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Sumida Crossing


KenS

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Hi, I'm Ken, and my particular area of interest is the urban trains of Tokyo, particularly the JR East commuter/rapid trains, and the limited expresses. I'm not entirely immune to the lure of Shinkansen or trams, but that's secondary for me.

 

I started building my first permanent layout for my Japanese trains a few months ago. So far, Sumida Crossing is just benchwork and some initial pink foam, with the first loop of track laid (using unitrack) but not fully divided into electrical blocks. Although I have a track plan, it is still a bit fluid.

 

What I'm aiming for is to be able to run a number of trains on separate lines simultaneously, with several double-track continuous loops (so things can run unattended on one track, while I play with a train on another). My current intent has a "subway" loop that's mostly below ground, and two surface/viaduct loops, one representing a local commuter line, and the other which can do double-duty as a rapid or shinkansen line.  Finally, a short freight-only branch featured in my earlier plans, but I ran into some clearance issues with that, which caused me to change my plans. There's also a long-term plan for under-table storage with a helix down, but that's well in the future.

 

I've attached my latest track plan, which varies a bit from the one presently on my website, as I've been rethinking the freight line as a possible tram line. This was drawn in the previous version of Rail Modeler, so I had to mark elevations manually on the diagram (the "+2" numbers represent height in inches above/below the top level, which is 2.75" above the wooden table-top). One of the things I'm still considering, not shown here, is lowering the "urban station" to be 2" above the subway level, rather, rather than 2" above the top foam, and making the subway tracks "street level" in this scene, underneath the viaduct station. That has potential clearance problems I haven't fully explored yet, but I think it would make it more visible/interesting than just looking at the underground station through a cut-out in the layout fascia.

 

As you can see, the right side of the diagram (the "unsceniced end") is still very rough, and I haven't worked out all the connections there. I'm likely to make use of flex track to get things to link up.

 

I should mention that while the "riverside station" draws inspiration from Ochanomizu station on the Chuo line, nothing here is intended to exactly replicate the prototype. In particular, the subway will be connected to the surface line, allowing run-though operation, something the subway under Ochanomizu wouldn't offer, since it's a different gauge and uses third-rail power.

 

Since my experience with Unitrack and n-scale trains is only 18 months old, I'd certainly appreciate any comments about the operational characteristics of this plan, as well as any other ideas for how to make it better.

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Ken - Welcome to the forum and you have put together a very detailed track plan. My first question is how much clearance do you plan to have between the upper level to the lower level where you have your yard? I ask this because think about the room you will need and working with ease to get to the trains, track, turnouts, etc.

 

I took a brief look at your website and you are off to a good start. I see you are thinking about DC for this layout, you might want to take a look into DCC, it might be easier in the long run with a layout this size.

Again welcome to the forum.

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CaptOblivious

I think having a proper underground subway station could be very interesting. Provides lots of opportunities to experiment with lighting, and getting the ambience just right. My original plan was to model Monzen Nakachou station on the Tozai subway line, as I spent a lot of time there when I was in Tokyo (closest station to my apartment). So I am inclined to say, try your original plan. But that's just my own selfish thinking.

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Looks like a really interesting project! You can run quite a variety of trains on the line as well. From locals to the 189 Series Express-Through from Shinjuku Sta. to Tokyo Sta. over the Chuo-Commuter-Line.

 

However, please be careful running Shinkansen mixed with normal trains in mixed traffic; it's quite unrealistic. But in the end it's all your layout and you can do whatever you want with it :cool:

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A table 24 inches wide seems very tight for 4 radius of track.  Have you actually laid out all the track?

 

I couldn't find the table dimensions listed, where did 24" come from? I see curves marked 414/381 along with a double crossover (and inner curves marked 348/315), and I see a station for 11 cars with what works out to 248mm Kato straight sections marked off. Working from those two figures I get a depth estimate of somewhere between 42" for the track and 48" for the table being shown (assuming all the whitespace is table). The smallest radius I see is the 11" loop leading to the tram - everything else seems to be 12" minimum (~oh, and it looks like the subway has some 11" curves too).

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Mudkip Orange

I couldn't find the table dimensions listed, where did 24" come from?

 

The guy's using modules 24" x 48". You can see them donated by black lines on the track plan.

 

The total table size is 4'x16', which of course has enough room for two R381/414s with a double crossover in between.

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I'll try to answer all of those questions:

 

Bernard, my current plan gives about a foot of clearance between the bottom of the layout deck, and the top of the storage deck. That takes a 5.5 loop helix of double-track viaduct track (or equivalent flex) to reach down to it.

