Saturday, December 19, 2009

End of Part Two

Time for a break from T scale methinks.
I've worked quite a lot on T scale over the past 12 months or so and as you will have read recently I've become pretty down on it because of the lack of new stock.
So it's time to sit down and take stock of the situation and wait for some more model trains to be released.
Then we'll decide wether to carry on with Gonou or sell it and start with something new.
Thanks for following everything that's gone on here.
Until next time, carry on having fun with model railways. Its the Worlds greatest hobby.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More from the Show

Thanks to Ed Olson organiser of the Granite City Train show I can let you see some more pictures of Gonou on show.
1. Being introduced to Bob Hughes from a local St Cloud Radio station prior to my appearance over the airwaves
2. Lorrie indicates an invaluable tool to working in such small sizes. Whilst a small crowd looks on at the layout
3. Lorrie keeps guard and talks to the punters while I am deep in discussion with the radio guy
4. The magnifier in use.

On show (again)

Just a quick post to say that Gono will be on display at the opening of Lakeside Hobby at 12197 Freemont Lane in Zimmerman, MN this Saturday Dec 19th.
That's awesome.
A new local Hobby Shop for mid-Minnesota, I mean. I won't have to travel 30-50 miles in one direction to get layout building suppies. This one is so close I could almost fit it into a marathon training run...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Century is reached

Well, there were times when I didn't think I'd make it. But with the judicious use of posts over the past week I have reached 100 posts on this blog and to celebrate. Here's a collection of recent photographs .
1. The petrol station
2. The bridges over the river
3. The lighthouse
4. An overall view of the layout
5. The "busy" corner with the lighthouse, petrol station and river mouth

Exhibition report update

This post at Talking T gauge is most enlightening.
Apparently this happened to one of my trains yesterday.
A wheel became separated.
I found this tiny magnetic ring on the model and I had no idea what it was at all. I looked closely at the model but couldn't see anything. So I just thought that it was something it had picked up. Apparently not it's a bit more serious than that. Now I have to go through all my train sets and find out which one has lost a wheel.

and the prize for the stupidest T scale question ever goes too...

The man at the Granite City train show who asked.
"Why do they use the letter T for the name?"
"T stands for three. For the three millimeter track gauge. The distance between the rails" I explained.
"But why the letter T?" He persisted. with a totally blank look on his face.
"Er because the word three begins with the letter T?" I tried.
Realisation dawned across his face.
I kid you not, this was a genuine conversation. My wife will back me up on this she was there too.

Exhibition report

Another show in the bag for T scale and it has to be said another success. I always have worries about the stock performing in the public gaze but once again they didn't let me down. I set one train running when the doors opened at 9am and it circulated the track at a nice pleasing speed for over 100 minutes before I thought it was time to clean the track and wheels. The set I replaced it with performed exactly the same. If not better as this was a brand new unit I'd just bought. I talked and talked about T scale all day and still have a sore throat the day after. I was even interviewed on a local radio station about the layout. I only had one real problem and that was at times I was having to pick pieces of ground foam scenic cover out from the gears of the driving bogie. Just the tiniest little bit of foam in there can play havoc with the running qualities.
Everyone was very interested and I hope some folks walked away thinking about a T scale model railroad for their very own Below is a picture of the layout at the show and some more pictures can be seen here at a friends flickr site
The Granite City train show is always great fun and a huge thanks to Ed Olson and crew for putting it on. I hope to be back there again in the not too distant future.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Touch wood...

Everything works OK.
I'm ready for the show tomorrow

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bite them fingernails...

It's extremely disconcerting when you've only got one train that works reliably...

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Do do do doodly-do. Booooo...
OK so the English TV reference will be lost on all you Americans. But never mind It makes me smile.
A week to go and its time to focus my attention onto Gonou. I have to admit that my success at The Princeton Train show has got me all fired up to work some more on Gonou. It's pretty well completed. The Shinto Shrine will not make an appearance as I've just not been happy with the way the model has been turning out. I've has three or four goes at some of the buildings and I'm still not happy. But there is still the petrol station and the working lighthouse for folks to look at. So that should more than keep viewers happy. Work this week then will centre around making the trains run reliably. I've received a new class 103 from TrainaidsA and it runs very nicely. I'm still disappointed that new trains haven't been forthcoming from Eishindo in time for the show. But I think folks will be happy with what they see.
One task has been completed. That is painting the frame of the baseboard black as I do to all my layouts. This has improved the appearance no end. Makes it look like a proper layout. Now I just have to make it run like a proper layout.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So, having been down on T gauge in recent postings. I thought I post some pictures of the latest progress. Being how I am still working on the layout in order to prepare if for the Granite City train show. Things are looking pretty good as these views will show.
Above: Looking down the layout it's difficult to believe that it's less than 3' long
Above: This close up of the station is meant to show the people and vending machines as well as the station fencing. It's almost impossible to show that detail without resorting to a macro lens.
Above: A the right hand end of the layout the Petrol Station blends in nicely
Hope you like the pictures

