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    N scale model railroads.
    1/144 scale model aircraft.

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  1. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    Hi Walt, Glad you are taking interest. I will try to help with some questions, but I am no n-scale tram guru (yet), just studying and testing Unitram and trams intensely for several months lately. Bill replied with good advice. To his suppliers, I would add this Baltimore USA source below in case you are in North America, Modeltrainstuff.com (was M.B. Klein for decades). The link searches “Unitram”, which has available stuff still 25-40% off US MSRP from a recent sale. With their cheaper shipping, that may beat some Japanese suppliers, who have high prices for big items which may be forced to go by EMS.: https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/search?search_query_adv=unitram I usually shop Hobbysearch Japan, which has a world-class (but complex) website with good prices, availability info, reservations, great photos, and tolerable English translation. At the moment, Hobbysearch has most Japanese Unitram track and sets in stock: https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/list/605/0/1 Since you mention leaning towards a V60 set with two (40-820?) street sets, I am concerned that you are mixing sets with North American vs Japanese street markings and traffic lights. That is mixing Right Hand Traffic vs Left Hand Traffic, which looks very wrong. I did it temporarily in my videos, but placed cars over my wrong LHT arrows. If you are modeling Japanese LHT, you want a V50 set, and Japanese street and extension sets. If you want North American RHT, you need a V60 set, but Kato USA has not produced or even announced any RHT street or extension sets. Another factor is that the V50 comes with more stuff. It is essentially a LHT V60 with a 80-420 included, plus a great printed backdrop of Diotown buildings. To your numbered questions: 1. Kato street plates do not have indentations that fit only Diotown buildings. Essentially street plates are ~7mm flat road and parking lot plates with ~1mm raised molded-in sidewalk. The ~1mm drop from sidewalk to parking lot is the only “indentation”. It allows all Diotown buildings to have a strong ~2mm rectangular “extended sidewalk” base with much molded detail, without too big of a step down to the Unitram sidewalk. If you prefer other buildings (DPM, Faller...), you could either trim their base (if needed), substitute 1-2mm styrene, or place them in the parking lot without bases. I actually like the “global generic” look of most Diotown. The sidewalk “indentation” allows me to keep buildings loose, but quickly “indexable”, which I use to remove or shuffle them for photography. 2. Tram power supply does not seem to be any problem issue so long as it is not higher than 12V. I have seen significant >2:1 variations in running speed per volt among models and manufacturers. This makes running some types together on the same line essentially impossiple without heroic measures like DCC or sophisticated block control. Prototypical running of trams is far slower than trains and trams are often run very close together. Even with flywheels, going slow enough over turnouts, crossings, or dirty track is a challenge. I have used the Kato S controller acceptably, but particularly like its new Japanese/US rated replacement Kato SX controller. It seems to have some (pulse?) method for slower running. I also like that the circuit breaker is quick, since derail shorts happen often with many trams on one circuit with collisions and catch-ups. 3. Best trams are a big question. You haven’t even mentioned prototype location or era preferences. My videos try to answer this, especially for Unitram turnouts. Bill seems happy with Tomytec and has much experience with them. I have only tested the Toei Arakawa line rebuilt 7000 with TR-01 motor. It looks ok and has excellent slow running over turnouts. I have since bought 18 more various motorized Tomytecs and built 6, but not run them yet. They are easy to motorize, but for some you