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maihama eki

Kato T-Trak Module Kits

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Just a tad more expensive than our commercial modules here in the states once you add the track and feeders. Construction design does not look super pretty though. Why they put those exposed ply faces on the feet I don’t get, just ugly! Not good woodworking design! Sorry I’m a snob on that especially if you are paying that much for a premade kit. I worked with lee on modifying the initial Ttrak box to get rid of two end edges like that as it was put in to get 4 more pieces of sides out of a sheet of ply. Saved 10 cents per module in wood but looked ugly...

 

Most of our commercial modules here are very nicely cnc cut and have interlocking box joints for very easy assembly. Usually in the $20-30 range. The interlocking corners do expose ply edge but the box joint looks pretty and becomes a feature and for many the ease of assembly with the box joint is a big plus.

 

jeff

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My assumption is that this design needs the least amount of cuts with the largest tolerances and still results in usable modules. The boards could also be cut in batches on a simple cutting table. They also look easily invertible for a bridge, just glue them differently.

 

The modules i'm using are 700 huf + screws, so around 5 usd for a single module. They are precut by the wood shop. Just glue, drill and paint then it's ready for the tracks.

Edited by kvp

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I’m sure kato has contracted a cnc shop to cut them, it’s the de facto standard these days, especially if you are doing large jobs and want consistent tolerances. Even small cabinet shops now have them as it’s such a timesaver and tolerances are amazing. My cousin converted to mostly cnc with his small upscale cabinetry shop like 15 years back  and made quite a chunk change.

 

yeah a decent Ttrak box and hardware here is about $2-3 with hardware depending on wood and details (like external veneer etc).

 

pretty quick to cut out.

 

those exposed ply pieces on the bottom just bug me, easy to have designed something better, especially for the price and from kato, they usually not sloppy...

 

jeff

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My first impression from Kato's photos is that they look very rough for the price.

 

Very un-Kato and un-Japan considering Japan's tradition of fine woodworking.

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I agree they look rough.  I wonder if the photos are prototypes and the production will be nicer.  If not, then it is a little disappointing.

 

I think it is nice to see a major manufacturer such as Kato supporting T-Trak like this.

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1 hour ago, maihama eki said:

I agree they look rough.  I wonder if the photos are prototypes and the production will be nicer.  If not, then it is a little disappointing.

 

I think it is nice to see a major manufacturer such as Kato supporting T-Trak like this.

I think Kato is involved with the T-Trak Tokyo Project. With unitrack being a requirement one can see the connection. The question is how far are they going to go in the kit itself. If I'm not mistaken

they (the project) are trying to build a replica (or close to it) of the rail system in Japan. I think they are establishing clubs that build modules representing the region they live in. 

 

https://www.t-trak.jp/

 

 

https://www.t-trak.jp/apply   I guess a contest is set got August

 

I think I'm going to add this to my list of things to do or learn.

 

Inobu

.

 

Edited by inobu

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I think i got the idea behind the exposed pieces. While they look ugly and doesn't allow the screws to be hidden, they do allow wires to be routed out under the modules even if they are placed flat on top of an even surface. If you have this type of module only, then you can assemble a layout on a table without fiddling with the screws. The legs also space out the default (screwless) height to 7 cm as the top boards are thinner than 1 cm. Not elegant but imho the cheapest possible way.

 

ps: cnc is expensive and slow if you are doing it in bulk, even ikea tries to avoid it as much as possible for their cheapest furniture (bulk table saw cutting is still the fastest, large machines often cutting hundreds of boards in one go and these saws are also computer controlled so have pretty good tolerances)

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For the price it could have been done much better. From kato I expect better. Also just not Japanese woodworking aesthetics.

 

these are not going to be sold at ikea numbers. I doubt they will be ordering these by the container full until they start flying off the shelves. Pretty simple bits so they might get a big factory to cut a small batch, but would not be cheap in small quantities. CNC can turn out quite a bit, my cousin made extra money the first few years they got theirs running it at night to do small batch jobs for various other business (but not cabinet makers!) and cut way more wood than doing the regular cabinet cutting for his biz during the day.

 

there has been a new push for Ttrak in japan last year. Moving to alternate 33 spacing and trying to go for big setups as well. Kato was sponsoring some contests to promote it as well. All good promo for them even kato USA has taken up having small Ttrak setups from clubs in their vendor booths at us shows lately. Toni was in with the chap in japan that was spear heading the mega Ttrak drive last year and getting involved, but not heard much lately, but toni has been a busy boy lately!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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2 hours ago, cteno4 said:

For the price it could have been done much better.

Yes, the front and back could have been routed in an inverted U shape and the legs could have been added to small triangles that could be glued either over the bottom or into the box. I could think up half a dozen ways to build it better, but none of them would be as cheap as this variant. But (without the track) this is cheap enough to be essentially given away in bulk for contests or to schools as a craft project. (and a cheap way to get kids into the hobby in bulk)

 

ps: I don't know of there are any school projects from Kato, but this kits would be great for starting model railway hobby clubs in schools. Just give them 4 corners, a dozen straight ones and two of the cheapest controllers and some instructional booklets for the kids and the teachers. Many trains are cheap enough that almost every kid who is interested in it could buy a 2 or 3 car set and run it on the club's ttrak layout. This is just an idea, so maybe someone could ask Kato if they actually doing or planning something like this...

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a long time back i did a bunch of experimenting with the traditional "lee" box to try to make it a bit better and easier for folks to glue up. simple things like

 

- make the front face be full (original design had the ends full, but i got lee to at least flip that)

- inset the top piece so that the whole front face is clean w/o joints. top does not matter as it will get covered with the scene. this also makes putting the box together square much easier

- using a small piece of 1x2 across the inside ends to put the leveling bolts into instead of the square blocks in the corners. this makes it easy to cut and less wood and drilling.

 

these things make it easier to glue up and a little simpler. literally is about $3 max to make these and in the past ive made like 20 in a couple of hours.

 

im still a big fan of also just doing the three leveling bolts instead of 4, its so much faster and easier to level things up and 25% less hardware! does require an extra block added to the back center, but can be retrofit easily to any module.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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