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Kenekimura began life as a way to spend my enforced lockdown over the last couple of months. Being fortunate enough to be able to work from home, giving me more available time (no two-hour each way commute, gives a lot of additional time!), I was able to dedicate far more time than normal on building a layout. Another N gauge Japanese layout about to come into existence!


The main constraint I set was to use as much material as I could that I already had - stuff in the shed, garage and modelling cupboards. 


The Board:


To start with, the base board. This is obtained from a friend a couple of years ago, on the premise that it may come in handy one day... It is a slightly odd size, 1'8" by 3'9", and quite narrow. But it is reasonably well made, and light (the top board is plywood). There were some slightly eccentric touches - there was some plywood edging along one side and end, countered by two pieces of mdf to balance it. These were removed, the plywood bits reused elsewhere. 


The Concept:


The Iida Line is a local secondary line running about 120 across central Japan. It is a popular subject for modelling, and I have some suitable stock (a mixture of EMUs plus two ED62 locomotives. Passenger trains can be two or three carriages long, while the freights were usually only a few wagons long. I have a railway DVD featuring the Iida line, mainly ED62s pottering around, which was certainly inspirational. This layout was to feature a way side station with a small yard serving private industry. As inspired by the DVD, the sidings have their own resident shunter, which will add to the operational interest. 




I had some Farish set track curves, which allowed me to check to see if a circuit was possible. It was, so I could manage a continuous circuit, something I lacked on my previous layout, Kanjiyama. The design would be pretty simple, the main circuit with a couple of sidings. The fiddle yard consists of a loop and a couple of sidings. I wanted to avoid everything being at board level, so used the discarded plywood mentioned earlier to give the fiddle yard a little lift so to give one of the return curves could be on a low embankment.




Most of the structures came from previous layouts; however given the tight spaces I have to play with, nothing commercially available is suitable. So a few structures have had to be scratch built; the loco shed, station building and Platform. The cement works and other associated structures will also need to be hand built.


Work started at the end of March, with progress being pretty reasonable. The track is now down, wired up and operational. The scenery is also well advanced.


A few pictures of progress so far...















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There has needed to be an element of compromise on this layout; mainly space and availability. So a number of structures have needed to be scratch built.


First up is the loco shed.


The addition of the private shunter for the cement works was inspired by a video of the Iida line (the basis for the layout). It needed a small shed to accommodate the shunter, which is located at the far end of the headshunt. 




To start with, a basic paper mock up was created. The shunter is a World Craft product. It is a lovely little model and quite controllable for a short wheel based loco. 




The main structure was constructed from 10 thou plasticard. It is quite thin, so the walls were double-lined.






The main structure was constructed, and the lean-to office was added. The corrugated roof is tin foil, embossed by rolling a screwdriver across it. At this point I realised the structure was too high, so I had to disassemble it and trim down by 3mm.   




Its amazing how much difference 3mm makes...particularly in N Gauge! 


The windows and office door were grabbed from a Pikestuff kit; and the main shed doors are from embossed Slaters plasticard, with the ironwork made from microstrip. 




There is still some bedding in to do, as well as adding the various bits of detritus associated with a small industrial shed of this nature.

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The station building represents a small rural wayside station reasonably common in Japan...and subject of a Tomytec kit. The kit was too large for the space available, but I liked the structure, so that formed the basis of Kenekimura station.




Step one was to produce the overall structure size.




The basic sketches were made (the piece of paper at the top of the picture), before the main structure was marked out on 20thou plasticard.




The plasticard base was then layered over with Slaters embossed planking. The white strip will be filled by a strip of microstrip, similar to the style for many older wooden station buildings in Japan. The top left wall is the internal wall (the wide window is the booking office window).




The walls had a lick of paint and work starts on adding the windows. These were constructed from Microstrip, a steady hand and a lot of patience!




This cruel enlargement (it's only 3cm wide) shows the complete structure. The wall nearest the camera has a small canopy. The roof has been ribbed with thin strips of microstrip. It isn't as glossy as the picture would suggest; it has had a couple of coats of Matt Cote.




And here it is in situ, but with still the detailing to carry out in the vicinity.  

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A few of the pictures show the platform which, given the space available and the curve of the track, also needed scratch building. In keeping with the overall size of the layout, it isn't too long - it will easily accommodate a two car set. The station building is at ground level at the canopy end of the platform. Again, the main structure is built out of a mixture of 10thou and 20thou plasticard.  




The platform top was measured out in paper, before being cut out from the plasticard. The concrete fencing was 10thou card with microstrip supports.


The canopy was nabbed from an old Greenmax tram kit, trimmed to fit the platform.




The platform with the station building in place. On the layout the building is raised so there isn't the huge step between it and the platform!




The platform was painted by a mixture of Railmatch enamel paints, then lightly weathered, before a liberal coating of matt cote. A white strip on the platform edge (maybe a little late for the setting of the layout - 1970s - early 80s) was from a Kato road marking set, sealed with more matt cote. The bench and ornamental flower bed were salvaged from previous layouts.

