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onetruescale

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!

 

 

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inlander

Great info thank you.

 

 

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bill937ca

I really don"t think running trams into each other is such  a good idea.

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brill27mcb

I can't picture any tram having a problem on Unitram turnouts, unless it involves picking the point. The radius is pretty large for tramways.

 

Rich K.

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inobu
6 hours ago, bill937ca said:

I really don"t think running trams into each other is such  a good idea.

I can believe how the cops just sat there and watch collision without reporting it. I think the other collisions could have been avoided.

The series of 9.0 earth quakes and how well the infrastructure held up was impressive to me. One would think people would be out on the streets but then again

the giant kept meddling with the trams most likely scared them inside.

 

if you ask me. The NTSB and Cal Poly should be notified this was pretty serious but then no one pays attention to me. Just-fully so.

Inobu

 

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inobu
Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, onetruescale said:

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

Did not see that you were a new to the forum. Your tram layout is well advanced and I assumed you were an old timer to the forum. Anyway

Welcome.

 

Inobu

 

Cal Poly and Cal Tech only means something to some of us.

Edited by inobu
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onetruescale
2 hours ago, inobu said:

Did not see that you were a new to the forum. Your tram layout is well advanced and I assumed you were an old timer to the forum. Anyway

Welcome.

 

Inobu

 

Cal Poly and Cal Tech only means something to some of us.

Thanks inobu!  I have been lurking for maybe 10yrs, but only joined 3mo ago when I mad my first video. 

 

 

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onetruescale
9 hours ago, bill937ca said:

I really don"t think running trams into each other is such  a good idea.

 

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. 

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onetruescale
9 hours ago, brill27mcb said:

I can't picture any tram having a problem on Unitram turnouts, unless it involves picking the point. The radius is pretty large for tramways.

 

Rich K.

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. 

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kvp

It seems the deha200 had the most problems. Is it because the mech is stressed in the curves or just the light weight or bad pickups? As far as i know the center wheel is fixed to one of the bodies instead of being spring loaded than on the prototype. This could in theory create the same effect as a long 2 axle car, with the other 'single axle' being at center of the power bogie.

 

I'm surprised that the Kato protram derails on the Kato tram plates as they were designed to be used together. What could be the reason? (i only have a tomytec portram)

 

Imho the isolations are only a problem if their geometry (pattern) happens to be in a way that all pickup wheels/bogies could be above a plastic section. For those trams that have enough wheels with pickups and the bogies are spaced far enough to always provide at least one active pickup point on each rail, then they won't have a problem. Imho the only really problematic ones are the 2 axle single motor cars, where the rigid construction usually allows only 3 wheels to be firmly on the track and if the single wheel side rolls over a plastic part, then it looses power and if the inertia is not enough, the tram will stall. (usual solution is to wire the trailer for pickup or use two motors) Geometrically speaking, the two frogs are way more dangerous than the crossings as the crossing angle is high enough to be safe against derailments.

 

ps: In the future, please try to stop trams from colliding... (they just unnecessarily get sratched up and/or derail)

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onetruescale
9 hours ago, kvp said:

It seems the deha200 had the most problems. Is it because the mech is stressed in the curves or just the light weight or bad pickups? As far as i know the center wheel is fixed to one of the bodies instead of being spring loaded than on the prototype. This could in theory create the same effect as a long 2 axle car, with the other 'single axle' being at center of the power bogie.

 

I'm surprised that the Kato protram derails on the Kato tram plates as they were designed to be used together. What could be the reason? (i only have a tomytec portram)

 

Imho the isolations are only a problem if their geometry (pattern) happens to be in a way that all pickup wheels/bogies could be above a plastic section. For those trams that have enough wheels with pickups and the bogies are spaced far enough to always provide at least one active pickup point on each rail, then they won't have a problem. Imho the only really problematic ones are the 2 axle single motor cars, where the rigid construction usually allows only 3 wheels to be firmly on the track and if the single wheel side rolls over a plastic part, then it looses power and if the inertia is not enough, the tram will stall. (usual solution is to wire the trailer for pickup or use two motors) Geometrically speaking, the two frogs are way more dangerous than the crossings as the crossing angle is high enough to be safe against derailments.

 

ps: In the future, please try to stop trams from colliding... (they just unnecessarily get sratched up and/or derail)

 

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.

 

 

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onetruescale
Posted (edited)

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.

