About the Site

Who Am I?

My name is Ken Shores, and I’ve been a model railroader (and NMRA member) for more years than I care to recall, but always in HO scale, and with freight railroads. However, it’s always been a part-time hobby for me, and there have been whole years when the trains gathered dust. Around 2008, I’d started to get back into it, only to be frustrated by various problems with the existing layout. And that led me to think about starting over without the baggage of all my early mistakes, and doing something new and different from what I had been doing. After a brief period of using the kitchen table that lead to the first version of Sumida Crossing. I’m now (2016) planning its successor.

My original 1990’s HO railroad suffered from many “first time” errors (curves too sharp, grades too steep, too much track in too little scenery, electrical problems) and needed significant work, or maybe just to be replaced. I never really liked passenger trains much (to model; I enjoy riding them). But after several years of dithering about what to do with the layout, the Japanese Passenger Train bug bit me. And oddly, I’ve never even been to Japan. I blame the publishing industry.

I’ve been a reader of the British magazine Model Rail for several years. This planted the seeds of interest in passenger trains, as most of the model railroads profiled there are, or at least include, passenger facilities. And the trains have much more visual appeal than typical American trains. The idea of doing some kind of modern, non-American, passenger train modeling began to take hold. Looking at advertisements for Kato trains in the back of MR had me thinking they looked interesting, but I never really seriously thought about buying any, partly because N scale seemed “too small”. Then Trains magazine ran an article on Shinjuku station in Tōkyō, the world’s busiest passenger station, and the hook was set.

From there, I started looking around to see what was available, and quickly realized that N-scale was the way to go, with several Japanese manufacturers making a variety of urban trains. For some reason the usual “bullet trains” didn’t appeal all that much, and I ended up focusing on the urban/suburban “commuter” trains. These are halfway between a subway train and a long-distance passenger train. Unlike American commuter rail, they’re mostly electric-multiple-unit trains fed from overhead wiring, but like American commuter rail they share their tracks with freight trains (in places, anyway). They also come in a dizzying variety of models and colors, many of which use the same tracks in urban areas, as outlying lines come together. They’re also big, ten or even fifteen cars long, which makes the choice of N scale even more important.

I bought a train (a six-car Yamanote line E231) and a loop of Kato track. That was the “narrow end of the wedge”. It snowballed from there, until, many dollars later, I had a loop of track on my dining table (a common approach, and known as a “Kitchen Table Layout”, or KTL) with a yard, some buildings for scenery, and a bunch of trains to run. This, of course, was just the first step on my descent into madness. Before too long I wanted more: actual scenery, longer station tracks, and lots of storage for ten-car or longer trains.

N-scale lets you pack lots of model into a small space, but ten-car, 200-meter trains are still four feet long, and trying to replicate a city full of them on thirty-two feet of mainline is a crazy idea. Come share my insanity.
I’m not much of a correspondent, but you can write to me at: signature

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