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As mentioned in the opening post, the layout is based on the Iida line. This has long been a popular theme for Japanese modellers, mainly down to its long association with older rolling stock, as well as short modellable freight traffic (which finished as late as 1997).


The line's popularity is helped by the abundance of ready to run offerings; Kato for example produce a wide range of suitable multiple units, particularly the 1960s/70s. It was these wonderful units which attracted me to the line, as well as the diminutive ED62 locos, as well as the older ED19  (a Kato version arrived at Dreyfus Towers the other day).


The layout is actually set during the change-over between the older EMUs and the class 119 sets (the pale blue and white unit featuring in earlier photos). Lots of variety.


I came across the following website (in Japanese, but Google auto-translate suffices perfectly well), which gives a good indication of the variety of units on this fascinating line.





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Excellent Claude. The buildings and the positioning of them; feel just right - bashed Japenese railways in 2014 and 16 and got under my skin in a good way. Interested in your building technique as I’d like to up scale to o gauge - although I must concentrate on my Croatian O gauge project - I have a Japanese O gauge layout in my sights - using a DD51 kit which I have started but not got very far. Keep up the good work Paul 

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Thanks Paul. Hope there is something here to set the creativity going!


Japanese 0 gauge is most definitely a specialised subject, I would be interested to see how that turns out...and the DD51 is an impressive beast in N and H0, would love to see one in 0!


I have been keeping an eye on your Croatian 0 gauge...looking good.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The reason for Kenekimura being more than just a small wayside platform is the cement works.


The Iida line a few of these small concerns, which generated a small but steady stream of traffic for the line. For me, the works had to be quite small in order to fit the layout, but large enough to justify being rail served. Also, despite carrying out lots of on line research, nothing quite fitted the bill. So, the works are entirely freelance - although I did research how the cement making process took place, so the works are a plausible as I could make them in the space available. The entire structure is made from 20 thou plasticard.


There are two main structures, which contain various crushing and mixing processes, as well as a small kiln.




The main building roughly in situ.




The second main structure, with loading shed. The track and cement wagon are for clearance purposes.




Starting to take shape. The internal gubbins are from an airlock used for winemaking. Nothing particularly prototypical about it...just various crushers, mixers etc. hidden in the body of the shed. The silos are Red Imp kits.




Inside the loading shed. The loading pipes are wire and the shafts of cotton buds.




The limestone is unloaded to the hopper, then to the main crusher, and then on into the shed. 




Painted and located (still some tidying up to do at this point, as well as a stanchion needing adding).




The original chimney was too short and stout. This was replaced by a section of pipe grabbed from the winemaking stuff (about a 1/3 was grabbed...still plenty left for wine siphoning)! The Red Imp silos were nice models, but too small for what I wanted. Their replacements come from a length of 2cm diameter pipe knocking around in the shed. Two lengths of about 8cm were sawn off, then a piece of 10thou plasticard was wrapped around them. The various pipes were from microstrip and the usual cotton bud shafts.

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Another picture of the silos




For my cement works, the primary fuel for the kiln will be coal - more scope for rail traffic!


This requires another loading hopper, crusher and conveyor at the opposite end of the works.




The conveyors are needed due to the restricted space and awkward angles.




The whole ensemble in place. Now time to bed everything in...

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  • 1 month later...

Now that the main strictures have been completed, attention has been turned to adding the details - things like more greenery as well as grottifying around the cement works.




The cement works still get regular rail services - both coal deliveries (normally from the foreground siding) and the collection of cement in the Hoki 5700 cement hoppers. The resident shunter busies itself with loading. It is still quite shiny - I need to pluck up the courage to tone it down a bit!




Overall view of the cement works, which is now pretty much complete...just finer details to add to the site now.




Early days on the Iida line; an ED19 brings a short freight across the road to the village. These venerable machines started life as the built Westinghouse ED53 in 1926, being converted to the ED19 in the late 30s (which, amongst other things involved removing the train heating and replacing the old Westinghouse pantographs). As the ED19 they shared duties on the Iida line with the English Electric ED18s (of similar vintage) until their displacement and withdrawal in the mid 1970s.




The wide range of aged EMUs found their way onto the Iida line, running until the early 80s. The various details around these units are covered in the link I posted on the 10 June, but this really is archetypal Iida line - a Kumoha 42 driving carriage leads an afternoon train away from Kenekimura.


Still plenty to do, especially around the finer detailing. The level crossing now has barriers and [non-working] lights.

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  • 2 months later...

Since the summer, not a great deal of progress has taken place on the layout. The main change was the addition of the level crossing gates (Tomytec), as well as some additional detailing around the cement works; for example, supports around the coal pile.  


The sun was out this morning, so a few photos were taken showing the variety of passenger trains which are available on the layout.




The layouts timescale ranges between mid 1970s and the 1990s. It is a wide timescale, but lines like this changed very little for many years; save the stock being used.





The replacements for the mixture of older units were the series 119. They ran on the line from the early 80s until 2012.






A JR Central series 313 (Modemo); a little late for the layout, they arrived on the line in the late 1990s. 

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