 

CaptOblivious, I'd still have the subway station in front of the Riverside station, it's only the one under the other scene that I'm thinking of bringing to the surface. One of the things that inspired that is Keikyu Kamata station, where they recently raised the Airport line to avoid a grade crossing, creating a station with tracks above other tracks. The Toden Arakawa crossing under the Yamanote line's Otsuka station also had me thinking about two-level stations.

 

Mudkip, I'm looking forward to seeing four trains passing on that end curve myself. That'll be a payoff for all the work it takes to get to that point.

 

Bill937ca, as noted the structure is an oval with two 24" tables back to back, so there's 48" for the end curves.  I started out buying through Newhall Station (and, aside from their costs, I was very satisfied with the service), but once I found out about the alternatives thanks to this forum, I've been using Hobby Search.  However, I've found a few trains (and most buildings) domestically, through MB Klein and dealer's tables at model railroad shows. Lately I've been putting all my money into layout construction, and haven't bought a new train since October (I broke down and bought the Chuo E233 then); I think I'm going into withdrawal.  :grin

 

Toni, I'll have to move the Shinkansen through the commuter line to get to the storage tracks, at least as currently planned and assuming I have more than two Shinkansen (today I have one, a 500 series). I couldn't work out a way to make a direct link.  But I plan to do that at start/end of operations, rather than in the middle, because I agree that it would look seriously out of place next to one of my E231 trains.  :grin Since my focus is on the commuter/express trains, my thought is that I'll just set up a couple of Shinkansen running in circles for background motion, and mainly play with the commuter and subway loops (and occaisionally stop one of the Shinkansen at the station).

 

David, yes I tried to keep all of the visible curves to 315mm (12") or larger radius, and the Shinkansen track is 381mm (15") or larger to give the best appearance to long cars. I'd really like to have even broader curves, but even if I was willing to give up Unitrack, I just don't have the room for it. The subway does have 282mm (11") curves, but those are all hidden from view.

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Mudkip Orange

The subway does have 282mm (11") curves, but those are all hidden from view.

 

In fairness almost everything you can buy that would actually operate on a subway is capable of operating around R249 or even R216. I haul my E531s around R249 all day and have never had a problem.

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In fairness almost everything you can buy that would actually operate on a subway is capable of operating around R249 or even R216. I haul my E531s around R249 all day and have never had a problem.

 

I've run the E531 and E231 Jobans down to Kato's R216 (8") and they still work. Getting some samples of Tomix mini-curve (R177, R140, R103) this month to see just how far some of my stock can go. Apart from S-curves the only thing I've found that doesn't work on Kato R216 is my 800 series Shinkansen (on R282 [11"] the cars start to "lean" into curves as the couplers are trying to pull them off the tracks).

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I've been mocking up the left-end curve, to see how it looks, and to make some clearance checks on the catenary poles I'm planning to use (Kato's older "narrow" style 23-059 and 23-060 sets, rather than the "wide" style, 23-061, introduced with the superelevated track). I still haven't decided on whether to sink the "urban station" scene down, and put the subway tracks at ground level in it, but this mock-up is what the curve would look like if I did.

 

The houses might be at the level shown (2.75" above the river), but more likely I'd drop them an inch or so, and have the tracks on a slight embankment above them at this height, partly to focus the eye in front of the tracks, and partly because embankments or cuts seem to be the norm in Tokyo, at least for the major lines.

 

The other alternative, which I haven't mocked up yet, puts the tracks about 2" higher than shown here on the urban station side (near left in the photos), and drops at least the inner one, and possibly both down to this height at the riverside station scene (far left). That's about a 2% grade if I start and end as far left as possible, but it puts the bridges on a grade, which is one of the reasons I was growing dissatisfied with the original plan.

 

Right now, "level" track on the curve is looking much better to me, but I still need to mock up the other version for real (I did something a while earlier, but it wasn't this complete).

 

Note: the lower level tracks on the left are the subway tracks, which would be "underground" here, with a street above them, and a road bridge crossing the river to the houses.

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Ken - I like what you are doing with testing out the layout before making it permanent. I'm not sure if I understand what you are describing with your alternate plan, I'm guessing you're debating about having a 2% grade that with go beyond the bridge but might prefer to have it level?

I like what you are planning. Do you know what you are going to use to simulate water?

