500 Series Shinkansen

Mr. Trainiac Jun 18, 2020

  1. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I told myself that I would do the late-style Portager after my early phase one, but with few photos to go by, I felt I was doing too much guesswork. I'll save that project for later once I figure out a better way to do it. While looking around for drawings for a replacement project, I found some information that would help me make a reasonably accurate 500 Series Shinkansen.

    Tenshodo, usually a brass company, had Bachmann tool them a plastic one, so an HO model of it already exists, but I think there is room for improvement. They are available in 5- or 6-car sets and can be found on eBay sometimes. However, the prototype was 16 cars long. Then, the 500 series was shortened to 8 cars after newer models replaced them on the top schedules. 16-car W sets ran on the top speed Nozomi services from 1997 to 2010, after which they were rebuilt into the 8-car V sets and relegated to slower Hikari and Kodama schedules.

    There are no expansion packs available for the Tenshodo model, so it is impossible to build an accurate V set, let alone the full 16-car W set. This is where I come in.

    Right now I am making a 'master' file that I can modify into each of the different car types.

    I copied the dimensions from the Kato Kinematic Coupler, allowing for a pretty much drop-in fit. Close coupling and wide curves make those high-speed train models look super sleek, so I know it is a feature I want to include.

    This model will be super involved. There wasn't really anything to the Portager, just two end frames and the spine, but this is different. I have been doing a lot of photo overlays to make sure I get the underbody panels and windows lined up on the model, and with multiple car types required, I am just repeating the same steps with slight changes in measurements. For the 8-car set, there are 6 different underbody types, while all 8 carbodies have some feature that makes them different from the rest.
    500 shinkansen nose.jpg
    end detail basic.PNG
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  2. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    Very cool. I have a long way to go before I'm drawing up rolling stock. I have plans to do that eventually, though.
  3. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    Here is a bit of an update on this one. I am super excited for these cars. I have the 6 intermediate cars done, now I just need to make the two ends. I still need to do some research on the interiors: those aren't even modeled yet. The windows are cut out but the rest of the car is still solid. I'll split the underframe from the body and make two parts for printing. That will allow access to the interior but I don't want to hollow the car out yet just because it is harder to go back and make changes once you start breaking it into parts.

    The cars are nowhere close to having large picture windows, so I don't think the interiors will be very visible. I might be able to go simple with them. I still need to find photos of the inside of the pantograph housing. It will probably be a compromise between accuracy and what pantograph models are available in HO. I'll look into Sommerfeldt or Piko's part department. car 2 iso.PNG intermediate car profiles.PNG

    I accidentally made one of the car's underbody shrouds backwards. The fourth car down has the vents on the wrong side (they should all be on the same side of the train) Since the body will be split from the underframe anyways, this isn't a big deal. The modeler will be the one assembling the train after it prints, so I'll make some kind of markings on the inside to make sure the cars are put together the correct way.

    Another interesting feature is the second car from the bottom. The window spacing is different from the rest. This one used to be a first class car, but when the train was shortened from 16 to 8 cars, they kept the car but converted it into standard class seating. The seat pitch is different than the rest of the train, but it is still technically not a Green car (first class).

    There are still some details I will make that will be installed as separate parts, like insulators and some end details. I have truck sideframes done, but I need to re-work the bolster so the cars sit at the correct height. Here is a sample of the truck without the bolster. The Shinkansens are relatively standardized, so this truck would be appropriate for a few other types of train that were built around the same time. The 300 and the E1 (at least) look to have similar trucks.

    truck sample.PNG
  4. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    Here is a look at the wireframe nose as of now: nose profile wireframe.PNG
    This is just half of it. I'll mirror this half Once it is lofted, but I am still working out some issues, mainly around the window dome and snowplow area.
  5. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I'm looking forward to watching this come through to completion! I have similar aspirations for a few specialty passenger sets I've wanted to do, but I keep getting sidetracked with other projects. Maybe this thread will get me inspired to get back to work on the ones I've already started!

