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Japanese Modelling & Japan Rail Enthusiasts Forum


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    CA, USA
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    N scale model railroads.
    1/144 scale model aircraft.
  1. 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:
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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