Tomix Fine Track Pt 1

TetsuUma Jun 6, 2010

  1. TetsuUma

    TetsuUma TrainBoard Member

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    I ordered some Tomix Fine Track for a project I have in mind (and also to see what it is like) and I'd like to share my observations and a couple comparisons to Kato Unitrack.

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    First thing I noticed is that the roadbed for the Fine Track (top) is much narrower than Unitrack. However, it was about as stiff as Unitrack and it didn't feel flimsy at all. Both track sets have the same (Japanese) tie spacing and it looks like they are both code 80 rail. The Fine Track also has predrilled holes for nails.

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    The back shows the real difference. The fasteners are molded in on the Fine Track (bottom) and cannot be removed like the Kato Unijoiners. Also, Fine Track doesn't appear to have an available transition piece so you can connect it to flex track. I'm sure you could make it happen with a little cutting and filing but . . . .

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    Here's how the feeder attaches. It appears that every piece of track has the little cutouts for the connector. Ingenious but for looks . . . . Yea, I'm going to have to work on that.
     
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  2. TetsuUma

    TetsuUma TrainBoard Member

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    Tomix Fine Track Pt 2

    Here is part 2 showing the "Super Mini Curves."

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    The reason I wanted the Fine Track is that I wanted to see the super mini curves. This is 103mm radius and as you can see, the diameter from both sides of the outside rail is 8.75". I also got some 140mm radius (about 5.5").

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    Check out the overhang on the 40' boxcar. It was really binding as it went around that radius curve. I guess I won't be using this around the Christmas tree at work. I have an idea for a chemical plant using Beer Can Shorties and I think they will work but I might switch the NW2 I had planned to a B-mann GE 44 tonner. Tomix also has a corresponding super mini switch (turnout).

    Overall, it looks like a good product. I like the super small radius track and the availability of curved turnout but I don't like the loss of flexibility I have compared to Unitrack. I hope you find this info useful.

    Andy
    "Tetsu Uma"
     
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  3. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Andy,
    I know a lot of modelers who model the Japanese RR prefer Tomix Fine track over Unitrack because it offers more variations on track and turnouts. The only down side is that it's not as easy to get in the USA as Unitrack.
     
  4. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

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    A possible reason for this is that the Kato transition piece is actually designed to connect Unitrack to Tomix Fine Track in an attempt to win over the many Japanese model railroaders who use Tomix track, the fact that it connects to flex track is just a bonus.

    I have a few pieces of Tomix track and to my eyes it doesn't look quite as realistic as Unitrack, (I think the rails look too heavy or coarse and the ballast should extend further from the ends of the ties, to me the overall appearance of Unitrack is a lot finer), and I like the Kato Unijoiner, but they are just my views. It does have a lot of good points as you say including the smaller radius curves and a bigger variety of turnouts.

    Like a lot of competing products, not just in model railroading, if you could combine the best selling points of both you would come up with a product that would outsell either of them.
     
  5. Traindork

    Traindork TrainBoard Member

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    Too bad you can't walk into the LHS and get the Tomix track. I think it could be very useful.
     
  6. TetsuUma

    TetsuUma TrainBoard Member

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    You can say that again about U.S. availability. One of the best things about TrainBoard is that it exposes us to different ideas/prototypes/experiences so we can get better ideas. My modeling skills are not that good so I like to contribute when I can.

    [Good call - I could see that.] I did some checking and it seems that [the current version of] Fine Track was launched in 2002 so Unitrack easily predates the Tomix product. [Correction - the current version of Fine Track was introduced in 2002.] Interestingly enough, the Tomix joiner is molded so it won't affix to a piece of Unitrack unless the Unijoiner is switched. The Kato transition piece (20-045) is named "Snap Track Conversion Track" so that is all I have to go on. However, to use it with a piece of Fine Track, you would have to cut off the joiner section which is not removeable. [Correction - Apprarently Kato made an accommodation for the fixed joiner on the Fine Track. See temp's post below.] I don't see myself switching from Unitrack but I was interested in seeing what the Fine Track is like and I thought it would be useful in a couple special applications I have in mind.

    I agree. Like most everything, Fine Track has its pluses and minuses but it does have come cool features. (The fully indexed turntable looks very nice.) I buy things from Japanese hobby shops from time to time so I just add track onto my order. As I have some ideas for dioramas and shelf layouts involving tight turnouts and street running, having more U.S. distribution would be handy all right.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2010
  7. Richard320

    Richard320 TrainBoard Member

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    Hey, thanks for posting this! I've got an idea for something that could use really small curves, and I was aware of this brand, but, wow, that's some tight corner!
     
