A Quiet Year

As you can see, I’m hard at work…

You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here this year, or at least the last half-year. I noted back at the beginning of the year that I had several projects I planned to work on. These were microprocessor-based systems for the planned layout. Those projects all stalled out for one reason or another. Not abandoned, but I ran into problems I couldn’t easily solve, and set them aside for other things, not all related to the railroad. One of them was a software project unrelated to the layout that ate all my spare time this fall. If I can get any of my railroad projects actually advanced next year, I’ll report on them.

I am still planning a “new” Sumida Crossing that’s more directly based on real-world urban Tōkyō. I have lots of ideas for what I want there, but it’s centered on JR East in the vicinity of the Sumida River. Which, honestly, doesn’t really narrow the scope all that much.

The Kato Single Crossover

It’s been a while since I last posted. I’m still out here, but the layout is on hiatus for now, and my attention is elsewhere. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on model railroading in general, or Japanese passenger trains in particular. Just taking a break.

This past weekend I went to a train show and saw that Kato had finally released the single crossovers that had been rumored for some time. Naturally I picked a pair up to investigate. Even if my next layout probably won’t be using Unitrack, I’m still interested in the stuff.

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.

Rethinking Sumida Crossing

Well, that was a long break. Two months without a post. No, it wasn’t anything serious. In part, just life getting in the way of this hobby, but more a realization that I’d lost my motivation somewhere. Not really intentionally, I took a break to clear my head.

It was really longer than two months. In March of 2011, about 40 months ago, I took apart the wiring for the functioning DC-powered Sumida Crossing and began the conversion to DCC. The railroad had been designed for this. It should have been simple. It turned into a nightmare. I distracted myself by focusing on other (important) aspects of the layout, and kept the two outer tracks live as switchable DC/DCC, but without all the bells and whistles of DCC I’d planned, so I could continue to run trains. And for a time I kept working on the conversion, but less and less got done there.

Last year I set out to make a short tram layout, something I’m still interested in, but that was really a distraction, and my latent unhappiness with the main layout colored that work. As did my tendency to perfectionism; I kept not doing things while I tried to work out the One True Way to do them, and that never works. After a burst of activity in April, that all came to a halt.

Procrastination - February and March 2014

You may have noticed that posts here have become rather thin on the ground. I’m definitely having something of a lull in my work on the railroad. I haven’t really worked on the main layout in over a year (the last was work on the Hilltop scene, which is still half-done because I ran into some design problems I needed to think through). I’d been focused on working on the One Point Five Meter Line layout last fall, and that stalled out.

There are several reasons for that, but one of the big ones is that I got hung up on painting the main station before I did the track work, and doing the track work before I did any scenery (which is a good idea, generally). And around December I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to paint indoors using an airbrush as hoped, because the only places I could reasonably set up the spray booth were too close to gas appliances to be safe: the thinner I’d use is flammable, and not something I’d want to use near open flame. So I’m not doing any painting until it warms up outside, which is probably still a month away.

At that point I tried to distract myself with electronics and investigating DC motors, which kept me amused up until about mid-February, when I lost interest in that. I’d finished the interesting stuff, and just had a bunch of tests to do to compare motors, and couldn’t really work up any excitement there. I spent the last couple of weeks telling myself I’d do the tests “tomorrow” and write up a post, and of course I didn’t.

And at this point, work and other real-world stuff look likely to distract me for the next week or two, so I’m not getting to anything soon. I am going to try to get something together next week on some topic, just to get my hand back in. But I think it will be early April before much happens. Maybe by then I can paint the station building and actually start writing some meaningful posts. I have all these great ideas for things I want to do with the layout; I just seem to be hung up on getting started.

My goal remains to get the new layout operational by summer. And there really isn’t that much to it: several buildings to paint and detail, some relatively simple scenery, some roads to make (I want to try out a couple of new techniques for that) and a bunch of electronics (the control system I’d been working on until last October needs to be finished, and wiring signals and IR detectors should be interesting). Realistically, if I can get back into the swing of working on the layout a couple of nights a week, finishing it will be relatively easy.