may have to carefully decipher Japanese instructions on which parts to use. I think the Tomytec Tram Collection marketing approach is a great way to get many Tram prototypes out that would never get done by mainstream model companies. My favorites so far from video tests are Kato Portram/Centram (realistic appearance and good slow running), Modemo Deha 300 (reliable slow running), Tramway 7500 & 8000 (reliable slow running). Upcoming favorites for a new video is Bachmann Peter Witts (appearance and reliable running). I also plan to test and video my Tomytec Berlin and Munich 3 segment trams, and Hobbytrain Siemens GT6 2 segments. 4. Sources are well covered by Bill and myself. Regarding which way to go, Unitram or Tomytec track, then Unitram street plates or DIY are big differences: Tomytec is essentially at least as versatile as any Kato or Tomix compact single track system. However, if you want turnouts, Tomytec only offers a set of little molded glue-on street plates for its single track R140 compact turnout. Kato offers only their fancy R180 double track turnout, which essentially forces your entire street running tram layout to be double track. Neither is particularly friendly to modeling a specific prototypical trackplan situation. Tomytec also easily allows motorized bus running. (Some modelers have DIY’ed this into Unitram with steel wire). A Tomytec tram or tram/bus system does not have street plates, so will leave you many voids to fill DIY. Many Tomytec Building Collection structures do include sidewalks that abutt their tightest curve or straight track, but the buildings look and are labeled very Japanese. Kato Unitram has opted to create a modular void-free plug-and-play city model system of tram track, street, sidewalk, and parking lots. Street marking, traffic lights, fences is very complete and well thought out for Japanese LHT. Whether Kato ever offers the full system for global RHT (other than just V60) remains to be seen. I am an ok scratchbuilder, but the plug-and-play aspect of going fully Unitram is the hands down winner for me. For your “middle of layout” constraints, Tomytec and more DIY might fit the space better and more flexibly if you are so inclined, and especially if you do not want turnouts. Otherwise, assuming you are modeling Japan LHT, I would say just jump in with just one Unitram V50 set (includes one 40-820) and any tram. If you like it and you see how the spacing combinations work, later get a 40-820 set for the other side. Good luck, Walt!
  2. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    This might be of more general interest, but in making my latest UNITRAM video, I discovered that Kato USA has a link for suggesting new model products. In my video, I highlighted the dilemma on my test layout of lack of extension sets for the Kato’s North American RHT V60 oval set. I just used this link to suggest such a model product, as shown in the attached image. Others of you might want to do this too, or a similar suggestion to reinforce the demand for RHT Unitram extensions: https://www.katousa.com/suggest.html
  3. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    My latest UNITRAM Tram Test is with Kato Portrams and Centrams. 20min! Much of their performance may be well known to many of you. I probably have some new details to add, and the presentation is pretty polished now. Please enjoy, comment, and share!
  4. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    My latest UNITRAM Tram Tests are on Modemo N Tokyu Deha 150, 200, and 300 types. They were all present in my teaser video, but my new tests are more technical and with more samples of each type:
  5. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    My first real (non-teaser) UNITRAM Tram test video is out. This one is more polished and technical, but rather long at 13min. I plan about 10 more of these and will continue to improve. Thanks to all of you for your comments on my teaser video. This helped me improve my test techniques, discussion, and presentation style, as I hope you will see. Please enjoy, comment, and share on YouTube as well as here!
  6. onetruescale

