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Japanese 1/80 modern traction depot

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I’ve had a large collection of modern image Japanese 1/80 locomotives and a little rolling stock for a number of years but no time to look at a layout. I started collecting these after working in Japan for a year 19 years ago, now living in West Yorkshire near the mouth of Standedge tunnel it’s time to start a layout. Circumstances  have changed like for many over the last few weeks so now I find 3 weeks to hand to have a look at what I’ve got and start a plan. Part of the reason the modelling was shelved was a mid life crisis of a now 3yr old boy and one month old girl , they still need time but I’ve plenty to hand.

My plan was to make a small depot layout what we could call an TMD here in the UK but enabling an EMU and DMU set to run across the front on the main line.

I have a rosta of 13 electric locomotives and 2 diesel (there’s only 3 classes of diesel loco used in Japan today)  I will add some photos of the locos later. My track of choice originally was going to be PECO code 75 but since this date the Bullhead track has become available and with more points etc that are going to be added to the range in due course I’ve decided to settle on this as the sleeper spacing looks a little better as Japan (former National Rail system) uses cape 3ft 6 gauge.

The Japanese for HO mostly use 1/80 but 1/87 is also used by a few modellers but all 1/87 are hand built brass mostly from the IMON company and your looking at £900 a loco and £600 for a 2 car DMU running on Bemo HOm track. The 1/80 market is catered by the two manufacturers we know in the UK KATO and Tomix  and via mail order from Japan there are a few other plastic ready to run manufacturers available to me as well as a plethora of smaller suppliers for scenic items such as road vehicles,signals, catenary etc. I do have some 1/76 OO items as the scale difference is minimal.

So hopefully i will keep you all updates on the layout and the locos stock I have.





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Thought I’d start by giving a taste rig some of my locomotives starting with the EF64-1000 by TOMIX when these locos were new they were delivered in the then standard Japan National Rail blue with cream end panels, upon privatisation only this single loco EF64-1015 was painted into the new JR Freight two tone blue livery the others of the class received just some minor modifications to the blue livery even this loco was repainted into one of the simplified liveries from this attractive scheme. The EF64-1000 is a freight loco mostly used on heavy container traffic until they were replaced by more modern traction. As you can see Japan uses the odd BO-BO-BO bogie design I’m not sure but I’ve only ever seen this in Italian, Swiss  And some Spanish locomotives that were constructed to a Japanese design, can anyone else add more?

Ive a passion for this two tone blue livery but this loco is my particular favourite, a rare limited edition by TOMIX 


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Continuing from my second post we have an early type EF64 these locos are 70cm shorter than the series 1000 and slightly different body sides, my model represents EF64-60 in a single blue and grey livery different to the series 1000 two tone blue, this model made by Japanese manufacturer A Class is plastic ready to run introduced 7 years ago.DB5B7EA8-2CB3-48BC-8557-29D57EB3D1FD.jpeg.02c21c101fdfcb14e739df74a9e29662.jpeg


The other loco here is by KATO and is a class EF65-2000 the latest series after refurbishment, I have yet to number the loco from the sheet provided in the box, a little bit like BR when a series of locomotives get a refurbishment or modernisation they become a sub class within the class, the EF65 class has 4 sub classes the first series EF65-0 were predominantly freight locomotives with two piece windscreen and no connecting doors, EF65-500 were also used on passenger services mostly overnight sleepers and had a small cream band along side the loco body , the series 1000 feature the centre cab end doors  and we’re both freight and passenger and the series 2000 as the model here are capable of high speed running for freight use these are noticeable as they have the loco number board on a red background,0521BD5F-7155-4E84-B1E8-0F3575A95441.jpeg.c4d25b63c186dbed37a7f6e3c9a86bfb.jpega noticeable feature is the colour of the cab doors, like a few countries Japan uses 2 voltage systems if the loco in JR Freight ownership and is in the blue/grey based livery like the models here and has yellow cab doors it’s for 1500V DC operation, if the loco features red cab doors this is either dual voltage as in the class EF81 or the ED79 for use on the 20KV AC network. More modern locos constructed post privatisation with the exception of type EF66-100 have unique liveries per class and don’t feature the coloured doors.

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The first venture into 1/80 HO by TOMY owned TOMIX was the BO-BO-BO class EF81 about 20 years ago, a very popular dual voltage loco mostly used on container freight but a small number of the class were used on some long overnight sleeper services notably the Twilight Express between Sapporo on Hokkaido Island to Osaka a journey of nearly 24 hours this luxurious train formed of dark green sleeper coaches and lounges used a similar liveried EF81 this loco the coaching  stock and loco  have  been available from TOMIX in 1/80 together with the Cassiopeia set , the last set of dedicated sleeping coaches introduced in Japan between Tokyo and Sapporo again with an EF81 to match the stock. My EF81!model pictured here is in Hokutosei sleeper livery with the shooting star motif on the side this service also ran between Tokyo and Sapporo but did not have the luxury of the Cassiopeia service, incidentally the EF81 on both these services were replaced by more modern EF510 locomotives just before both services were withdrawn after the introduction of a Shinkansen high speed service between Tokyo and Hokkaido.



The only AC electric locomotive I have is a single BO-BO type ED79 by TOMIX in AC red livery at present.


This loco would be out of place on my DC overhead layout but modellers license enables it to be “visiting” for some rectification work as the model was at an attractive price i couldn’t say no, the model is not staying in AC red in due course it’s going to be professionally airbrushed into the present JR Freight 2 tone blue and grey.

These powerful little BO-BO locos often operate in pairs on container freight.

I also have plans for another TOMIX red EF81 locomotive that I have acquired to also be airbrushed into the same JR Freight 2 tone blue  livery series EF81-45X this also will involve some bodywork to remove the  chrome strips below the cab window and add some icicle cutters above the cab windows, these have been purchased from Japan and are etched brass, it’s strange to have such a feature as the depot where this series of locos are based have very little ice! I have a photograph of a converted model from a fellow modeller in Japan


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Following on from my box cab electrics we have the type EF66 as modelled by TOMIX in JR freight livery , mostly used on fast freight and passenger services including the last motive power for most of Japans overnight blue trains that operated to the West of Tokyo by Japan Railways west (16 locos), upon privatisation 39 locos we’re transferred to the freight company and several received the new livery, and some modifications like new suspension and modern traction motors ,most however after the refurbishment just gained a simple painting of the cab doors into yellow to denote 1500 DC loco. A small number of a very similar design and some constructed under licence in Spain were sold to RENFE for use on heavy steel trains a number survive in the Mercancias freight section today mostly in use in the north of Spain, incidentally when these locos were new they were delivered in a very similar blue  livery to the siblings in Japan as most Spanish electric locomotives at the time we’re green, they are much wider than the Japanese locos with a substantial difference of  gauge of nearly 2 feet.



The first new locomotive into service in the new Privatised JR Freight operator we’re a more modern updated locomotive of the type EF66-100 not as angular in shape as the original series , originally put onto container services on the 1500DC network they were delivered from

1989 in the new two tone blue livery,

8ED43844-B393-4537-B457-434D3BB71D44.jpeg.855a80a92b93bd082fda4c01dfb1b5d4.jpegAll of the EF66-100 and a majority of the earlier series were constructed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the model here is once again made by TOMIX in two variants the early round headlights as seen here  and later square chrome frames units.

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