N Scale Kato Unitrack vs Atlas True-Track

TrainGuy Nov 23, 2008

  1. TrainGuy

    TrainGuy Advertiser

    Hi Folks,

    I don't know if anyone has done the comparison but here is my take on the Kato Unitrack and Atlas True-Track.
    • Both are molded track and are of high quality with realistic ballasted track including integrated nickel silver rail. The Kato is a dark gray while the Atlas is a light tan.
    • Both go together and come apart easily with out breaking allowing temporary layouts to be built and designed.
    • The Kato track uses code 80 weight rail that is compatible with standard code 80 snap track through the use of a Kato converter track.
    • The Atlas true-track uses lighter code 65 weight rail and transition to cod 55 or code 80 requires a bit of work but is able to be done.
    • Both Kato and Atlas will accept low profile wheels and also the older standard flange wheels such as the Micro-Trains Pizza cutters. This is important if your loco roster contains many older locos.
    • The Kato and Atlas track pieces are not interchangeable (easily)
    • Track joiners on the Kato track are removable and replaceable. The track joiners on the Atlas True-track are part of the roadbed and not removable.
    • The rail joiners on the Kato track are part of the track joiner, the rail joiner on the True-Track is a separate piece just as on the atlas standard track.
    I have included several pictures to show the two side by side.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2008
  2. FriscoCharlie

    FriscoCharlie Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Excellent post Vince. Thank you!

    I have decided (unless conviced otherwise) to go with the Atlas True-Track on my proposed N Scale layout.

  3. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks for giving us a side-by-side. It's nice to see what the products look like next to each other.
  4. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

    Hi, all,

    The one thing that I have not seen anyone do, but I think needs to be done in a comparison:

    - What is the longer-term electrical reliabiity of the Atlas Tru-Track railjoiner?
    - Compared with what I believe is very proven long-term reliability of the Kato Unitrack Unijoiner?

    From every picture I've seen, the Atlas Tru-Track rail joiner seems to be a standard rail joiner. We've all known for years that when using these these types of railjoiners with conventional flextrack, that these kinds of railjoiners need to be soldered, in order to retain their electrical conductivity over time.

    The Kato Unitrack Unijoiner has a very specific design that squeezes the electrical railjoiner parts together, in order to make positive contact. As many have noted on this forum and others, this design has proven to work well and hold their electrical conductivity over time, even on large Kato Unitrack layouts, without soldering.

    I'd simply like to suggest that longevity electrical conductivity tests on Atlas Tru-Track railjoiners ought to be done (or publicized, if Atlas has done such tests internally already).

    Just trying to help out here. :)
  5. FriscoCharlie

    FriscoCharlie Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Is there anyone with us that has used the True-Track yet?

  6. okane

    okane TrainBoard Supporter

    No, but I will stay with Kato
  7. Powersteamguy1790

    Powersteamguy1790 Permanently dispatched

    Kato Unitrack has a long term proven record. The Unitrack rail joiner is far superior to the Atlas Tru Track rail joiner. I've seen the Tru Track and unimpressed with the rail joiner they use.

    However opinions concerning the Tru Track may vary.
  8. MRL

    MRL TrainBoard Member

    I think the C65 looks good. I am going to be going C40, handlaid #4 turnouts.
    I like the Kato because of the impecable record, then Atlas's rail profile looks better......:tb-confused:
  9. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

    Actually, when one refers to "pizza-cutter" wheelsets, he or she should mean the MicroTrains wheels, which still come out with deep flanges.Atlas' code 55 flex has molded-on spike heads that the deep flanges hit- I'm not aware how MT wheels run on code 65. Also, the code number actually refers to rail height in thousandths of an inch- for example, code 80 rail is .080" tall, code 55 is .055" tall, and so on. In N scale, code 55 and code 40 rail is closer to prototype size than, say, code 65 and code 80. However, some folks stay with code 80 because of its price, ease in work, adaptability for different flange depth, etc.

    However, since I'm using code 40 and 55 track & turnouts on foam roadbed, and have never used either Kato or Atlas modular track components, I cannot judge.

    I can say that by looking at the products, Kato's track doesn't look quite right, due to more space between ties. Atlas looks a little closer to real, space-wise.

    This is the first review I've seen comparing the two products, and it looks fairly informative. Were I to go the modular track route, I'd look at such reviews as this one, plus (always good to get other opinions, and or course ask the man who owns one, so to speak) ask users of the two product lines.

    Not nitpicking, just pointing out a couple of things.
  10. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    First impressions...

    True-track's tie spacing and color are amazing...
    Those little plastic things sticking out at the ends will be broken off in a matter of minutes!

