Monday, August 30, 2010

A new idea

Just an idea for a new tram layout. It's designed to fit on a 30x88 cm Ikea picture frame (Ribba series). Yes, I love using these for layouts. Not sure about the upper left corner, this could be either a terminus with platform, or a car barn (or both...).

Overhead: the easy way

As I did not want to waste my energy putting a lot of effort in soldering together working overhead for a layout on which my only trams with working pantographs will not run properly, I decided to go for dummy catenary poles. To stick with the 'wood' theme on my microlayout (I used it on the platform sides and level crossing) I thought it would be nice to use wooden poles.
The big advantage of not having to pull all overhead wires is that it's done in no-time, while the layout still has the looks of a suburban tram terminus.
Construction was quite simple, for one pole I used a 2mm diameter wooden stick, some 0,5mm brass wire and some pieces of insulation, pulled from thin electric wire. The brass wires were soldered together, the insulation slid onto the ends, and then the whole thing was stuck into small holes I drilled in the poles. A paint job and voilà! I made ten of these in just one afternoon.

I know the placement of the masts is not entirely prototypical, a lot more of them would be needed to keep the wire over the track. On the other side, putting them closer together would also unprototypical...
I hope I found an acceptable compromise here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tight radius stress (2)

Okay, I'll finish the layout I'm currently working on as soon as possible, and then start to work on a new one. One on which all of my models will actually run. There are just too many that don't make it through the tight 103mm curves. Anyone interested in a 30x40 cm microlayout? :)

Bybanen (2)

When travelling through Norway for the past few weeks, I had a chance to visit Bergens recently opened Bybanen, a lightrail line linking the city center with its southern suburbs. The line's current terminus is Nesttun, but extensions as far as Flesland airport have been planned. Ticket selling is completely done on the stations, which means stopping time can be kept to a minimum, making the Bybanen an extremely efficient way to travel. The frequency is about every ten minutes, even on sundays.

203 at Nesttun terminus. Note the temporary platform.

Matching lines on seats and shelters

Clearly a lot of thought has been given to every detail. The 12 Variotrams from Stadler Rail have nice little features like artwork on the ceilings, for every station's announcement a different specially composed tune and matching stylized contour lines, both on the seats and engraved in the glass shelters. A spectacular return of the tram in Bergen!

There's an extensive Wikipedia article about the Bybanen.

German tram from France

The newest addition to my European tram fleet is this model from Arnold. It represents the Düwag 6-axle tram as they were used in the 80's and early 90's in the French city of Lille. The trams were purchased second-hand from Germany as a temporary solution for operating Lille's dated tramway system before major modernization in 1991-1994, after which new lightrail vehicles from Breda took over. On their arrival in France the Düwags got this flashy TCC (Lille community public transport) livery.
Click here for a nice video of these trams in action.

The two now still existing tramway lines in Lille were opened 1909. The line starts in the city center, and then branches off to Tourcoing, while the main line continues to Roubaix. The system was named after its engineer, Alfred Mongy. Mongy was quite ahead of his time, as the double-track lines were placed in the center of the boulevards, not having to share their right-of-way with other traffic. Probably the reason why these lines are still there nowadays, fuctioning side-to-side with Lille's VAL, and have not been closed down like in so many other French cities. Read more about the Mongy's history.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tight radius stress

After a recent discussion on the Yahoo N scale traction group about minimum radius curves for N scale trams, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of trams which make it through a 103mm radius (the tightest commercially available) and which ones won't. Test location was my little layout-to-be. It turns out that all trams make it through really, but the Bachmann PCC and Arnold Düwag are quite noisy, which indicates stress on the gears. Definately not healthy in the long run. And especially the Arnold is a little too expensive to ruin this way...

No problems with 103mm radius:
Kato 'pocket line' tram chassis
Kato 'shorty' 4 axle chassis
Tomytec LRV chassis (Portram, Centram etc.)
Bachmann Brill trolley

Noisy on 103 mm radius:
Bachmann PCC
Arnold Düwag (and a little smelly as well...)

This really makes me think about using 140mm as a minimum for future layouts.