Let's Bring Life to Your Signal Box
By John D'Angelo
One of my favorite third party assets is the Signal Box by Jetstreamsky. I originally wrote about the signal box on 5/1/04 in Virtual Model Railroader Journal. The article was titled “Thinking Inside the Box.”
Since that time the Signal Box, known in the United States as an interlocking tower, has been added to many of my layouts. The signal box is unique because it was created as a locomotive object that sits on invisible track, and allows you to operate from inside the building and look out at the passing action. There are three components, available from the Trainz Download Station (DLS) that make up the building:
Three years after I wrote that article, another fantastic accessory became available. Neoklai75 created amazing animated figures for Trainz. I wrote about the figures in May of 2008 in Virtual Railroader. That article was titled “Amazing Animated People for Your Route.”
- Kuid:4468:9497 The building
- Kuid: 4468:55503 The interior view
- Kuid:4468:3952 The clock/sound effect
Now I’m going to discuss how to combine these items to increase the illusion of realism on your layout. The first thing I wanted to do was place one of Neoklai75's figures inside the signal box. Let's examine the process:
Position the animated figure.
Before placing the Signal Box on the invisible track, you need to position the animated figure. Since the floor of the signal box is high off the ground, the figure will need to be raised and positioned. The best reference point for this will be the Signal Box Clock. In the above picture I have first placed the Signal Box Clock. I used the raise/lower option with the ctrl key for fine adjustments to align the figure so that his head is at the level of the clock face.
Figure after being positioned.
This figure moves his head up and down in addition to raising his arm. I set him so that when he raises his arm, his hand touches the clock face. Once I was satisfied, I placed the Signal Box on the invisible track.
Placing the Signal Box.
The Signal Box is in position.
I placed the Signal Box behind where it will be positioned, and you will note that the green arrow is facing away from the clock. Remember it is being treated as a locomotive object, so reverse it so that the green arrow is now facing the clock, then slide it forward. The Signal Box will stop when it is in correct position.
Now, whenever you use the cab view and pan to the left, you will have an animated companion as company. I then added more animated figures and accessories to enhance the scene outside the Signal Box.
I added a rail crew man who will pace along between the tracks on the mainline checking the area. I also added a man who is loading a truck. I placed a shed so that he disappears into the shed to pick up his load. I then placed a lamp so that the area is illuminated at night. I also moved the train signals so that they can be seen from the Signal Box.
Setting the scene for night conditions.
The scene in action.
Night shift in the tower.
The animated figures come in different packs. There are nine people available from the DLS and you can search for them under the user name of “Neoklai75”. There are many more figures available from his web site in Russia.
This address is much easier to use for downloading his packs. Click on the picture of the pack you want, then click on the file, and the file will be delivered to you in CDP format. No password is needed. You can elect to save or install the pack. I am using TS2009 and have not experienced any problems.
The combination of the Signal Box with animated figures makes for an unbeatable sense of “being there”. One of my favorite things is to “sit” in the tower with my animated partner, watching snow falling down and listening to the tick tock of the clock. Then trains illuminate the scene as they pass in the night. It doesn't get much better than this!
Article and screen shots ©2009 John D'Angelo. All rights reserved.
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