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2021 New Year, New Project 1 - Tram Layout


Tony Galiani

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Tony Galiani

While I have been pleased with my most recent project, Chihiro Horikawa, sometimes I like to putter on my workbench and have a train running around.  So I am currently thinking of two new projects - a small tram layout (which will use the stock from Chihiro Horikawa) and possibly a slightly larger oval that I can use to run in some of my longer trains.

 

So, here is a start on the tram project idea.  I had some of the Kato Compact Unitrack and have set up a small oval.  The radius is too tight for most Kihas and Kokis (hence Plan B) but it works for the shorter DMUs and trams.  The track and wiring are now in place.  Next step will be to weather the track and improve the look of the roadbed.  On Chihiro Tetsudo, I went through the tedious effort of ballasting the Kato Unitrack.  It took a long time and really slowed down the project.  So this time I am trying a different idea.  I will apply some ballast to hide the joints but my main effort will be to use a weathering wash to reduce the plastic shine of the Kato Unitrack.  If it does not work as well as I hope, I can always revisit ballasting in the layout.

 

Meanwhile, I am going to fret over how to scenic the layout.  I have been inspired by a number of small layouts on the Japan Railway Modelers of DC web site and plan to steal (I mean borrow) ideas to develop the scene.  While I put in overhead wire on Chihiro Horikawa, I think I might use the more typical approach of just adding poles for the catenary but not trying to add the  wire.  I actually did not have too much trouble placing the wires on Chihiro Horikawa (since the layout was so simple) but keeping the pantographs at an even height was a challenge.  Some of the Tomix trams come with fixed pantographs which are set low.  The other Kato and Tomix metal pantographs worked better but the height was variable and the only way I could figure to keep them in place would have been to glue them in a fixed position which I was reluctant to do.  Anyway, I may revisit that but first on to the track work.

 

Scenic ideas always welcomed.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout 1.jpg

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Tony Galiani

I was able to do a bit more work yesterday and after gluing down the Unitrack, I tried my idea for hiding the seams between the Unitrack sections.  I mixed up some ballast, water and white glue into a paste and applied it to the seams.  I am pleased with the results.  The ballast dried a bit darker than in this picture but the gaps are much less obvious.  Next step will be to do a cover the track and ballast with a flat weathering wash and then I will paint the rail sides.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout Track close up.jpg

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Tony Galiani

I have done a little work on the layout today and yesterday but not as much as anticipated.  With the impending start of the Spring Term I have been - happily - busier than I expected.  But I did make a start on improving the weathering of the track.  My flat weathering wash worked nicely to reduce the plastic look of the Kato track.  At least in my opinion.  I have added some weathering washes this morning and then tried to paint the rail sides a dirty brown to make them blend in better.

 

The rails were done with a Floquil weathering pen and this was not really successful.  The tip is too large for N Scale track and it just doesn't work well.  I then tried a felt tip marker I had with a finer tip which worked okay.  I am starting to think the old fashioned method of using a small paint brush might be the way to go.  I may try that later.  Next step is to dry brush the ties (sleepers) and see how that works.

I can say the Floquil pen did work okay to color the ties.  I used it on a few in various locations to add some variety to the track appearance.

 

Back to work on the layout and I may and submit some pictures later of the results if this turns out okay without a major rework.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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Tony Galiani

I did some more work on the layout this past weekend - as always, I planned a lot and did a little!  My experiment with painting Kato Unitrack with a flat wash, instead of ballasting it, seems to have worked reasonably well.  The shine is gone and the track looks better (at least to my eye).  However, the Unitrack joiners, which would have been hidden by the ballast are now pretty obvious.  Last night, I started touching them up with paint and the section I did looks okay to me.  Though this is just as tedious as doing ballast ....

If I had to choose between the two, I would say that ballasting can produce a nicer look if you are willing to make the effort.

 

I am currently working on this yet to be named tram project and restoring Chihiro Tetsudo with new scenery and buildings.  In the long term, I want to do a bigger project with Peco Code 55 track but the two projects I have completed made me want to improve my skills first.  So these two projects will be test beds for different techniques.