Also you're planning on having a helix to the lower level, do you have a plan for the helix? (or how many loops to the lower level?)

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I really need to finish re-doing the track plan in RM4 with real elevation data.

 

Yes, if I put the viaduct station in the "urban station" scene so track level is roughly 2" above the lowest level of pink foam in the pictures (which puts the "subway" tracks at "ground" level below the station), then the tracks exiting the viaduct station platform go straight onto the bridges in the foreground of these photos, and I can keep them level around the curve. Ground at the "riverside station" remains atop the second layer of foam, but it is a ground-level station, so track on that side is atop the second layer of foam (first layer is 0.75 inch, second layer is 2 inch).

 

If, instead, I keep the subway a subway, put "ground" atop the second layer of foam at the "urban station" also, then the viaduct platforms are about two inches above the foam, and I need to bring the inner (commuter) loop down to foam level by the time they reach the other station (the "riverside station"). Using the full curve (from viaduct "urban station" to "riverside station") will let me do that on a 2% grade, but it means the bridge also tilts down at 2%, which is really unprototypical (I don't know of any truss bridge built on a grade; I'm not even sure it would be structurally sound to do that for real).

 

Using less than the full curve gets me closer to 4%, and wouldn't look very good I'm thinking. I'm trying to keep in maximum visible grade to 2%, and the maximum hidden grade under 3%.

 

Right now, the plan for water is what you see (green paint on wood).  I may do something more sophisticated (woodland scenics or some other resin product) eventually, but it's not a priority.  And having the table seam in the middle of the river would make that tricky to do, and leave me with a seam in the water anyway. 

 

There are rough sketches of my helix plan on my website (under the Construction page), but I haven't really thought much beyond the "how big, how steep" aspect. I drew it as a simple circle of 381/414 radius viaduct track (mostly because it was easy to draw that in RM and it fit the space; I wasn't planning to actually use viaduct). It takes 5.5 loops to get down to the planned level of the storage tracks. That gives me a grade on the outer (ascending) track of about 2.5%, so it would be workable.

 

My original thought was to use the "overlapping 1/8 inch glued plywood" method used by many helixes (helices? heli?), and then I stumbled across plans for a Unitrack Viaduct Helix, which looked pretty cool. The only problem (aside from cost) is the lack of old-style flat curved viaduct track, now that it's all been replaced with superelevated curves. Trains on a helix really shouldn't be leaning into the curve, it just makes toppling much more likely.

 

The clever thing about the viaduct helix design is that it uses the catenary mounting holes in the viaduct for the support poles, and simple rectangular plastic tubes slid over those to hold the viaduct levels apart. Very simple to build and modify. The negative aspect is that I'm likely to have clearance problems with those supports if I use the superelevated viaduct.

 

So I'm leaving the decision on that aside to percolate a bit.  I wasn't really planning to build the helix anytime soon anyway. I want to get the three track loops all operational, and some basic scenery down first at a minimum. I can always pack/unpack trains to the storage boxes they came in for a while (and should as long as I'm fooling around with dust-making scenery work anyway).

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That is an interesting and simple design for a helix. I originally thought was that you were going to make it out of  plywood cutting the parts yourself. Great find!

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qwertyaardvark

Very much liking the mockup and river scene~  :grin

 

Right now, the plan for water is what you see (green paint on wood).  I may do something more sophisticated (woodland scenics or some other resin product) eventually, but it's not a priority.  And having the table seam in the middle of the river would make that tricky to do, and leave me with a seam in the water anyway. 

 

If i may suggest, instead of a resin-based water, how would you feel about a contoured sheet of plastic lightly stained blue, or whatever color you wish, in the shape of your river? It would (1) hide the seam in your rivier and (2) be easily removable, either by not attaching to either module or attaching it to only one of the modules

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That is an interesting and simple design for a helix. I originally thought was that you were going to make it out of  plywood cutting the parts yourself. Great find!

 

I was actually (and might still), but that Unitrack helix looks much simpler.

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If i may suggest, instead of a resin-based water, how would you feel about a contoured sheet of plastic lightly stained blue, or whatever color you wish, in the shape of your river? It would (1) hide the seam in your rivier and (2) be easily removable, either by not attaching to either module or attaching it to only one of the modules

 

I'd heard of people using plastic fluorescent light diffusers for water, and had been thinking I might look into that.  I hadn't realized there was a commercial product for it though.  The problem is that it appears to be about $17 for a single sheet that's less than one foot by two feet, which is prohibitively expensive for the amount of water I have. Definitely something to think about. I need to order some stuff from HS one of these days, maybe I'll get a sheet of that and see what it looks like. 

