New layout idea....going with Unitrack

SPsteam Dec 9, 2014

  1. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    It has been a while since I've been here. After 4 military moves, my layout has taken a beating. It is a 36x80" door. I'm going to go with a modular design, smaller tables that I can link together and fit a variety of room sizes in the future.

    I originally wanted to use code 55 on my next layout, but thanks to the availability, I will be using kato unitrack. At least this way I can reconfigure the track with the tables. I will probably go with 1x4 frames with either masonite or rigid foam top.

    Any good tips for using Unitrack, power routing etc. Any tips for constructing tables, perhaps size ideas? My space is 11' x 10' and I was thinking 2' x 4' or 2 x 6' with 3x3 tables on the ends for turns. Not sure yet.
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If you'll be moving again, smaller may be better. The 2 by 4 size sounds good.

    Masonite as a table top, I'd avoid. It'll not be supportive enough, and act as a drumhead. Rigid foam, or even good, old fashioned plywood.
     
  3. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I suggest two layers of 3/4" foam board glued on top of 1"x2" frames. 1x2s are lighter for moves, and foam will give rigidity. The top layer of foam will allow you to dig out a creek or small pond while the bottom layer will maintain rigidity.
     
  4. rogergperkins

    rogergperkins TrainBoard Member

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    I started using Kato Unitrack on my home layout about 15 years ago on a 6 module layout. We moved about 10 years ago and I built my home layout using Unitrack. The space was a spare bedroom where I needed to leave access to the closet for storage of off season clothing.
    That layout is now just a memory and several photos because of another pending move.
    I have a small Unitrack test layout on a kitchen table in my office; size about 3'x7'. It is just large enough for me to test the Kato n-scale turntable and run new locomotives or old ones with newly installed dcc decoders. At least it satisfies me when I have the urge to run a 2-8-0. Go for it!
    I find Unitrack "bullet proof" in my hands; this stuff has been reused and works fine.
     
  5. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    1'x2's sound like a better idea than 1'x4's. I'll probably shy away from scenery for a while to limit destruction during moves and just go with flat table tops. I like the foam idea for future scenic endeavors.

    My forever home layout will use code 55.....in about 10-15 years so hopefully by then the turnouts will be available. I can always sell the unitrack since I don't see it going away any time soon.

    Can unitrack turnouts be routed by hand or do they need a switch machine. I was looking at going with #6 turnouts throughout for the power routing if I can.
     
  6. sd90ns

    sd90ns TrainBoard Member

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    There seems to be a paradox within the N-Scale modeling community.

    On the one hand we want and are paying more for ever greater detail and prototypicality on our locomotives and rolling stock.

    We want and pay more, to have sound and various other special affects included with our onboard DCC.

    Yet ate the same time all the above is going on; the biggest selling brand/type of track being sold is Kato Unitrak and by a wide margin. The vary type/brand that gets the most $*&! dumped on it for its very lack of detail and prototypicality.

    Along with Kato UniTrak the biggest selling brand/type of structures today are the pre-assembled Imex and Woodland Scenic offerings. Not exactly your “best in kind” with regards to appearance.

    It would appear from the above that so long as people can just purchase their detail they are willing to pony up the bucks on the other hand if they have to “work” for the detail; well that’s another story altogether.

    I think a lot of this conundrum can be answered in a single word; TIME!!
    People just don’t have the time to build a craftsman kit that has more parts than the latest NASA space probe.

    Then there is availability. Say what you want about Kato Unitrack but it is ALWAYS available and in good supply. Sadly this can’t be said for all the more prototypical track types/brands.

    Then there is the Space issue; no not “Space” as in “Space Above and Beyond”, more like “Lost in Space” or more accuuretly “Space Has Been Lost” as in people don’t have it like they used to and people move from place to place a lot more than they once did.

    Under these circumstances having a virtual indestructible track and structures becomes a high value feature.
     
  7. TVRR

    TVRR TrainBoard Member

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    SPsteam, What you are suggesting is very similar to what I've got in the works, only L shaped with 3x3 ends for larger radius turns. The majority of the trackage will be on 2x6' modules along two walls with separate corner and end units. Power routed along under each module unit and connectors in between to facilitate moving (God forbid). Planned an engine facility with TT for one end and a switching yard on the other.
    Frame is 3/4th"x3" pine with internal cross bracing@ 2' intervals and triangles in the corners, foam sits down into frame with 1/2" protruding above. None have scenery yet and weigh about 12lbs each to make them manageable. Biggest chore so far is getting the track laid in such a way that it separates at the division between modules, again for easier moving. Hope your project goes well-the struggle continues here.
     
