Oct 28, 2010
Nice video. Never have seen a return loop on T-Trak before.
National T-TRAK Layout website
So this weekend I went to the Plano, Tx show and saw lots of cool stuff (there's a post with links to pics under the inspection pit).
First off, any comments I've made that may have indicated that TTrak isn't coming along and being elevated as a serious form of modelling should be ignored and I apologize if I offended anyone. There were some great examples (see pics) of high level modelling and I really likes some of the takes on things I saw. There were two TTrak clubs there and they each had some good things to offer. I'm thinking about starting a few modules myself and getting involved with one of the local clubs.
Here's the rub I can't get over-the small modules equal more track joints, which in my observation leads to more derailments/uncoupling of trains. While there's no way around that, the only thing I can see is that when putting the layout together, great care needs to be taken to make sure everything's level and the joints are smooth. Also, the corners are really tight and that makes longer locos and cars look toy-like as they go around the layout. I'm not sure if there's been take of another spec for corners to open them up more like NTrak, but even if it was taken halfway there it would help. As it sits, there's no way to run long trains and some equipment with the tight corners without derailments.
So I'm going to say that while I'm not all in, I'm convinced TTrak is here to stay and there is pretty much unlimited potential on the horizon. I saw some use of sound/led's and other techniques this weekend that ensure that. If the corner issue is figured out, I think it'll attract others that find that distracting and will serve to advance the hobby and TTrak even further.
Does anyone know if there is any talk among those that are in charge of the TTrak specifications about changing the corners so they're more suitable to longer equipment/trains?
Your 'shorter modules-more joints-equals more derailments' is unfounded...the Kato Unitrack joint pretty much prevents this, especially, as you stated, when even casual care is taken to level the modules (with the required adjusting bolts), In fact, T-TRAK exhibits far less issues with uncoupling/derailments due to track joins than does NTRAK.
As to your 'larger radius curve/corner' issue...many, many T-TRAK clubs have also built larger radii corners and endcaps to the larger radius Kato curves (19"), including our group. These radii corners/endcaps can even be used in a racetrack oval setup opposite two smaller radii corners with a single module between them. This way, clubs that are using onlt the larger radii corners/endcaps can still be setup with clubs using the smaller corners/endcaps.
As far as popularity...
T-TRAK is growing rapidly...certainly beyond all reasonable expectations...
Witness the record-breaking layout last summer in Kansas City, and the exposure it garnered there, not just with the public, but with the NMRA convention goers, who voted T-TRAK modules as 2 out of the top 3 Model Railroad modules from the entire show! With the top prize (Best of Show) going to a T-TRAK Module...!
Check out the official National T-TRAK Layout website for more info...
small T-TRAK layout set up in the upstairs office/hobby room...
Great little video of the North Raleigh Model Railroad club's combined T-TRAK layout last November.
Have you ever used any Unitrack?
The original concept sized the modules so that an oval layout could be set up on a typical folding "banquet" table, such as those used for dealer displays at train shows. If you have more space available, nothing necessarily prevents you from creating corners with larger radius curves. Kato makes 28" radius track sections. If that is insufficient, they also offer a transition track piece that would allow you to use flex track to make whatever radius curves you might want.
Yes, Point 353, I have used Unitrack, and I'm aware of the benefits some like and the drawbacks others see with it. I'm also aware of the transition pieces you brought up. The points I was trying to make is TTrak has come a long way, there are some modelers out there doing high level stuff with it that's awesome, and that I'm slowly becoming a bigger fan of the concept. The issues I mentioned were from my observation of the layouts at the show. I think when care is used to set up lots of modules, they work great regardless of the type of module they are. I think there are lots of people that don't weigh their cars and make sure things are all working properly as well, which could explain the uncoupling and derailments I witnessed.
The rub about the tight corners, well, that's just me. I don't like tight radius corners-never have. I understand there has to be concessions made for space allotted, and that's fine. It's almost impossible to run a long train with tight corners without derailing it. Yes it can be done, but consistently if the cars aren't weighted properly, you'll have issues. I can run short trains at home all day. When I get to set up wit ha club on a big layout, I want to do something I can't do at home and that's run 50-75 car trains. trains that large almost always have problems with tight corners.