  8. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    Tomix track pre-dates Unitack by several years. MTL used it in a few sets back in the 1980s I think. Theres also that brown Unitrack floating around that pre-dates the gray stuff.
     
  9. temp

    temp TrainBoard Member

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    Fine Track is actually much older, it's just the current version (and name) wasn't launched until 2001/2002. Just like Kato Tomix previously had a "brown" track dating back to the 70s. As for the Kato conversion track, if you look more closely you'll find that there is actually a hole for the plastic Tomix joiner component to pass through - you can link Tomix to the Kato conversion track without any cutting.

    Joining with flextrack shouldn't be an issue - Fine Track is much more conventional then Unitrack, using two seperate joiners. The ballast portion has a plastic joiner that provides strength for the connection, and the track is connected with a conventional metal joiner. The only difference between the Tomix metal joiner and an Atlas code 80 joiner is Tomix's version isn't as soft and has dimples on one side that aid in keeping it locked to the correct piece of track when seperating (you'll need fine tweasers to pull it off).

    On the turnout side (and track in general) Tomix has a much larger variety then Kato. All the new style Tomix turnouts are power routing and spring loaded which can be entered in reverse (a train can approach from the wrong direction, temporarily push the track into position and cross without creating a short circuit). The springs are maybe a bit stronger then Katos, I've found that entering from the wrong direction with a steam locomotive can derail pilot wheels.

    Reliability is on par with the Kato turnouts: the R280 30 degree, R541 15 degree and R140 30 degree turnout both work as well as the Kato #6. I haven't used the curved turnouts, but have heard that these have similar problems to the Kato #4. The R280 Y switch is the only one I've been disappointed with. There are large number of very short metal to plastic transitions on it, and quality control of the height differences does not seem to be good – rolling stock has a tendency to bump and sometimes derail from these sudden height changes. Overall the Y turnout is only slightly more troublesome then an Atlas switch.

    Like Kato Tomix turnouts use a completely hidden mechanism, powered by electromagnets on a DC 2 wire signal. Unlike Kato Tomix reversed the position of the components, which allowed them to make a very small, replaceable mechanism. The Tomix turnouts all share the same one (the section where the wire comes out can just be pulled out) which can be purchased separately. Tomix also sells manual turnouts that can be upgraded.

    Tomix turnouts also come with components to build a variety of Japanese prototype flags and physical switches - you can build one of these and connect it to the turnout. When the turnout is thrown the flag or miniature throw switch is changed to match the position of the turnout.

    The Tomix controller and switch box arrangement (very similar to Kato, though Tomix uses heavier construction resulting in a loud "snap" when you flip the switch - much louder then Kato) sends a 12V signal to flip the turnout. This makes it easy to either rewire a Tomix turnout to connect to one of Kato's blue switchboxes, or to "glue" a Tomix switchbox to a Kato switchbox (I found it easier to mutilate the Kato switch to make the pair) in order to make a transition from a group of Kato switches to a group of Tomix switches, which can be linked to either type of controller (Kato switches join to the right side of the controller, Tomix to the left). One last item of note is that Tomix sells a number of alternate switch boxes. One box has 2 outputs, for throwing 2 switches together (a plastic connector is also sold to link handles if you want to do it that way). There are also switches that take 1 or 2 throttle inputs and have multiple outputs – these are reversing switches.


    A few of my own observations from using Fine Track:

    The rerailer (crossing), while functional, looks terrible. It has huge plastic guides for the wheels which are *not* hidden in the slightest. I've also found, but can't prove, that gunk sticks to Tomix rails easier - I've found myself cleaning Tomix track a lot more then Kato. The joins on Tomix track are a lot more rigid then Kato - your geometry needs to be more exact when planning, as there is not as much "play". Tomix track packaging is also a bit different - especially with shipping involved you won't find Tomix's "plan" sets (~Kato V sets) nearly as good a deal. A number of these sets also contain Japanese prototype buildings. Tomix sells most of their track in smaller quantities as well - instead of paying $9 for 4 curve sections, you paid $4.50 for 2. If you are buying a few odd curves to help build a layout this can help, otherwise it just means you wind up with lots of packaging to throw out (I don't think the extra packaging makes makes a difference in shipping, Tomix is thinner and lighter).
     
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  10. TetsuUma

    TetsuUma TrainBoard Member

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    I used a picture of the smallest. There are a couple more that are a little larger that I'm sure will make running a lot easier.

    I heard about MT using Fine Track but I wasn't able to find much info about the product in English. (and my Japanese stinks.) I did edit to note that the current version was released around 2002. I've seen the old brown Unitrack. The new stuff looks a lot better.