 

And I finally sorted out the scenic plan for the new tram layout.  Thanks to the Japan Rail Modelers of Washington DC web site, I am "borrowing" ideas from Niigata Kotsu and Richard Bell's small tram layout.  I will have a station and road with a few buildings on the right side of the layout and countryside on the left side.  Hopefully I will start laying out the station area tonight.  Also hoping to add a small stream - I was reasonably satisfied with the canal on Chihiro Horikawa but want to try some other water techniques.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

 

 

NY Layout track 1.jpg

NY Layout track 2.jpg

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cool!! I've started on one section of track using a flat black paint which seems to blended in better. .for me anyways,,

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Tony Galiani

A little bit more progress this weekend.  I added a stream bed in one corner and continued to touch up the Unitrack joiners to make them less obvious.  I am about 2/3's done with them.  I also cut a pattern for the area by the tram stop where I will place some buildings.  This is just temporary now to see how it works - I will use the pattern to cut a piece of foamcore board for that area at some point.  I had planned to fill in the stream bed with some modeling clay but decided to hold off until I add additional scenic elements.  Since the clay air dries, I thought I would put it down in one session so it can dry before I go to paint and scenic it.

 

I am thinking of a low hill past the tram stop and maybe a small temple.  I may order the small Sankei shrine kit to use in that setting.  While I have built hills before, I need to do a path up the hill to the shrine and am not quite sure how to do that.  So a bit a learning is needed before I start.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout 3.jpg

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Tony Galiani

No pictures this week but I added the foamcore board in the center area and by the passing loop.  Then used the offcuts to start building up a low hill in the rear.  I placed orders recently for some Sankei kits that I think will have better feel (older, wooden style buildings) and trees for when I start adding scenery.  I am taking Friday off and plan to build up the hills using Sculptamold as well as using "stone clay" to fill in the creek bed.  My other plan for Friday is to drive to Raleigh for donuts and some sort of water material to use for the creek.  So hopefully more progress and pics after next weekend.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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Tony Galiani

I took today off and planned to get some work done on this project.  Originally I was going to drive to Raleigh to get some scenery supplies for the creek but even the lure of donuts could not get me going so I decided to work on the hilly area on the layout.

 

I was delayed a bit as a small project I was working on for Athletics needed some attention so took care of that and then went to build up the hills.  I know hobbies should be a relief from work but it would be nice if all my work skills didn't desert me the second I started on the layout.  After making a bunch of calls, outlining a solution to an issue and who could do what and when, I completely lost my project skills!

 

I mixed up Sculptamold and ended up applying three batches to the hill area.  Once I was committed - the Sculptamold was halfway on the layout when it struck me:  I had planned to paint the concrete area by the station before applying the hills - forgot that;  I had planned to mix in color to the Sculptamold so that it would not show white if damaged - forgot that; I had meant to pick up some stones to imbed in the hill to give the impression of rocks - forgot that!

 

Oh well.  The results are not too bad and I have more work to do on the hills - more contours, sanding, and, yes, painting, but it is a start.  Planning to do more this weekend.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

 

 

NY Layout scenery 1.jpg

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Tony,


that’s what happens when you don’t have a donut! What did we learn today? Have a donut before working on the layout! I mean how could you resist?! 😜


I love sculptamold, fun and easy to work with and gives nice results and reasonably lightweight and not too messy.

 

jeff 

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Tony Galiani

Lesson learned!

And I just got a ping from Athletics that my assistance was successful so that has worked out which is all to the good.

Ciao,

Tony

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Tony Galiani

Some, albeit slow, progress this weekend.  Lighting in my loft area is poor and with all the rainy weather, the natural daylight has been limited.  (Clearly I need to find a better lamp for my workbench.)  Anyway, I spent some time sanding and reshaping the hilly areas, applied modeling clay to the creek bed and some other areas and then used texture paint on some of the ground areas.  I also cut the base for the tram station platform from some scrap wood I had.