Really, it's just about enjoying running trains, and I can see how TTrak helps people to do that, and how it can be a great new way to introduce the hobby. That's why I'll be building some modules soon and getting involved with my local club while encouraging others to do the same.
I’m pleased to announce a project I’ve been working on, with Alex Kovach of Kato, the last few months...
“NTRAK has contracted with Kato to produce their caboose with the new T-TRAK logo. These should be available in late April, in the NTRAK Company Store, priced at $45.00 including shipping.”
The last ( and only) Kato T-TRAK caboose was commissioned back in 2001 and sported the original heritage T-TRAK logo.
This new run will feature the new ‘speed lettering- double track’ logo.
Kato is going ahead with their new T-TRAK module kit (in concert with Woodland Scenics)
How cool is that?
Good to see T-trak getting recognition.
T-TRAK has been getting LOTS of recognition...
Model Railroader magazine....
Ken Patterson's "What's neat in Model Railroading"
(skip to the 43:25 minute mark)
While I cannot disagree that more rail joints mean more potential for derailments, experience with our club, N-Scale of Bloomington-Normal, we have not found that to be a problem. It does require that modules meet the standards so that tracks align properly and that during setup good leveling efforts are made. (Just like NTrak and most other modular railroads) We do run shorter trains on T-Trak versus NTrak layouts, but we also have easier transportation to the event, quicker set up and tear down, and less physical strain, not having to crawl under a layout. Admittedly, our club is aging and T-Trak fits our clubs present membership. One thing we have developed that really adds to our T-Trak enjoyment is the ability to have operating sessions with switching legs extending out of the basic T-Trak loop. I think you get it. To each his own, the idea is to have fun and one size does not fit all.
Our T-trak layout at Altoona features modules of all types from basic-box and no frills up to some pretty off-the-wall adaptations, and I'm one of the off-the-wall types on design variations with my split mains and non-Kato track inside the joiners. I'll admit Dave Ferrari was pretty skeptical when I first showed up that I'd designed something that was going to be where every train would probably derail, but he's OK now.
On two of my modules, I'm routing the inside main through the diverging side of a Kato #4. Watching one of the Kato Seimens Sprinter diesels rocket through that with a passenger train at about 70mph even made me apprehensive, but I'd done the steps necessary to improve the tracking on those switches.
We've had 'arms' of the layout with both tight and wider curves for end portions, and in the end, I'm simply astounded how well everything worked.
Video of last year; see 9:40 to about 11:30 for the T-trak modules including mine:
As you can see, there's some pretty long trains running at some fairly high speeds here.
Also look at the curve designs at 24:00
On my original triple I have a double 60-degree crossing, and I had just enough of a vertical hump on that that a BLI Centipede would hesitate, took a little lining bar process and a straightedge to line it up for the second year. No more trouble. But I can honestly say that I've never seen an actual derailment on T-trak while I've been at the shows for four years running now.
I haven't seen anything inherently wrong with the design that creates issues OTHER than you can latch up modules simply relying on the Kato track connectors and still have a pretty good rough joint there and a lot of care has to be taken to level up the module-to-module relationships. Even with that design, you can have a pretty rough joint in some cases. We all have pocket levels with us and use them.
Compared to the giant ugly three-track 'holes' at the end of Ntrak modules where the connectors have to fit, I think T-trak is pretty elegant as a basic design. And I'm one of the guys that paints track and as soon as I get clear of the Kato connector, drops back to Peco C55, cork roadbed, ballast, and hard shell scenery within my module limits.
I am certainly looking forward to knowing more about the coming Kato module kits. I believe they could be a huge, positive impact.
After years and years of half finished projects and dusty layouts, my first train on a ttrak module layout! Using DCC++ with my kindle fire. So new, I haven’t even removed the foam protection from the loco.