A Faller-inspired Kit-bash - FINI!

As I've said before, one of my all time favorite structures is the 1960's era Faller 2293 'modern high rise' kit.  The mid-century modern colors and design speak to an almost Jetson's-esque future - and (of course) on a layout filled with high speed EMU's from around the world, this is just the sort of infrastructure that Quinntopia demands.  Below is the 'original' kit which served as inspiration for this build (and an earlier one!):
So I posted some 'almost' complete photos already and thought that I would be done with photographing/blogging this structure, but I really liked how this turned out and wanted to share a few more finished photos.
The main focus since my last post was to finish up the trim and roof details (actually, these little parts are actually quite time consuming!).  I used some of the wider blue facade strips that came with the original Faller kit to create a much stronger-looking top to the top trim of the building.  I also added some grey paint and little details as can be seen in the below photos:

I'm quite pleased at how well the fairly minimalist interior details actually worked out.  All the interior details are composed of odd bits of styrene (painted or glued into position to give the impression of office equipment), the very inexpensive N Scale figures from China work great for filling rooms cost effectively!  And custom printed backgrounds with various 'found' bits on the web help to give the impressions of office walls and so on:

The point of my above comments about interior details is that you really don't have to do a lot of 'detail' to give the impression of people and activity.  Save expensive Prieser and other figures for detail scenes where you know people will actually see them! :-)

Finally, a similar photo as the top one, this time showing the 'angled' section a bit more obviously than the top!
Now... I need to find room on my layout for this thing!  That might entail a redesign of Quinntopia? Is Quinntopia V5 in the future?  Stay tuned! :-)


Minitrix Koploper: Mystery Solved!

A mystery that has plagued me since my discovery that my Minitrix 12865 from the mid-1990's contains an NEM 651 socket has been solved!

As a reminder, the Minitrix KLM-liveried Koploper's were produced from 1994-1999, which was the very early days of DCC and as far as I know, a long time before any manufacturer had ever made plans for "DCC ready" trains (which is what the NEM 651 socket would allow)!

Some more explanation of the above terminology may be useful for some readers: "NEM" is an abbreviation for "Normen Europäischer Modellbahnen" or "European Standards for Model Railways" as we might say in English.  The NEM Standards are set by an organization called MOROP, which is sort of a European version of the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association).  When terms like "NEM 651" are used, we are referring to the standards set by the MOROP organization for a 6 pin 'plug and play' DCC decoder interface that was nearly universally used by all European N Scale manufacturers until recently (here is the PDF standard; in German of course!).

Yes, I said 'was' the universal standard...see this excellent overview of all the new 'standards' at Pierre's excellent Digital Train Blog for the current chaos in decoders!

Okay, back to the story.  A couple of weeks ago, Baz - a Singapore based reader of this blog - sent me an email asking questions about my Koploper's.  Baz wrote about his enthusiasm when he acquired a KLM Koploper, but was a little disappointed to discover that - unlike the version I had in my review -  his Koploper did not contain any NEM 651 decoder interface!

Here is where I have to give Baz a huge amount of credit for not only discovering why his Koploper was different than mine, but also figuring out how to make it that way!


What Baz discovered, and shown in his photo below, is that his Minitrix 12865 is equipred just like they are shown in the original product manual and explosion documents (visible here).
Now, keep in mind the above photo of Baz's Koploper is of the same model (12865) as mine; compare with the below photo of my own Koploper and you will notice some thing right away:
Mine has a green circuit board which, as Baz discovered, is the reason why I was able to remove the shell and easily add an NEM 651 decoder!  The green circuit board is actually the new circuit board with the NEM 651 circuitry that Minitrix installed for its newer releases of this model (e.g. the Blue and Yellow 12749 from 2004 or the Olympic version from a couple of years ago).  Baz was able to find the circuit board part number (31282909) for the motorized coach, and was also able to order it directly from Märklin (try this link...unfortunately, I've not found that the Märklin or Trix 'stores' are set up for use by folks in the US, and rather we would need to go through a dealer or (yikes!) Walthers?)

And, just to prove that point, below is a photo from Baz of the 2004 catalog Koploper 12749...with the green circuit boards and decoder interfaces!
 And the interior / circuit board view of the two motorized coaches from the older and newer design:
So....there you have it!  I only hope that my wildly inaccurate review which incorrectly might have led future buyers to the conclusion that other KLM Koploper's have a DCC interface can, in some way, be corrected with this new update!  A huge thanks to Baz for sharing his information and photos on this locomotive!  Now its time for a Scoobey-Snack!


A Faller-inspired Kit-bash - ALMOST DONE!

The Faller-inspired Kit-bash is almost complete, and I actually hope this will be my last post on this project so i can move on to other things!  Its not completely done, so I'll mention those remaining tasks in the below pictures.

