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bill937ca

Euro Tomytec / Unitram Layout

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bill937ca

For some time now I have been working on a Unitram layout inspired by the layout in the Interesting German HO Tram Layout thread and inspired by the Tomytec release of Adtranz GT6N.

I wanted a layout with narrower streets than Unitram's six lane monsters, features typical of European tram lines including  parking bays (to display cars), tram only sections and intersection sidewalk bulbs.

 

I also wanted a layout that offered more than just round and round the loop. Some form of block control without adding any pricey decoders in the trams.

 

Unitram KVP NG Strassenbahn Phase 2v3 march 5.jpg

 

The layout is on a 60 x 30 hobby table.  The gold sections are my stop blocks. Ideally I wanted a stop block on all four routes into the focal point at the front of the layout. I got three out of four. The limitations of Unitram prevented the fourth stop block in the precise location I wanted, but all is good.

 

Using off the shelf plug and play Kato components I have created a simple block control for my Unitram layout. On the selected track piece, I replaced the normal Unitram Unijoiners with the black 24-816 Insulated Unjoiners and added a 44-847 Unitram Tram Feeder Power Cable under the selected piece of track. The feeder is plugged into a 24-850 Kato Power Feed Control Switch which gets plugged into the power pack.  When the switch is turned OFF the car always stops at the selected location. When the switch is turned ON the car continues on through the block or if already stopped resumes running.

 

Facing switches are set to power routing and trailing switches are spring switches in typical tram fashion.

 

Limitations

 

It is occasionally necessary to flip over the track to access  feeders, turnout power routing screws, turnout cables or adjust insulated Unijoiners.  I created removable building plaes with 1/4 inch balsa and .040 styrene sheets (as moisture would warp the balsa).

 

The undertrack feeders on straights can face either direction which helps in maintaining the polarity.  But the feeders on curves are more restrictive in their placement. Because of the changing track center (from 25mm to 33mm, then from 33mm to 25mm) the curve pieces themselves cannot be flipped. The Unitrack Terminal Unijoiner is a possible solution but it has a reputation of having a fragile solder connection.

 

The photos below show construction as of March 14th.

 

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It started out as a Euro Layout, but I wasn't happy with the structures at the focal point.   In the last week i have changed Centralplatz  to a Japanese commercial district to tall, narrow medium buildings reminiscent of Shimbashi SL Square or Otsuka station on the Yamanote line. The price was right, the buildings and kts are readily available.  I plan to cover the front of these buildings with signs and add rooftop signs. The outer blocks will retain their European building focus.  Several of the European buildings were acquired second hand late last year.

 

For operations I prefer articulated trams with axle centers of 12mm and at least eight wheel pickup.  Mostly these are Tomytec trams but also a few Modemo. I don't have any of the more exotic failure prone trams,  the Kato Portram, Modemo Hiroden 5000 or Hobbytrain Duwag 6 or 8.

 

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Under track stop block configuration.

 

This layout should keep me happy and contended for the foreseeable future  running my trams.   i still have a small traditional Japanese tram or light train layout as well.

Edited by bill937ca
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bill937ca

A word on why the layout is freelance European and Japanese. 

 

I am now fully retired on a fixed and somewhat limited income.  That means the big orders of a few years ago are now rare.  I've been buying Japanese trams and to a lesser degree trains since April 2007.  I like to say I have a Japanese hobby shop in my condo.  By last count I have 47 trains and 80 Japanese trams.  I've got Tomix Finetrack, Tomix Wide Tram, Kato Unitrack and Kato Unitram.  It makes more sense to use what I have and save some money for something like a summer trip than to blow the bank on a new layout. When I wasn't happy with the first effort on the central focal point, I decided to just use what I have on hand. Those buildings still need some work.  I still have some Pola and Model Power kits yet.  But I also have Greenmx 46-6 and Outland Models Greenmax clone.