But the last month has generally gone to procrastination with nothing much to show for it, and I expect the next couple of weeks won’t see much activity either. Procrastination; it’s a lifestyle.

January 2014 Status

January was a month spent on the mysteries of model train motors and the DC power supplies that drive them. There’s really not a whole lot to say beyond that. Work on the layout remains stalled, but at least I’m keeping myself interested in some aspect of the hobby. And hopefully this will blow out the mental cobwebs and let me get back to work with renewed excitement in a bit.

And motors are quite interesting things to study when you get right down to it. I’d spent some time on them a year ago when I was reviewing DCC decoders in preparation for converting the bulk of my trains over to DCC (another project on hold). But I realized partway through that effort that I knew less than I though I did, so I took some time off to work on other things before returning to the topic, which I did at the end of December.

This time, I decided to start with DC, rather than DCC, and clarify my understanding of how the motors worked in a traditional model railroad. Once I think I have that well grasped, I’ll return to looking at DCC decoders and what they do with motors.

At the very end of December I also added the new Tomix model of the E7 Shinkansen to my preorder list; the first train I’ll have bought in over six months, and only my second Tomix model (aside from a freight engine and some cars). This train is designed for slower “high speed” operation in a mountainous region, and thus has less of the “duck bill” look then other new Shinkansen (although it still has some of that), which also makes it appealing to me. I’ve never been a fan of that look, although it at least has the benefit of being done for a functional reason (reducing shockwave noise when exiting tunnels), rather than being stylistic.

December 2013 Status Etc

Another month plus, and not much to show for it. I’ve hit something of a wall, and just don’t feel inspired to work on any aspect of the layout. That’s really the first time in four years that this has happened. I’ve gone through slack periods before, but I was always able to focus on something else and get motivated.

I did spend some time on investigating DC power packs with the new oscilloscope, and I’ve updated the Power Pack Testing page with results so far. This has got me thinking about DC power in general, so perhaps I’ll write something more about that in another post. But for now, that’s about all there is to say.

Well, one more thing: I did get motivated to pre-order an E7 Shinkansen. Both Kato and Tomix currently have these available for preordering, with Tomix’s model due out in March for about US$323 for a 12-car train, and Kato’s due out in April for about US$302 for the same (both pre-order prices in Japan before shipment, at the current exchange rate).

November 2013 Status

Work on the layout pretty much didn’t happen in November. Partly that’s down to other distractions, and partly because I was trying to work out how to paint things in the winter, since my usual method of spray-cans depends on the outside air being above 50°F (10°C). And, unfortunately, most of what I’m doing now depends on painting models.

Even the “one point five meter line” needs the station building painted before I can lay track, and I didn’t get that done in October before the weather turned cold.

I spent much of November working out what to do about a new airbrush, with the intent that I’d use some indoor-safe paint with it. The problem I ran into there, which finally brought everything to a crashing halt, was that there’s really no such thing. All of the paints I’d like to use probably requiring thinning (I really have to try an experiment with non-thinned acrylic though) and may of the “water-soluable” acrylics use alcohol as part of the formula. And both of my likely painting locations are near ignition sources (gas stove in the kitchen, furnace or water heater in the basement). Use of anything that puts a flammable liquid in the air isn’t in my plans.

I may figure out some way to rig my spray booth in a bedroom with an exhaust tube to a window. That will allow painting away from flames and vent any potentially problematic substances outside. This will require some planning, and a bit of carpentry, so it hasn’t happened yet.

But for the moment, I’m a bit stuck.

October 2013 Status

Another month, and nothing much to show for it.

I spent the first part of the month working on the software for the Tram Controller. Then I got tired of that and set it aside.