 

Thanks for the pointer.

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qwertyaardvark

I will admittedly say that that size is rather expensive, and for most part the prices seem to hover around that $/area range. Also to think about is that what i posted was the "official hobby" version with typical higher prices, so you might really be better off with a trip to your local DIY store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc) and comparing costs with the price of considerably larger sheets of light diffusers, made usually of plastic, and in some rare cases glass. One problem generally with diffusers is their texture: they often dont model water well (looking more like real water placed on top of some loud speakers), let alone N scale sized calm waves on a river passing through Tokyo.

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One problem generally with diffusers is their texture: they often dont model water well (looking more like real water placed on top of some loud speakers), let alone N scale sized calm waves on a river passing through Tokyo.

 

Yeah, that was what I thought the first time I looked at a plastic diffuser.  Even for the smallest, the "wave" size seems more appropriate to a large bay or a relatively calm ocean than to a river. On the other hand, too smooth doesn't look good either.

 

Once of the things I like about the current paint is that applying it with a "trim" roller (fine foam roller about 7 inches long) left a rippled texture that looks "right" for a river. The only problem is that it's a very uniform color, and rivers just don't look like that. Even if they're deep enough not to show depth variations (and most have lighter edges where they are shallower), they'll reflect things to the side. Perhaps just a sense of lighter coloring from reflected buildings, but where you look will change the coloring.

 

On the wide river, I may try doing something to add some variation between the edges and side, even if I don't go with some other surface treatment. Perhaps airbrushing a lighter green or gray-green near the embankments, although my airbrush skills amount to "big swaths of uniform color". But I think I'll leave that to later, and try to get the dirt/pavement/greenery on the land to look like something more real than pink foam first.

 

And before any of that, I really need to finish sculpting the land, and putting up track.

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The best laid plans...are usually wrong.

 

I mocked up the "urban station", well one end of it, to check clearances and appearance. In the process I discovered what should have been obvious from the track plan: there was only about 6 inches between the station and the scenic backdrop (maybe nine, if I'm generous).  And there was a large gap between the shinkansen tracks and the commuter tracks inside the station (where the "Elevated Shinkansen Station (16 car)" title is on the track plan).  This was because I had put a 124 mm straight in the middle of the curve leading into the station from the bridge to avoid an S-curve.

 

After a bit of thought, I removed the 124 mm straight, and built the station as three sections deep rather than four (see photos 1 and 2). This means I now have a 315/348mm s-curve between the bridge and the station, but the commuter cars seem to navigate it okay (see photo 4).

 

That's not my only problem. As I suspected, I have a clearance problem where the commuter line bridge footing goes above the subway track.  Which means I'm probably going to have to raise the track (and thus the whole viaduct station) at least a quarter-inch.

 

Even with that problem, I'm still liking the idea of having the subway tracks at ground level under the station.  Photo 4 shows a side view. This is on a temporary set of viaduct piers that are sitting directly on the subway track; I'll need to built some kind of support structure that spans the subway tracks, but that's a minor problem.

 

So, one question: does anyone think the 315/348 s-curve is going to be a problem?  It has straights at both ends, to avoid problems with the bridge or the switches in the station, so I think it's okay, but I'm a little bit nervous about it.  I was really hoping to avoid any s-curves on the two above-ground loops.

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Bill937ca, as noted the structure is an oval with two 24" tables back to back, so there's 48" for the end curves.  I started out buying through Newhall Station (and, aside from their costs, I was very satisfied with the service), but once I found out about the alternatives thanks to this forum, I've been using Hobby Search.  However, I've found a few trains (and most buildings) domestically, through MB Klein and dealer's tables at model railroad shows. Lately I've been putting all my money into layout construction, and haven't bought a new train since October (I broke down and bought the Chuo E233 then); I think I'm going into withdrawal.  :grin

 

 

 

 

 

Heh... Heh... I had my experience with Newhall Station....

Good luck on the Layout!  :icon_thumleft:

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Ken - You've really done a lot and it's looks good. I don't have an S curve on my layout but to be sure test it out if you can by running trains. Since you have a straight piece before the switch I don't think you'll have problems with derailments. If the long Shinkansens can make it you should be fine. You say there is a clearance issue is that for the track supports under the platform? If so you can cut the bar in the track pier that is blocking the train. (that is if I reading you problem correctly)

In all it looks great!

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