Tomix N Gauge Track and Trains

Change of Venue: Lisbon Tram Project

Posted in Lisbon Tram Project by jtrains on September 15, 2011

After a couple of setbacks I have adopted a change of venue for the Lisbon Tram Project.

The Lisbon Tram Project is now located on a serving tray which has enough space for a loop of tram track and a few buildings.

What were the setbacks? The track plan on the 30′ x 60″ layout was originally laid out for N gauge trams. Then the Lisbon HO tram came along. Although the tram fit the layout, HO scale structures were very hard to fit into the mid block spaces.

There were issues with four wheel drives binding on the C103 S curve with the weight of the HO tram body added. Without the tram body the drives ran fine. With double truck N gauge cars the C103 S curve is not an issue at all.

So I have relocated the Lisbon HOn30 tram to a Mahogany finish serving tray measuring 19 7/8 x 13 3/4. There is enough space for a single track oval with C140 curves and several HO scale buildings, vehicles and figures.

Tram stop on HOn30 tram layout.

I accomplished my major goal which was motorizing the Amarleus tram with a N scale drive. Someday I would like to create a much larger layout based on the fascinating Lisbon tram network.

Motorizing the Amarelis Tram

Posted in Lisbon Tram Project by jtrains on August 3, 2011

As one of several ongoing projects with Tomix track, I have been motorizing an Amarelis HO Lisbon tram. In preparation for this both a Kato 11-103 and Bandai 1 drive were purchased.

I tired the Kato 11-103 drive first, but in the end I felt it was too large to fit even with substantial filing and trimming.

The Bandai 1 drive by comparison has the same wheelbase but the casting is notably narrower. I was able to cut the red underbody of the tram with a hobby knife. The Amarelis tram has much softer plastic than a Bachmann Brill for instance.

Amarelis tram on Bandai 1 drive

Underbody of Amarelis tram

Only very minor trimming of the underside of the interior was necessary. So I now have a motorized Amarelis Lisbon tram and the car still has a full interior unlike most other motorized Amarelis trams I have seen on the internet.

I hope to remove the lower window glazing to duplicate the open tram windows that are so common in Lisbon and add figures to the interior at a later date.

Amarelis HO Scale Lisbon Tram

Posted in Lisbon Tram Project by jtrains on June 16, 2011

To model the Carris trams in HOn30 (HO models on N gauge track) a readily available choice is the HO Scale Amarelis HO scale tram. There are two versions of this model, a yellow tram and a red Hills Tour Tram.

The Amarelis model has is a full interior and is a relatively good representation of the traditional Lisbon Standard tram. There are some details that hardcore modelers may want to change: the head light at the back end, the steps on the off side (the cars are single ended but retain their traditional appearance), the lack of a pantograph and the destination signs.

The prototype does not have retriever, instead the trolley rope is secured to a cabinet pull at the back of the car.

The under carriage is held in place by two small screws. To turn this into an operating model, you need to acquire a Bandai 1 or Kato 11-103 four wheel power chassis and cut an opening into the under carriage for the power chassis.

This tram can obtained online from the Museu Carris which has both the yellow trams and the red trams, but only the yellow tram is offered online. Outside the museum prices run around 10-12 Euros for the plain yellow tram (without logos) and about 15-16 Euros for the red tour tram with decoration.

A 1/87 HO scale model of the Lisbon Standard tram positioned on Tomix Wide Tram Rail. This model can be motorized with either a Kato or Bandai two axle N scale drive.

An Ideal Prototype for Tomix Wide Tram Rail

Posted in Lisbon Tram Project, Tomix Wide Tram Rail by jtrains on June 15, 2011

I often hear the narrow gauge inspired Tomix Wide Tram Rail criticized for its wide track centers. As a Japanese model railway product it follows Japanese prototypes where 1067mm is the most common gauge (standard gauge = 1435mm). There are seven 1067mm gauge Japanese tram systems (Sapporo, Toyohashi, Toyama, Manyosen, Okayama, Iyo Railway and the Tosa Electric Railway. In addition the legendary Enoshima Electric Railway or Enoden is also 1067mm.

But perhaps the ideal prototype for Tomix Wide Tram Rail is the 900mm tram lines of Carris in Lisbon, Portugal. Today 5 lines continue to run in Lisbon using 10 articulated light rail cars and 45 modernized single truck cars of traditional appearance.

In many ways Lisbon seems like a place where time has stood still. Streets and sidewalks are narrow and paved with small stones, small owner operated stores are everywhere. Virtually all buildings in the heart of the city are simple, elegant structures of Pombaline style. Open spaces other than squares are rare. As recently as 1989 Lisbon was still running bogie trams with open platforms.

There are wide track centers at many places on the system like at the Praca do Comercio where three tram lines pass on their way to nearby terminals.

Track centers at Praca do Comercio where lines 15E, 18E and 25E pass through along with numerous bus lines. There also is a short siding with manual switches at both ends for Hills Tramcar tour stock to load and layover and a spur where former bogie car 10 is used as a ticket office (out of the picture).

Many two lane streets laid out centuries before trams or automobiles were thought of. In places the trams are right up against the sidewalk edge. In others the two lanes are relatively generous, but widening the street is impossible because of building placement.

Rua de S Paulo seen from above on the Rua do Alecrim showing relatively wide pavement with wide track centers where tram 25E runs.

To model the 900mm narrow gauge tram lines, you can use commercially available non-motorized Amarelis HO scale Lisbon trams, N gauge power chassis from Bandai or Kato and the Tomix N gauge tram track.

For those not familiar with modeling with metric dimensions, one scale meter = 11.5mm in HO scale. A meter is 39.37 inches.

The heart of the Lisbon tram system is the Baixa, where four lines terminate and line 28 passes through in both directions. Here are the key dimensions to the Baixa street scape, with this example being a north-south street.

Street width (wall to wall) 11.0m
Sidewalks (both sides total) 2.2m
Pavement 8.8m
lanes (x 2) 4.4m
tram width 2378mm
track gauge 900mm

This makes rather wide lanes at 14 feet each but given the historic land use pattern, there is not enough space for three lanes of traffic. In many places you find two tram tracks and trams load at or near the curb.

A classic Lisbon scene: the four-wheel yellow tram in a narrow Baixa street, the Rua da Conceicao at Largo Madelena, on a quiet Sunday morning.

Another example of the wide track centers on the 900 mm gauge Carris tram system. This is Calcada da Estrela and the white building on the right is the Assembeia da Republica, the Portuguese parliament building. Line 28E.

The geometry of Tomix Fine Track is based on Japanese narrow gauge railways and as the Wide Tram Rail is based on this same geometry, it too is most suitable for modeling narrow gauge trams as found today in Japan or Europe in Lisbon and other places (chiefly on 1000mm tram systems).


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.