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First Japan Rail Layout


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Yakumo, sorry to hear about the bereavement.  The pics look great, I'm happy to see some San'in promotional material, as well as that Aomori destination board for the Nihonkai.

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Having some free time coming up, due to not being able to travel to India as I need a new visa and work registration plus a forthcoming further eye operation that will ground me for a few weeks, I have decided to give Niihama a clean up of the past years's accumulated dust, repair the odd bit of damage and add a scenic extension plus some new buildings, etc. which will need to be started by taking off everything removable that's not actually nailed down.


So be prepared for the following posts and pics which will document what I am doing and will start with "Naked Niihama"! :)

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First pics of the refurb showing "Naked Niihama" with all stock, buildings and loose scenery removed to give access to clean and repair.


Shows how I "socketed" the buildings, so set into the ground rather than placed on top, which gives an appearance with the buildings removed unfortunately similar to Fukushima after the tsunami.


Also started building a scenic extension at one end using a basic frame with bases for roads and buildings in balsa. Will add card strips and balsa formers to give structure to the contoured ground that will be formed from papiermache coated with polyfilla.


Will also be changing and refurbishing some of the Tomytec trees as the glue holding the "leaves" in place has failed causing an early fall rather the spring time that Niihama is set in.


The new trees are from http://themodeltreeshop.co.uk along with a new line in N gauge flowers that I will be trying out.






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Is that a heater underneath the extension? Be sure not to turn it on then, because that heat will assemble under the wood and eventually the wood will warp and you can throw your extension away.


I weekly pass by a scene like that when I'm in the train, there's a industry complex of about one square kilometer somewhere along the line that was completely abandoned years ago and now all remains are the immense amount of concrete foundations. In the middle of a city that is, it looks really weird.

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Must be hubris but the heater that Densha spotted (which is a pressurised central heating radiator some distance below and only overlapping Niihama by a couple of inches) sprung a leak and a mini-tsunami swept across the floor below the layout and soaked most of my japanese railway magazines that are stored there. :sad1:


Spent today, as at home recuperating after my eye operation, trying to dry them out on a rack with a hair dryer but looks as the end result will be not good. May end up cutting out the undamaged pictures to make up a scrap book over the winter.


Oh well, will get back to working on refurbing Niihama when I have had a new radiator fitted. In the interim, I am building up the scenery structure on the extension (which is portable to another room as not yet screwed into position) using card and balsa formers before starting on the papier mache covering.

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Progress up date on Niihama extension:


Picture 1: Sections and contours made from balsa and card with sockets made for new buildings plus representation of concrete walling where the hill has been cut away for the small factory. Roads outlined with balsa strips which set depth of road when filled in with polyfilla. Also enables surface to be smoothed using a steel rule run across the tops of the balsa strips once the polyfilla is put in and before it sets.


Picture 2: Scenery surface built up using polyfilla colured with poster paint. Next job when set will be to smooth with sand paper and to polish the road surfaces with fine glass paper before painting with acrylics.


Picture 3: This end of the extension will be built up using papiermache but not yet happy will hill contours as has to flow from existing hill already on Niihama so still adjusting.


Sad day: My Sheltie Finn died today not long after his brother Bram who died last month. However have new puppy Teddy (another Sheltie) to cheer us up.






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Wow that's looking very good! Are those buildings from Sankei?


Sad to hear about your dog. I can't have any pets at all with my allergies though...

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Niihama extension update:


Image 1 shows the majority of the extension surface covered in coloured polyfilla with the new hill built up in papier-mâché over the balsa formers. Used poster paint mixed in the polyfilla so it doesn’t show brilliant white if it gets cracked or chipped in the future.


Image 2 shows the polyfilla smoothed down with sandpaper. The road surface is smoothed with sand paper then polished with glass paper to get a finer finish. The hill is deliberately left rough as I might leave it as rocky and barren or cover with trees or something else as not sure what yet...


Images 3 and 4 shows the cured and smoothed polyfilla coloured either with more poster paint close to what the final foliage cover will be or with acrylic representing different concrete surfaces. The roads are painted with Revell “tarmac” acrylic.


The back story for the engineered walls is that this was an old quarry that has been shored up and with a concrete deck built in for the factory that will be sited here. The unused areas beside the deck are left as earth and will be filled with marshy foliage and weeds.


Image 5 shows the extension permanently fitted to the layout. The joint between the old and new has been filled with wood glue to allow for some flexing. This is then covered over with polyfilla and smoothed and painted as above.


Image 6 shows the extension with initial foliage cover added (Woodland Scenics) and buildings temporarily placed so I can work out where to put trees, etc. The new buildings are from Sankei and I have some others from Greenmax to build.


Next stage is add trees, road markings and furniture then deciding what to do with the low level area with the ramp down from the road: Paddy field? Building site? Farm? – any suggestions?







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Next stage is add trees, road markings and furniture then deciding what to do with the low level area with the ramp down from the road: Paddy field? Building site? Farm? – any suggestions?


You already have a cemetery next to that hill, why not a small Buddhist temple to go with it? The two are often (usually?) associated. You'd need to flatten a portion of the hill, I think, but that doesn't seem like a major impediment.

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Completion of the Niihama refurb and extension. Just need to get some more scenic material for the "bare" hill when I get to go to a model shop.


Plan now to look at improving detail around the buildings - see attached examples of improved kato buildings with gardens, flowers, people and dogs. A side effect of my recent eye operation is being able to see, using my now "bionic" right eye, more detail and in greater clarity without glasses. :)









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we can rebuild him, better than before! glad to hear the eye is doing so well! 


layout is really looking fun! love the detail bits. so fun to go back into the kato and tomix (even the tomytecs) and add in those tiny bits that can really make them pop when someone looks closer! if done just enough in the right spots you can make the viewer's minds eye walk away believing the whole layout was that detailed!


keep the picts coming!





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An influx of new ENEOS branded tankers brings full length freight to Niihama reproducing the Red Bear haulage in Hokkaido.


Now need to try to avoid reproducing JR Hokkaido's current standard of track maintenance as well... :)



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Used Tomix Tora cheap off ebay, axles out of spares box plus a bit of painting for added detail gives the Niihama shed DE10 something to play with...


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Finally got to the local model shop last weekend so that the new hill on the Niihama extension now has gained an instant forest plus some new standalone trees.



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As always really great work! I like how you can add an extension to your layout and you can't even see where you added it.

PS sorry to hear about the loss of your dogs :(

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Ready for the winter, added a snow fence on Niihama constructed from fine steel mesh and soft wire.


Edited by yakumo381
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Added more detail to the loco shed at Niihama although prototyically lift jacks should be inside of the shed rather than out the back.


Lifting jacks are modified from Graham Farish originals and the DE10 bought cheap off eBay as a bag of "spare parts" - reassembled without its missing 3 axle bogie and motor and given suitable number plus some detailing.



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excellent! wonderful use of part of a loco and the lifting jacks are great, have to look for some of those!



Edited by cteno4
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excellent! wonderful use of part of a loco and the lifting jacks are great

agreed, I also like the anzen daiichi signs and the 1 and 2 labels above the doors

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Not been able to do much detail modelling on Niihama lately as I have been on an extended business trip to India but now back home :)


In the interim, Niihama has gained a line of telegraph poles linking the defunct signal box to "somewhere" down the line plus the DF200 now has a rake of ballast hoppers to pull emulating JR Hokkaido by trying to get the track maintenance back up to date.


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