Next I spent some time thinking about the track on the One Point Five Meter Line layout, and what to use for the station at the Urban end of that, and the platforms. I documented that in previous posts.

And then I hit a wall. I just stalled out for a couple of weeks. I didn’t really want to work on the software. I spent some time playing with occupancy detector circuits on paper, but never got around to building one (that is still something I plan to do). I thought about the scenery and buildings for the One Point Five Meter Line, but didn’t actually DO anything. I did some maintenance on the website. But all in all, very little happened.

After a hiatus, I started thinking about structures again, and I may get back to working on those shortly. But October was a “nothing much happened” month for me, as least as far as model railroading goes.

September 2013 Monthly Status

September was an eventful month: work began in earnest on the “One Point Five Meter Line”, my short layout for displaying building models and showing off my Tram Controller. Additionally I made significant progress on the tram controller program, continuing the work I’d begun in August on driving multiplexed LEDs and, although I didn’t write about it, refining the sensor code to allow it to run faster.

The tram controller program itself is beginning to come together. It’s still a ways from actually running a train, but I’ve assembled the pieces and made a start on the actual logic that will know where the trains are and perform actions on them, based on the use of sensors and timers. After about six months of sporadic work, I can almost see the end in sight.

As usual I have more projects running through my head than I have time to do. There are a half-dozen buildings disassembled on my workbench (where they’ve been since May) waiting to be painted, lit, decorated, and reassembled. I’m hoping to make a start on those soon, with the completion of the benchwork for the One Point Five Meter line serving as a spur. Once I have a place I can put them, and wiring I can use to light them up and see how they look, I’ll be more interested in getting them done.

But despite the things not done, this month has a definite sense of accomplishment and progress, something I can’t say about the layout(s) every month. Read More...

August 2013 Status - a Retrospective

And not only another month, but another year has passed. Not much happened in August; as I mentioned last time I’ve mostly been working on the Arduino project. So this month’s post will focus on the past, but will also look forward to the future.

This month marks the fourth anniversary of Sumida Crossing, dating things from the start of construction. Planning actually started earlier, around June of 2009 in earnest although there had been a lot of thought prior to that. And the first real train didn’t run until early 2010 (unless you count a test on a loop of temporary track). And actually, although the first post in this blog dates from September 16, it wasn’t actually online until the end of November. Prior to that I’d been working on the initial version of the website offline, and hadn’t bought the domain name or space on a server until I judged it ready. I don’t think it even had a name before November; I’m pretty sure I made that up when I bought the domain name.

July 2013 Monthly Status

Not a whole lot got done on the layout in July, although I did manage to get the backdrop up for the Hilltop section. The rest has mostly been planning things, and a little bit of work on structures. I’ve also been doing some work on the Tram Controller project, but no substantive progress to report yet.

So a lot of little stuff, but very little to talk about. The design parts of it are both necessary and fun, but I’d like to have more to show for my efforts. Ah well, perhaps next time. It does make for a rather terse summary though.

June 2013 Monthly Status

Another month gone by, but I do have something to show for this one.

The backdrop for the hilltop scene has been painted in primer and let cure. I’m going to work on the mounting structure this week. The photo for it has also been printed (US$72 at my local print shop) and is laid out letting the ink dry fully. I expect I’m a week or so away from gluing it to the backdrop, and by next week should have it installed.

Along the way my plans changed to make a 18” tall (46 cm) backdrop instead of the larger one I’d planned, and the image was adjusted slightly to match, but it’s still basically the same. There was no single reason for the change, just a feeling that 18” fit the area better, and would maintain the “low key” backing I was looking for better, whereas a taller one might tend to overshadow the real scenery. I can always re-do it in the future if I change my mind, total cost with wood is under US$100 and I’ll gladly write that off on a failed experiment, after enough time goes by that I’m sure it is a failed one. Right now, I think I made the right choice.