    Cheers -Mike
  6. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I think I am going to have to make some concessions in order for this model to fit on an average layout. I am having some issues with interference on the shrouds around the lead truck. The Bachmann/Tenshodo model gets around this issue by cutting out a portion of the panel and making it partially open, allowing the truck to swivel. The bulbous shroud should extend all the way to the bottom edge of the floor, but by cutting out part of the side profile and exposing the bearings and sideframe more, there is enough room for the trucks to turn.

    However, the lines you see represent a 26" radius curve, which is already pushing it. To get it to fit on a 22" radius (the benchmark for most modern models), I would need to practically make the lead truck completely open, as well as change some geometry for the other trucks. For now, I am keeping this as-is. There is always a compromise between detail and functionality, but getting rid of this truck shroud to get a tighter turn radius is a disservice to the model. The 500 series nose is one of the most iconic of any train, and I want to preserve it as much as possible.
    truck swivel.PNG
    Sumner likes this.
  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    You've done a lot of great work on this project and I know you want it to be exact as possible but maybe....


    ... a concession to exactness might help get around this possibly. My suggestion is to make the bubble a little longer and taller so that it could also be a little fatter for clearance trying to keep the proportions close to what they really are just a bit bigger. Might be less noticeable than cutting out more.

    Also maybe two options. One that is more accurate but requires a larger radius track and this one, not as exact but able on running on a smaller radius.

    gmorider likes this.

    JAMES SAUTER New Member


    I don't want to burst your bubble or anything, but Tenshodo DID produce all the needed add-on cars to make a full 16-car train. 50001 is the basic 6-car set, 50002 is a 4-car add-on set and 50003 is the 2-car add-on set. To make the full 16-car train, you need (1) 50001 - (1) 50002 - (3) 50003 sets.
    The 50001 6-car basic set was only available in Japan. The 50001 5-car basic set was sold outside of Japan.
    I have imported and owned 3 full 16-car sets over the years. If you google "Tenshodo Shinkansen" you can find many photos of all the box sets together.
    KTM (Katsumi) also made a full HO set of all 16 cars, but in brass... Roughly $350 per car. I still have 1 of the brass powered pantogtaph cars I bought cheap years ago.


    Later Kumata also made a brass 500... but theirs was 1/45 O-Gauge !!

    This was the set I REALLY wanted to buy. But after the train price, shipping and duties, it was going to cost about $50,000 to import a full 16-car set. Being a custom fabricator, I thought to myself... for $50k.. I can build my own !!! And that's exactly what I've been doing for the last few years. If you want the check out my G-SCALE Shinkansen 500 you can follow the project here.



    When I saw Bandai's B-Shorty trains, I decided to invent my own G-SHORTY version as well.

    Mr. Trainiac and Sumner like this.
  9. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I saw your work on the facebook page, it's truly groundbreaking. I read over it while working on my model too. Did you ever finish the extruded aluminum model? That one is pretty intense.

    I guess you are right about the full 16 car set. Now that you mention it, I feel like I have seen videos of the complete model. I have never seen all the Tenshodo boxes together though. I have seen some of the KTM brass models too, but something feels 'off' about the 500. The cockpit dome looks too much like a stamped brass part and the window panes don't seem to fit correctly. Compared to some other KTM Shinkansens, I feel like the 500 was not as nice. I hope Kato continues their HO Shinkansen series. I'm not a big fan of the truck motor system, but it would be cool to have the E5 or any future models in HO. There is actually a decent amount of Japanese high speed trains in HO once you start looking, including the Zoukei Mura 0, but I feel like they aren't mainstream enough/imported into the US to be viable for regular modelers. My biggest fear would be buying part of the set and then never being able to find the rest. It took me like 6 or 7 years to finish my Acela set, and you can find those on eBay all the time.

    I go through 'high-speed train stints' and do crazy projects like this, but they really aren't my main modeling subject. In all honesty, I totally forgot about this one. I uploaded some of the shells to Shapeways last summer just to check the prices, and they're pretty much through the roof. Right now, I'm waiting for personal resin printer technology to get better and for the build volume to increase. That's pretty much the only way this model will get made. The Shapeways price point is not competitive, and once all the components are bought/printed, you might as well buy the Tenshodo model.

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