Thursday, September 30, 2010

Some (new) products

A couple of N scale tram-related products I recently learned about:

New from GHB International is this model of a Birney Streetcar, in the double truck variety. Prices of this nice model start at $ 39,- for an unpainted shell and $ 59,- for a motorized model, add $ 16,- for a working trolley pole. A painted model will cost $ 20,- extra per colour. But for that, you can get the model in any livery you like. I'm shure this model will find its way to many US trolley layouts!

Finescale und mehr does these brass N gauge tram rails, both in a NEM (=N standard) and finescale variety. A package costs € 23,-, which is enough to make a meter of track. Not a bad price! Note: the cobble stones have to be ordered separately.

Speaking of tram track, Tomix Wide Tram Track is slowly becoming available in online stores. Hobby Search lists the following items at the moment:
0113 - Rail Joiners
1790 - 140mm straight 2x
1790 - 70mm straight 2x
1796 - R140 curves, 2x 30 degrees, 2x 60 degrees
1797 - R177 curves, 2x 30 degrees, 2x 60 degrees
91085 Mini rail basic set
91086 Super Mini oval set

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Turning trams: the triangle

The easiest way to turn uni-directional trams on a layout, of course, would be the turning/balloon loop. Just the polarity of the track would be a factor to consider. And if the tram line happens to be double track, even that wouldn't be a problem. The only drawback is that balloon loops are quite space consuming, epecially when not the smallest curve radii are used.

I have been looking for alternatives for the balloon, which there aren't a lot, but found the turning triangle quite useful, and also very easy to construct using the Tomix line of track:
The left design is basically a main line with a facility to reverse into and head back the other way. Several tram systems use these for backup turning options in case of a blockage further down the line. Note the use of an S99 piece at the end, which limits the length of trams. Of course any longer straight piece of track could be used here. (making the triangle considerably less compact though...)

The other option is the use of a turning triangle at the end of a (single track) line. See this video for a tram that uses exactly such a turning facility. By the way, I love the traffic lady and her little shelter in the video :)

This drawing shows a possible double-track solution. Left a balloon loop, using Tomix components (140mm radius minimum).
A turning triangle does require some action from the operator, but makes a great scene for spectators!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Going modular

If you already have plans to expand your Ikea-frame-based layout even before you start building it, why not start modular in the first place?

To see how things looked, I made this plywood base for a 15x35 cm micro module (which, conveniently, is the lenght of five 70mm Tomix straight track pieces).

And I must say I'm starting to like the idea!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

T7B5 from Oslo: A unique prototype

On the Japanese Modelling & Japan Rail Enthousiasts Forum I read about Michal from the Czech Republic who has build an impressive collection of mainly Eastern-European and German trams in N scale. I think he has done a great job on his models, like various ČKD Tatra types as the T6A5 the KT4, the Polish Konstal 105N and the German KSW tram (which is also produced by Kato), all etched in 0.3 mm brass. He even sells most of them, both as a kit or build (some even motorized) on his website. Interesting for US modellers: Michal also does a Škoda 10 T, which runs in Portland, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington.
If you click on kolejiště, you see some pictures of Michals very cleverly designed tram layout.

My eyes fell on this little tram. It's a ČKD Tatra type T7B5, a uni-directional tram. The livery is quite unusual because it's that of Oslo Sporveier, the Norwegian capital's public transport authority. Only one was ever purchased for Oslo, which was actually the only Tatra ever to run in Scandinavia, or even the whole of Western Europe!

I like both Eastern-European and Scandinavian prototypes so I just had to place an order for one of these, which will be powered using a Tomix TM 03 chassis. Can't wait for it to arrive! :)

The Tatra T7B5 was never a successfull series. Only a handfull were build at the end of the 80's, mainly for Moscow. Oslo Sporveier, at that time, was looking for a replacement for its old Høka cars. One of the original two prototypes was shipped to Oslo for testing, after it got a new interior and paint job.
The order finally went to Ansaldo/Firema, who build 32 articulated low-floor trams, the SL95 series.

The T7B5 was used for a couple of years, after which it was converted into a party tram. The tram was shipped to the Swedish city of Göteborg in 1998, where it kept being a party tram in its blue Olso livery. It's believed to be still there, although not in service any more.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Collecting for my new layout...

I found these two facade kits, by Artitec. They're highly detailed resin models of a 30's department store and a late-19th century townhouse. They also have some nice etched details.

Guess that solves the dilemma whether my new layout will be European or Japanese ;)

A couple of pictures of the resin castings (I just started on the department store):