hatch made out of transparent PVC. So that not only there is access to the tunnel, but a view from the outside of the tunnel. This would mean making tunnel details. He also confided in me that the reason why he's so excited doing this, apart that the diorama is the biggest thing he's made, is so that he understands model trains, since nearly all his clientele are diorama creators or modellers. He also confided in me that he wishes to learn about model trains by having one, but sighs when he saw the price and size. I told him that if he wants to join H0, we could use flextrack to create a radius lower than 15 inches and make a mini H0 train diorama. 




I suppose that could be his reward and a start at model railroading. With the additional resources and him going above and beyond getting this diorama "the way I like it", it's only fair that I get him started and indoctrinate him to the train side Mwaahahahahahahhaahh 😄.


Anyway, glad to see the club slowly getting productive interests. Hopefully this is a path to the proper direction. 



  • Like 2
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He did some really nice work! He’s fast as well. Glad you found each other, sounds like maybe you got him into a new side of his talent here. Maybe some model railroaders will want to hire him as many find scenery a daunting task. Maybe he could give some workshops.



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