Monday, November 16, 2009


Definitely getting somewhat peeved with Messrs KK Eishindo. We are well into November and still no sign of the Hankyu 9000 or the KiHa40 trains. I had high hopes this time for the announced November release. But still nothing, in fact the Hobby Search website has gone back to listing December for the 9000. I was really hoping to have something new to run on Gonou at the Granite City Train Show.
Its really killing my enthusiasm. Good job I've got a back up layout for the show...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Having just watched the Minnesota Vikings put up a valiant fight against the Pittsburgh Steelers (my 2 favourite teams so it was a win/win situation for me) I decided to get on and do some work on Gonou. I was going to make a few more structures for the shrine that will sit atop the hill above the station. I have an entire sheet of .75mm embossed styrene that I have been using for the walls of the structures I've already made. Except now I can't find it. Anywhere. I never throw styrene away. So its about somewhere. But where I've no idea. I'm not worried. It'll turn up when I'm not looking for it. Just hope that time leaves me enough time top finish the shrine before the Granite City train show...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Business as usual then

Seems like all the worrying and depression over the purported demise of Eishindo was all for naught. It seems the fellows have reorganised and restructured (or whatever it was they were doing) and new items are hitting the shelves as I write. There is yet another new delivery date of November for the Hankyu 9000 and the KIHA 40 I won't hold my breath of course. But I can't help feeling just a tad excited about the fact. Hopefully they will both be here ready for the Granite City Train Show on December 5th. In fact I'd better get to work I have layout to finish.

Friday, September 25, 2009

beginning of the end?

Some worrying news reaches me through the pages of talking t gauge. Eishindo have stopped making spare parts for their stock.
David K Smith writes in more detail about the news and implications here
What can this mean? I mentioned the Eishindo re-organisation only a few posts ago just as I was getting restarted on work on Gonou. At worst this could be the start of the slippery slope to T being discontinued. I hope not. I hope it means that they will concentrate on the production of their trains while they re-organise. Perhaps I'm being greedy and want my Hankyu 9000 that I've been waiting for for over a year and my KiHa 40 as well.
I have searched the internet for some news about what has been happening but I've not found anything. Mind you not reading Japanese is a big drawback there methinks.
What to do? At the moment I will carry on finishing Gonou ready for its showing at the Granite city train show in December. I'll order myself a couple more Class 105's just in case. So the blog will continue for the moment like nothing has happened.
It's when nothing happens with this blog that you should be worried.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cultural exchange

One thing that is great about picking a prototype I know not a thing about to model is the learning.
Every last little bit of it is new to me. It doesn't matter what I'm working on.
Especially so when I comes to the subject of Japanese culture.
I've just started work on the Shinto Shrine that will sit atop the hill above the railway station.
It was enlightening enough when working on the Torii gates and discovering that there is a whole theory to the design and proportions all based around the thickness of the pillars. So much of it that I've forgotten most of it all. But the base unit of the design is the thickness of the pillars.
So to the shrine itself. For those who are following along with this it is inspired by the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine. Basically because I found a drawing of one of the buildings on this wikipedia page
Boy, there are so many confusing terms out there. We need only start with the Honden and the Haiden. That's confusing enough for a start. Made even more so by the fact that both buildings stand next to each other. The Honden is where the spirits or kami are enshrined. The Haiden is where the ordinary folks go to make offerings to the kami.
All the aspects of the architecture have new names Okichigi, Catsuogi. Don't ask but I do know I have to model them.
The overhang of the roof is causing me grief. It's huge. I look at it on my model and think to myself.
"That can't be right". Then I measure it out again and everything is to scale.
So I'm happy. Then I look at it again and think to myself.
"That can't be right"...
Sept 19: update having discovered some more pictures online I have decided to start again on the Honden. Nothing too serious but as soon as I saw these new pictures I realised I had no choice.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back in the saddle

So here we go, construction re-starts. The first thing I thought I'd work on was the petrol station as I had all the parts already completed. It was just a question of assembly. Except as I put things together I decided to add an interior to the store. Nothing too detailed just some stocked shelves, cooler cabinets and a checkout. I also populated it with a few people from the QE2 figures etch. When you look at the model from a distance you can't hardly see the effort I went to. The actual size of the model is something like the size of the thumbnails in this posting. Once you click on the thumbnails to see the details the cruel enlargement makes me feel like stepping on the model. So I go over to step on the model and I look at it and I can't see the details that were bothering me. This is one of the great problems of T scale modelling.
These two thumbnails are close to the actual size of the model.
In the extreme close up below you can see the shelving I added but can you see the people?

