Class 9600 No 39679 from Microace A0327 Set pulling Kato boxcars
The engine looks quite impressive and quite in place for its consist, however it does not perform too well on slow speeds in DC mode. First I thought that the cab-tender link was too low and actually made contact with turnout elements, now (after some bending and testing) I feel the problem is with my old DC box which may be not quite up to date (though my Liliput and Roco and LH stock runs quite well). As I don't think I'll ever buy a suitable DC box, I'd rather spend the money on a suitable decoder. On high speeds the engine is quite ok and rumbles on a test track loop with its headlight in full bloom. But as it slows, the speed begins to float. May be the DCC load compensation feature will solve the problem, I'll keep posting.
Second, I have been lucky enough to acquire a steam engine service station kit from Tsugawa Yoko Co., Ltd., Inc. It is a colored plastic kit intended for assembly and optional painting. The kit includes a water tower with a pump-house, a couple of water columns with separate valves, an elevated deck which I suppose should be indended for coaling, a couple of shallow tanks with yet unknown function (one may be for ashes to be collected under the track and the other for sand, but who would keep sand out in the open?) and eight wooden planks/platforms which functions I haven't been able to guess. All in all, it took a couple of tries to scan the instruction, OCR it and feed to google translator to get a result.
Steam Servicing Facility Kit
I have also been doing some work on the trackplan, quite successful - thanks for the useful and timely advice - but remembered that the elevation issue has still not been resolved, which means the trains should climb a grade via a loop, then descend in a couple of carlengths - completely impossible. Therefore I'm beginning to think I need to do something more simple just to get started, and move to mountains and stuff a bit later.