    Excellent info on the performance of Tomix "points" (as they say on their website.) I haven't tried any yet but it is good to know something going in. I wasn't aware of the cutout on the Unitrack snap track conversion track that accomdates the fixed connector on the Fine Track. (I added an edit in my previous post.) Fine Track does appear to be more conventional than Unitrack and would be easier to affix to regular track. As I mentioned in my original post, it looks like a little cutting and filing would do the trick but there is no provision for just hooking the two together.

    Here's the link to the Fine Track website. It is in Japanese but the pictures are useful to see what is available. I wish Kato would do a wye and three-way switches. http://www.tomytec.co.jp/tomix/menu/tomix_1_3.htm

    Andy
    "Tetsu Uma"
     
  11. Seated Viper

    Seated Viper TrainBoard Member

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    My first thought was that it looks a bit like Fleischmann Piccolo.

    Regards,

    Pete Davies
     
  12. National Mallets

    National Mallets TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for this cool info! With curves that tight, it's likely one would need a nimrod car to operate between rolling stock with truck-mounted couplers and locomotives with body-mounted couplers. I've GOT to get some of that track to play with. Thanks again.
     
  13. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'll add my thanks. Years ago I built a small layout with small radius curves out of flextrack. It was nearly impossible to maintain the gauge. I am still fascinated with the possibilities for a real tight logging line off in a corner, just to play with it.
     
  14. TetsuUma

    TetsuUma TrainBoard Member

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    I'm really liking the 140mm (5.5") radius (next size up from this) as a 40' boxcar doesn't bind up. Either way, these are nice curves for an urban scene or tight industrial area. Maybe even a "L" scene like the curve from Wells St to Van Buren although that isn't a ballasted deck on the prototype. Tons of possibilities.
     
  15. ChicagoNW

    ChicagoNW E-Mail Bounces

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    I love working with Tomix track.

    Other things to know about the track.
    The Brown/Tan and the two types of gray are fully compatible.
    The older Brown switches work just like Atlas using three wires to change.
    The manual inset for gray switches can be easily converted to remote.
    Tomix track is the same height as Atlas on cork.
    Tomix track has two little ball bearings on the bottom. They are a place to solder under track power feeds.
    The nail holes in the track are the same places that the track attaches to the overhead viaducts.
    The plastic tab make the joint stronger but are not needed.
    Tomix makes kits to convert Mini Fine Track into streetrack. There are two kinds, brick and smooth. It includes covers for 90° crossings and the 140mm radius turnouts.
    They are now selling a premade streettrack that they call WIDE TRAM TRACK in the same curves a the Mini Fine track. It completely compatible with standard track.

    The TOMIX MINI FINE TRACK is a favorite of traction modelers.
    Bachmann Brill and PCC streetcars can run on 103mm radius curves with NO modifications.
    Come check out nscaletraction : Nscaletraction

    There is a Yahoo group devoted to Tomix track Tomix : Tomix

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  16. TetsuUma

    TetsuUma TrainBoard Member

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    140mm Radius vs 100mm Radius

    I finally got around to photographing the 140mm (5.5") radius Tomix Fine Track curves. I performed the 40' boxcar test and, unlike the 100mm (4") radius, it did not bind going around the curve.

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    I also got out an Atlas Beercan shorty tankcar and tested in on the 100mm radius. It made the curve without binding.

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  17. Richard320

    Richard320 TrainBoard Member

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    My order arrived. That curve is tight! And I got the second-smallest! The pictures just don't convey how really small those radii are.

    My little tiny Thomas stuff goes around it okay, but there is no way to get it on the track on a curve. I had to open a pack of the straight track and hook it in to get the cars on the track. Even a short, two axle car looks enormous on it, LOL.
     
  18. Mo-Pac

    Mo-Pac TrainBoard Member

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    Hello I see that this is an very old post, I am wanting to know about your experience with the

    Hello, I am trying to figure out one thing. The 140mm 30 degree switch from Tomix. Can a six axel locomotive traverse through it safely? I am not worried about overhang. Just wanting to know if the triple truck can safely make it through the turnout. I plan to use it for yard purpose to save space on the future layout. Thanks Clayton
     
  19. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I don't know the answer to your question and hope someone might. Tomix makes a PR280-30 Turnout and a PR140-30 Turnout, with the latter looking tiny. Looking at the Tomix PR280-30 F below and Kato's No. 4 at the bottom, my guess is that operating a six axle unit over the Tomix might be dicey, though I think the Tomix radius converts to 11" (better check me on that) which would be suitable.

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    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
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  20. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    This is the tiny Tomix PR140-30. 0-4-0s only need apply. :)

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