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GDorsett

Beginnings of T-Trak

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GDorsett

I would like to build a T-Trak set to replace my current and rapidly aging (and failing) modular as well as to maybe offer to JRM if I manage to go to any events. How big of a sheet of 1/8" plywood should I get for a set of four standard straight modules? And can I fit a Kato 20-052 or it's left-hand mate on a standard T-Trak module? I have the dimensions, but am having trouble visualizing their size.

Thanks!

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Kiha66

Seems a lot of us are getting into T track lately!  I just measured my set and 20-052 is exactly 310mm, which is the length of a single module.  So two would fit on a double module, and so on. 

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GDorsett

So it fits perfectly without need for spacers or modifications?

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Kiha66

It should!  Ttrack is designed for 310mm lengths of track, based off kato's standard units of 62mm.  So one module is 62mm x5.  This usually is done with a 248mm straight + a 62mm straight, or a 310mm piece like a double crossover or such.  Basically anything goes so long as the track adds up to 310 and the ends are the proper spacing at the ends of the module.  The trick is the modules have to be a few mm shorter than the track to ensure easy connection and space to disconnect, so whatever length of 310 x# you use you need to make the base a little shorter.  

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toc36

GDorsett,

 

I would wait for Jeff (cterno) to respond.  JRM has a club standard that is slightly different.

 

Toc

 

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GDorsett

Also true.

Should have seen the...um..."heated discussion" at the meeting in January. (Mildly entertaining, but nothing new to me HCMR (my HO club) gets interesting as well).

But if I wanted to have a set of ten straights and corners for my own setup (without using UniTram), just make things a litteral hair smaller than that widening section and I should be good?

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GDorsett

And we shal not say the word "standards" in the presence of JRM, as it is now a forbidden word due to the large amount of different "standards" among one setting.

Gotta love modular.

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Kiha66

Well I'm not sure about Jeff's setup, but with Ttrack the narrow section of that piece is the american or "wide" standard.  ie. the kato double track spacing which is also marked on the edges of the kato rerailer.

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GDorsett

That would be what I use, considering I'm running mainline instead of light-rail.

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cteno4

It’s all history! Standard was the old, original 25mm spaced and alternate was the 33mm. But since so much 33 is now done folks have started to call that standard, so it’s a mess! 

 

I really dont don’t care anymore.

 

jeff

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GDorsett

So, technically, there are two standards. One for Light Rail and one for Heavy Rail, i.e. tram/mainline. Is the basic straight module the same as the 25 MM spacing specs but with 33 MM spacing? (Am ignoring curves, as I am still not sure what's going on with those.

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Kiha66

Yep, the module lengths are the same for both types of track spacing.  The convenience of the 33mm spacing is you can use 282mm and 315mm radius curves to make a corner without having to worry about changing track spacing.

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kvp

The classic (or tram) ttrak standard is two Unitrack straights put next to each other, ballasts touching. This is the 25 mm or Unitram spacing. The 33 mm or mainline spacing is the newer standard and uses the Kato standard Unitrack track set spacings and curves. This means R282 and R317 curves, used for most starter set double track ovals. The 310 mm track length of the single ttrak module is 5 times 62 mm (which is the basic unit of Unitrack and most normal straights are multiplies of 62 mm).

 

For module sizes in inches and metric see http://www.ttrak.org

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GDorsett

something I'm not seeing on that website is wiring. In HCMR (HO scale club), our modules must have a wire underneath of the module for the two mainline tracks and a third one for sidings,  a 12v DC wire, a standard 110 power strip or extension cord, and a Digitraxs compatible wire. Do we need a wire for each of the two mainlines or is power fed exclusively through the rails themselves?

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kvp
21 minutes ago, GDorsett said:

something I'm not seeing on that website is wiring. In HCMR (HO scale club), our modules must have a wire underneath of the module for the two mainline tracks and a third one for sidings,  a 12v DC wire, a standard 110 power strip or extension cord, and a Digitraxs compatible wire. Do we need a wire for each of the two mainlines or is power fed exclusively through the rails themselves?

The unijoiners are pretty good for conducting electricity, but just to be safe there should be two power feed cables on the modules, one for each direction. The polarity of the Kato plug should match the forward direction on the Kato throttle for each track.

 

Then it depends on the size and shape of the layout if one feed point is enough or more is needed. Some clubs use Kato Y cables, some run a thick main wire, but all of this is not installed permanently. The Kato power feed connectos are enough and even those are optional (just recommended). If the two directions are connected by crossovers, then proper isolation must be added. The double track, single and double crossover pieces from Kato have these built in.

 

Ttrak can be wired for analog operation or digital. For analog, you have two directions (up/down) or two loops (inner/outer), depending on the shape of the layout. For digital operation, you disable the power routing on the turnouts (with the bottom screws if accessible) or by adding power to every siding and also connect the two directions (with the right polarity). There is even the possibility to run digital on one track and analog on the other if there is no way for the trains to cross over.

 

http://ttrak.wikidot.com/wiring-for-t-trak

 

Wiring for larger setups is left for the clubs to decide. The page above lists three different club standards.

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cteno4

There has not been a standardized module bus for Ttrak. Lee wanted to keep it simple (she and her husband were pioneers in ntrak and Ttrak was her idea of a small, simple and cheap starter system) and dealing with bus plugs on both ends gets messy fast and no simple, off the shelf way to do it wirh alto plugs, so it was left to be like a regular unitrak layout where the larger you made your loop you just add more feeders around the loop as needed with the usual kato splitters and extensions. DCC was not a big thing for trams and interurbans and pretty non existent in japan at the start as well. Later when the 33mm spacing took off in the us folks went for longer modules and setups and DCC which required a lot more amperage that an in module could provide but external busses were already the norm and an internal bus never seemed to get started and not really needed.

