Covid-19 diary – Kuritu II – 8

My last Tomytec temple building arrived today.  It took a whole 30 minutes to build, and I was able to lay out the buildings on the baseboard to get a reasonable appearance.  I’m sure that this doesn’t match how a Japanese temple is arranged, and it’s a bit cramped, but a little amble around Google Maps shows them shoe-horned into all sorts of small urban areas, as well as the larger shrines in expansive grounds.  So Rule 1 applies…..


I was also pleased to pick up a couple of temple wall kits from Plaza Japan, arriving in the same package, so I will be able to surround the temple appropriately.  Next task will be to fit the foam board to raise ground levels in the temple grounds.

Martin has also been busy.  A fiddle yard all laid and working, and the first structure on the scenic side of the layout.


And to close, a little inspiration…..


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Potpourri #1022

What have we got for Wednesday?

Facebook often features Japanese modelling, bonsai style.  Tiny dioramas with exquisite detail, such as this one.  These little scenes might be just the way to have a quick change from your main project, and also to show off a model that otherwise wouldn’t have a home.


And a charming ‘O’ gauge micro.  Just a little bit bigger, but still very buildable.

Of course, you could go for live steam in the garden.  What could possibly go wrong?  (Reminds me of the usual ESNG club night???)

Moving to the prototype, I can remember that great episode of ‘Supercar’ (dates me) that included the London to Brighton in 3 minutes video.  Well, here’s London to Southend in three minutes.  I watched this to bring back 1981 memories of reverse commuting from London to Benfleet to work on Canvey Island, building the Thames Tidal Defences.  Canvey was (and no doubt still is) and interesting place – the soil underfoot was so solid that the ground actually went up and down (slightly) with the tide.

And here’s the modelling challenge for the week.  An elephant towing a Walrus!  I love this photo!  Maybe it’s a candidate for a Bonsai diorama?


And a little cameo to provoke conversation at exhibitions (whatever they are.)


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Covid-19 diary – Kuritu II – 7 – Downtown

I’ve had two or three days solid modelling, and the layout shows some real progress.  Having played around with the buildings, I chose what seems to be an interesting layout, and one that allows those with entrances on both sides to be used to best advantage.

I then added pavements and tarmac, leaving ‘holes’ for buildings with deep base plates.  There are a few pavement joints that are not very good, but I suspect a strategic person or two will cover those in due time.


And this is the end result.  Just a little fettling, and a touch of paint needed on the scenes.  Some of the original Kuritu buildings show some natural weathering, and one or two came apart and needed gluing back together.  However, I wanted to keep the original structures to keep the something of the character of the original layout.


And what to do with the other half of the layout?  I had a very pleasant hour building the Tomytec temple buildings.  Precoloured, and with painted details, they are designed to clip together – but a little solvent helps hold it all together.  Here is the pagoda.


I’m waiting for a final building delivery to finally lay things out on the layout, and create the scenery, but it may look something like this…..


While I wait for the postman, I may return to Minories, or build the lighting ‘box’ to sit above the layout – both to provide illumination and some of the dust off.  And there are still some cherry trees to plant around the edge of the layout….

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ESNG meeting – 7 April 2021

Paul, as ever, sums it up better than I can!

Another enjoyable ESNG Zoom meeting with some interesting technical hitches thrown in for good measure. One participant disappeared with the remaining members believing he had exploded before returning in to view unscathed. Another member then vanished and never returned, before another made intermittent contact with very few words being understood to such an extent that one member asked for a translation tool. Topics under discussion included buses, 3rd rail insulator pots, The Isle of Wight, vaccination programs, trains for farm animals, new model railway items and broken down trams. I didn’t have any trains running owing to extensive engineering work currently blocking all lines in my lounge with no diversionary routes available either.

Alan just seemed to disappear – plaintive text appeared…..

Have we been cut off….. My screen’s gone blank with wording….. Just a moment?

Don’t know what happened.  So will call it a night.  Screen still saying ‘Just a moment’.  So good night everyone.  You can talk about me now….. LOL.

The topics were indeed wide ranging.  And up to nine members appeared online.


Just what we need to control a line of N-club modules?  And look at that reduction in price!  No thank you, London Transport Museum shop.  Mind you, the track layout at Ealing Broadway looks rather interesting.


Interesting to see that the prototype considered storing its trains neatly on top of each other – just like our blue boxes?

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ESNG at work – Martin’s new layout

Martin has been sending me pictures of his new layout, that’s coming on well.

Tracklaying – that’s where all the Peco track has gone?