Catching up on the news

One thing with being away from something for an extended period of time. There is a lot of catching up to do. When my T modelling fell into a slump the pointwork and new track had been announced. The pointwork still isn't available though the flexible track is from some suppliers. I'm most disappointed that my Hankyu 9000 hasn't turned up.
But there does appear to be a reason for the lack of new items. Eishindo have had to go through a reorganization. From what I can gather from some Japanese translations of press releases they have closed the telephone customer service line relying on email. The overseas distribtion system will change as will the packaging of the items. What the state of the company is I don't know. I hope that this reorganization will improve things. It has to have been difficult to introduce a whole new model railway system during this economic climate.
I hope they will be around for a long time to come.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Taking Stock

Now the decision has been made to show Gonou, I have to put together a list of tasks that need to be done to get the layout to a standard that I would be happy to exhibit it at.
Here's a shortlist that is quite short really
1. Finish the Petrol Station - I have all the elements for that it just needs assembling. Though a part of me wants to make a suggestion of some kind of interior in the store.
2. Install the working flashing light on the lighthouse. - Should be an easy one to do.
3. Make the Shrine on top of the hill. Done some research on that but haven't started it yet.
4. Work on a backscene.
5. Make a level crossing for the front l/h curve. I think I'll just buy an Eishindo crossing and make it fit the curve somehow.

Those are the major things that must get done.
There are the fiddly details that need to be done like the addition of people and cars and boats and such like. I have plenty of those bits and bobs to install.

There's a couple of things I'd like to do as well but aren't all that important.
Having seen those small streetlights that David K. Smith found I'd quite like to install some of them.
Which leads me to the final item. A cabinet for the completed layout with an intergral light that I could dim so that you'd be able to see the streetlights shining and the lighthouse flashing more clearly.
So all in all not a great deal to do with almost three complete months to the show.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Re-lighting the Fire

Just as I was wondering when my enthusiasm for T gauge would return. Bang ! It did.
What was the cause of this?
Was it the appearance of some new T gauge items? No.
It was discovering that the Granite City train show in Saint Cloud, MN was on December 5th this year. I enjoy the GCTS and my T gauge layout "Hitsu" went down very well last time despite being in my mind poorly presented. I'd held off commiting to the show as I knew I was running a marathon in Dallas in early December and thought the two would clash.
So I fired an email off to the organiser to see if he had room for me and what do you know? He has.
So mark your diaries December 5th. St Cloud, MN Granite City train show. I'd love to see you there.
There's nothing like a deadline to focus your mind. As the late Douglas Adams said "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they rush by"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I wish I wish I wish...

Many of you will have noticed the lack of updates hereabouts. Well to be honest with you. I have a lack of interest in T. We all go through these little crises I'm sure. Mine is caused by the lack of any new stock from Eishindo. I have a Hankyu 9000 set on order. I have a Kiha 48 railcar on order. The Hankyu's delivery date has been passed, changed and passed again so many times that it's just not funny anymore. If something new came out then I'm sure my enthusiasm would come flooding back. But until then...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pointing in the right direction

OK BIG excitement over at the Eishindo website.
Drawings have appeared there for some new track sections, that includes, wait for it ... Pointwork!!! Not stopping there there is a diamond crossing and a third radius of curved track. A larger 145mm radius curve to go outside the current 132mm max radius. That will be nice, to have some larger radius curves. There are also drawings of some "half curve" 15 degree sections as opposed to the 30 degree of the standard curve and a "half straight" that is 30mm long instead of 60mm long.
The big excitement though surrounds the point work and crossing. This will really open the way up for proper model railway layouts. drawings can be seen here and here. The geometry of the crossing looks a little odd to those of you used to working in the bigger scales. But as we are talking such very small sizes of track components here. I think a few compromises had to be made to make them viable to produce. A certain member of talking T gauge is already sharpening his razor saw in preparation to cut them down and see if something more prototypical is viable.
All very exciting. No exact release date as yet, though I see Summer is stated after I ran the page through Google translate. It's times like this I wish I could read the Japanese on the Eishindo website. Instead I just drool over the drawings. Now if I could just get my Hankyu 9000...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Steady Progress...

I seem to recall that remark often adorned my school report cards. "Ian has made steady progress this term".
Nothing remarkable just Steady progress...
Much the same can be said for Gonou. I've had most of the week off work (a "Staycation" as the Yanks are wont to call it.) Rather than drive on and get things finished, which I dare say I could have done this week. I just plodded away doing a bit of this and a bit of that. Fixing the roads in place, putting down some ground cover. Nothing that screams at you "Major T scale constructional job". Just easy work that has to be done. Also I didn't feel like tackling the petrol pumps at the petrol station and I'm still researching the Shinto Shrine.
So there you are "steady progress" towards finishing the layout.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Waiting for a London bus...

Sheesh... Three posts in one day. It's like waiting for a London bus. None come along for a while and then you get three all at once... Just shows you what a man can do with the afternoon and evening to himself with some newfound enthusiasm...
This task is one of those that seemed like a good idea to start with and then when you come to try to photograph it. You curse because its difficult to show what you've actually done.
I was trying to model some reeds as shown in this picture on the Gonou photograph album that I have found so inspirational in creating this model.
I had the idea worked out perfectly I was going to use "pot toppers" available from Michaels craft store here in the US. Reeds can be tall so I figured that I would be able to get away with them even in T scale and I think I did. The colours on the fibres themselves are a bit bright straight from the package but they will tone down with a darker green paint.
The problem came when trying to photograph them. It is very difficult to get down to the right angle to show them to their effect. So you will have to make do with this shot until I can sort something better out.