I’ve also been working on the Village area, and actually done some painting on the Tomix apartment. And I’ve started tearing down the other models to begin painting and lighting/detailing them. I’ll work on several in parallel along with the Tomix apartment. Some notes on the buildings I’m working with are on the Village Buildings page.

And I’ve been doing some work on how I want to build the roads and sidewalks of the village area. I mentioned the planning in general last time. More on the details in some future post when my ideas have settled more.

A bunch of stuff arrived from Japan this month. Among it some track I needed to build a test-track on my bench for continued work on the Tram Controller project, and some Tomix viaduct I want to experiment with for the future Helix (although that may sit on the shelf for a long time; I need it now to measure and check clearances for the hilltop construction, rather than for work on the helix itself).

So, a fairly busy month for the layout, all things considered.

May 2013 Monthly Status

Another month, and not much accomplished. Almost all of the layout work this month was related to playing with the tram controller project. And while that was fun, and will ultimately be useful, it does leave me feeling like I have neglected the layout.

The “mountaintop” scenery project continues to be on my mind, and I continue to procrastinate on actually getting going on it, in part because there are still a few problems I haven’t solved related to attaching the backdrop (which has no support directly below where it goes) and making the scenery transition from the low areas of the adjacent scenes to the lower level of the “mountain”, which is at least six inches (15 cm) higher. I have ideas, and what I really need to do is grab a knife and rasp and start shaping foam, to see if they work out. At worst I’ll waste one of the leftover chunks of foam that have been cluttering the basement for the past three years (I bought a couple of sheets more than I turned out to need).

While I’ve said this before, several times, I think this time the mountaintop scene really is going to be my project for the month of June.

April 2013 Monthly Status

April was a month for working on my Tram Controller project. I didn’t do anything else on the layout (aside from looking at some of my bus models). I made good progress on the controller, despite a few head-scratching puzzles along the way. For successes, I managed to get supersonic PWM working with a couple of motor shields, implemented a simple throttle system with momentum, and managed to get my train-detection sensors mostly working (there’s still a bit to do there). Read More...

March 2013 Monthly Status

I’m going to change how I do the end-of-month status posts, and just do them separately. This probably won’t get pushed out until the next real post, simply because I’m lazy (and my software makes changing one page in these musings far more work than it needs to be).

March, as you may have noticed, consisted mainly of me demonstrating how little electrical knowledge I really have, much to my chagrin. I set out to construct a model of how PWM works in a DC motor, so I could better understand how my motors worked, and I managed to get it wrong pretty nearly at every step.

That all being true, I still learned quite a lot, and I have a better handle on just what PWM does now than I did before, and what kind of trade-offs are being made. At some point I’ll go fix my last couple of errors and do another, hopefully final, post to summarize all that. But I’m going to let this cook in the back of my head for a while, both to spare my readers (assuming any are left) and my own sanity. Read More...

Rethinking Storage Tracks and January 2013 Status

While I’m spending a lot of time playing with decoders, that’s not the only thing on my mind. One idea that’s been eating at me for a while now is to redesign the under-table storage tracks. I’d originally planned to locate these under the Urban Station scene, reached by a helix that led down to them from the “unsceniced” end.

On reflection, this was less than ideal. First, any access to the underside of the layout for wiring work would require removing all of the trains from storage. Second, the helix to reach them would be quite long, at five and a half turns, which would be expensive and overly complex. Third, if I needed to work on the trains, I’d be kneeling on the concrete floor and reaching into a narrow space to access the trains on the back track, which pretty much guaranteed I wouldn’t be able to do much. The only thing it had going for it was that I could store a full-length sixteen-car Shinkansen (2.5m or eight and a half feet long) down there.

November 2012 Status

November, as you may have noticed from recent posts, went largely to laying the groundwork for installing wire-in DCC decoders, and a bit of testing of same. After a few delays, most of what I was waiting for finally arrived, although a few things are still backordered. In particular, the six-pin NEM651-compatible plugs and sockets mentioned in the comments last time have arrived. For the curious, the parts list has been added to my page on DCC Decoders. Read More...

