Japanese N Scale Layout - A Group Effort
by East Penn Traction Club N Scale Group
It was during the first decade of the 21st century that some members of the Philadelphia based East Penn Traction Club (EPTC) discovered the world of N Scale Japanese trains and trams. One of our members developed an approach to tram and interurban modelling that he called "Easy Trolley" which he promoted on the internet. Some others set up demonstration layouts at some of the EPTC meets and at club meetings and it wasn't long before additional EPTC members were caught up in the fun and enthusiasm that comes with Japanese train and tram !modelling.
As information about Japanese railroads, rolling stock, and models was acquired and shared, the number of interested EPTC members grew quickly as did the size of their model collections a!nd much fun was being had.
At that time, one of our group happened to be the EPTC President and he was employed by the Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, PA. The hospital had a large meeting room with easy access and he arranged for it to be made available to us on occasional weekends. This was the start of our regular operating sessions. The group would arrive at the facility on Saturday morning where we would set up tables, put down Tomix and Kato track and create large, temporary train and Easy Trolley layouts that we would enjoy until we packed everything up on Sunday afternoon. Eventually, we were joined by some members of the Japanese Rail Modelers group from the Washington, D.C area and some Japanese friends and their families f!rom the Philadelphia area.
It should be pointed out that, while most of the N scale rolling stock brought to these sessions was of Japanese prototype, it was not uncommon to have European, American, or other Asian p!rototypes sometimes represented.
It was our good fortune to be able to hold these N scale weekends at the Bryn Mawr Hospital for a number of years. But, our luck ran out when the hospital announced that the facility we were using would be demolished to allow for hospital expansion and, in 2014, we lost our venue. A search for another suitable venue was begun which proved to be unsuccessful and it a!ppeared that our group would have to disband.
In February, 2015, wanting the fun and fellowship enjoyed by the group to continue, one of our group offered a space in his basement. If members were willing to travel to his house every so often, the group could continue to function. He purchased five tables and arranged them to form a base for a layout measuring 5' x 12.5' feet. We then set out to create a track plan in the available space. After a number of tries and many adjustments, a track plan resulted that included four table-top lines, a double-track viaduct, a storage yard, and an Easy Trolley setup. Track, buildings, controllers, and various scenery elements were contributed by different members of the group. Kato track was used for the trains while Tomix Wide Track and Tomix Fine Track was used for the Easy Trolley layout.
In April of 2015, we had the first session at our host's home. It was a huge success and we have followed up the first session with others held at regular intervals. Typically, the members of the group bring their models from their homes and gather in our host's basement on a Saturday morning. We take a break mid-day to enjoy a nice lunch, and return to the basement for the afternoon. During these sessions, 6 trains and two or three trams can be operated on the 12.5' x 5' layout at the same time. Rolling stock is changed out frequently so that everyone gets a chance to run their trains and the variety of trains and trams appearing on the layout d!uring the day is usually impressive and interesting.
At our first venue, at the hospital, we had a much larger space. The layouts were more extensive, and we had two days to enjoy them. But, we had to set the layouts up and tear them down before and after each session and that took some time. The layout in the basement is set-up all the time and doesn't have to be constructed and torn down for each meeting. The result is that we now have nearly the same amount of running time on a Saturday as we did on both days at the hospital. Even though the basement layout is smaller, our group is having just as much fun as we did when at the hospital.
Our group ranges in age from 12 -74 and currently includes a Japanese man who lives and works in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and his son, an Australian computer programmer living and working in the Washington, D.C. area, a recent college graduate, a retired author and media person, an accountant, an emergency planner, a retired transit expert, a retired hospital employee, and a retired biologist with seasonal employment as a pipe organ tuning and service technician. We are a diverse group with a common interest in N scale trains, interurbans, and trams, especially - but not limited to - those of Japan, and we are having a great time with our hobby.
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