Edited by onetruescale
grammar
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PaulJ
Posted (edited)

Do you have any other Modemo trams? The reason I ask is that one of mine (I can't remember the model at the moment but will dig it out) has problems on the Kato Unitram track - it runs fine on ordinary unitrack but as soon as it gets onto unitram it stutters..., its almost as if the flanges on the wheels are too big and it grounds itself, lifting the wheels slightly off the track so cutting contact. Anyway, if you have any I'd like to see your results.

 

By the way I've just got the Tomytec Berlin and Munich trams, with the LRT04 chassis, and they seem to handle Unitram points and curves without any derailment or power issues. Also Hobbytrain M6 and M8 have no problem either (so far!)

Edited by PaulJ
correction

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onetruescale

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. 

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onetruescale

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!

 

 

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onetruescale

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:

 

 

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onetruescale
Posted (edited)

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!

 

 

Edited by onetruescale
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onetruescale
Posted (edited)

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

 

E9C36E13-3C59-4C92-9ABB-95C36D9498DF.jpeg

Edited by onetruescale
forget my point. nod enuf sleep.

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jwalt

Hi Onetrue:

 

I've been reading the forums and the posts (here and elsewhere) regarding trams and such and your Youtube videos are excellent. I've really enjoyed watching them and your tram tests. I love your Unitram layout. I don't have the space for something that big; I have a smaller space in the middle of my layout that I'd like to use for the Unitram system. There is so much to read and research about this and you seem to be one of the gurus on this sort of thing so I'll just ask a few questions. Of course if anyone else would like to chime in with their thoughts and opinions I'd be very grateful.

 

I need to measure to be 100% sure but I think I'm going to go with the V60 basic set and one of the street attachments at each end

 

I seem to see conflicting information and obviously differing opinions on things online, but as I said,  to me you seem to be one of the gurus so I'll hopefully get some actual user insight that I don't seem to be finding on Youtube or at other forums.

 

1. Is the Unitram V60 meant for only the Dio-town structures? I personally don't care for the look of those buildings and the downtown I've envisioned is comprised of structures other than the Kato/Dio-Town buildings. Some angles on the videos look as if there is an indentation in the street plates that are specifically there for the Kato/Dio-Town structures to fit in. I'm pretty sure I can go with whatever structures I like, but thought I'd ask your opinion since you have the Unitram system. 

 

2.  Are there any known issues with using the Japanese trams regarding power or anything? Is there a need for voltage/current adapters or any other such thing that I need to be aware of? The videos and info I've come across appear that many brands of trams (Modemo, Tomytec, etc ) work just fine with the Unitram system and no mention of any power issues.

 

3.  What have you found to be the best brand of tram to go with ("Best" being a relative term) but which have you found to be the  most reliable and least issue-prone? I know the Tomytec trams are purchased as a shell and you need to purchase the motor/chassis. Those look relatively easy to put together from what I've seen online.

 

4.  And last but not least, where do you get your trams and which websites/sellers do you recommend? I see that many of the Japanese websites are constantly sold out of many of the items. Researching American train dealers websites hasn't come up with much in the way of trams or anything in stock. Obviously eBay is going to be a source but if you have any favorite websites or sellers, please advise.

 

I really like the look of the Unitram better than the Tomytec even though the Tomytec system is more flexible, but the space I have available is just about right for the V60 set and a street plate on each side. 

 

I really appreciate your help but I thought if I could just boil it down to a few questions that would be a big help. Researching this stuff and taking notes can get overwhelming and sometimes it's just best to throw some questions into the arena for those that are familiar. My brain is spinning from all the info, and sorting through all of it, while fun and interesting, can leave one crosseyed.

 

Thanks so much to anyone who takes the time to respond and give me some advice. It is truly appreciated.

 

Best to all,

 

Walt

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bill937ca

My preference is to buy the Unitram track only.  I find the Kato Street plate system overly restrictive in layout and space requirement. Instead I use balsa with a styrene over layer.  I've bought Modemo since 2007 and I also like Tomytec trams but I am not so keen on Tomytec trains. All those add on pantographs, couplers, power units and trucks get expensive real quick. By the time you are finished a Kato or Tomix train may have been cheaper.  But I have avoided overly complex trams like the Modemo Greenmover 5000, the Kato Unitram and the HobbyTrain Duewag M6 and M8. That particular model has a very high failure rate.

 

No power issues. I use the standard Kato power pack with my Unitram. If your circuit is big enough you will need extra power feeds.  You will need a Kato power pack to operate your Unitram turnouts electrically.

 

For sources I would try:

Plaza Japan for Modemo  https://www.ebay.com/str/plazajapan/Modemo/_i.html?_storecat=9&_dmd=1

Hobby Search  https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/list/1700/0/1

Model Train Plus https://www.modeltrainplus.net/collections/n-scale-lrt-trams-new

 

With the Japanese distribution system many times you will have to pre-order to get a popular item. Some items may be sold on release and not otherwise available.

