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Martijn Meerts

Tram track configurations

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Martijn Meerts

With Kato releasing their tram track, and the general interest that has generated, I started looking at some track configurations. While the Kato track looks good, it's quite limiting with what they currently offer. The main issue is obviously the lack of turnouts. Looking at Tomix's tram track, they have a lot more choice, including turnouts, but the track spacing is much bigger than Kato's track. It's not necessarily a problem, and the larger track spacing can be seen in the prototype as well, but having the tracks so close to each other just looks a lot more tram-like =)

 

After driving some of my trams around a temporary layout to see how they perform, I really feel like starting on some tram modules. I really want to have turnouts though, so that means Kato track is out of the question (for now.) I also want DCC operation, so each module should be just big enough to fit the longest tram, so that each module is a block. Optionally, each module could be divided into multiple blocks, allow shorter trams to use up 1 block, while longer trams use up multiple blocks. Generally it's not done having 1 train occupy more than 1 block, but then again, trains also never drive right up to the one in front as trams do ;)

 

Anyway, with the track being the main issue I started looking at some possibilities.

 

In the attached image are 5 different setups:

 

1. Australian T-Trak curve using Unitrack. (Track color: orange)

Advantages are of course that the tracks are close to each other and that the track ends are the same length, meaning these tracks fit perfectly on a module.

Disadvantages are that turnouts will be difficult. Not impossible, but you'd have to hand lay them for the most part. Also, the curve isn't quite as sharp as it could be (216mm.)

 

2. Standard Tomix Mini and Super Mini curves. (Track color: blue)

Advantages are that they're nice and sharp curves, and that turnouts fit in nicely. With a little custom work you can even make a double crossover using the Mini turnouts. Also, Tomix's tram track kit fits with these curves. And like the Unitrack option, the track ends are the same length.

Disadvantage is the track spacing.

 

3. Peco Finescale. (Track color: green)

Advantages are that Peco has turnouts that give a track spacing VERY close to the Unitrack track spacing. Also, you'll be using flex track all the way, which means you can make your curves however you want them to look.

Disadvantages are the the turnouts aren't very tram-like, even when using Peco's sharpest turnouts. And of course, those who don't like flex track will not like laying curves ;)

 

4. Combination of Peco and Tomix.

Advantages are that you don't need to lay curves using flex track, but you can still use Peco's turnouts and therefor get their track spacing.

Disadvantages are that you'll still need some flex track to even out the track ends for use on modules.

 

Note the orange Unitrack here, showing that the Peco turnouts are indeed very close to the Unitrack spacing.

 

5. Customized Tomix turnouts.

Advantages are that you get the Peco track spacing using Tomix turnouts slightly modified (this is what they do for the Sankei tram layout (http://www.jnsforum.com/index.php/topic,2456.0.html)). If you're adventurous, you could even try to make a double crossover ;)

Disadvantages are that you'll need to cut bits and pieces from the turnouts, which means they'll not be re-usable for non-close-track-spacing setups. Also, you need to cut some track pieces to make the tracks ends the same length for module use.

 

In the image, the yellow line is where the turnouts should be cut. You're just shortening the curved bit, so that the 2 curved bits line up to eachother.

 

 

 

So, anyone else that has been, or feels like experimenting with this? ;)

tram_track.jpg

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bill937ca

Here's a tram layout built with Tomix tram track.

 

http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~legoemon/Nguage/romen/romen.html

 

Japanese tram lines are generally fairly simple affairs with only double ended cars, stub terminals with crossovers, relatively few diamonds which explains why Tomix doesn't have any 90 degree switches in its track package--its not the prototype.

 

I'm currently building a small simple tram line with Tomix tram track. A couple of years ago I had a more complicated set up, but my train layout eventually claimed that real estate.

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quinntopia

I'm thinking of doing a seperate Kato Unitram layout once they release a few more pieces so that you can do something a bit more interesting with it than the current product allows!  I have just completed a very simple, single line, end to end tram line on Quinntopia.  It adds that tram line 'feel' to the layout, but doesn't take up too much space and 'crowd out' my buildings and scenery or main line track!  :grin

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Hobby Dreamer

Thanks for sharing your hard work Martijn...

 

I wonder if by now Kato isn't ready to ramp up to Phase II; the suggested cross-over and the hinted at turn out, plus straight/curves sold separately.. One can do a lot by getting more of the currently available track and blending it in with Unitrack (or other track) but cross-overs and turnouts have a cool factor.

 

When Kato first revealed their new trams they were displayed on single track with a tight radii and crossover; these must be in the works. Even if this is not prototypical I suspect that modelers will look for variation in their layouts and will demand track configurations.

 

I got my tram layout a few weeks ago but won't bother opening it until more track is available since I know that boredom will set in very quickly with an oval.

 

In the mean time, I plan to research more of the hobby, stock up on structures and landscape materials etc .. and plan.

 

I might actually build a port layout that justifies the Portrams but also a cargo yard, cranes and the added dimension these bring.

 

Lets cross fingers and hope that Kato/Tomix come through with track soon....

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Martijn Meerts

Well, Tomix has quite a few options for trams, but that's only of you're okay with the bigger track spacing.

 

I've been looking at some prototype shots, seen a lot of both single and double track. Obviously, the single track is easy enough, you'll only have double track at stations and depots, and in that case it doesn't matter much that you have the bigger track spacing.

 

Anyway, here are some more track configurations. They all use Tomix track, and are for their regular track spacing.

 

The roundabouts aren't my design, seen them on the web somewhere. The tracks here need to be cut at the red lines. Of course, since you already have to cut track, you might as well use a flex track to get the tracks closer together.

