HO Kato Unitrack in yards

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RJasonB

ITS_MFRR est. 2010
Greetings all. Based on many factors, I committed to Unitrack for my layout and have invested far too much at this point to switch. It is easy to use, performs well (except the turnouts), and looks great as a mainline. Now that I am adding structures to the layout, I am not very pleased with the aesthetics or functionality of elevated track/integrated roadbed track in the yard, on spurs, etc. I've tried transitioning from Unitrack to Atlas, but have had minimal satisfactory success. I've considered layering the yard area in 1/4 inch foam butted up against the molded roadbed and then raising the mainline up an additional 1/4 inch or so, but have realized this could prove costly in terms of time and money. Any ideas? Thanks! Jason.
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
How did you try transitioning to Atlas? In many cases, transitioning can be done using carpenter shims, (available at lumberyards and most big box stores), and cut cardboard. The transition needs to be longer than your longest car to avoid the problem of cars coming uncoupled, or the transition looking like a fast drop off to a lower elevation. It must be very gradual. It has to be treated like a grade with transitional vertical curves on each end.
 

RJasonB

ITS_MFRR est. 2010
I tried transitioning from mainline to yard using staggered strips of cereal boxes. Creating the grade was not the difficult part. My dissatisfaction was with how Kato code 83 rail mated with Atlas code 83. The two rails have slightly different profiles. Shortly after posting my initial inquiry, I had the idea to fashion some sort of a jig and them sand/grind away at the Kato roadbed to the lowest point where the unijoiners would still work. Still brainstorming that one.
 

otiscnj

Well-Known Member
First I'd take the unijoiners off the Kato track, and try and join it to the Atlas track with an Atlas railjoiner. If you are careful, the railjoiner will slide underneath the Kato rail and make a somewhat decent fit. I've used the HO Unitrak joined to Atlas code 100 rail in the past, by shimming the lower rail, with thin strips of cardboard, off of the back of the old packages that Atlas provided with their switch machines, to hold the screws. With a little practice I think this will work.

You can pry off the unijoiner with a small screw driver blade, from the under side of the Kato track. Kato sells the unijoiners seperately, if you need more in the future, from what I've seen.

Good luck!
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
I did forget to mention that it is best to use the Atlas rail joiners, and a good soldering iron, to ensure that the joint between the two brands are fairly strong.

Working on other modelers layouts using all brands of track I really believe that the best tool for getting this done IS a soldering iron and a good set of files.
 

BRS Hobbies

Member
Jason,

I like the idea of filling in the gaps between the tracks with something like cork. You could then use some filler material to fill in any gaps between the cork and the roadbed. The last step would be to add some ballast to blend everything together.

What kind of problems are you having with the Kato turnouts?

Best regards,
Brian
 

RJasonB

ITS_MFRR est. 2010
I am using the #6 remote turnouts configured for non-power routing functionality. These have the plastic frog. I have a Mike that jumps rail at the frog like water hitting oil. I also have some rolling stock, mostly passenger cars, that doesn't seem to like the frogs much either. I have checked the rails and the frogs and they are level/even and in gauge. Wheels are in gauge. It's a puzzler to me. Also, the point rails don't always rest firmly against the stock rail, resulting in the occassional derailment. The point rail assembly is delicate enough that any manipulation tends to render it useless altogether. I've had suggested to me many ideas on how to correct the issue, but, at $45+ a pop, I send the particularly aggravating turntouts back for an exchange. I really like Unitrack, but have found the turnouts only a shade better than Bachmann EZ Track turnouts in terms of performance.
 




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