Still waiting

Take a look at the links on the side bar there. In particular the retailers . Several Japanese (of course). One in Australia and one in the UK. There are a couple of other retailers in England and mainland Europe as well that aren't on my list. So where is the retailer in the USA?
Simple answer. There isn't one. Why has no US retailer decided to stock the stuff? Why has no entrepreneur taken it upon themselves to launch I can't quite fathom this out at all. I have been deluged with questions when at shows about where to buy T gauge trains. These people are quite disappointed when I tell them that the only way to get them in the USA is to order from Japan. These same people have then suggested that I start selling it. If I had the business acumen I might consider it. I have even bent the ear of a local retailer myself to try to persuade him to stock it. To no avail - yet.
So until someone steps up to the plate I guess we'll all have to keep ordering from Japan. Which is not all that inconvenient when you consider that an order from Hobby Search can be here 6 days after placing the order. (I have placed orders with Walthers in Milwaukee that can't even get out of the warehouse in that time) The exchange rate is still reasonable so the price isn't bad, a train and track set can still be had for under $100.
But I can't help thinking that someone, somewhere in this land of opportunity is missing out on one...

I've been working on the railroad...

We're a bit overdue for an update here. I really should be getting some work done here and as a consequence, posting a bit more. So here we go. Today I decided that I could put the job off no longer and I fixed the track in place. A momentous step in reality. There's no going back now. I had put this step off for a while because I was waiting for the delivery of the Eishindo level crossing and then I was preparing my H0 scale layout for an exhibition. Now that the level crossing is built and painted there is no excuse not to do the job. My chosen method was to get some double sided foam tape and stick it to the underside of the track sections. The underside is recessed so that the track sticks level to the baseboard with no unsightly gaps. Though if there were any I would expect that they could be hidden by scatter materials. It was a simple task that barely took 30 minutes to accomplish but means a lot. Now with the track permanently down I can run trains whenever I feel like it. To celebrate this fact that is what I did. It was very gratifying and a testament to Eishindo quality that the trains ran perfectly immediately after having been stored for several months and the track had just been laying around in my model railway room accumulating dirt you would think. I sat back and watched the Chou line set navigate the track from many angles and was feeling pretty pleased with myself especially as I watched from the rear and saw the train cross the bridge with the lighthouse behind it. I was so pleased that I set up a shot of the scene for you all to see.
Still got a lot to do on the layout yet. I've got 4 tiny petrol pumps for the petrol station to build as well as a suggestion of an interior for the shop. Let's not forget the Shinto shrine atop the hill. But this view here really makes me feel pretty good about the whole project and wanting to carry on some more.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Level Crossing

Now that the Saint Cloud train show is out of the way I can get on and do a bit more work on Gonou. A couple of weeks ago my level crossing arrived and it has been waiting patiently to be assembled. As with any T gauge stuff, the parts are small. So small and delicate looking in this case that I was actually worried about cutting them off the sprues in case I broke them. Luckily these worries were to be unfounded and the items came off the sprues very easily indeed. The crossing barriers and warning light poles come ready painted and before I assembled the parts I painted the roadway and the track. Everything goes together really easily though I did find it necessary to drill out the locating holes for the parts a bit so that placing the parts in them was easier. All in all it was only a 10-15 minute job to assemble it.

It looks the part and will do for me. Now I have to work out how I will make one to sit on a curved piece of set track at the other end of the layout.
Now with this finished I am at last able to fix all the trackwork in place on Gonou and I'll be able to run trains again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hello new viewers

A big "Hi" to those of you dropping in for the first time through Carl Arendts "Small Layout Gallery" Website.
Things are a bit quiet at the moment as I'm currently sprucing up my H0 scale layout "Oneota Yard" for an exhibition outing in St Cloud, MN on April 25th. The Granite City Train Show. Any Minnesotans should check the show out. It really is Jolly good.
As for Gonou. The level crossing arrived and as usual with T scale stuff. It is scarily small. So much so I'm actually quite nervous about cutting it off the sprue.
So, take a look at the blog. There's over 70 entries about all aspects of T gauge modelling. I hope you enjoy what you see and keep coming back. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Something to look forward to.

I got an email from Hobby Search in Japan today.
Level crossings are in and mine is being dispatched!
Hopefully it will be here by Friday.
This is doubly exciting for me because firstly it means that I can get on and lay the track and finally fix it in place. Secondly because I have been in dire need of some new T gauge stuff for a while. Not that my interest is flagging mind. Far from it. I'm still as keen as ever. I need that feeling you can only get when you see some impossibly tiny T gauge...
Is that like withdrawls?
Does this make me a T gauge junkie?
At least it's cheaper and safer than coke and heroin...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Up to date

Despite being in a "holding pattern" so to speak things have come along recently so here are some up to the minute photos for you...
1. A view along the layout with the train pausing at the small station
2. The mouth of the river showing the railway and the road bridge
3. Another view of the river mouth with the lighthouse in the foreground. Yes it will work. In the distance you can make out the petrol station that i have started on. It will include model petrol pumps.
4. A view of the hill behind the station. A model of a Shinto Shrine will be placed up here as signified by the two Torii gates modelled up there.
There we go that is the state of play currently. The roadways have yet to be bedded in and there are a couple of level crossings to install before I can fix the track in place.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Holding pattern