 

Next up - painting the creek bed, adding ballast to the gaps around the passing loop and trying to finalize the placement of the road and buildings.  Also, painting the remaining areas that I have not gotten to yet.

 

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout scenery 2.jpg

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Tony Galiani

Spent yesterday evening adding ballast.  Even the small amount I needed caused me to doubt my sanity.  More tonight - hopefully the worst is over!

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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Tonytramman

great little layout there Tony, I am glad it's not just me that has 'Senior Moments' forgot that, forgot that, forgot that, yep that's me! my layout has had no buildings on it for ages now, got bits of road, bits of foam board, some track has been painted, most not...

still it's not going anywhere, I did run a couple of trams last nigh though, so that's progress. 

keep up the good work it is looking good.

tony

Edited by Tonytramman
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Tony Galiani

Well ....

.... I have delayed, hesitated, procrastinated, avoided, paused, stalled, daydreamed, resisted and made excuses but finally I had to finish the ballasting ....

 

I had it placed it days ago and covered it for protection but finally had to fix it down.  I misted the little ballast there was with isopropyl alcohol then used a glue water mix from an eye dropper.  After a few false starts - the mister is for plant use and not as effective as it could be - I managed to complete adding glue to the small amount of ballast on the layout.

 

Several thoughts:

I don't know how I am going to do my next project if I cannot learn to accept the process - maybe next time I need to put on soothing music or something.

I need a much better mister!!

Jeff had given me some paint powder and I took the opportunity to sprinkle some on the ballast in the loop for the appearance of bits of grass coming up through the gravel - this worked well - though the color is a bit bright for my current color scheme so will need to be toned down.  Definitely worth using though.

After I recover from this trauma, I will take and post some pictures.

 

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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I too find ballasting is really a bit mind numbing and tedious! Harder trying to fare it in with Unitrak I think than just doing plain track. Some get a great zen joy from it. But like many things it’s a lot around jsut practicing as just trying to do it quick usually is frustrating. Definitely one of those things I do a few little trials on before jumping onto the actual piece. I still usually do a test solder or two if I haven't soldered in a few days, even though I’ve done a ton of it and really enjoy it, it just helps get my soldering mojo in the groove.

 

yes the green is the primary green! Needs some toning down. Try making a few different ones as weeds tend to come in various shades and also some dead bits. Also for tiny bits good to put some in a little jar hot just transfer what I gave you in baggies to a little jar and shake it well to make sure it’s broken up well. You can use a small paint brush to make little blobs of it. I’ve also used a spice grinder to make some really fine ground foam for little bits of alive or dead vegetation.

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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gavino200
21 hours ago, Tony Galiani said:

 

Several thoughts:

I don't know how I am going to do my next project if I cannot learn to accept the process - maybe next time I need to put on soothing music or something.

 

 

Tony, your comments are hilarious, because they're so true. This is something I struggle with. I really like fine detail work, but it takes a ton of time. After a while my mind turns to mush. I also have the opposing tendencies to want a layout that's as big as possible but detail that's as minute as it can be. It adds up to a ton of time. I'm thinking of listening to audiobooks in Spanish while I do layout work. That way I'll get at least some secondary benefit as I spend the rest of my life adding detail in small increments to my layout. 

 

Your layout looks great. Thanks for posting your process. I'm learning a lot from it. 

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Tony Galiani

A little more progress this week - slow but steady - though mostly slow ....

I painted the creek bed, made a small wooden foot bridge from some scrap siding I had, started work on the road crossing, painted the sides of the wood that will be the base for the station platform so I could then glue it in place and did the preliminary painting on the hills.  I also cut a retaining wall from a piece of foamcore for the track section between the hills and the rear of the layout.  I have not placed it yet - it needs another coat of paint and hopefully I will get to that later today.

 

Since one purpose of this project is to try some new techniques and improve my skills, I have used some different materials.  The color palette is a bit confused - the dark soil on one side, the lighter soil for the hills and the muddy color of the creek bed.  I realize this is too varied though most of the ground will get covered with grass and shrubbery which should hide most of this.  Part of this came from wanting to try texture paints - the dark brown ground and the light sandy path are both done with inexpensive texture paint found on sale at about one fifth the cost of the Tamiya texture paint I saw in videos.