In Search of the Perfect Post

One of the hardest lessons in model-railroading, at least for me, has been that “good enough” really is good enough. I spent fifteen years on my HO layout doing very little, in large part because what I did do fell short of what I’d set out to do, and I’d get frustrated and go do something else for six months. With Sumida Crossing, I started with the premise that I wasn’t trying to do a picture-perfect layout of the kind featured in magazines. Neither my skills nor my available time were up to that. Read More...

July 2012 Status

You may have noticed things are a bit quiet here. The Olympics are partly to blame for that, as I’ve been watching a lot of tv the last couple of weeks rather than working on the layout. The hot, muggy weather has also contributed, making the basement an unpleasant place to work this past month (the reach of the AC doesn’t extend down there). Which hasn’t precluded all work, just most of it. AndI had a vacation back in July largely consumed by helping my dad settle in to a new place.


June 2012 Status - What, its not June

Yeah, this is a bit late. I’ve been distracted. I’m throwing this up so I can summarize what did get done, before moving on.

April 2012 Status

This monthly status is very late, which is why I’m doing it as a standalone posting rather than a footnote on an another entry. It’s mainly here because I don’t want to miss one, but there really isn’t a whole lot to say.

April went to several projects, none of which completed. I’ve mainly been working on the River Crossing scenery, although it’s moving ahead very slowly. Work is still continuing on detailing the two apartment buildings. I’ve also been working on the track and catenary for the two double-track curves in the scene, finishing up wiring, adding the sensor tracks for the grade crossing that’s going in the adjacent Riverside Station scene, and general cleaning. And I built the previously-discussed electrical pylon kit.

And Now, A Word From Our Reader(s)

Yes, at long last I’m launching the comment system. That’s it down at the bottom of the page. What, you don’t see it? Well, it only appears on individual blog posts. If you are reading this as a list of several (which is what you get if you click on the Musings link) just click on the title above and you’ll get this post on a page of its own, with comments below and a large green form for posting new comments under that.


Planning The Village

The “village” is what I call the collection of buildings tucked inside the four-track curve of the River Crossing scene. Today this is just a set of pre-made buildings, mainly from Kato and Tomix, placed roughly on gray-painted foam. The bridge across the river for the “commercial avenue” is likewise temporary, just a slab of gray foam-core with lane markings painted on it.

Once I realized that the road behind the elevated station in the Urban Station scene was largely out-of-sight, the village became the place that I wanted to carefully detail in its entirety. Detailing the buildings of the urban scene themselves is still important, particularly the upper floors of those buildings that will be front and center part of the scene. But the village is going to be where my ability to craft a convincing scene will be most on display. So, no pressure, eh?

Kato Subway Train and December 2011 Monthly Status

My latest Kato model is another subway train, the Tōkyō Metro 10000. I already have a model of this train made by Greenmax, which I have mentioned briefly a few times (it featured in the “first run” video of the subway, see my Subway First Run musing for more on that). It’s not a bad model, but it lacks an interior and requires wire-in decoders for conversion to DCC. And while I’ll eventually get around to that, it’s not high on my priority list. So trains that are easier to convert to DCC, and that means Kato, are at the top of my list for actual operations once I finish up installing all the DCC electronics for the Commuter and Subway loops.

For the above-ground Commuter loop, I have lots of Kato’s commuter EMUs, but trains for the underground Subway loop are another matter. As mentioned back in October I’d hoped to have the Kato Ginza Series 01 be one of those, but it ended up not supporting the EM13 motor decoder (probably due to the narrower width of the cars).