Things are a bit quiet on the T front at the moment.
I'm in an enforced holding pattern.
I'd like to get the track laid before I do anything more scenically. I think it would make more sense. I can't lay the track until I receive the upcoming level crossing. Which isn't until April so until then I sit and twiddle my thumbs or start a new blog on my 4mm scale modelling. You can read about that at Of course, if you're only interested in T then there won't be much there to interest you. But if, on the other hand, you like to read the ramblings of a frustrated railway modeller you might enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Touching up the track

Several months ago, in his Blog, David K Smith detailed his method for improving the Set track that comes with the Eishindo train set. You can read that here. I've been impressed with this since the moment I saw it and vowed to have a go. The end result and comparison shot is here.
I basically followed Davids' method except I did not paint the sides of the rail a rusty colour. I thought that just too fiddly. I thought that the difference would not be that noticeable. But even so with that stage missing, the painted track is still a huge improvement over the Eishindo product. I'm glad I did it.
This is one of those jobs that you have to be in the mood for. I tried several times to get started on the job and it took me three sessions over three evenings to do just one foot of track. Then another night, I switched to a different paint brush (a 18/0 spotter as opposed to a 000) and I did the rest of the track for the visible section of the layout in 90 minutes.
Was it the brush? I think it helped somewhat, as with such a small brush its difficult to overload it with paint. But I also think that I was in the mood to do it.
Thats just one more thing I never imagined doing when I started out on this T scale journey.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The battle of the little people

Today I picked up a package from Japan from the post office. This one was the latest sets of little people from Eishindo. Who would believe that this tiny modelling scale would yield a selection of over 300 people to populate a layout!
Eishindo has 4 packs of people with 32 people in each pack and the Eduard etch of QE2 passengers has 180 passengers and crew...
I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast the two ranges to see what is available to you. They are two very different types.
Firstly the Eishindo range. I'm thinking these figures must be injection moulded as they come attached to a sprue. As such these people are modelled in three dimensions. Running people have their legs behind and in front of them. There are also some very interesting poses. People running as I have just stated, people sat reading newspapers, a man carrying a child on his shoulders are some examples. All recreated very nicely, get in close with a magnifying glass and you can tell what they are.
Where these figures are let down is in the painting. Quite how these are even painted at all is a mystery to me. David K Smith postulated on "talking t gauge" that perhaps they were printed with an ink jet printer. As you can see from the extreme close up paint does indeed seem to be thrown at the figures. This picture is of set 005.
To give you an idea of size the mounting pin that the people are stood on is 1mm across. Figures below are from set 004
But as you get further away from them the painting becomes less noticeable. These figures below are from set 003 and are nearest to actual size. They are delicate and great care will need to be exercise when mounting them on the layout.
Compare these to the Etched figures from Eduard sold though Mr Hobby/Gunze Sangyo of Japan. These are flat etched nickel silver people. So they are flat, no people running. The most animated they get is a person waving an arm. But the painting/printing on these is outstanding. You can make out ties, belts, hair colours and faces.
The Eduard figures are available here.
So "You pays yer money and you takes yer choice" as they say. In this scale, at this size no one product is better than the other. It's two different bites of the same apple. There's a dynamism and reality to the Eishindo figures that the flat static Eduard ones just don't have. But because of the wildly different standard of finishing it might be unwise to mix them in the same scene. Clearly I'm going to have to take a deep breath, don my magnifier and learn to paint Eishindo figures. As with a little care I think they could be very very nice indeed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On the Buses...

It's amazement time again.
If there is one thing that T gaugers are in dire shortage of it's road vehicles.
Eishindo supply some delightful boats, some impossibly tiny bikes. But as yet no road vehicles. But fear not, for there are other avenues to get the automobiles for your T gauge world.
Through "talking t gauge" I came across a company called Gemini Jets. Who make (not unsurprisingly) model jet airliners to 1:400 scale. They also make a supporting range of airport structures and support and maintenance vehicles. Now 1:400 is not 1:450 but when it comes to a bus or a delivery truck it's not really going to make much difference I think.
Pictured here these are quite a delightful selection of vehicles. So I succumbed and ordered a box.
I placed the order on Monday lunchtime. Wednesday afternoon they were on the doorstep when I got home. Awesome service from Gemini Jets and Past-time hobbies of Illinois.
Once again, as always, when I opened the package I was amazed. The quality is superb. For this tiny size the detail is amazing. The buses have seats inside for Pete's sake! The Catering truck and the cargo loader have boxes and decks that raise as the real things do! No flash, no ridge lines. Lovely paint jobs. The box says "models for craftsmen built by craftsmen". I won't argue there. The price of these delightful items $23.95. Not cheap. But worth it.
Lets look at the vehicles. There are two buses that will be useable without any modification whatsoever and the same can be said for the fuel tanker.
The large catering truck and the smaller truck with steps could easily be converted to ordinary delivery vehicles without too much trouble I imagine. I suppose I'll get to find out in the not too distant future... I imagine that the cargo and luggage loaders and aircraft pullers will be difficult if not impossible to do anything with. the same might be said for the luggage trolleys. But I have to wonder if anyone will try to convert the tiny tractor unit that hauls the luggage trolleys to resemble a jeep. I think that is do-able.
Gemini Jets are at

