Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Eurospoor 3

DB concludes with his two favorite layouts from Eurospoor


This layout is another octopus, with the center leg actually a small Y, and although this is a wide-angle shot, the two outer legs are at less than 90 degrees. Quite interactive being able to walk all around it, and it was set nice and high too, so you could enjoy it. One downside was that if "oo, a train at the quarry", you had to figure out how to get out of the maze to get to the quarry!

The thing I liked most about this layout was that it had a purpose. Empty gypsum trucks would head to the quarry, be "filled" and taken up to a kiln/factory to be turned into plaster or something I guess and then the final product shipped out. Another thread had tubs of clay going somewhere else, and I think a third thread was log traffic

Gypsum Mine
"Loading" the wagons with squares of "load"
At the junction
 Another eye-catching feature of the layout was a working incline - a-la Denniston.

The locos would position wagons at the top and the bottom, a 'rope' would be hooked over the couplers, and away they'd go. In this hemisphere, as gravity is upside down, the loaded wagons going up drag the empties downhill.

Positioning wagons
So inclined
Long tweezers are used for uncoupling and to slip the 'rope' over the couplings
Up top, a 'stop board' is inserted into a hole between the rails to stop wagons rolling downhill until the loco fetches them 

The last third of this video shows the incline, complete with some lovely noises from the little shunting tractors (one below)

Narrow gauge meets standard at the top, where the plaster products are trans-shipped
A nice wee transfer table makes a compact staging yard with runaround facility...

Warren Lane

The final mesmerising layout. I could have spent hours watching this, in fact I spent so much time watching, I hardly took any pictures. Not that that matters, because pictures don't do it justice.

Warren Lane is simply a container yard, with a mainline behind. 

They run trains along the mainline of course.

They run trains into the yard and shunt them, picking up trains with arriving locos and so on, as you would expect.

The killer thing about this layout is that the container cranes WORK. 

Note the dangling silver Maersk container under the far/top of the near container crane, and the green one in the top pic is being loaded onto that truck...
Yes, as well as an operator at the front of the layout working the yard from this end, another operator picks up containers from trains and puts them on trucks, or into storage and vice versa. The remote controlled cranes made by Heljan are pricey (about a thou NZD) and no longer produced, but are bloody impressive. They run along the yard on single tracks, the top piece traverses, and the container-liftey-bit, raises/lowers, picks up and releases containers by electromagnets and can rotate (if you want to place a container on a truck that's not exactly parallel for example.

Its all gorgeously detailed, the rolling stock is superbly weathered and the sound is extremely noice too. Check out the work paint on that EWS loco above.

As I say, pictures don't do it justice, so here's some Youtube. I'm sure you can find more. I haven't seen OO scale since I was a Hornby/Triang lad, and was reminded what a nice scale it is for modeling countries with more confined loading gauges - a bit more beefy than HO, but perhaps a bit more useful than S.

Well that's Eurospoor. There's certainly some neat modeling going on in Europe.

So it's good night from me, and goodnight from him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eurospoor pt 2

DB mentions a couple of outstanding layouts:

First up is Kayreuth, a Euro-outline model from England, manned by a couple of guys whose accents reminded me of the Two Ronnies for no real reason.

I really liked this exhibition layout because the two operators always had "stuff" going on

Above you might see the tram at bottom-left, which runs around in circles doing its own thing, and provides an element of interest, on top of the trains passing on the mainline across the bridge

There's also a commuter line (like the J'ville line) with a 4 unit EMU that comes from behind the backscene and up on the tracks under the red train in the pic, and heads to the main station at right. Again, its an automated number too, providing more movement between mainline jobs. The bridge disguises a module join - not just the baseboard join but issues of mating up working caternary wires.
At the right end there is a station. A freight heads right and an ICE train prepares to head left. The foreground tracks are where the "J'ville" train docks and departs from. Those two red locos sitting on a train at the platform are dummies, to provide more interest. 
Aha, so this is why there is so much variety on the mainline - a comprehensive staging hard is a surprise behind the backscene - a 7 track yard for each direction. The commuter unit docks on the left tracks, it can be seen heading underneath that brown hopper train which is snaking around the back.

The layout is two big modules (but note, they're kinked, rather than straight), with two curved end sections. With the top off, we see the curves and points are tight, but things run well (albeit a minor adjustment being made here!).

All in all, a really ideal exhibition layout.

One of the few US layouts was L-shaped City Limits

This seemed to have three or four operators, who were just fiddling cars about various industries and handing them off to one another. Here a pair of switchers bring some cars around that the operator a left has just dropped off

 The middle operator is moving stuff around with this Alco
 And an operator further along has this pair of GEs to shuffle around stuff with

 At the far end an Amtrak SD was shuffling things around at a passenger station

That description I've written sounds boring as I re-read it, but trust me, it was surprisingly effective - again there were always four trains on the go at once, and the urban scenery was spectacular with details everywhere.

There were two more layouts I really liked. I'll mention them in the next exciting episode

Eurospoor 2014

DB says (in lieu of actually doing any NZ120 modeling at the moment, although I did buy some spoked wheels here):

Eurospoor bills itself as Europe's largest model train show, and as its just a short tram ride away, I thought I'd check it out.

Initial impressions: at 17€ for one adult to get in, its pretty expensive.

Covering two large halls in a convention centre, it's pretty huge.