Cobalt point motors



Baseboard joints


DCC bus and good tidy (and labelled) wiring!


Admiring progress with some stock in place….


In fact, it’s coming on so well, that trains are running!

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Potpourri #1021

Another Monday – it’s a Bank Holiday, too, but it’s strange how one doesn’t notice such things when one’s retired!

We’ll start with a couple of pictures that show why Japanese railways are strange, sorry, unique….

I can’t imagine this working on Southern Trains, or any other European railway for that matter!


And here’s an unusual passenger to add to your layout:


And a few culled from the ESNG Facebook group – thanks, guys….

April 1 redux…..  From Amtrak….


And Southeast Trains….


Not sure about this one.  It may be all too real?


Health and safety special….  The Schienenzeppelin in Berlin, June 1931. A train on the way to Hamburg passes the newly arrived rail zeppelin at Spandau main station.


Plus ca change?  A streetcar conductor in Seattle not allowing passengers aboard without a mask, during Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918.


Track laying issues?  Another derailment coming into the fiddle yard…… (This is VIA Canada, I think, with a train of ex-UK coaches.  No wonder it derailed!)


And what to do if you’ve got a spare Kato #4 and Kato #6 – maximum speed 5mph?  A real site somewhere in Pennsylvania.

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Covid-19 diary – Kuritu II – 6

A little more progress on the layout, despite the distractions of fine weather and gardening.  I’ve started the ballasting, and the tram depot has taken shape.  Also on its way are the first two buildings on one end of the layout.  These low-relief buildings seemed a good way to use some of the background buildings from the original Kuritu.



One of the original features of Kuritu was the temple on the rural side of the layout.  I wanted to keep something of this if I could, so I thought that I would upgrade the buildings to keep with the rather nice Japanese garden from the original layout.  I haven’t spent much on this layout – it’s all recycled really – so I ordered these buildings from PlazaJapan.  Excellent service, just a week to get them here.  But then some fun with the Post Office.  They were due for delivery on Thursday – and nothing arrived all day.  I then get a notification on Friday morning – Good Friday – that they tried to deliver at 7am and there was no reply.  Well, I would have been asleep by then, but I suspect this was just a holding message, to make me rebook the delivery.  So I rebooked it – Tuesday!  But mid-morning Saturday, there was a knock at the door, and the parcel had arrived.  I’m not sure what was going on – blame Bank Holidays and covid, I guess.  But these three look very nice, pre-painted, and just needed a little weathering of the roofs and some matt varnish to tone down the plastic look.  A nice simple modelling task for next week, as the UK temperatures plummet!


I will continue with the ballast, pavements, buildings, and get some ground cover in place. 

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Return of the roundy-roundy

Picking up on those posts from the end of 2018 (was it really over two years ago?), I’m not sure whether I have posted these excellent layouts on here before – at least my tagging and indexing isn’t good enough to find them.

Both are a 5′ diameter circle, which is hardly surprising as they use the same design.  One is 2mm finescale, the second N gauge.

The ‘Mini MSW’, Alan Whitehouse’s model of the trans-Pennine Woodhead line, was originally built as a 2mm test track, but developed into a layout in its own right.  The layout is made even more special by the accurate overhead infrastructure, and the scratch-built EM1 and EM2 electric locomotives.

I later came across Terry Tasker’s ‘Circle Line’.  It took some time (and some reading and watching) to realise that Terry had been inspired by the Mini-MSW, and his layout was an N gauge version of the layout.  The big difference is that Terry’s version is operated from the middle, whilst Alan’s layout is a solid board (actually in two pieces).  The circle line is in one piece, that perhaps makes it more difficult to move around – light, but bulky.  This video reveals all.

The track plan for both layouts is simple enough, but there is just enough extra pointwork on the scenic area to give it a little interest.


Here are a couple of pictures of the Circle Line under construction

And here it is in operation, taken from a press photo.


I think that this is a classic, and inspiring design.  Although the Mini-MSW is very accurate in its location, it would be easy to build this layout to allow different regions and periods to be operated, whilst looking generally realistic.  Perhaps signals and one or two small buildings might come from the 1930’s Southern, but trains could be run from all over, and anything from 1910 to 1970 would not look too out of place.

The only catch I can see is that one would need to keep on a bit of a diet to operate the thing.  If it were reduced to a 4′ diameter circle, it would make an nicely transportable layout, if folded in two.  But this would require some dramatic weight loss, or specially selected skinny operators!