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Craggy Island

"Now Dougal these are small, but those are far away"...
So runs my favourite ever line from the great comedy series "Father Ted". We know these are small. The lighthouse is about 1 inch tall, and the prototype is far away (to me) so it's an appropriate quote to use.
For quite a while now my model of Torii Saki lighthouse has sat on a shaped block of white polystyrene. Once it got referred to as the "iceberg" on the "talking t gauge" forum, I figured it was about time to get on and produce a better island for the lighthouse to stand on. A dig around on the internet came up with a decent picture of the craggy island that the prototype stood on. So I set to with my hot wire cutter and hacked the styrene into something that resembled the shape of the island in the photograph before me. Then I coated it with lightweight spackle and painted it up and gave it the scenic treatement much as I did with the rest of the rock faces on the layout. The result is seen below.
The Island itself will be connected to the mainland by a rocky causeway much as the protoype is. The finishing touches to the island will be to add the light to the lighthouse, bed the lighthouse onto the island and fit it in place. Another element of the layout nears completion.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stoppit stoppit stoppit!!!

Sometimes the T gauge world gets crazy exciting. Now is one of those times. For in one of my regular looks at the Hobbysearch website I discovered this. The level crossing is now available to order! I need two of these fellows for Gonou. Another impossibly tiny piece of scenic neccesity.
Delivery is scheduled for April. My order is placed...

Get yer Hanky(us) out...

I was so busy with making things this weekend I neglected to mention the other T gauge occurence of note.
For longer than I care to remember. I've been on the waiting list for the forthcoming Hankyu 9000 unit model at Hobby search in Japan. Deadline dates for the release of the model have come and gone and changed and come and gone for months now. The release of the Hankyu is important. The train has a new drive train ('scuse the pun) for improved performance and is a delightful looking model to boot.
On Saturday morning I got an email telling me that I could place an make a reservation/order for one.
I still don't know how far off release date for the model is, but at least I've ordered one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Decisions decisions

Well, not 5 minutes after I posted the first picture of the road bridge on the talking T gauge forum I was greeted with a post from one of our antipodean cousins* (Australians) to the effect of how they thought that the single pier in the middle of the river didn't look right. It wasn't until this was mentioned to me that I thought.
"You know what? They're right". As the piers take only a matter of minutes to construct using styrene strip I made another one and fitted it in place.
It makes a huge improvement.
Another glowing advert for the effectiveness of the talking T gauge forum...

* OK so I know that technically Australia is only antipodean to the UK. But I'm from the UK so Australia will always be the antipodes to me (besides I really like the word)...

The other bridge

Another day and another modelling project approaches completion. This time it's the "other bridge". The road bridge that sits behind the railway bridge. When I left it a few posts ago I was mulling over the idea of the central pillar. Well today I quickly made one installed it and decided it looked right. So it became a part of the bridge and now painted, it makes the bridge look right. The bridge is based on no real prototype, just an amalgam of images off the internet. But it definitely looks like a proper bridge to me.That's another project done bar the weathering and installation. Progress is getting exciting.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Torii Gate

To be honest. I didn't think I'd be making two posts today. But I was so fascinated by the pictures of Torii Gates that I found on the internet, that I just had to set to and start working on a model of one. I didn't realise I'd almost have one finished by the end of the day. I was so fascinated by the project that I ended up forgetting about dinner until I noticed I was getting very hungry.
What spurred me on the most was finding some writings on the proportions of a Gate. So with that in mind and some 2.5mm styrene tube to hand I set about working up a drawing that I could use. This 1:450 scale model is pretty close to the correct proportions for a Torii Gate.
Once I had the drawing the rest of the way was easy. I just cut styrene tube and strip to size, pinned it on top of the drawing and stuck it all together as in the picture below.
The basic gate was pretty easy. The curved top section, or Kasagi, was a bit more of a problem and I spent quite a while working out how to recreate that part. In the end I didn't model a curve, just a slope. But the effect is still OK. Then a bit of filler later. I had what you see in the picture below. If you must know, the filler is still setting in the picture. But I was so excited by the whole project I had to make this blog entry.
So after the filler has set and I've cleaned it up. I'll give it a coat of red and black paint and it will be done.
Construction was simplicity itself and I spent more time researching the structure and working out how to make it than I did making it.

Balancing act.

