Buildings and Freight Branches

I’ve been spending some time recently looking at gas stations, which might seem like an odd thing to do. Well, okay, it is an odd thing to do. The thing is, I have a Tomix gas station model that I’m planning to include in the river crossing scene, and I was wondering how prototypical it was for an urban station, as it looked rather large. So, using Google Maps and Streetview, I’ve been looking at gas stations in Sumida, Kōtō and Taitō wards (the wards abutting the Sumida river where the Sōbu line runs), as well as browsing Flickr and Wikimedia for useful images. The results can be seen on the Commercial Buildings page I’ve added to the Scenery section.

To sum up my findings: it’s a reasonable size, and it has the car wash, service bay, and shop common to most such stations (the smallest omit the car wash, but all of them seem to include service bays). However, its most jarring feature is that it uses ground-level pumps, which are rare in urban Tokyo. More commonly, the filler hoses hang down from the overhead, allowing more cars to be packed into a smaller area. I’m debating trying to modify the model, or perhaps just using parts of it instead to model a slightly smaller station.

I’m still a long way from being ready to place buildings on the layout; I need to finish deciding on the height of things, and carve/glue down foam, so I can start making scenery. Then I can actually think about finishing models of structures. But it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead about what kinds of buildings I’ll put where. It’s clear I’m going to have to do some scratchbuilding and/or kitbashing to fill in the space I have (I could go broke buying ready-made Japanese buildings, and there really aren’t enough different ones on the market anyway).

A second thing I’ve been spending time on is updating and transferring to the site some notes I took on a freight branch in Kōtō ward, the Etchūjima Cargo Line. This had been one of my original modeling influences, although a freight branch based on it ultimately was dropped from the layout plans due to lack of space. This branch is interesting, both as a non-electrified freight-only urban line, which was in service until about 2000, and in its modern role as a source of maintenance-of-way trains, which would have been very interesting to model. Perhaps someday in the future I’ll find a way to fit it in. Anyway, there’s now a Freight page under the Background section, and an Etchūjima page there (I’ll add other pages in the future as the impulse moves me).

The Etchūjima page is worth checking out for the photo of the switcher locomotive painted to look like a puppy. Only in Japan would a piece of serious railroading hardware have such a whimsical paint scheme.

Update 8 Feb: corrected spelling typo.
== Comments copied from old system
Sunday, February 7, 2010 - 08:29 PM
Here's a gas station in central Tokyo that uses ground-level pumps (I only know it because it was a frequent source for late-night rice balls when I visited)

Google Map Reference

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 12:06 AM
Thanks for the pointer. And it's fairly close to Tokyo Station too, so it's right around the area that's my main inspiration (the Chuo and Sobu lines, particularly the latter where it crosses the Sumida river).