Why yes, I am insane. Let's clear that up now shall we
So, about a year ago this was the extent of my insanity:
This was a few weeks after my first ever N gauge purchase, the yellow EMU
car sitting all on its lonesome, as I wandered into a model railway shop
by accident and thought it might be nifty to put on a shelf, as it was not
only cheap but it's one of the trains on my local line.
A couple of weeks after that, SWMBO caught sight of it and was surprisingly
entranced, demanded to know if it would run by itself and if not why not,
anyway I soon found myself experimenting with track'n'stuff, the miniscule
120x90cm setup shown above with a Shinkansen buffet car deputising as
a freight loco, as SWMBO had demanded freight cars but I had omitted to
purchase anything to pull them with (this oversight has since been rectified,
several dozen times).
It soon became clear that 120x90cm was Not Enough Space, and after much
experimentation it has proved possible to carve out a 305x90 main layout
and approximately 210x30cm layout-on-a-shelf (documented here
), with some
overlap (the layout-on-a-shelf is, for reasons which may or may not
become clear, 12cm higher than the main layout).
So, that leaves the pesky question of a layout plan. Or more precisely,
what do I want to do and how can I do it?
I feel that now is a good time to point out that shortly after birth I
fell into a vat of 100%-proof Rule One and purists may be distressed by
what follows below.
Right, OK. I like running trains. That narrows it down a bit, what? Actually
I can limit my interests to Japanese, British and German trains (I've lived
in all three countries), plus any other country's trains I may pick up from
time to time. And not much of a kettle fan, but not too keen on these shiny
modern trains with their garish vinyl decorations, so I try and keep it
to post-war pre-privatisation-ish diesels and electrics (actually nothing
against pre-war diesels and electrics either, come to think of it, though
there's not much there on the British side of things).
Hmm, and I'm in Japan, so it makes sense to go for a
generally Japanese concept (especially as there's a huge range of buildings,
accessories and other bits available at remarkably reasonable prices).
But hmm, would be nice to have somewhere plausible-looking to run at
least the British trains. Hence my original idea of "Eitetsumura", a
British-themed railway station in Japan, but I've moved away from that
idea and am going to pretend the railway company went the whole hog and
rebuilt a section of station and the surrounding bits in British style.
So a mainly Japanese layout but with a sudden bit of Britain in it. And
maybe Germany too. Because I'm insane, like I mentioned earlier.
Now, an important part of any model railway is operations, and from my
perspective, if a train is not running round and round while I gaze
upon it in utter delight, it's not earning its keep. However a "roundy-roundy"
by itself is, in my most humblest of opinions, not the most exciting
of configurations, and a seminal moment occurred when I stumbled across
this little layout in a corner of the Kato HQ shop:
Took me a while to work out how it fit together, but when I did it was
my personal "Eureka!" moment and I leapt out of the bath to run
naked down the street to the Philosopher's Club to broadcast my insight.
Hmm, no, note to self, am not Greek philospher. Anyway what I'd stumbled
across is the Magical Folded Dogbone, a concept which had previously eluded
me (couldn't see it below all the bubbles in the bath) which provides not only
a remarkably long run in a small space (9 metres on the current 180cm x 90cm
temporary setup), but makes it non-obvious where the train is
running / will go next, unless you watch carefully. Add in a couple
of tunnels and it becomes most entertaining.
Only problem is it involves gradients and relatively tight curves, which
is not so excellent for running higher-speed trains. So we'll add in
a loop around the outside of the folded dogbone - if possible double
track, but I suspect that might be pushing things. We'll see.
What else... SWMBO insists on a mountain, and who am I do disagree?
And if there's going to be a mountain (well, a small hill) why not
run a little railway up it? And a cityscape of the dense Japanese
variety so I can take pictures like this: (I need to have an elevated viaduct winding its way between city buildings, otherwise
my life will not be complete)
And some on-street train running. Dunno why but I like the idea
of actual trains running down roads, like this one:
(why, I do have a model of that, since you ask). And trams.
And some sidings to shunt things in. Maybe something vaguely
industrial for the odd bit of freight. A TMD or two to display
locos in. SWMBO also wants an automatic level crossing.
Now would be a good time for you to sigh and mutter things about
being overly ambitious. Go on, get it out of your system.
OK, now poise a hand in front of your forehead ready to slap...
this is a very provisional proof-of-concept track plan, shown
here as a 3D scarm view as it involves three levels of track and
is hard to visualise otherwise:
Well even then it's hard to visualize, so use your imagination and/or substances
illegal in some countries.
Anyone still here? I should point out this plan is not complete - just
a proof-of-concept for the main running lines; sidings, stations etc. to be
added. Note: the Scarm diagram does make the track look like it takes more
space than it actually does, so it's not quite as crowded as it looks.
The narrow section running left-to-right in the foreground is
what I've been working on so does actually kind of exist outside
of my fevered imagination. However I will be adding some subterranean
storage sidings on the shelf below (maybe also an underground station
if it's feasible - there are some Japanese kits I could bash, and
it would be ineffably cool to simulate the kind of through-running
common in Japan from the metro right out into the boonies).
This will all be implemented using a mixture of Kato and Tomix track
(purists - I did warn you!) using where possible the elevation
accessories provided by the respective system. I fully intend to
develop this iteratively, i.e. get the track in place, add ready-to-plonk
scenic items, and improve as-and-when I find time between testing
Disclaimer: this isn't ever going to be an exhibition-standard layout,
it's purely for my own personal pleasure (and to keep the family amused
sometimes as well). Viewed as a whole it will probably not make much
"sense", but I do hope that individual bits will make nice little
scenes. Watch this space (but don't hold your breath).
As for the name, it's a bit of mildly implausible etymology, I'll
explain in a future episode.