Japan in a flight case

Thieu Jul 19, 2020

  1. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    It was in 2018 that my wife and I made a Japanese diorama called Manga City, with Manga as the central theme. Our diorama was large enough to give room to a double main line and a city scene:

    * The diorama.

    It was some 1 meter x 0.7 meter big, meeting the regulations of the diorama contest of a modelrailroad exhibition that year. By the way, we won the 2nd prize. Some pictures of the diorama:

    * The city and the railroad tracks.
    * A scratchbuilt temple.
    * Along the tracks.
    * The station.

    In 2019, we moved to another home. There, I got a real train room (with a door!), but there was not enough space for the diorama: it was too big, too clumsy, too impractical. It didn't fit into a shelve, I coulnd't put it on its side against the wall, it was just standing there in the middle of the room. But demolishing it, well, that wasn't something I wanted to do either.... Or maybe demolish it first, and than rebuilding it in a way that makes storage less complicated?

    Suddenly, I came up with the idea of using a 'flight case'. You know, the heavy, strong boxes and suitcases there are used by musicians and artist at concerts and festivals. They put their instruments and equipment in those cases, so they must be solid and strong enough to protect a modelrailroad. And not only during transport, but also as a way of storage. It would be a good solution for both my Japanse diorama and my Z scale.

    So, I bought a second hand flight case, removed most the foam and other stuff that was still in it, and glued some new white foam as a base for the diorama. My wife tore down the old diorama and salvaged all of the buildings, and large parts of the scenery. That makes it a lot easier to rebuild the diorama!

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    So, the large hill with the town had been rescued and could now be glued on its new spot. The small hill with the temple moved to another corner. Since the case has different measures - it is 0.6 x 1.2 meter - than the original diorama, I have to move some buildings. The shops that stood on the front side, are now standing in a new to be developed village on the other side of the hill. The diorama had only scenery on one side, but the new Manga City will get two separate sceneries with a scenic divider in the middle.

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    The scenic divider is a thick sheet of polystyrene I bought at a artists shop. They sell sheets of 4x2 ft.

    We need some additional buildings. My wife will scratchbuild those, and I will do the new station and most of the scenery.
     
  2. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I like what you guys are doing there. (y)(y)

    Hey....I put a layout in an RV. Why not Japan in flight case ! :D:D:D
     
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  3. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    That's cool!
     
  4. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    In the previous diorama, I had put some connectors in the wooden frame. That will be a little bit more complicated with this flight case, since it is aluminum (I guess) and I don't want to make holes in it. So I made an amateuristic 'board' to place the connectors in. It works, but I am not sure how strong it is and if it will hold during exhibitions... Well, we will see. At least the trains run properly their circles now, and everything seems to work fine.

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    At the other side of the case, there will be a pond in front of the rock outcroppings. I will paint the bottom of the pond in green/black/brown mud colors, and than pour some varnish in it. That always does the tric.

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  5. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Search for "project box" on Amazon. Relatively inexpensive small plastic boxes for electronics. You can mount your connectors in one for more sturdiness.
     
  6. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Too late....

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  7. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    Looks good. I was with a club that had a similar setup for an HO Thomas layout. We would use the lid as the table, just unbuckle the halves, set the top where you wanted it and the layout on top. It was perfect kid size and the DC power packs were in drawers build into the top, just pull them out (the slides locked out). And there ya go an instant layout of the Island of Sodor. In a hidden cubby we stored the Thomas and Friends engines and cars and could run 2 trains at a time. We made it so the engines could not go fast enough to derail as kids always wanted to see how fast they could go... LOL. This was in HO scale and a bit bigger than what you have but could easily be moved with 2 people or a single person and hand truck.
     
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  8. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Many scales can be used, I think. As long as you don't mind the sharp curves, it's a simple way of building a portable layout, especially when your carpentry skills are as bad as mine......
     
  9. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Have some issues with the water in the pond: normally, I use transparant varnish, but somehow all the manufacturers have decided to give transparant varnish a white colour..... So, it has become impossible to just pour some varnish into the pond and wait for it to settle, because it will stay white..... Why did they change the recipe of the stuff.....

    20200818_161001.jpg

    Meawhile, I have built two small platforms for the second railway station. They are rather short, but I don't have the space for longer platforms. Luckily, these Japanese trains are very short.

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  10. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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  11. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    That looks rather nice. It got me thinking about an art store nearby that sells several varnishes, in small bottles. I buy my styrene there, so maybe it's time for another visit.

    Talking about styrene: my wife just finished this scratchbuilt housing block. Based on a picture she found somewehere on the internet. This building will be a nice contrast to the pittoresque old wooden buildings standing next to it.

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  12. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    It's ready.

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  13. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    A lot going on in a very small space ...(y)(y):D:D
     
  14. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    While I have no experience in Japan, I think you captured the flavor well.
     
  15. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Oh my! :eek: Bravo! Well done sir! (y)(y)(y)
     
  16. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    Wow this looks great. I like the train with the cats on it.
     
  17. Ezequiel

    Ezequiel TrainBoard Member

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    I absolutely love this project! Awesome work!
    When I think of Japan, I mostly think of an Akihabara-like really busy city. But I have to recognize that a countryside town like this is really inspiring, almost magical. Beautiful!
    Could you please post more pictures of the trains themselves?
     
  18. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    The inspiration was indeed a suburb or countryside town. The 'big city' is interesting as a theme, but it makes it harder to incorporate a farm, a villa, and pittoresque wooden buildings. So, we decided to build a small town. And this second, expanded version of the diorama also has room for a village, which gives it even more a countryside atmosphere.

    We consider the layour as 'ready'. We've put the case together again, and the result is a well protected layout that can rest in the garage till the first exhibition.

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    I don't have a lot of pictures of the trains. These are two of the few pics I have:

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    But I have a short movie of the former layout that we built 2 years ago. Most of the town has been salvaged and reused in the current layout, so it looks almost the same:

     
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