 

Next steps:  place the retaining wall, complete the road crossing and paint the paved areas.  I am also likely to fix some grass in a couple of spots just to get an idea of how that might look.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout scenery 3.jpg

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Tony Galiani

Boy - I am really slow.  I don't suffer from hobby fatigue so much as fatigue fatigue .... but finally got a bit more work done on the layout this weekend.  I placed the retaining wall in place at the back and have some greenery there as well.  Still need to fill in the area in front of and on top of the wall with greenery.  Also, finally made some progress on the road/rail crossing.  Since this is a learning project, I am trying some new methods - not sure I like any of them but I am not finished with them at this point.  The picture shows three different methodologies - first, on the outer portion is a piece of foamcore board cut to fit; second, between the rails is some modelling clay and third, on the inside of the loop is some modeling clay covered with a piece of vinyl (which is a sample from a supplier who makes room signs).  I have rehearsal this afternoon but I am hoping to apply paint to the road areas later today to see if this all comes together.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout scenery 4.jpg

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gavino200

I've been wondering how to do this too. It looks like an exercise in hand carving and sculpting. So for it's looking good. 

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Tony Galiani

Thanks.  I probably made it harder on myself than I had too - might have been better if I planned it out a bit.  There is modeler on youtube - susukama -

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEKMUsO-tsesnOkKMKgEe6w

who uses a plaster slurry and produces nice results.  The modeling clay I used is not bad for a small section of work though I need more practice with it.  I used an old set of "pizza cutter" wheels to clear out the flangeway - not sure how well this works as I have not tested it yet.  On my other projects I used a heavy artist cardboard for roads which works well but I have not done anything but small sections of roadway at this point.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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Tony Galiani

I realized I should test the crossing before I painted it so yesterday I cleaned it up (but not as well as I though as the picture shows) and ran a test with my Tomytec DMU.  To be honest, I was quite surprised - - it actually worked fine with the first try!  I double checked it again this morning and it still worked!  So I guess the modeling clay as filler is not all that bad an idea.  I was worried about the flangeways working but using the pizza cutter wheels to open up the flangeways worked - better than I expected.

Working from home today so hopefully I can spend what would have been my drive time to start painting the road areas.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout crossing test.jpg

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Tonytramman

I'm thinking i will need to fill some track at some point, looks like it works ok.

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Tony Galiani

It is pretty easy.  The modeling clay does not adhere well to the track bed so I put PVA adhesive down first (which is what I noticed from the videos I watched).  Also, the brand I used takes about a day to fully dry.  So I put it in place, ran the large wheels through the flangeways to clear them and then let it set for a day before I did any sanding.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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Tony Galiani

Did a bit more work this weekend - placed some foliage between the retaining wall at the rear and the track (as well as a few other small tasks).  This is Woodland Scenics light green which is darker than I like but I have a small supply to use up until I can track down a brand with a lighter green option.  The DMU is by Tomytec and runs on even the dirtiest track so I use it as my test unit.  Still need to place foliage along the top of the wall which I hope to do this week.

 

In addition to be being slow due to inertia as well as the need to ramp up music practice as I have a bunch of dates coming up, I have been struggling with how to set up the station area.  (I am determined this is the last layout I will do without a lot more pre-planning!!!)

Anyway, I was looking at the layout book I recently purchased and found the answer in one of the layout drawings which happened to show a small rural station with short platform and small entrance building.  So now I have something to focus on.  I did some rough measurements for the station area yesterday and the next step is to scrounge around my spares box to see what I can adapt to make the building.

 

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

NY Layout scenery 5.jpg

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Tonytramman

looking Good tony, the great thing about japan is there is a prototype for everything! the possibilities are indeed endless. I have found a whole  new  stack of tram videos on YouTube so my 'research' is going very well. 

I want to scratch build a depot building just researching the various options..

Tony

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