    I myself could care less about the rail height.. never paid attention to the differences (of course I've only ever used unitrak), but from what I observe on the boards here.. I think Kato better skip the proposal stages and start pumping out unitrak with American tie spacing. (I've been led to believe the reason unitrak has such far spaced ties is because they match Japan's prototype?)
    Either way, it seems like the majority of people here would prefer to take a less proven product that has a far better look, than something that looks just ok but is bulletproof.

    I'll stick with unitrack, mainly because I have several hundreds already invested and I'm not so picky about being prototypical, I'm more freelanced. But I'll tell you the day unitrack has prettier tie spacing and or concrete ties on their single track pieces.. I'll be jumping for joy.

    Also, what's the price and selection compairson like?
  11. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    While I will stick with Unitrak for the reasons others have mentioned:

    • Electrical Connectivity
    • Proven - track - record
    • Existing investment
    • Lack of concern for tie spacing / appearance
    I would like to see a transition piece between the two types.

    I use my Unitrak the way some folks use "Xtracad" to design my layouts.
    In another thread it was mentioned that it the Atlas track did not seem as sturdy as Unitrak for the frequent connect / reconnect / change / re-change of track plans. I have altered my layout several times ovr th last 4 years. All of my Unitrak is still in superb working condiditon.
  12. to2leo

    to2leo TrainBoard Member

  13. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    You are correct that Unitrack is based more on Japanese 3'6" gauge track with its wider spaced ties and is usually well maintained and neatly ballasted like the Unitrack. The wider tie spacing is more common in most of the world except the U.S. where heavier axle loadings have to be carried. Remember too, that the Kato Unitrack is 1:150 scale which the Japanese use for N scale which could also make it look a bit oversize to U.S. eyes. As much as we like it I can't see Kato doing a U.S. prototype Unitrack as their majority market is Japan, their U.S. market is by comparison miniscule, you just have to look at the vast amount of Japanese equipment bought out by them for their home market.
  14. greatdrivermiles

    greatdrivermiles TrainBoard Member

    I totally agree with you on the double track design. I only wish they would come out with some broader and sharper curves in the double track.
  15. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    ... but still... compared to the beautifully detailed stuff Kato USA is pushing out; Daylight, GG1, SD70Ace.. ect.. A production run of American Prototype Unitrak would be cake. :p
  16. FloridaBoy

    FloridaBoy TrainBoard Member

    I am currently using Kato UniTrak on my entire layout. It represents a financial investment after pursuing alternatives at the time I purchased the track, among them what was available and how much it costs.

    Had the Atlas track been available at the time, I am sure I would have considered it, especially after looking at this comparison on this topic. But my point is that once you make a pretty sturdy financial committment, I think those of us out there who already have ready made track, would stick with what they got, unless they were having insurmountable problems.

    I have had minimal problems with my glued down Kato track after 3 years, and it is not soldered.

    Ken "FloridaBoy" Willaman
  17. TrainGuy

    TrainGuy Advertiser

    Thanks for the correction. I altered the post. Just another instance of the fingers moving faster than the brain can.:tb-biggrin:
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2008
  18. TrainGuy

    TrainGuy Advertiser

    I did set up a small test track with Atlas True-Track to program decoders and test locos away from the shop and closer to the computer. I have a large collection of older (read - my gray hair or lack there of) MT, Atlas, Bachmann, Con-Cor rolling stock and they all run nicely on the code 65 rail integrated in the True-Track. The low profile wheels also run nicely on the track.
    I would assume that as the track line matures Atlas will be including many more radius and sizes.
  19. up1950s

    up1950s TrainBoard Supporter

    I think Atlas in right on the money , but until they do a double crossover that money will not be as reachable as it could be . True double crossovers are used in yard throats , but thats a good piece of what we model , and more so than the real deal . Atlas will win by going for the throat .
  20. utrkusr

    utrkusr TrainBoard Member

    Kato Unitrack vs. Atlas True-track

    I am in the process of building a fairly extensive layout (the Atlas N-scale Broad Horizons from the Nine N scale Layout book) and have invested heavily in Unitrack. At the time of purchase, True-track was not available. Looking now at what Atlas is offering in the True-Track line, the Unitrack has a clear advantage in the much greater variety of curve radii, crossings, turnouts, straight piece lengths, and so forth. The non US prototypical appearance is not serious enough for me to even think about changing.

    By the way my layout will grow a little bit over the 48x120 pointy end one shown in the Atlas book. Frankly I don't see how they got the layout to fit the 48 width in the first place. I am using the Unitrack 718 radius curves for easements, all #6 turnouts, and at the right end, where the two reversing loops use common track, I am separating the loops to different levels. Also double tracking all the way around. Finally, the left-hand loops will enclose a small yard and a Walthers 130 foot turntable and round house. A real bowl of spaghetti with the kitchen sink thrown in. DCC for control.

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