Since the last update I had the somewhat formidable task of creating, adding, and lighting the interior floors.  This is obviously fairly time consuming, and in an effort to reduce costs, most of the details (office furniture for the most part) also are scratch built or just found parts that give enough of an impression to work!  Below you can see my work to add in each floor.
While I am gluing in each floor (the material I am using is -again- a 'foam PVC' material called 'sintra' which I love for this purpose) I also am adding in my LED strips (again, using the fabulous LED strips which you find off of ebay!).  I have a process where a 3-LED strip is used for a 'half lit' / half occupied floor, and a 6 LED strip is used for a fully light floor.  Alternating and making the lights on/off helps to make the building lighting look more realistic.
Checking the progress.....
Once all of the building floors were done, I still had to work on the ground floor and the top floors (the roof will have a somewhat asymmetrical rooftop).  I really don't have a plan for my scratch-build, but I try to plan ahead to have several options and then try different looks to see what might work best.  For the ground floor on this building, I decided that an overhanging canopy (that also works as the 'floor' for the first office floor!) would work, and that this canopy would also have the 'blue' trim that the rest of the structure would have.  This little detail actually took a whole weekend as the styrene and sintra had to be cut, glued, puttied, sanded, and painted before I could move on!
Now with a suitable roof for the main floor lobby, time to figure out what will go inside!  I had already prepared some clearl acrylic plastic for the entry glass earlier, but the interiors needed some detail.
I marked out the main 'travel area' for people to go to the elavator bays (which will be printed onto paper and glued to the back wall) and those areas where a some coaches would be found as well as a waiting area for visitors, etc...
I needed some better lobby furnitre than anything I had on hand (or really, anything that is produced! Plenty of picnic benches in N scale, but very few couches or furniture items!  A lament I have made many times on this blog!).  What I did was used some corner styrene strips (the wide ones; nearly 1/4" I believe), trimmed down one side that would be the 'low back' of the coach, glued the 'long end' to small strip of styrene (to life the 'seat area' off the floor), added some colorful paint and...wallah! Your 1960's kodachrome futuristic furnishings are born!
With the various areas of the lobby marked off, I was then able to glue all the details (including a small 'coffee stand' in the back corner) to my lobby floor section.
Installed and tested! Looking good!

The rooftop is the last major section to need completion, and is currently only about 90% complete.  Most of my effort has been to try and figure out how the asymmetrical / two-story higher section will integrate with the rooftop patio on the other half of the building.  Some more home made furniture, a small platform light, a picnic table (Finally! A real use for a picnic table!), some foliage in a planter and a tree round out the roof details.
Installing the wall on the roof section really helped the building look more finished, but blue trim still needs to be added, and the back wall section is still missing.
But...whew!  Now I remember why I only do a few big kit-bashes...these buildings are a ton of work!  I won't be able to put in much 'hobby time' in the next couple of weeks so finally completing it will still be a few weeks away, but I'm really pleased that the end is in sight!


A Faller-inspired Kit-bash (Part 5)

Progress continues...slowly!  I realize I am actually at what is typucally a very tedious and time consuming phase of the process where the creation of interior details and interior structural integrity have to be worked out and planned.  I know there are modellers who really enjoy the creation of detailed little scenes on their layout; unfortunately, I am not one of them and coming up with office interior ideas gets a bit aggravating after a while.

Fortunately, these interior details don't have to be too detailed as most people will never spend more than a few seconds peaking inside, so they will not really be able to infer a lot of activity anyway!

As you can see in the top photo (and in my last post on this project), I've attached the two front sections (one at a slightly, outward-leaning angle, the other straight up and down) and needed to attach my Faller 2293 'blue fascia' sections to the straight section.  This actually required a bit of 'carpentry' skill (something i don't think I really possess) and I had to cut out small areas of the top of the fascia so that they would fit against their adjacent sections.  Like this:
 So that they would fit together somewhat seamlessly lide so:
That turned out pretty well! With the exterior mostly down at this time, it was time to focus on the interior. 

As I will be adding lighting, some interior detail or decoration is required.  Most of the visible effect will be somewhat fake foam-core walls with some generic office background images I created on my computer.  These are cut to just a tad less than 3/4" (roughly the height of my floors).
 I then used contact cement to apply the strips of background decoration to the foam core.
The below illustrates how the foam core strips provide a little structural integrity (and hopefully help to align the floors for installation as well).  The layout varies from floor to floor as well, but there are many common arrangements which seems typical for an office building.
The foam core walls alone are not enough detail for floors with lighting to be installed, so inexpensive N scale figures from China (via eBay) are used as my interior office inhabitants.  Below one of the figures gets his feet dipped into glue for installation on the floor:
And with a few more people there appears some sort of office meeting!  Only 17 or so more floors to go!