Kato Unitrack N Scale Track Discussion

Hardcoaler Jul 6, 2017

  1. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I see a number of specific threads on Kato Unitrack components and rather than continue to add on and get off subject, I thought I'd add a general thread for N Scale Kato Unitrack discussion.

    One of my questions is about the Kato 20-220 and 20-221 No. 4 Turnout package -- what exactly comes with the No. 4 Turnout? Kato's site isn't clear to me. Do they all come with the Turnout, 1 Ea S60L, 1 Ea S60R and 1 Ea 481-15 Curve? Is a short piece of straight also included?

    Why does a Right or Left turnout come with both a S60L and S60R? I'm assuming that these are beveled pieces so that the ballast profile matches nicely to the straight route track.

    I really miss having a local hobby shop so that I could see things in person. :(
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    To make my question perhaps clearer, are the S60 L and S60R pieces used as per the blue arrow?

    Can I set two No. 4s together as per the yellow arrow or will there be a physical connection problem there if I don't use a S60L or R? Thank you.

    Kato No. 4 Turnout Diagram - 2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  3. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    You also get a 64mm straight. You only need one of the cut out 60s, but you do NEED it, or else the unitrack will not fit. There is a nice PDF on the Kato site (under N scale track plans) which shows the different geometries for #4 turnouts.
     
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  4. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Just be aware that these #4 turnouts have some issues with the points being 'picked' because the point doesn't quite fit flush into the receiving main rail. There is a 'fix' for this which requires filing down the point and notching the receiving main rail (excuse the lack of knowledge for the name of the 'receiving' rail).
     
  5. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Calzephyr. The No. 4 fix doesn't look too hairy, but I might have to work it on quite a number of them. At one time it was said that Kato was going to re-engineer the No. 4 turnout to improve it, but I can't determine if it was ever done.
     
  6. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    The "cut-out" straight sections are needed to make the parts link without interference of the attached roadbed areas. However, it is not too hard to bevel roadbed on other pieces of track to make things fit fit together that Kato does not supply with beveled roadbed. I did that with a curved piece of track to make a compact wye where the turnout was on a 19" radius curve of the mainline. When you look at what is cut-away on the Kato-supplied parts, it is pretty easy to see how to use a Dremel tool to cut away the same area on another part. Being able to do that really makes for smoother layout track "flow" and thus smoother and more realistic looking operation. Just be careful to not plan to cut into something important like swtich points.
     
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  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Good tips Maletrain and thanks. As I get closer to a final plan, it might be wise for me to buy a handful of sample Unitrack components to lift my understanding of how things work. I'm pleased to read that adaptations like you outlined are available with a few simple tools.
     
  8. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Unitrack questions keep coming to mind! I'm leaning to using Hollow Core Doors (HCDs) on my new railroad. How do modelers work the endpoints of grades on HCDs? I'm used to open frame benchwork where it's easy, but a smooth transition from an HCD surface to a grade using thin sheet goods such as 1/4 Inch plywood would be a challenge to work. I like my track to be well engineered and this matters a lot to me.

    If I cover the HCD with a sheet of foam or Homasote, perhaps I could chisel spaces in the (soft) surface so that the 1/4 Inch ply roadbed could nest within at grade endpoints? Ideas welcome!
     
  9. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Since Unitrack has built in road-bed, you have no need for anything else on the HCD. For my grades on the JACALAR (which is a Unitrack layout), I primarily used the WS risers. These are cut to give you a nice smooth transition from the "flat". You can also just use some styrene shims to build up a transition, along with angled foam.
     
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  10. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Here is a really early photo of the terrain transition area of the JACALAR, with WS (and home made - the blue) grade risers. Just use a hot-wire foam cutter. (Just looked at the date -- 8 years ago!)

    DSC_0139.JPG

    Here's what looking at that same corner looks like, after scenery (the top-most track in above photo is down along the rock cliffs in the back). You can see the unijoiner, clearly, in the immediate bottom left foreground. This photo also shows how applying ballast to Unitrack totally changes the appearance

    DSC_2267.JPG
     
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  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Rick -- your photos are perfect. You wrote that you "primarily used the WS risers". WS is Woodland Scenic? I think I recall seeing these long ago. They look well engineered and their light weight appeals to me as well.