Here are a couple of progress shots with scenic elements (and trains) thrown in there to get a feel for things and one thing is painfully obvious. The layout is off balance. There is more going on on the right hand side (houses, bridges, lighthouse) than the left (erm... nothing much a train dives into a tunnel). Even with a forest atop the hill things will still be off balance. So I really have to have something going on at this left hand side. I had mooted the idea of a Shrine or Castle or something up there for a while but wasn't entirely sure if it was needed. I thought a tree covered hillside might do it instead.
So a shrine it has to be. Somehow I don't think the gods would be best pleased at the thought of a railway diving underneath their shrine. But they'll have to compromise.
So something new to learn about - Shinto Shrines.
The research has started. I've found some pictures of typical entry gates (Torii gates) That should be an interestingly simple structure to start with and set me well on the way.
There's always something about T gauging to keep you interested

Monday, February 23, 2009

Steady Progress

Following on from the successful work on the cliff faces at the left hand side of the layout. I decided to work on the right hand side, where the biggest extent of cliff face will be. After a while it began to look quite acceptable to me. So I added the bridges houses and the roadway (the roadway will, of course be painted a tarmac colour) and took a picture for the records. Methinks it's looking pretty good. You'll also see that I have started to be paint the sea in. But that will be a story for another day...

Friday, February 20, 2009

The lie of the land

Starting work on the scenery proper is always a daunting job for me, whatever the scale of the layout. It's make or break time for it I feel and working in a new scale made things even more nerve wracking.
But today I decided I could put it off no longer and had to get on and start covering the ground with something other than the earth paint from Woodland Scenics. Luckily, I had a lot of various foliage materials to hand and so I just set to and started covering the ground in much the same way as I would if I was modelling in any other scale. At all times I was referring to the pictures on the Gonou photogallery to help me decide what grades of foliage should go where. In the end I ran out of Hob-e-tac used for sticking the foliage to the hillside and had to stop for the day. The following 2 pictures are the results of the days work. The structures have just been put in place to give you a feel for the way it will look when finished.At the moment I'm undecided as to if the road bridge at the rear needs a central pillar or not. I think a structural engineer might just tell me Yes.
The rock faces seen in this picture were very simply created by spreading spackle on the area and shaping it to look like rocks. I then painted it a mid grey and have been dry brushing and adding washes of darker and lighter greys and black on there for added texture and relief. The flattish top of the hill will mainly be covered in trees though I will likely add some kind of structure like a shrine or castle on top, for something interesting to look at.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Earth Movements

Lately there's been some landscaping developments on the layout. Pretty major earth movements when you think about it.
I was, it has to be said, not terribly happy with the shape of the hill massif behind the station. Though I did like the idea of the train running through a deep cutting to the tunnel mouth at the rear of the layout. It just made the hill an awkward shape. So out of curiosity. I added a lump of foam to the front of the layout cut a hole in it for the tunnel mouth and looked at it. Instantly I liked what I saw and I fixed the foam in place and covered it with spackle to create a new landscape. One that I am much happier with. After that had all set I painted the land with woodland scenic earth colour. This gets rid of the blizzard landscape and makes the land start to look like land. Here's the result of that work.
With the track, station and tunnel mouth in place you can see that the layout is really beginning to take shape. The hill looks a lot more believeable than before. The white, by the way, that you see is some extra spackle that will be carved and painted to look like a cliff face. Really I'm very very happy with the way things are progressing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Gonou line pictures

Regular readers here are now well versed in the inspirational photogallery that started me off on this Odyssey, the Gonou line photogallery. Well, the same photographer has now added some more pictures of this scenic line. These pictures were taken in the winter. You can see them here The sea is rough, the area is covered in snow, but it still looks very scenic.
I'm also drawn to the pictures of the rather brightly coloured DMU in several of the pictures with its red, orange, yellow and black front end it looks like one of those dragons that you see dancing in the streets at Chinese new year celebrations. I like it. I might have to try something like that for my first serious atempt at scratchbuilding some T gauge rolling stock.
A quick posting on the jtrains group on Yahoo! has lead to the discovery of more information about the colourful DMU seen in some of the pictures on the website.
It is a Kiha 47 resort Shirakami train. Refurbished from the Kiha 40 DMU's to cater for the increased traffic on the line from people visiting the World Heritage site the Shirakami Mountains.
There are three types of train distinguished by their different colour schemes inspired by the area
The Buna, green coloured set based on the Buna trees (Beech trees to Westerners) found in great quantities on the mountains
The Aoike, blue/white colour set inspired by the blue water of the Aioke pool, uppermost of the Juniko water pools on Shirakami mountains.
The Kumagera, based on Kumagera bird (or black Woodpecker) found on the mountains.
This is the set that is pictured on the site.
Fascinating stuff. I'm now going to find out more about the fascinating Shirakami Mountains. Whoever said model railways were boring?

Monday, February 9, 2009

The March of the little people

Yes, dear readers. Its time to be amazed again as something awesome in 1:450 scale has come into my possession.
These etched figures from Eduard of the Czech republic. They are supposed to be passengers for a 1:450 scale model of the QE2. But people are people and this etch of close to 180 people will populate many T gauge layouts, instead of cruising the high seas...
They are tiny, so incredibly tiny. Yet the "painting" of the clothing is awesome. I use the work painting loosely. I'm sure these must have been printed somehow. But I'm not bothered about the technicalities of how they did it. I'm just amazed at what has been done.
As the people are etched out of metal (Nickel Silver I should think) they are thin. Very thin. But then again if you were to scale me and my 33 inch waist down to 1:450 just how thin would I be?

