Nov 2010

November 2010 Status: Pausing for Thought

After completing the outer loop in September, I took a break from construction. Partly this was because I wanted to run trains, and the next bit of construction I had planned would require disrupting that for a time. Partly it was because I had a number of loose ends I needed to catch up on (chronicled in past musings). And a part of it was an inability to nail down the final design of the Riverside Station track, which was the next thing I needed to work on.

Paging Captain Nemo: Japan’s Distinctive Train Designs

As I’ve mentioned before, Japanese trains are often visually quite distinctive. The Nankai Railway’s 50000 series rapi:t is one of the most distinctive, and evokes images of Victorian engineering and Jules Verne science fiction novels. It operates as an airport shuttle service between Osaka and Kansai International airport (about a 30-minute trip). According to wikipedia it was designed by an architect working with the theme of “outdated future”, which suggests that he was trying to create the “futuristic” look found in early twentieth-century works such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Whatever the intent, the result is distinctive and unique, and very far from the utilitarian design that characterizes most western trains (or other machinery).

Kato Lightboard Flickering II

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about light. First it was the layout lighting, then it was the flickering interior lights, which annoyed me when I detailed my first commuter EMU, and which I wrote about nearly two months ago when I did the original planning for a flicker-prevention circuit. Now I’m back, having built several prototypes and refined my design. I think I have a winning solution.

A Matter of Time

Railroads have always been concerned with time. Early ones used timetables alone to keep trains on the same track from colliding. This didn’t work very well, particularly given the accuracy of mid-1800‘s pocket watches and the lack of synchronized time sources, and many lives were lost. Signaling systems and other protection methods were gradually developed. But timetables continued to be important for all trains in scheduling the use of tracks even with other systems used for protection, and timetables were required for passenger trains, as trains from different places needed to coordinate their arrival and departure at interconnection points, so passengers could move smoothly from one to the next as part of a longer journey. Railroads gradually developed standards for time-keeping (and they’re responsible for the adoption of the standard time zones used in the U.S.), and also influenced the development of clocks and watches to provide accurate and synchronized time sources.

Japanese passenger trains today are famed for their obsessive adherence to schedules, with deviations measured in seconds, not minutes. So it only seems reasonable that a model railroad of a Japanese passenger line should operate to timetable (well, eventually,I need a yard/staging tracks before that will be much fun).

Freight Trains, Electronics and October 2010 Status

Not much got done on the layout itself in October, mostly I’ve been running trains (as documented in an earlier post with a video) and doing a bit of electrical work (mostly the previously noted update to the power panel). I’ve spent a good bit of time on a couple of other things though.