The Kato 10000 had been on my must-buy list anyway, but with fingers crossed that this one would be “DCC Friendly”, I eagerly awaited its arrival. Kato hadn’t actually said it would be DCC Friendly (meaning compatible with their Digitrax-made proprietary decoders) although they rarely do, and there was a cryptic reference to some issue with the interior lighting that had me worried it was some kind of one-off design. I’d previously bought several of Kato’s new “version 2” LED light sets (which I describe more on my new Kato Interior Lighting page) planning to install them in the Ginza train, but hadn’t gotten around to that after it turned out not to support the DCC motor decoder. So my plan was to use them, if I could.

Kato's "New" Coupler and Oct 2011 Status

When my Ginza 01 series train (Kato 10-864) arrived last month I put it on the track to break it in, then took it off and separated the cars as I usually do with commuter cars, levering them up until the couplers are nearly at a 90-degree angle, just as it says to in the brochure that comes with the train. This time, to my surprise, instead of uncoupling, one coupler assembly exploded into three parts (coupler, bracket, and spring). Attempting to re-install the spring led to it departing over the horizon (or at least into the depths of the basement), never to be seen again. A quick look at the brochure, and it was clear Kato had changed something. It showed the cars being separated by pulling apart rather than the levering up procedure I was used to from earlier commuter models.

This was a bit of a surprise, because the coupler looked just like the usual commuter coupler, with a square, pyramid-tipped spike and a matching socket, with a hook underneath, all designed to mimic the standard Japanese coupler used on many narrow-gauge trains, a type of multi-function close coupler known as a Shibata coupler after its developer, Mamoru Shibata, although often called more generically a “Scharfenberg” coupler, after the original European close-coupler it was modeled on. I decided it must be a new type of coupler developed for the new subway trains (which the Ginza is assumed to be the first of) and ordered a replacement. That turned out to be an incorrect assumption.

Subway Trains

In some ways there isn’t a whole lot of difference between Tōkyō’s urban and suburban commuter trains and its subway trains. Both are electric multiple-unit (EMU) sets, running on narrow-gauge track and typically using 1500V DC power from overhead (catenary) wires. Some commuter trains even run through into the subway tunnels to reach more central stations.

But there are differences. First, subway trains (and commuter trains designed for subway use) will have emergency exit doors on the ends, to facilitate evacuations in a tunnel. Second they are often shorter, to allow for tighter curves. And some are also narrower, although this seems less common.

Fun with JMRI II and September 2011 Status

I’ve been playing around with JMRI some more, and trying to debug my transponding problem with the first of the electronics boards. This is really baffling. I checked the wiring, and it was fed through the RX sensor properly. I replaced BOTH the PM42 and the BDL168 circuit boards (I’ve got a stack of them waiting for more electronics boards once I get this one working) and I tried using other blocks. And I had more transponding sensor failures. On both sets of RX sensors. One defective set I might accept, but two?

So I tried a variety of things, and noticed that the non-functional detectors would, every once in a while, work. In fact, I discovered that with the train motionless, one of them would periodically cycle from detection to non-detection, emitting a LocoNet message reporting the change in status each time. I tried moving the wires. I pulled a fresh RX1 set out of a bag, and set it up atop a trash can (see above) with every wire fed through it fully separated from every other wire in mid-air (about the middle of this I was holding things in both hands and wishing I had a third arm). And that failed too, reliably as it were.

Fun with JMRI

Some weeks I don’t get much done. Well, that’s not quite true, I did a lot of work on the website this week, but the railroading time suffered. I did find some time to play with the test track I’d set up last week though, configuring JMRI to report block status based on the BDL168 outputs.

If you’re not familiar with JMRI it’s a free software package that allows a computer to interact with any of several DCC command stations that support computer interfaces, including Digitrax. It’s also available for Windows, Linux and Macs. And while not the most Mac-like program, it works, even on the ten-year-old iMac I’m using for the layout controller.

