Sunday, January 31, 2010

Taihoku Station 台北駅

Taihoku's first station was built by Liu Mingchuan as a stop on the Qing-dynasty railroad, but in 1900 the Japanese built the station pictured above in a new location. Note the Rickshaws parked in front, a Japanese invention that used human labor to pull people in shaded comfort.

These two maps, from 1935 and 1945, show Taihoku station's location at the intersection of the main line and the Tansui branch line. The brick station used many of the materials from Taihoku's old city wall, demolished by the Japanese authorities to open up a series of broad roads lined with trees. Some of the city gates, including the North Gate, were left standing.

It's pretty clear that in front of the station was a large square, and at some point the statue of the seated figure above was added. I suspect that the large building with the smokestack in the first of the two above images is the Tobacco Factory noted on the maps.

In 1938 the station was torn down and replaced by an Art Deco-style station, built of reinforced concrete. Since the target year for the layout is 1937, and since the earlier station has more character in many ways, I'm planning on modeling the earlier station. In the 1980s the newer station was demolished to make way for the present-day station.

Update Oct 2010:

Undated image of an express train at Taihoku Station. The 500 series (this one is 532) was produced in Japan from 1919 to 1928, and after 1945 was known as the CT150 class in Taiwan.

This picture from 1936 shows the back of the main station building, as well as pedestrian crossing boards.

A birds-eye view from ca. 1932 showing the station and forecourt.

This shot from 1935 shows one of the buildings of the Tobacco Factory that stood just to the northeast of the station, near where the Tansui branch curved off to the north. This angle is from the south looking north. You can see a corner of this complex on the color postcard above.

A real overview shot of the station and surrounding area, looking west. The Tobacco factory complex shows up much lighter than the other buildings. You can also see how crowded this area had become, with small buildings and houses coming right up to the station roundhouse and platforms. The boulevard that runs from the bottom left to the center middle used to be the city wall, torn down soon after the Japanese took control of the island. The mainline followed the curve in the upper middle of the image and headed to the left in the middle of another wide boulevard, called sansen doro 三線道路, or Three-lane Road.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Locomotive

My girlfriend is extremely kind-hearted and understanding, and she bought me an N-scale locomotive off of eBay to help get me started. As I mentioned in my last post, the model is of a D51 and will be resigned as a Taiwanese DT650. In honor of my girlfriend, I'm going to name this first locomotive the Emma (絵馬号). I doubt that naming locomotives is prototypical (naming entire trains is another matter) but I'm doing it anyway.

In other news I picked up some N scale code 55 and code 80 track made by Atlas. The D51 locomotive fits well on both, but looking at how low the wheel flanges are, and considering that I'm still getting started, I think I'm going to still with code 80 track for now. I found a random picture of a Taiwanese railway station from the colonial period, and the tie spacing looks much closer to what I see on the code 80 track. Plus if you look up what the model rails would represent in terms of real rail sizes, even code 55 rail is much too heavy for what I think was used on the Taiwanese lines. So code 80 it is.

Given that I'm going to be moving around a lot in the next few years, I'm going to stick to making small dioramas to practice my modeling skills. I'm also looking in to making hand-laid track, code 80 of course.

Edit: Actually the locomotive looks pretty good on the code 55 track, and I think it may just be the leading wheels that present a potential problem. Any advice on which to use? I know that there is a lot more selection in code 80.