I doubt I covered 10% of the trade stalls, but did see most of the layouts, so here are some things I noted. There were a few layouts which really "wow"d me that I'll present in upcoming episodes.

There were a LOT of layouts on display.  Big and small, from Z to Gauge 1.

A4 Dioramas

Gauge 1
Piko even had a few unmanned circuits of track on the carpet in one area so kids and parents could play trains.


This was a stunning wee Z scale layout that operated flawlessly, including electric points and automatic uncoupling. The trains ran out to a small staging yard via a horseshoe curve out to the right. Nice scenery for Z.

For some lovely scenery on a larger scale, US northeast styled 'Mara Bay' in On30 or so.

How's this for a big bridge?

And how's this for a big layout?

Zounds. Yes, that guy is driving that tugboat along the river...

A few common themes.

Computer controlled layouts, signals and layout lighting were being pushed by many vendors I'd not heard of. As with most new technology, one has to wonder 'why'. This stuff is still in its early days, andvery expensive, but will probably be the way that lighting and sounds and even some of the trains on future layouts will be controlled... RGB LED lightstrips seem to be the in thing for pelmet lighting, so that you can change your lighting effects from sunrise to nighttime.

Its nice if the pelmet holding the lighting - or at least the lighting itself- can extend out beyond the layout though so that items close to the edge receive some 'sun'

Noice light
As opposed to:

The Dark Side
This layout did have a nice staging tray setup, instead of the more common yards (often ending in large turntables) and there were a few transfer tables in action too.

Shadow boxing of layouts, especially smaller ones, was very common and very effective, drawing the viewer into the scenes.

One odd example of shadow boxing was this 'international' layout that linked scenes from different countries. Presumably built by different people. This lacked a little cohesion to me and the fact that each overly- short module seemed to use quite different colour temperature lights didn't help.

A more convincing modular shadow-boxed example was this one that came from France. Its (presumably) a very accurate model of trains doing their thing on the mainline, and unlike the one above, all the modules 'looked' like they were part of a single effort. As has been mentioned on this blog many times before, there doesn't have to be a port or a city or a steelworks around every bend for a layout to be effective.

Every caternary mast and lineside box was modeled faithfully - with prototype pictures and videos of the line to prove it! They also used a CTC machine and closed circuit cameras to help with their operations.

As you can see, matching team shirts were also must-haves. The one thing that this layout lost points with for me (in an exhibition setting) is that being almost entirely single track, while a train ran around the layout at scale speed, there was nothing happening for most of the punters, with seemingly long pauses between activities. This was true for a few layouts who seemed more interested in doing their own thing than 'exhibiting'.

Spaghetti Junction
Modular layout shapes were definitely freeform. Even the French layout at the top was set up like a wave, rather than a straight line, to break apart the locations, but many layouts were in the shape of an octopus, for want of a better descriptive, with one of these at the end of every leg:

Here's an operating junction between legs. The train at right is waiting...

Strange the way you can walk all around these maze-like layouts... And here's another junction, although the left tracks just ended beyond the frame here. I guess they could have assembled another leg out there if they needed.

On top of loco sound setups, which seem to be getting more effective every year, there were also a fair few speakers around throwing out ambient sounds - farmyard animals, steelworks noises and so on.

Most Bizarre Award

You'll have to listen very closely, I will say this only once.

The O scale railbus moves off from it's stop (as seen here) to the right (into the tunnel).

A few seconds later, an OO scale railbus appears from behind the tunnel, moving from right to left across the stone viaduct.

A short while later, an N scale one appears in the back right and heads to behind the mountain (above the railbus in the above pic)

And lastly, a Z scale one heads out of there for the back right corner of the layout.

Afterwards, the cycle reverses and the railbus journeys back via Z, N, HO and ON30 to the foreground. How's that for clever use of forced perspective!

And as with many layouts, this one had an animated blacksmith and welding shop and sound effects (including distant eagles!) were provided. Some cool video here - note the guy waiting for the train about half way though who is gone after the bus leaves...   more (and more accurate!) info here

As well as animated cows, people cutting hay and vehicles, this J-shaped Swiss layout based on the Furka line had an animated couple being... how should one say this... 'amorous' in the trees. I'm not sure how they got the variable syncopation so perfect but that couple above the bus and the parked Harley sure has some staying power. She must have thighs of steel.

The MO of this steeply graded layout is running a train from either end and crossing them in the middle. There's about 4 feet of vertical separation between the top and bottom stations and the trains seemed to be running on center-cog rails but I'm not sure if that was just for looks.  Rimutaka incline anyone?

And a general roundup of some other layouts that caught my eye:

This layout (love that narrow gauge German stuff - note the standard gauge wagons running on top of narrow gauge wagon transporters) was unusual in that it didn't have a backscene - it seemed quite an interactive experience for the operators as well as the crowd.

The big Altberg layout. Meh, whatever. 
I've always liked hide-and-seek trains 
This one almost forces you to look down long the valley rather than the usual side-on perspective. Reminiscent of some modules Rhys made once for a layout we had at the Waimate Vintage Car Club...

Second Most Bizarre Award

Speaking of forcing you to look from a chosen viewpoint...One approaches this box labeled 'Tunisia' and are encouraged to peep...

 A train is circling - you might be able to make out some gondolas going away in the lower pic, passing a bunch of camels and robed figures on the next track! Interesting and effective...

There were three or four other layouts that I thought were really special - I'll present them next time...