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Making/Kitbashing Japanese Signals


gavino200

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gavino200
Posted (edited)

This thread will be about making and modeling Japanese signal posts and signal heads to use on my layout. Discussions about signal electronics and software are going to be in a separate thread in the DCC forum. This is really a modeling task so I'm thinking of it as a separate project. 

 

I probably won't be very active with this project for a while, but I'm starting to collect material, ideas, and suggestions, so I want to collect them in one place and not loose them. 

 

The signals that I'm going to use are a combination of two, three, and four-light signals. If I develop any skill in this I may also try to make variations and combinations - double-headed signals, those kind that cross the track on an overhead truss, others that I learn about. 

 

My current ideas are as follows:

1. Modify Tomix signals - not favored as they're expensive and I wouldn't be using most of what I'd pay for.

2. Use the Chinese signals from Ali Express. I've ordered some to play with, both the plane signal heads and the fully modeled ones. I'll have to see how they look. One of them has drawings on the site that should be useful for clues if I try to CAD my own (that will be a brand new skill for me - currently I have little more than a clue of how it's done). 

3. Build from scratch - either styrene or CAD/3D printing - not favored due to a paucity of skill 😜

4. Other signals on the market currently unknown. 

 

 

Suitable Signals on the Market

 

Tomix 4- light signals - I ordered one to see what I can learn from it. 

 

Chinese Evemodel/AliExpress signals

 

3-light working - black - I ordered a set of these to play with and see what I can learn.

3-light working - silver

3-light working signal heads with no pole - I ordered a set to play with. Interestingly the sales page shows a plan drawing, and two CAD pictures. These could be useful if I try to CAD my own (with no prior experience)GreenMax non-working signals - Likely, rather than making my own signals from scratch, I'm going to try to bring some of these to life. This seems to be commonly done in japan. I was lucky enough to reserve some a few nights ago. the reservation is already closed. 😱

 

Some English signals. I haven't looked closely at these yet.

 

Materials

 

Sculpy (suggestion below from @cteno4)

 

A name brand pvc polymer clay. Easy to work with and if kept sealed up will stay soft a long time. you can then either let air dry a long time to harden or put it in the over for a bit to harden it up. great for moulding up little detail bits, then bake to harden can carve and file to needs. you can make simple crude moulds with it by pressing an object into it and as long as it doesnt have any big indents you can use it as a mould once you bake it. lots of youtube on it. my go to when i need to make medium to small shaped things, only pain is baking, but thats not bad. get an old small toaster oven at the second hand store so your so wont go after you for using the food oven.

Purchase link

Manufacturers link

 

Gallary Glass (also suggested by @cteno4

 

It’s a clear to semi opaque plastic that is used to make pho stained glass. Little dab in a signal light opening should make a nice tiny lens and hide an SMD led. I experimented with it covering white SMD leds for lens on a street lamp and it worked well and running led didnt seem to effect it. It’s at most craft stores.

Purchase link

 

Edited by gavino200
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gavino200
Posted (edited)

Placeholder for inspiration links from other modelers. 

 

I'll organize these later. Just dumping them for now. 

 

This is mostly an analysis of the Tomix signals

 

This modeler has used the AliExpress signal heads to make his own signals

 

https://twisave.com/cube5328101/favorites/2017/8/13

 

I'm not sure what these signals are. I think I identified them when I first found the link, but I've forgotten.

Also here and here

 

A self made two light signal

 

Below is an excellent example posted by Madsing in the inspirational layouts forum.

 


 

 

Edited by gavino200
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I just received a Tomix 3 light signal to take apart and learn from. They look pretty good. In person they're actually pretty tiny. They'd be quite acceptable. The main downside is that they're pricy and I won't be using most of what I'm buying with the set. I think the external circuit board for the wiring is a bit of a cop-out. As far as I can tell, they only need four magnet wires to run, which could easily be run through a tiny tube. 

 

K3YOvOa.jpg

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3 minutes ago, Szdfan said:

Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but does anyone know when JNR switched from semaphores to lights?

 

No problem at all. Interesting question. Wikipedia gives the following answer.

 

"Many semaphore signals were formerly used, which were controlled by a hand lever. Few semaphores remain in Japan. On 28 July 2005, the last semaphore signals on the JR lines at Rikuchū-Yagi Station were replaced by colored lights. A few stations are still equipped with semaphore signals on the Tsugaru Railway Line, the Fukushima Rinkai Railway Main Line and the Niigata-Higashi industrial line."

 

Source link

 

I would have guessed much earlier. 

Edited by gavino200
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15 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

No problem at all. Interesting question. Wikipedia gives the following answer.

 

"Many semaphore signals were formerly used, which were controlled by a hand lever. Few semaphores remain in Japan. On 28 July 2005, the last semaphore signals on the JR lines at Rikuchū-Yagi Station were replaced by colored lights. A few stations are still equipped with semaphore signals on the Tsugaru Railway Line, the Fukushima Rinkai Railway Main Line and the Niigata-Higashi industrial line."

 

Source link

 

I would have guessed much earlier. 

That is really interesting 

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Another question: since the lights are so tiny, are you concerned whether or not you’ll be able to see when the signal changes? Would it make sense to install a light in the fascia that would also change whenever the signal changed? 

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I received my Chinese signals today from Evemodel/Aliexpress. Both orders came together well packed in a nice little box. I like them. I think they compare well with the Tomix signals and are quite a bit cheaper. The head only version may be handy for making double headed signals and crossbeam-mounted signals. 

 

My GreenMax non working signals are a pre-order so they'll take a while to arrive. After I receive them I'll take photos of them all together and decide on a strategy.

 

WfSuW8R.jpg

 

ELjmwM6.jpg

 

kE9HUIz.jpg

 

Front (I need to clean my phone lens)

 

WXFFhmF.jpg

 

Side. No smaller than the Tomix light, but painted black it's more forgiving. 

 

n4jcsjp.jpg

 

Back. The wires are very well hidden. Excellent craftsmanship. Undoubtedly done by hand.

 

bbJ82sM.jpg

 

One nice touch, the wires are color specific, for the lights. Passed through the tube. Tomix really should have done this. 

 

El6P5KJ.jpg

 

 

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