  8. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Kato turnouts have their own solenoid switch machine's built into them, no external item required, except the controller to connect to. There is also a manual slide switch one can use.
     
  9. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    I agree with the above, time and space are my biggest issues. Time remaining at one residence and the unknown of what future space I will have. I prefer craftsman kits and the detail associated with them. There is nothing worse than seeing one of my detailed brass locomotives going past shoddy scenery (or none). However this is the concession I have to make at this juncture. I wish atlas would expand their code 65 snap track to the level of unitrack, but I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future....so I have to accept what I cannot change.

    At least with my current idea, I'll be able to reconfigure the tracks (something I think my sons will enjoy) to fit the space and add onto in the future.
     
  10. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    Removable Scenery
    It is my intention to have most of my scenery be swapped out at one time or another so I can change eras or simply have a greater variety.
    To achieve this my top layer of foam is 1/2". I can cut out parts of it to mount buildings, mountains / tunnels, rivers / bridges / farms / junk yards etc.
     
  11. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    As for layout design I suggest at least one module be 'self-sustaining'. For example my corner 'section' of my layout will look like this, (give or take):
    [​IMG]
    It has a:
    • Yard
    • Continuous running
    • Switching
    It can easily be expanded to the left or right.
    Notes:
    This is based on plan #11 from '101 Track Plans' by Lynn H. Wescott.
    Unitrak Turnouts may not fit exactly as shown.

    Edit: Note, Very sharp curves and require short trains and locos.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2014
  12. sd90ns

    sd90ns TrainBoard Member

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    The neat thing about the above layout is that it can easily be operated as a point to point or a roundy-round.

    In fact, it can be both at the same time. Pretty neat feature for such a small and otherwise simple track plan.
     
  13. dexterdog62

    dexterdog62 TrainBoard Member

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    I too am currently building my layout with Unitrack and some Atlas Code 80. I was massively disappointed in my previous layout, built with Atlas Code 55 track, what with the poor quality of their turnouts and overall lack of availabilty of product. Unitrack is ALWAYS available and is 100% reliable.
    You have to give up some design flexibilty and appearance with Kato track, but with some creative design considerations and careful weathering, I am more than happy with the results. I would like nothing more than to handlay my turnouts, but who has the time? What little spare time I have I'd much rather devote to seeing trains run and relax. Kato is a short cut to that end. I am sure that there are plenty of modelers out there who cringe at the thought of Unitrack, but it serves a certain segment of the hobby more than capably.
     
  14. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    (forgot to post this):
    The original track plan, (inside the oval):
    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    I want to maintain a 15 to 19" minimum radius on the turns if I can. Most of my locos are brass articulated ACs and they like large turns to operate correctly. I thought about a point to point, but a continuous run suits my enjoyment factor a bit more.
     
  16. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    Larger curves would rule out easily movable modules. Well, unless you plan for around the room modules? If not then I'd suggest picking up a few shorter locos, (maybe first generation diesels), so you can get up and running.

    I have a lot of bullet trains that will not run on the above layout so instead I will be creating a point to point system with programing.

    My daydream is to create short bullet trains to run on diesel frames.

    Beyond all of that I would reiterate that if you build your scenery on 1/2" foam you will be able to lift it out and move it more safely.
     
  17. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    I looked at using folding tables from the local big box hardware store, I can get 2x4 and 30" x 6' for reasonable prices and they are nearly indestructable. They are 29" high so I would have to extend the legs to get their height up. My max radius would be 15" but I think this will do. I could always build a folding wing to increase the width.

    My current door layout has all removable scenery on it, but due to the size of 36 x 80" it is pretty large and bulky. I may consider using it for one end of the layout and then continue the other portion with unitrack. The bad news is due to a few moves, there are trackwork issues that I will have to correct.....major pain.
     
  18. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    Fixed the track issues this weekend on the layout, a few broken solder joints and a couple of dead code 55 switches that I reworked and all is well. I used snap track adaptor pieces from Unitrack and grafted them into the end of the layout for expansion. A dramatic visual change between the code 55 and the unitrack. I have room for three tables, one 5 ft and two 6ft tables, this should give me enough real estate.
     
  19. vmctee

    vmctee TrainBoard Member

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    So far you stated you will use Unitrack, a modular design, and folding tables for your layout. Have you looked at using T-TRAK modules for your layout (www.ttrak.org)?
     
  20. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    I'm not going to go the T Trak route. I'm basically using the tables as the base to put the track directly on. I doubt I'll do any landscaping for now beyond my what my current layout section has. I'll probably continue to build structures to place on the tables for temporary measures, but they won't get a permanent home on a layout until I'm finished moving.
     

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