    Now Here's An Unitram Layout!

    Good find, bill! I often wonder why I haven’t found about 10x as much Japanese tram stuff on YouTube as I am seeing considering the popularity over there. It may be my searching in English, but maybe there just aren’t that many modelers posting. It seems this guy has previously started posting some UNITRAM and rolling stock performance tests similar to mine. Fortunately he mostly has Tomytec items I don’t have. I see many of the same challenges I am facing, such as needing to run too fast and varying number of trams on each block causing speed changes. I keep wanting to see him use the “torturous” two turnout routing adjacent to the crossover, but I think his trackplan is one where those turnouts cannot see repeated use on a fixed setting. They can only temporarily switch tracks. I like his custom (width and length) segment at 45deg.
  7. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    I already show three types of Modemo articulated trams in my Teaser Video. My Tokyu deha200 B-1-B does lift the center axle only in right Unitram R180 curves or turnouts, and only in the pantograph forward running direction. This is apparently due to complex front-rear asymmetric design of the center axle and bellows mechanism and some tolerance issue binding the mechanism slightly in right turns only. That may account for the frequent center axle derailments in the video. I also have their Toei Arakawa line trams which do well, which I will show in a new video. Good to hear that your German trams also do well. I have the Tomytec Berlin and Munich trams and some Hobbytrain M6’s, but haven’t run either yet.
  8. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    Thanks for the video feedback so far on this teaser, everyone! Sorry the numerous tram crashes has made my video such a cringeworthy “demolition derby”. Even though I have found such slow crashes to be harmless, I should have known better than to put this before a tram-loving audience! Future videos will be less chaotic with trams or locos that can run at more similar speeds. It will be easier to mitigate collisions. I do have to run several at once though, to avoid a lot of dead time video editing.
  9. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    Thanks kvp! This is exactly the kind of detailed insight I am trying to collect and experiment with. The deha200 B-1-B is an oddball I threw in just because it is different and I had never run it with my reliable B-2-B deha300. It is heavier than a portram. Pickups are probably good because almost all stalls seem to be from derails . The B-1+B? model construction you describe might explain why I didn’t see many derails previously. I probably was running it the other direction! I will explore this! I have 11 portrams and most run great on Kato simple street track. The offscreen derails were puzzling, but I was happy to catch it rerailing itself. The turnout to lower left of screen has weak point return springs, so may be the cause. I will be doing a special video just on Kato portrams. Regarding the plastic turnout isolations, I agree with your imho. Another supporting experience data point is that the Kato street track quad 90deg crossing almost never causes a stall. However some of my >2 axle trams and locos consistently stall on either of my opposed turnout “torture” sections straddling two ~30deg turnout crossovers when slower than 62mm/s (scale 36km/hr or 22mph). At faster speeds, the Kato portram and Arnold Duewag each hesitate there once without stalling in this video. Spectrum Peter Witt trams (another future video) seem to have the perfect axle spacing to fail this “torture”, but their flywheel can save them if faster than 93-124mm/s.
  10. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    Oh, please watch my video. You are right the R180 radius is rarely an issue for trams designed for R117 or less. The issue in my intersection is that in a ~283mm long torture section in joined turnout curves, trams must successively pass through; diverging points frog 30deg crossing 30deg crossing frog converging points giving plenty of opportunities for power loss, derails, and shorts for a variety of wheel arrangements.
  11. onetruescale

    Kato Unitram Turnout Rolling Stock Tests

    Yes, my second model train crossing since Gomez Adams was on TV freaked me out at first trying to fend off the constant Portram crashes. After about 1000 push bumps and side crashes with no evidence of lost parts or scratched paint, I just stopped worrying. Kinetic energy causing damage is proportional to the square of velocity and I am only running 35 to 70 scale km/hr. N Shinkansen speeds or even HO tram speeds would be an issue. Fortunately the collision damage non-issue allows me to concentrate on video shooting and tram herding that concentrates video action and minimizes tedious editing. If I had any interest in electronics I guess I could automate the traffic, but I just don’t.
  12. Rolling stock performance on Unitram (especially through turnouts) seems like a good discussion topic to start (or restart) on jnsforum. I have started looking into this in depth to better understand the tradeoffs in completing my large Japanese Unitram (plus elevated heavy rail and subway) layout. I have a new video of my small n-gauge model tram test layout. Focus is on a complex crossing with Kato Unitram turnouts and how well various articulated trams run on it. I will do more like this with vintage trams and loco-hauled street-running freight. Please enjoy, comment, and share on YouTube as well as here!
  13. onetruescale

    US Style Unitram

    I have two Kato V60 North American sets as well as all of their Japanese sets. In order to create a modular street track and road plate system with as few as possible molded parts, Kato made many design choices and compromises (such as the narrowing of the turn lane discussed above). The two different track widths (25mm & 33mm) for the 45deg curves was another strange and interesting choice. Surprisingly, after setting up many Japanese trackplans, I now greatly appreciate Kato’s cleverness in these choices and compromises. Many of the Kato choices were necessary in order to create a void-free system with accurate street printing. Competitor Tomytek’s system is geometrically more simplistic, creating voids and avoiding printing. However this allows Tomytek more flexibility for the experienced modeler and for parallel running of busses. I think the V60 is also very good, given Kato’s choice of ~post-1980 North American street markings (versus ~1950) and their constraint of changing only the printing on the Japanese molded parts. Some accuracy compromises are necessary in locating the specially-molded North American traffic lights, parking meters, posts, newspaper stands, etc... into the provided holes. I am hoping for North American versions of some of the most necessary extension sets or parts. I am also hoping for some North American trams. I have a You Tube video on my V60: KATO UNITRAM V60 Accessorized