 

The other issue is I have a bad knee which has been causing me grief since last spring. Surgery is not an option at this point.  I need something to do during the damp miserable times when it is hard to get around. Something other than the computer (I should buy that! :toothy10:  :sad1:) and the easy chair.

 

The scenes like the Pola apartment building with a carriageway entrance leading to a inner courtyard (very much like a Milan palazzo) and the tall narrow buildings like Shimbashi or Otsuka are scenes I am fond of.

 

Most of all I am just enjoying myself.

 

Edited by bill937ca
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cteno4
28 minutes ago, bill937ca said:

 

Most of all I am just enjoying myself.

 

 

Bill,

 

then you are doing it right!

 

jeff

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bill937ca

I haven't done much on the tram layout the past few months but I have changed the Centralplatz buildings while searching for buildings for the Showa Layout.I was looking for generic modern structures, although all of these are of Japanese origin.  I've added a Desperados building wrap to one of the Kato structures. Still a bit of Kanji on the Centralplatz structures which will replaced or removed at a future point.  Since I first created the layout I have repositioned the layout table from backing on the angled wall to how it is now and I can now access from two sides.

 

 

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Edited by bill937ca
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bill937ca

I filled a large hole on my Euro tram layout today. I started putting together a Faller 232305   Stadt-Postamt (post office)  yesterday.   Bought that in 2013, so it only took 5 years! Now its finished apart from a few details.  

IMG_6153  1024 x 768.jpg

Edited by bill937ca
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bill937ca

More photos. I've been watching Berlin tram videos for days, so its not surprising I've got the Berlin GT6N on the layout.

 

IMG_6165 1024 x 768.jpg

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Edited by bill937ca
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bill937ca

That's old news.  The Tomytec trams have been out since last December and Tomytec buses were announced in Europe over two years ago.

 

https://omnibus.news/spurgefuehrter-citaro

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gavino200
On 6/30/2018 at 4:00 PM, bill937ca said:

More photos. I've been watching Berlin tram videos for days, so its not surprising I've got the Berlin GT6N on the layout.

 

 

IMG_6163  1024 x 768.jpg

 

 

 

I love your layout. It's amazing. But the idea of "Beer with an edge of Tequila" makes me want to upchuck a little.

 

(the billboard is nicely done though 🙂 )

Edited by gavino200
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bill937ca
14 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

I love your layout. It's amazing. But the idea of "Beer with an edge of Tequila" makes me want to upchuck a little.

 

(the billboard is nicely done though 🙂 )

 

Thanks Gavino.  Yeah, i saw a sign like that on a building in the Bairro Alto in Lisbon.  Probably too much partying for me.  But the sign hides a see through building.

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bill937ca

Making progress on the layout even with all the heat and humidity.  One side is more less structurally complete apart from touch ups, additional sidewalks, scenery for the church on the left, more English signs for my Japanese buildings  etc.

 

Still work to do on the back side. Not too much of a plan at this time. 

 

I may pick up another Tomytec TM-LRT04 power chassis and place my other Berlin tram body on the layout.

 

I am thinking of moving the layout off the hobby table onto a resin shelving unit  to deal with all  the cables.   The cables push the track up in places disturbing the placement effect and make it harder to photograph the layout up close. With a resin shelf unit I could drop the cables down to a shelf below.  A 24 inch wide shelf unit would allow ample room for the 19.5 inch Unitram track plan. This may be an early fall project.

IMG_6223 crop 1024 x 768.jpg

Edited by bill937ca
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bill937ca

Something a bit different. I had an operating session with a Bachmann Chicago Surface Lines Brill trolley. I have two of these but most of the time they are forgotten.  Compared a Tomytec it is quite heavy. it ran fairly well at moderate speed.  These trolley cars do not have a great history.  Too many broken gears and other defects in their history.

IMG_6227  1024 x 768.jpg

Edited by bill937ca

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bill937ca

Too hot right now to do much on the layout.  My Tomytec Hiroshima Electric Railway No. 1002 PICCOLA was on the layout today along with four other trams creating a traffic jam. Don't want to pack up any of them, yet I have to find a way.

