Aug 2014

Sumida Crossing at Five

Five years? It’s really been five years since I started this layout? My how time has flown. But it has: five years ago this month the layout was just a pile of boards and 2x4 plywood panels leaning against my workbench, awaiting cutting and assembly.

I’d become interested in Japanese trains a couple of years previously, and had been playing with a few of them on my Kitchen Table with a loop of Kato Unitrack. My first two trains were a Yamanote Line E231-500 (six car basic set) and the original Narita Express (253 Series, also six cars). By the spring of 2009 I had a half-dozen trains and I was thinking that it was time to retire the old HO layout, which had been collecting dust for a number of years, and build something in its place. Planning began, and by late July I was taking the old layout apart.

Then one weekend in late August, I decided that my plans were solid enough to take saw to plywood. An afternoon at the local home supply store and I was equipped with the lumber I needed to start making my 2x4 “tables”. They went together even faster than expected, eight of them in a bit more than a week, and soon I had them spread out over the basement floor on sheets of plastic, being painted with gray latex primer.

Transition Curves and Superelevation

All of my Japanese-themed layouts to date have used sectional track, either Kato Unitrack or Tomix Finetrack. I haven’t built a layout using flex track in more than twenty years. And that layout was a relatively simple one, modeling an American freight shortline, with low-speed trains and no “mainline” trackage. That let me cut a few corners.

But now that I’m thinking of building a new layout using flex track, and particularly one with mainline track for both moderate-speed commuter and high-speed Shinkansen, it’s time for me to confront two of the more complicated aspects of trackwork that I’ve so far been able to avoid: transition curves and superelevation (for more information on these, see my Easements page). And it turns out, neither is really complicated after all.