 

Most just put modules with feeders ever few modules so that there is little chance for a power drop thru unijoiners. Then cabled busses are laid in the center trough to connect up to the track leads on individual modules. Only rub here is polarity of the track leads on the front and back tracks (that war is pretty much over and whoever is in charge of setups now usually enforced either it’s this polarity or we use ire cutters or nicer guys have some converters made up) and plugs (usually kato/mini tamiya or powerpole, but usually solved with a bag of converters to rig up big multi club displays that may use different plugs).

 

Cheers

 

jeff

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GDorsett

So, keep the tracks separate, and have a power drop every couple of metres. Makes sense and was kinda of what I was expecting.

As for the DCC thing, there was a club at Timonium this weekend with a T-Trak layout. One loop had DCC running and one did not. Cannot say I've seen that too often.

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cteno4

Yep that’s the usual. Usually more drops on DCC to keep amps up and signal good as most use kato feeders wires at 24g so a little wimpy.

 

last round of modules I did I just an couple of hours and dremeled slots under the rails on all the 248s and soldered 18” of 18g wire to have feeder potential on all tracks. That usually does fine on 5m track loop with little power drop with trams with only one feeder used!

 

soldering up your own unijoiners feeders works as well but about 22g (or 20g if you solder them really flat) is the max you can do there and you need to make sure they are stain relief as they can get snapped at the wire interface with a lot of wiggling and thinner wire.

 

actually they do a lot of mixed stuff like that wirh Ttrak setups so everyone can run. Big setups usually have the mega loops DCC so they can have multiple trains and some smaller loops dc for those with dc trains. One of the great flexabilities of Ttrak! Ntrakers do it as well, but seems mostly DCC these days. But each line in ntrak and Ttrak should be isolated by standards so easy to just pop what ever you want on that line’s bus!

 

we have done this in the past on the club layout as well.

 

jeff

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GDorsett

could I use the Kato feeder tracks instead of soldering my own connections? Or is soldering them a better idea and produces less resistance?

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cteno4

Sure, feeders work well and are actually the standard suggestion as they are the most robust, simple and off the shelf. Also comes with a kato plug! Just a tad more expensive.

 

soldering will be less resistance overall and you can use heavier gauge wire if you want. Going to the underside of the track you can go very heavy if you want and nice heavy solder joint as well. I’ve only had one of these broken but that was from standing on the lead wire (feeder wire had 6’ of 18g soldered onto it) and picking up the module, so it got a really bad yank.

 

we just did a ton of unijoiners leads wirh 22g wire for the club layout and used a bunch inthe temp setup for cherry clossom and that got a fair amount of yanking and twisting and only one broke but that was a cold solder joint, not a wire break, so just a bad solder. We did these drops every couple 2m or so to a 18g bus using 22g JST connectors (small and I had a wad of them I picked up for pennies) and had no power drops noticeable at all.

 

really up to what you want and are comfortable with!  

 

Jeff

Edited by cteno4

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cteno4

Also check with the club you intend to run with most (if you are), as some have some preferences and this may be a help.

 

jeff

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GDorsett

Okay, good to know.

So to work with the JRM set (Since I know not of anyone else reachable) just keep the spacing of the track and provide feeders?

And I remember something from the meeting about inch high sides, but the website above mentions 2.3/4" sides, or 70 mm. Was that ever finalized? Should I go with the inch-high sides and have supports or spacers?

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kvp

The standard ttrak height is 7 cm. The leg screws should be able to raise this to 10. You can go inch high only, but then you'll need tall legs to get to 10 cm.

 

Btw. i use soldered joiner feeders, with pluggable screw terminal sockets hotglued to the module undersides. This means no loose wires on the modules during transport and i can add whatever plug or wire length i need. Also pretty easy to field service it.

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cteno4

No we haven’t finalized the clubs specs, but I expect they will be very open on box design, no requirements there. Probably just be able to run at something like the usual track height (like 3.5-5” ) and 33mm spacing for the interurban/express. We also have 25mm that are more tram or single/double car oriented. On the 25mm 12” deep modules is the max (tracks usual 1.5” from the front edge, but the front can go out further if the legs are inset to sit on a 24” wide table). On the 33mm it will probably be the 14” max depth (and same goes front could go past usual 1.5” track setback if the legs are such that the front legs are within 14” from the back to sit ok on 30” tables).

 

so pretty much the Ttrak.org standards.

 

i was advocating keeping the flat modules thin and working on interesting ways to float this so it might look better aesthetically to cut down on the long run of 3” box fronts that can really distract the eye. But folks are doing different things for bases so I’ll just work on that on my own modules when I get back to doing 33 modules (it’s been like 10 years since I’ve done a 33).

 

The terminal strips are great as Kvp says I did that on a few of the 25 modules and it’s great and been meaning to put it on all of them. The Euro terminal strips are very inexpensive in 12 terminals and just wack them in 3 4 terminal units. Like he says they are perfect for fast and flexible field changes and repairs! Also helps not have the feeder ripped off the module breaking the solder joint. Worst it does is pull the wire out of the terminal strip! 

 

Jeff

 

 

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GDorsett

Okay, thank you!

Maybe in the next couple months I'll have a module or two. Will post pictures when I manage to get something together.

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