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April 1 – time for a little humour

Although we might not miss the service provided by Virgin Trains, their April Fools Day japes took quite a lot of beating!


From the Daily Mirror:

It seems Virgin Trains are big film buffs in their spare time.  In honour of the new X-Men movie, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, the company have renamed Wolverhampton station after its iconic star.

All signage, platform names and station announcements have been changed too.  Hugh Jackman is so far unavailable for comment.





Flying Scotsman sees red

“Virgin Trains has today announced that customers will soon be able to catch a steam train to work, as it’s revealed that the original Flying Scotsman locomotive will be joining its fleet later this year on its East Coast and West Coast routes.”

So said Richard Branson’s jokers, with the special offer of 25% off your ticket “for customers who help shovel coal on their journey”.

To celebrate its arrival, the famed steam train will be given a 21st Century makeover and will be painted with the iconic Virgin Trains red livery, making it the perfect addition to the Virgin family.

The unprecedented announcement comes as the National Railway Museum, which saved the locomotive for the nation in 2004, agreed to release it back into service. The makeover will be taking place at the museum in York, where fans of the iconic engine can watch the transformation as it’s painted during the museum’s fantastic Scotsman Season, running from March 25 to May 8 2016, before fans can really experience the full power of steam.

Jim Lowe, Head of Operations at the National Railway Museum, said: ‘Flying Scotsman has had many different guises throughout its rollercoaster history, and we’re very excited about the steam star’s upcoming transformation. We hope that visitors to the National Railway Museum will be delighted to see locomotive in its new red and white livery as part of our exciting Scotsman Season.’

Hamish Soaring, Head of The Steam Train Rehabilitation Programme said: ‘At Virgin Trains we’re passionate about giving our customers an awesome experience and think that by bringing steam trains back onto our commuter service, we’re doing just that. We would encourage our customers to book the 25 per cent discounted tickets so we can ensure enough coal is being shovelled at all times!’

Flying Scotsman will be available for travel on the east coast route from May 2016 with the service extending to the west coast mainline by the end of the year.

I rather like it…..



Are you stuck over what you should get for a tattoo? Has the inspiration now hit you yet? Or, worse, are you still using paper train tickets like some sort of medieval person? Let Virgin Trains introduce their new contactless ticket system, train tickets permanently tattooed on their body, all done with the magic of Tick-Ink. Chief Innovation Officer at Virgin Trains, John Sullivan, said “We receive hundreds of calls from customers about missing or misplaced season tickets every year and we wanted to provide people with a clever way of always having their ticket on them. What better way than to have it permanently tattooed on their body?” Not sure we’re that die-hard for Virgin Train.


Florida’s Brightline announced that, as part of its evolution to Virgin Trains USA, it would introduce “Convertible Class,” “a shiny happy upgrade … to the world’s first-ever convertible train car.” Along with an illustration of an open-topped coach, the announcement included a link confirming that this was a joke, but offering a genuine one-day-only 50 percent fare sale.


Loss of sense of humour probably went with the loss of franchise…..

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Potpourri #1020

Some more random thoughts for a Monday.  This is one of the best micro-layouts that I have seen for a while (in HO).  Not a lot of operation, but an interesting track layout and plenty of fun shuffling the cars around.


Another idea for a micro – this time an interurban interchange.  Again, simple, but interesting.


Slightly larger, another L-shaped American layout.  Another interchange, somewhere in LA.  Perhaps a chance to run some Pacific Electric?


I’ve never been to Yoker – Google tells me that it’s part of Glasgow – but this engine shed layout would make an interesting stand-alone layout.


Turning to the real thing, an LBSCR ‘Gladstone’ class in 1925.  There are some interesting carriages in the train behind.  Either GWR, or perhaps more likely LNWR stock that hasn’t been repainted yet?  It’s often forgotten that in both the railway grouping in 1923, and nationalisation in 1948, it took some time to repaint everything, and a mixture of liveries could be seen.  Mind you, BR was much the same, and you could see a West Country at the end of steam pulling maroon, green and the new blue and grey coaches.


A more modern locomotive, but an earlier picture – a Brighton Atlantic.  Another most elegant locomotive, and I can’t wait to see the replica slowly being built at the Bluebell Railway.


Ryde shed, IOW, in the 1920’s, with one of those delightful Beyer Peacock 2-4-0T’s in the foreground.  The newly imported O2 in the background has yet to get its extended bunker.

ryde shed

Modelling challenges of the week.  First, one to slow down operation……


And the 1926 rebuild at Cannon Street.  No standard Peco geometry here!


Till next time…..

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