So what I have is a test track that’s an oval divided into two electrical blocks, each connected to an output of the BDL168. I named them, creatively enough, “One” and “Two”. And I used the Layout Panel editor to draw a schematic of the track. When displayed, red shows occupied (it’s configurable) and green shows clear. Even on my old computer, the change is nearly instantaneous once the locomotive crosses the insulated rail joiners from one block to the other.

DCC Power I

After assembling the first of my DCC protection and Occupancy Detection boards, I decided I wanted to test it and get some experience with using it. So I set up my loop of test track with insulated rail joiners separating it into two halves, and connected the feeder to outputs 1 and 2 of the BDL168, which correspond to RX4 A, detectors A & B. All of these are powered by PM42 section 1. For DCC, I used my Zephyr, and for the DC supply I used the 2 Amp, 12 Volt supply I plan to use for these systems (it’s the black box just above the Zephyr in the photo above). Powering it up, nothing went “Zap!”, which I count as a success.

Back On Track

After two months spent working on the website move, I’m back to working on (and playing with!) the railroad. That doesn’t mean I’m done with the website stuff. There are still pages left to convert, and a few problems to solve, and I’ll have more to say on that down below. But the new one is up and running, and relatively problem-free. And I’d budgeted this weekend to model railroad work in case there were problems, so I had some free time on my hands. I celebrated by getting the outer loop wired up and running a couple of trains. Then I turned my attention to working on the DCC protection and occupancy detection circuits so I can get the other two loops up and running.

The Big Move, Part I

This is the first post-move Musing, and I’m actually writing it before the move to ensure I get down all the details I know about in advance. There will probably be a Part II once everything settles down and I know what I forgot to mention. Then I can finally get back to writing about trains, or better yet, playing with them.

So, the move has happened, or will have by the time you read this. A couple of major changes in the end: first, the site has been restructured and in some places rewritten, but it’s basically the same site as before otherwise. Second, I couldn’t get the RSS Feed URLs for the Musings or Photo Albums to remain the same, so if you use those you’ll need to delete the old ones and get the new ones. However, you might want to hold off on that, as I’m not sure as I write this that I’ve got them correct yet, and I’ll need to do some experimentation once the new site is up to ensure they’re working.

July 2011 Status - Expressway and Website

The month of July largely went to work on the expressway as part of the JNSForum’s 2011 contest, described on my page for the contest. The results so far can be seen in the photo above: one 6-inch segment of what will ultimately be a four-foot section of elevated expressway. Still missing is the guardrail down the median.

Expressway Deck I

I’ve begun work on building the deck of the elevated expressway. As mentioned last time, the expressway is a four foot long structure with a roadway assembly (road, guardrails, signs and streetlights) made of styrene, which rests atop a narrow winding strip of plywood held up by 1/4-inch threaded rod sheathed in one inch PVC tubing. So far, all I have is the plywood, and the beginnings of the roadway assembly, which I’m calling the “deck” for short.

June 2011 Status: Winds of Change from the Orchard

The big news is that Sumida Crossing is going to be moving. Not the physical layout, but the website. With Apple declaring iWeb dead and an end to their hosting service in a year, it’s time to find a new home. I could procrastinate, but iWeb’s limitations have been an irritant for some time, and an excuse to find a tool I like a little better, while still using a template-driven WYSIWYG editor, was all I needed. I’ve been on iWeb nearly two years now, and while it’s served me well and let me focus on “just writing” the site, it’s time for a change. And like pulling a tooth, this kind of change is best done quickly, to reduce the pain, so I’m working to a faster-than-usual timeline for me.

Site Administrivia - January 2010

Administrative comments on iWeb and changes to the site.

It’s Alive! - November 2009 Status

Work has been progressing more slowly than I’d like, and the first level of foam has yet to be glued down, or the subway track installed. The backdrops were taken down and repainted in a lighter shade of blue, and I’m much happier with them now. Read More...

New Railroad

Sumida Crossing is my new N-scale model railroad.