Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Straco Layout, Part 33 - Signs for Change

Read all the installments of the Straco Express layout project here.

As the Straco Display Layout has evolved, finding items for it have become more difficult. My self-imposed rules are simple:
  1. Items must have been made in Japan between 1948-1963
  2. Items must be mainly tinplate, or at least have minimal plastic (like the houses and trees)
  3. Items must all be approximately H0 scale (1:87).
  4. Items must cost less than $20
These are not arbitrary guidelines. My goal is to keep the display focused. Everything on it is there for a reason, and that reason should be plain to the viewer.

And the display is at the point where I need to be careful what I add. There are just enough vehicles, I think, to represent a busy town -- but if I add many more, it will be one gridlocked with bumper-to-bumper traffic. I could add a few more trees -- if I could find them. But other types of scenic enhancements are extremely rare, as these Japanese toy sets came self-contained. No add-on accessories were ever offered.

So I was quite happy to find some tinplate signs at a recent toy train meet. There were two -- a "Stop Ahead" sign, and a railroad crossing sign. The signs are pretty simple, just stamped from a single sheet of tin then the lower portion bent to form the base.

The seller had no idea who made them, I could see "Made in Japan" clearly on the base of the signs -- and they fit all four of my criteria. Especially No. 4 -- they were only $0.50 a piece. So I purchased them. And as you can see, they're perfect for the display layout. Now the challenge is to find some more of them...

Total cost for the project:
Layout construction:

  • Pegboard: $4.95
  • Flathead Screws: $0.40
  • Molding: $2.49
  • SilClear: borrowed from a friend
  • Green Paint: left over from another project
  • Wood Screws: $3.60
  • Felt Pads: $1.99
Power Pack: $5.90
Small Houses: $3.00
Testor's Gray Paint for road: $1.29
Bandai Areo Station: $8.99
2 tinplate signs: $1.00

  • Two Japanese toy cars: $2.00
  • A.W. Livestock truck: $4.99
  • Taxi: $2.99
  • Ambulance: $2.99
  • Two Japanese patriotic cars: $6.99
  • Namura Police Car $2.52
  • Haji three-wheel sedan $3.00
  • Namura lumber truck $3.48
  • 1950's sedan $2.99
  • 6 Namura vehicles $16.99
  • LineMar Pepco Truck $8.50
  • LineMar Bond Bread Van $8.00 
  • Linemar Fire Engine $4.95 
  • Linemar Dump Truck $12.99
  • Namura Red Sedan $5.00
Total Cost: $121.99

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