 

 

IMG_6262 1024 x 768.jpg

Edited by bill937ca
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brill27mcb

Yes, hard to make a storage yard with Unitram...

 

Rich K.

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bill937ca

There may be a small expansion shortly and  I am thinking of adding a couple of extra turnbacks to hold extra trams. Like you say no easy solutions.

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kvp
5 hours ago, bill937ca said:

There may be a small expansion shortly and  I am thinking of adding a couple of extra turnbacks to hold extra trams. Like you say no easy solutions.

The most trivial one is to just add a standard unitrack yard using #4 turnouts in the middle. You can do this without interrupting the street grid by adding one 45 degree turnout module and then adding a yard onto one of the ends. If you don't have the extra space for an extension, then sacrificing part of a city block to have a yard there is the easiest solution. Usually for trams, short stub tracks in a ladder is all you need. Most japanese tram yards are like this, the tracks often curve directly into the car barn from the street line.

 

ps: No loops or anything is required, some trams enter head first and leave by backing out, some do the opposite (depending on which track they come from), but most japanese trams are double ended, so not a really big problem. Once the tram is back on the street, the normal running direction could be used.

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bill937ca

Actually, I had a plan for something like this using the Kato 23-200 engine shed, 20-016 pit tracks, 20-172 R183 curves and 20-174 R150 curves. But i ran out off space.  Current expansion plan is a double back-to back turn back like an European square.

 

 

 

Unitram pit track carbarn   1024 x 768.jpg

Edited by bill937ca

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bill937ca

The layout is far from completed, but I continue to have fun taking photos.

IMG_6285 cropped 1024 x 768.jpg

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bill937ca

This is my latest plan for the expansion to a 72 x  24 table.  The double turn back would be treated like a European square where trams turn in from several different  directions, but I can park extra trams there. It makes use of 2 of 3 current  block bases and minimizes changes to the third block. It also minimizes scenery re-working.

 

Unitram new table 72 x 24 ver 3.jpg

Edited by bill937ca

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bill937ca

My layout is now on a modular interlocking garage shelving unit which allows me to drop the turnout cables and power pack feeders down through holes in the top surface.  This is great for Unitram layouts which don't require a separate base but maybe of less benefit to the average model railway.

 

Photos:

1 the old table and the partially completed new table

2 new table with Unitram track and balsa block bases in place

3 a cropped view of the center of the layout

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bill937ca

The cable spaghetti with the old table. It was a major obstacle in getting good photos of my tram collection on the layout. The old hobby table with be disassembled tomorrow and stored in my storage cage for at least an year.

 

IMG_6223 crop 1024 x 768.jpg

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bill937ca

All trams diverted to the coffee table!   :grin This is how the expansion stands as of now.  I am awaiting 2 S62mm Unitram pieces and then I will buy the balsa wood for the block base. The open grid allows cables to drop down.  The layout is now 6 feet x 2 feet (Unitram is about 19.5 inches wide). Still a couple of awol cables to sort out.  May do a test run tomorrow  and add some figures.  

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Edited by bill937ca

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cteno4

Bill what about a layer of foamcore between the grid surface and the unitram can just poke holes thru where needed and seems like it will fill out around those leg tops sticking up. Could just use like 6” strips along the edge and thin strips and chunks where needed.

 

jeff

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bill937ca

I cut off most of the leg tops that were sticking up in one place, today.  I don"t need the piece sticking up above the surface so I cut it off. Its smoother now. If necessary I may work on it a bit with a file tomorrow. I might still try the cuttable table pad.

IMG_6450 1024 x 768.jpg

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gerryo

Hi Bill.  I have some Unitram plate pieces here that you seem to need.  If you send me your location in Belleville I will deliver them sometime this week.  Any day except Monday or Tuesday.

 

Gerry.

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