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minijapan

Early stages of my JR West/Central portable layout

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minijapan

Hi all,

I've been planning this project for many years now and at last started a planning stage for my layout. I'm planning on a viewing area of about 12ft and a large yard at the rear for about 12 trains of various lengths.

I'm not going to include a station or any yard at the viewing side just a single diesel line branching off a two track electric line. It's basically a scenic run through for scale length trains , remember some JR Freight trains can be 10-15 cars.

Not too sure as to track , either Peco fine code 55 or maybe unitrack (not sure how to deal with a baseboard join that is seperated often with unitrack).

Hopefully planning over the holiday period.

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Kabutoni

Awesome! That sounds like a very cool project. It's not every day you see a parade layout pop up. We'll be staying tuned! :)

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kvp

Imho both peco and unitrack are usable. You can remove the unijoiners and use the pieces as the peco ones or if you always separate the modules horizontally and at an angle, you can leave the joiners in and if any gets damaged over time, just replace it. There is a blue Kato joiner remover/loading gauge/platform height tool that makes it easy.

 

ps: to make a flat unitrack join, you can remove the joiner, pop out the metal part, cut the plastic in half and put each half back in, this fixes the look of the plastic ballast and provides a flat track end that is ideal for classic module ends

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velotrain

One possible solution using Unitrack is the 20-050 adjustable track, although this mandates that all track is straight at the module join.

 

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/search?typ1_c=101&cat=&state=&sold=0&sortid=0&searchkey=kato+20-050

 

You would need to stop the "permanent" track say 2" from the join.  When setting up, attach the "downsized" 20-050 to one side and connect the modules, then expand the 20-050 to attach to the permanent track on the other side.  A major benefit is that you have no track right at the edge of the module to get damaged during transport.

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cteno4

The unijoiners at the edge of modules do pretty well with use on mobile modules like this. Our club sectional layout and also Ttrak has been using them for years and we have rarely had a unijoiner on module interfaces fail. They do stick out a bit but we have boxes each module goes into to protect them overall and never snagged or broken a unijoiner on the ends. If to be transported you are going to need some sort of housing or frame to stack modules for transport and should protect them fine. Even without that you have to be gentle and careful with modules due to the scenery and buildings and are usually then careful enough not to smack the ends. I've been surprised how robust the unijoiners are in this situation, I figured we would be replacing a lot of them! A couple of times we have just gently squeezed the metal joiner sides together to make sure they are making firm contact, but not even sure that was needed.

 

The item that gets snagged the most in transport and setup are the power wires that dangle. We kept meaning to make Velcro holder to keep them up inser the module safely during transfer from box to layout and back but found we could easily even deal with it by just being careful and usually someone was around to help flip the wire in place when lowering into the box or onto the layout support framework (we have a bolt together girder framework that can the rest in legs, sawhorses or tables to give an even support for the layout modues).

 

The biggest issue with using Unitrak on a sectional layout is having the track joints fall on the base section joints. This can get done with careful planning or just making some custom length Unitrak bits to put the track joint on the base joint. It's easy to make these by just sawing out the needed shortening length in a straight piece from the middle of it then sliding the two end pieces together and gluing them together (if desired) and cutting the rail ends back to the new length. This way you get the unijoiner sockets on both ends.

 

The unijoiners actually hold the modules together pretty tightly. Most of sectional modules have 6-8 pieces of track and you need a screwdriver blade to wedge them apart!

 

We did do dowel positioning connectors between all our module bases. These are just two pieces of down that stick out and fit into a hole of the adjoining module. Each module end/interface has one dowel sticking out and one hole. This gives good positioning for the joining of the tracks and takes most of the major stress if the module is knocked into etc. plus it gives vertical stability as Unitrak (or any track joiners) don't handle the vertical alignment perfectly. The pegs give a good enough alignment and hold that if there are any bumps at the joints you can shim one or both of the track ends as needed with some stryene to get them to mate vertically just right. I've also just relaxed the track screws at each end a tiny bit and then once modules are mated just push down a little on the track joint and usually the tiny bit of play let's them pop back to nice even vertical alignment.

 

We even have some modules that have a bunch of straight track connections and also a 15 degree angle joint and these actually are not hard to wiggle in place. We thought we we might need to use the expansion piece across these and turned out was not needed.

 

Lastly we did try the expansion pieces in our first show layouts we built on the fly at shows. We were using them to easily make up odd lengths on the various track plans we used w.o having to go crazy with the small odd straights to get it jsut right. We had intermittent trouble with derailments on them at times with some equipment. We think most was due to the expansion piece placement dear points or curve. We fiddled a bit with this and got s little improvement but it was too hard to really experiment with the whole setup (lots of space, people, and time needed to set them up) so never did really figure out the issue. One of our club members just wrote a little program to come up with the minimal combo os odd straights to fill in a desired gap and we just went that way. Folks have used them successfully at n trak module joints with long straight of track though. So I would test them first if you plan to use them to make sure they work for you in your use.

 

Looking forward to what you come up with! Have fun and good luck with it!

 

Cheers

 

Jeff

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minijapan

Thanks for the advice ..will look in more detail over the holiday period, in aiming to get the layout constructed by next Christmas before if I can get a move on but a new 9 week old baby also demands more time

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cteno4

Hey congratulations! That's a very fun new toy! I hope indoctrinating them well on the trains here! Never too soon.

 

Might try an interface mock up to see how it works for you with your needs. I did this with the peg system and track to Make sure it would work for us.

 

Jeff

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