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Terraforming. Magnificent word. Right out of science fiction. I beleive that Terraformers were the principal protagonists in the recent Doctor Who story. "The Doctors daughter".
Terraformers, courtesy of imaginitive writers produce liveable planets out of what was nothing but a dead lifeless rock, basically. In a way that's what I'm up to here. Producing a beleievable model landscape out of nothing much at all.
The picture below shows how everything is starting with the main hill behind the railway station. Nothing could be simpler than cutting some white expanded polystyrene foam insulation to size with a hot wire cutter and shaping it until you're happy. The best part being you don't have to be entirely happy as you can adjust things as you go along. Slice a bit off here, add a bit there. Just glue the stuff in place.
Then cover the white foam with a base material to cover all your additions and subtractions and smooth everything out. My choice material is Lightweight spackle. Its just a pre mixed lightweight filler for filling holes and cracks prior to doing any painting on any household decorating jobs. I like it. I find it easy to handle and if you keep the pot it comes in properly sealed when stored, it keeps for quite some time. The picture below shows the early stages of covering the basic hill shape. When finished it will look like a snowscape. All nice and white.
I haven't quite got there yet. I'm still adding and subtracting and smoothing things out. I'm following the photographs on the gonou line website as a guide. But its a very different landscape to what I'm used to and sometimes I feel like things aren't quite right. But I'm sure everything will sort itself out in the end.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bridge progress

After all the trouble the building of this bridge gave me to start with. Its nice to report a week of relatively uneventful progress. I gave the structure a first coat of paint. Poly Scale "aged concrete" for the piers and abutments and a model master acryl "French Blue" (that I thought was going to be a bit less glossy than it turned out to be). Then I added some more hand rails from the package of handrails that I used on the lighthouse. These handrails though not easily breakable, do bend under the slightest touch and it is rather difficult to keep them straight and level. So the next progress on this model will be a second coat of paint, then some weathering followed by a spraying with dullcote to take the shine off the blue paint.
Some people might take issue with the painting of this bridge a bright blue. But the simple fact of the matter is this. It seems to be what the Japanese do. I looked at many pictures of bridges while researching this model and if the bridge isn't made from concrete then it's painted in a bright colour. Red, Orange, Blue etc: I don't know why it's just the way that it seems to be. It certainly makes a change from the rusting hulks I see over here.
The next project is the other bridge. A road bridge. That one will be based on a concrete structure.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tree reminiscing

The question was recently asked on Talking T gauge about modelling trees in T. This, of course, is something I know a bit about as regular readers of this blog will well know. Whilst researching my answer to the question I realised that I hadn't posted a description of my "tree top matting".
First of all, I must apologise for the quality of some of the pictures. These were grab shots that I used to illustrate the posting and I never got around to taking better pictures. Hitsu of course is gone now and so is the chance to take better pictures. The tree top mat still exists and will be used on Gonou.This is the base material for the mat. Just ordinary kitchen scourer pad. Torn to size and teased out to make thinner.
When you've done that. You cover it with the glue of your choice. As you can see mine was Elmers woodworking glue. In this picture also you can see the packet of the Woodland scenics foliage material I used in the next stage. This was just stuck onto the scourer pad.
That's it really. Quick and easy. No more to making the mat than that.
Next comes installing the mat. Stage one is to clear an area that you want to cover with trees and place some tooth picks in the ground, to raise the mat to what you deem to be a suitable tree top height and place the mat on top of it.
The effect as you can see in the picture below is quite acceptably realistic. The flash from my camera has made the trunks of the trees and the green of the scourer mat more visible than they actually are. Once the mat is installed on the new layout better pictures will follow.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A troubled bridge part 2

I've spent this week working on the abutments for the rail bridge. A simple task? Oh no. If it had been a simple task this blog entry would have had a totally different title. But as you can see the bridge has definitely been a trouble causer. Perhaps it was because I was brimming with confidence (over confidence) after the lighthouse and putting together the deck so easily, that I just blundered into making the abutments. First thing to do was to cut a slice out of the riverbank to what I thought would be a good size for the abutments as you can see in the picture below. This was easy, a few cuts with a sharp modelling knife and Bingo! Done.So to the abutments themselves. I decided to build them to suit the location as neither site was the same. So I just cobbled together strips of styrene of all sorts of sizes to build them as you can see here. No real problems there.
Until I went back to them 5 days later. I decided they weren't wide enough. They were barely visible around the bridge deck. "
Make them bigger" I thought. "Easy".
So I just started sticking strips of styrene onto the abutments until I got a size that I thought would look OK. Of course this was leading to a rather fragile structure and it wasn't too long before I realised that the better bet would have been to make new ones from scratch. So thats what I did and promptly made the first replacement abutment too short...
It was then I decided to sit back, put on some calming music (My Doctor Who season 4 soundtrack CD had just arrived so that was taken care of) and start again.
Measure twice cut once. If only I'd listened the first time. So this time everything went together perfectly and lead to the bridge looking like it does below.
Only a subtle difference from last time but an essential one.
So, on with the rest of the bridge, and remember. "Measure twice, cut once"