Kato Unitrack N Scale Track Discussion

Hardcoaler Jul 6, 2017

  1. LA Metro

    LA Metro TrainBoard Member

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    There's some YouTube videos showing it in action if you look. It's "automatic" and not "real"; i.e., the aspect is timed at default periods (a few seconds). Read more about its operation on Sumida Crossing's site here. I've always wanted one as well for some extra fun factor. I'll probably put a few on my DC-only light-rail or commuter lines.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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  3. LA Metro

    LA Metro TrainBoard Member

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    Sure thing, Hardcoaler! When I get my DC-only passenger section of the layout finished I'll probably get a bunch of Kato signals to make things more fun (since I don't plan on learning the intricasies of wiring up a real signaling system). But that works because my passenger consists are generally only about six cars, so the four-second default timing (which apparently you cannot change) should appear realistic enough.
     
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  4. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Knowing that many users of Kato No.4 Turnouts modify them for better reliability by sliding out the straight stock rail and filing a notch in it, has anyone employed the Unitrack No. 2 Wye on their railroad? With both stock rails curved, modification might be tough. I have two spots in my track plan on industrial spurs where the No. 2 Wye might look cool. These wouldn't be on the main line.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    Actually, I think that fix that involves pulling the rails out to notch them applies to both the straight and curved rails. So, you would just have to do 2 curved rails for the wye.

    That said, I had an on-the-rug-around-the-Christmas-tree layout that used a #2 wye. I had no trouble using it to reverse a Bachmann 4-6-0 and a Bachmann 2-8-0 and their trains. It was on a curve on both sides. However, when using a temporary-track-rights-on-the-diningroom-table layout with a regular #4 in a similar position on a curve, it derailed the pony truck on a Kato 2-8-2 every time that loco got to that turnout.
     
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  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Maletrain. I've not yet modified a No. 4, but will try my luck as I build my new layout. Looking at the No. 4, I can see how the straight rail slides out for filing, but the ~ 10mm length by the points on the curved rail looks to be straight and might be difficult to slide out? If so, the No. 2 Wye would be double the challenge.

    As I type this, I'm wondering if a tiny burr bit chucked in a Dremel tool might work without having to move any rails. It'd probably be very difficult to control the cut though .....

    [​IMG]
     
  7. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If you have the Dremel flex-shaft, makes it a lot easier.
     
  8. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    Perhaps clamping the Drexel in a soft jaw vice and carefully moving the track?
     
  9. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    You may have an idea there Norseman. I have an old Dremel 210 drill press, so maybe I could fix the tool in place and move the turnout below it. It appears to be one of those three-handed jobs though. :confused:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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    That is where a Dremel motor speed control would help out. With the Dremel plugged into that you can slow the Dremel down to a crawl and have much more control.


    With this set up I can do some fairly precision work without the high speed and tendency to torque.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you. I now recall that I have an old stand-alone Dremel speed controller as well. I can practice on scrap Shinohara track sections from my old layout.
     
  12. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    We've had some good discussions here on the best ways to control Unitrack turnouts, running the gamut from Kato's selectors, momentary contact toggles, Rob Paisley's capacitor-driven circuits, G.R. Stilwells' capacitor-driven BCD circuits and likely others too.

    I now figure I'll have 22 Kato turnouts on my pike, with the control panel providing for perhaps 6 Spares more.

    Knowing that I may have up to 28 turnouts and that I have no small children in the house to hold down controllers and burn out solenoids, will simple momentary contact toggles connected to a modest DC power supply be sufficient for me? The Kato solenoids are small and I doubt they draw much current.

    I'm reviewing my options and don't want to ignore a basic set up if it will work. Thanks everyone!
     
  13. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I saw one of these signals at a train show this weekend and take back what I said about these looking "klunky". The photo is deceiving and these actually look quite nice.
     
  14. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hi,

    When I did my original Kato Unitrack #4 turnout modifications, ( http://www.pbase.com/atsf_arizona/kato_4_turnout_tuning ), I didn't slide the rails out, I simply filed my notch in-place on the turnout. Got it to work good enough - the layout's been in operation for 15 years now and the #4 modification has held up.

    [​IMG]

    Hence, I would think your use of a Dremel burr bit above could work just fine, as long as you are careful. :)
     
  15. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks John. So then you employed a flat file and used tiny short strokes to file down the rail head?
     
  16. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's correct, that's all I did. :) The file was an inexpensive small needle file set that I got at a train show, at one of those "Tools for Sale" vendors. Something like this is the same thing:

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Project-Source-6-Piece-Needle-File-Set/4777067 (about $4)
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Hyper-Tough-6-Piece-Needle-File-Set-Grey-Black-and-Red/49944457 (about $4)
    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gyros-5-1-2-in-Needle-File-Set-6-Piece-49-01406/204627227 (about $6.50)

    All of these are inexpensive. The modification to the #4 Kato Turnout is well worth it.

    Just a little bit of a notch is all it takes. I also filed the points themselves to make it a bit "sharper".

    The text from my photo above:
    -----------------------------------

    These photos show simple tuning modification to #4 Kato N scale turnouts, to alleviate common problem where N scale equipment will pick the points on the #4. This simple modification prevents derails and the point picking.

    The problem, which has been known for years, is that the end of the #4 turnout's point is not, well, a point, but is cut off square. Also, there is no 'notch' for the points to sit into. So we do two things: 1) file a notch in adjoining stock rail for the points to sit into 2) sharpen the points. It goes very quickly and is very easy to do.

    To carve the notch in stock rail, I put the points in the straight position, then use a small thin file and carve a notch in the adjacent stock rail. This provides a place for the points to 'sit' into, and thus provides a smooth path for the wheels/flanges.

    The points do not have to be sharpened much at all - just enough is OK. Most of the fix is done by the notch in the adjoining stock rail. It fixed the #4 turnout, I no longer have any problems with derailment on my #4 Kato turnouts.

    http://www.pbase.com/atsf_arizona/kato_4_turnout_tuning

    [​IMG]

    Trust this helps. There's lots of other folks on YouTube and on the Forums who have posted the same modification :).

    For example, here's Mike Fifer of Fifer Hobby with a YouTube:
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
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  17. Roger McCarty

    Roger McCarty TrainBoard Member

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    Just received a #4 with exactly this same problem. The wheel flange was easily able to sneak into the gap. I immediately sent it to Kato so that they know there is an issue.

     
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  18. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    That's a fine idea Roger. Kato's product line is excellently engineered and they care about quality. Perhaps they can rework the No. 4 and No. 2 (Wye) turnouts for better reliability. I ordered only one No. 4 just to test it and had the same sort of trouble.
     
  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Three hands, as in needing to also hold the press fixture as well? If so, no way to temporarily clamp down?
     
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  20. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I guess I was kinda thinking that I'd need to lower the bit between the rails, yet above the ties and fix its height while being sure the turnout didn't move from vibration and hit the bit. You're right -- I could lightly tape the turnout in place until the bit was set at the right height before the Dremel was running, then I could turn on the tool and move the turnout for machining.

    The good news is that I can experiment with a piece of inexpensive track.
     

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