 

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onetruescale
On 5/26/2018 at 7:03 PM, jwalt said:

Hi Onetrue:

 

I've been reading the forums and the posts (here and elsewhere) regarding trams and such and your Youtube videos are excellent. I've really enjoyed watching them and your tram tests. I love your Unitram layout. I don't have the space for something that big; I have a smaller space in the middle of my layout that I'd like to use for the Unitram system. There is so much to read and research about this and you seem to be one of the gurus on this sort of thing so I'll just ask a few questions. Of course if anyone else would like to chime in with their thoughts and opinions I'd be very grateful.

 

I need to measure to be 100% sure but I think I'm going to go with the V60 basic set and one of the street attachments at each end

 

I seem to see conflicting information and obviously differing opinions on things online, but as I said,  to me you seem to be one of the gurus so I'll hopefully get some actual user insight that I don't seem to be finding on Youtube or at other forums.

 

1. Is the Unitram V60 meant for only the Dio-town structures? I personally don't care for the look of those buildings and the downtown I've envisioned is comprised of structures other than the Kato/Dio-Town buildings. Some angles on the videos look as if there is an indentation in the street plates that are specifically there for the Kato/Dio-Town structures to fit in. I'm pretty sure I can go with whatever structures I like, but thought I'd ask your opinion since you have the Unitram system. 

 

2.  Are there any known issues with using the Japanese trams regarding power or anything? Is there a need for voltage/current adapters or any other such thing that I need to be aware of? The videos and info I've come across appear that many brands of trams (Modemo, Tomytec, etc ) work just fine with the Unitram system and no mention of any power issues.

 

3.  What have you found to be the best brand of tram to go with ("Best" being a relative term) but which have you found to be the  most reliable and least issue-prone? I know the Tomytec trams are purchased as a shell and you need to purchase the motor/chassis. Those look relatively easy to put together from what I've seen online.

 

4.  And last but not least, where do you get your trams and which websites/sellers do you recommend? I see that many of the Japanese websites are constantly sold out of many of the items. Researching American train dealers websites hasn't come up with much in the way of trams or anything in stock. Obviously eBay is going to be a source but if you have any favorite websites or sellers, please advise.

 

I really like the look of the Unitram better than the Tomytec even though the Tomytec system is more flexible, but the space I have available is just about right for the V60 set and a street plate on each side. 

 

I really appreciate your help but I thought if I could just boil it down to a few questions that would be a big help. Researching this stuff and taking notes can get overwhelming and sometimes it's just best to throw some questions into the arena for those that are familiar. My brain is spinning from all the info, and sorting through all of it, while fun and interesting, can leave one crosseyed.

 

Thanks so much to anyone who takes the time to respond and give me some advice. It is truly appreciated.

 

Best to all,

 

Walt

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!

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jwalt

Thank you gentlemen for the replies; sorry I took a while responding but I just got back from vacation today. Did a quick road trip to South Carolina. 

 

Thanks for all the insight though. I measured the available space on my layout and I have roughly 22 by 28 inches to work with so I can't really do a whole lot but go with the V60 loop set which is fine with me (at least until Kato decides to make the North American streets and road plates, etc.; then I can look at an expanded separate layout like Bill has, which is awesome as all get out!) The measurements of the V60 are roughly 19.5 X 24.5. That will fit pretty well in the space I have open on my layout.

 

I guess I could rip up some track and scenery/terrain to accommodate a larger Unitram layout but I'm pretty much real lazy when it comes to these things. I spend so much time on the railroad portion that I don't want to mess with it. I'm perfectly okay with putting in the V60 oval and leaving it at that. I can build a small downtown area in the center of it.

 

I'm not really concerned with era, prototype, etc. I just did my layout free-handed and like to run trains.

 

Once I researched a little more I did see that the street plates/accessories were Japanese and had different road markings so that did away with the street plates idea for the sides of the oval; but then again, I don't have the space for that so it's just as well.

 

Thanks too for the suggestions on buying trams. I am very familiar with Modeltrainstuff as I have bought all my Kato Unitrack and trains from them. They're the best both for price and service; Fifer is a close second.

 

I'm in the process of checking out some of the Japanese sites as well as the Japanese sellers on ebay.

 

What a journey this is going to be... Again  gentlemen, thank you for your responses, interest, help and advice. I truly appreciate it. I'll get this finished one day!

 

Best to all,

 

Walt

 

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