Overnight sleeper services are all but gone today in Japan, but it used to be a vital transportation mode.
I donâ€™t remember how old I was â€” that â€™s how small I was. Once my father and I traveled together to where he was from, which is a southwestern island in Japan. Just two of us. On the return trip back to Tokyo, we took a sleeper train, Sakura. Of the whole trip, I do not remember anything except that train ride. Thatâ€™s how strong an impression it left on me. EF66 was the locomotive that pulled that train. That is my latest model project that I just finished, complete with the Sakura livery.
This kit spends most of its 1000+ parts to its bogies, which as you see are mostly invisible once the whole assembly is complete. Itâ€™s quite elaborate, too. In one step, you are asked to assemble a large gear that connects a motor to a shaft, and in the next step, it gets enclosed into a cover. In another step, you glue a motor enclosure to a shaft, but no, please donâ€™t apply a cement between a motor enclosure to the chassis. I didnâ€™t understand the point of those.
But as I was going through an Wikipedia article that describes the engineering design considerations that went into EF66, I had an awakening. All those seemingly pointless assembly steps were tracing the key engineering innovations in this locomotive. If I were just reading the text I would have no idea what those words meant, but because my hands assembled the thing, I can vividly picture what those words were trying to tell me.
Truly a privilege only granted to model makers, if you think about it. People who are looking at this beast from outside would have no idea what it packs underneath. But now I know.
This was a wonderful experience for so many reasons.
More pictures at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmTSrr2s