    What did you use as a primary surface, i.e. the beige in your top photo?

    PS - the top photo also shows the Unitrack bridges in detail. This is also very helpful. They look great!
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  12. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I'm kinda thinking about a track plan like this, with about 9 FT along the back wall. This will fit in the spot of my 30 Year old road. Mainline is in yellow, reverse loop in blue (the one yard then serves both ends of the road) and the engine terminal is to the right. I enjoy looking at rolling stock, so like large yards. I know that track should never run parallel to the table sides, but it's tough to do with limited real estate. This plan also allows me to comfortably reach all industrial sidings for switching. I'll not be able to reach the crossover at the rear, but I shouldn't need to except for maintenance. The tables will be on casters. I'm not sure if the support for the bridges over the yard will be in the way of yard tracks. Curve radius should be fine, as it's per my existing road and I don't run modern intermodal equipment. Anyway, this just a draft plan as I start to noodle things over.

    DS&N 3.4.06.JPG
     
  13. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes, Woodland Scenic. The surface is all extruded foam

    I would give serious consideration to putting the x over and that turnout "out of reach". No matter how well tuned a switch may be, there are always cars that will derail there. Too many other MRR variables at play.

    The nice thing about Unitrack, you can set it up quickly and see how well everything flows, then adjust, before permanently placing anything.
     
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  14. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    To help make some extra space for the bridge pier between the yard tracks, perhaps you can insert a short (62/64mm) track section between the yellow turnout and the first white turnout leading into the yard. This would create a bit more separation between the two yellow tracks and the four white yard tracks.

    Given the relative inaccessibility of the tracks along the rear wall, you might want to install a 20-021 road crossing (aka rerailer) track section adjacent to each leg of the double crossover. Maybe the same for reverse loop turnout along the rear wall.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Good ideas guys on that crossover and bridge support clearance. Thank you. Cool tip on using the crossing component as a re-railer Point353.
     
  16. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

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    To be clear, yes you can set two #4's together as per the yellow arrow, as long as you have the beveled piece on the other leg of that first turnout. The reason the #4's come with two beveled pieces is because the beveled piece can go on either leg of the turnout, so the bevel has to be different depending on which leg you put it on.
     
  17. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Ah, now I understand the beveled-piece application more clearly. Thank you CSX Robert!
     
  18. Joe D'Amato

    Joe D'Amato TrainBoard Member

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    how bout expanding this to show how to ballast it? What kind of glue...proceedure etc. I picked up a bunch of Tram street track and love it...now I just need to figure out how to make the road bed track look nicer. I took a straight section and sanded down the decorations and repainted to look more like US streets...made a big difference.
     
  19. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I posted a lot of in progress pictures from the JACALAR yard, last summer, here http://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?threads/the-jacalar-rr.43963/page-54

    The key to adding ballast to Unitrack is to keep it a very fine layer, and to clean off all ties before adding the glue. I use Arizona Rock & Mineral ballast, and apply it with a medicine scoop. For mainline and other standalone track, I use a fan brush to shape the ballast around the Unitrack roadbed up to the ties. Then, using a very fine tipped brush, I sweep all the ties clean. Lightly mist with a 50:50 water:IPA mix, then apply a 60:20:20(ish) mix of white glue:water:IPA, with a fine tipped syringe. Basically a drop or two of the glue mixture between each tie, and along the outside ties. Let dry for a few hours, and check for any missed spots; I can carefully fix them about this point. Then, let everything dry for at least 12 hours before continuing. After the glue is dry, clean the rails well with alcohol. I consider it a successful ballast laying session if I get 4-6 feet done. It is very slow and tedious work, but well worth it.
     
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  20. emaley

    emaley TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mike Fifer has a good youtube video on ballasting unitrack.

    Trey
     
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