 

The junction has 2 slight misalignments at the arrows. This should probably work out fine if you actually build the thing using track rather than using Railmodeller. This thing isn't possible to do for smaller track spacing without needing to adjust all turnouts, and probably hand-building the crossing.

 

Although I don't think they're prototypical for Japan, those roundabouts could be a great feature, and they're easy to adjust for a 2 or 3 way version. A 3-way version would also eliminate the need for a junction. I have seen a few junctions though, I believe the Hiroshima tram uses them here and there.

 

 

Edit: forgot to mention, 1 roundabout uses 140 curves for the circle (which means you get a 140mm oval, since the turnouts are 140mm as well), the other one 177 curves which makes the oval slightly bigger.

tram_track2.jpg

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Hobby Dreamer

Martijn,

 

Those are great track configurations, prototypical or not...

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bill937ca

There are more track diagrams here.

 

http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/ET-dwgs/ETdrawings.htm'>http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/ET-dwgs/ETdrawings.htm

 

And the rest of the Easy Trolley pages.

 

http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/

 

Philadelphia was a city of parallel single track lines in three lane streets. These are special work diagrams from 1919.  Not Japanese, but the height of the streetcar era!

 

http://www.phillytrolley.org/PRTspecialwork/specialworkindex.html

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Martijn Meerts

There are more track diagrams here.

 

http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/ET-dwgs/ETdrawings.htm'>http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/ET-dwgs/ETdrawings.htm

 

And the rest of the Easy Trolley pages.

 

http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/

 

That's probably where I saw that roundabout one ;)

 

Most of those Philly ones require some interesting scratch building it seems. Some crazy configurations there.

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Mudkip Orange

If you let a system grow organically (as opposed to going off some giant master transit plan that takes 50 years to build out), these sorts of crossings are inevitable.

 

Portland has a couple where the Streetcar crosses the MAX turnaround between 11th and 12th avenues. Since there is no "shop" anywhere in the Northwest accustomed to doing such work, Portland had entire track pieces fabricated in the Czech Republic, then shipped to PDX for installation.

post-161-13569924051345_thumb.jpg

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Mudkip Orange

More Portland.

post-161-13569924051977_thumb.jpg

post-161-13569924052724_thumb.jpg

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bill937ca

Tomix has a 90 degree crossing, but no angle crossing track cover parts.  Kato is only planning a double 90 degree crossing. I'll wait for the Tomix modular tram track.

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Martijn Meerts

No matter how you look at it, if you want a tram track that looks like it's been worked on and squeezed into existing architecture, you'll have to do some serious track bashing =)

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bill937ca

No matter how you look at it, if you want a tram track that looks like it's been worked on and squeezed into existing architecture, you'll have to do some serious track bashing =)

 

True. But this is easier said than done.  The Tomix covers have bracing underneath that makes it hard to cut them.

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Hobby Dreamer

Here is a "potential" track product:

 

Although the EASY STREET track was developed for HO, the developer claims that its has been used successfully in N scale.

 

http://www.proto87.com/easy-street--track-system.html

 

There are many pages in this internet site but may require a bit of fishing around.

 

http://www.proto87.com/ho-exhibition-layout.html

http://www.proto87.com/street-track-tutorial.html

etc

 

I almost went HO with the new trams offered by Bachmann; but am quite happy with Kato/Tomix N.. The EASY STREET track looks easy to lay down but would be a hassle for the electrical aspects of turnouts and cross-overs. If you explore the site he even offers templates (for HO) for various track configurations.

 

If Kato/Tomix fail to provide interesting tracks within a year, then I plan to explore this option because I plan not to have a prototypical Japanese tram layout.. And I bet even the Japanese collectors will want turnouts, crossovers, small radii  because they look cool....

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bill937ca

The guy doing Easy Street is into fine scale modeling.  Which means to use that track you would need to change all the wheels on all your cars to his super-exact standards.  It's not meant as an off the shelf product. I suspect its also intended for layouts using powered overhead which have a completely different electrical path: power pack -----> overhead wire ----> car motor ----> soldered track (return current) ---->power pack. Easy Street probably requires advanced soldering skills--which aren't that common these days.

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bill937ca

Hobby Dreamer, there is a European street track system called Luna. It has lots of options: switches, crossovers, junctions etc., but is pricey.

 

http://www.greenhobbymodel.com/model%20trains/tt%20tram%20track.htm

 

http://www.internationalmodels.net/acatalog/Main_Catalogue_Index_HO_48.html    (scroll down)

 

http://www.luna-tram.ch/

 

http://www.luna-tram.ch/Uebersicht_DE.htm

 

US dealer is GHB International.

 

http://www.ghbintl.com/

 

http://www.ghbintl.com/Uebersicht_DE.html

 

That is a very specialized product and certainly not a mass market product like Kato or Tomix produce.

 

Pennsylvania Heritage Models offers covers for HO Atlas track, but there are no switches again.

 

http://www.paheritagemodels.com/Store/tabid/619/CategoryID/17/Default.aspx

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westfalen

Non of the other options mentioned come close to Kato's ease of setting up for encouraging new tram modellers.

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Mudkip Orange

Non of the other options mentioned come close to Kato's ease of setting up for encouraging new tram modellers.

 

Certainly. And Kato's products are also good for the scratchbuilder, since more entry-level tram modelers will eventually translate into more superdetailing proto:scale anal-retentive tram modelers, which means a larger market and thus more products geared to the advanced-level modeler.

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Hobby Dreamer
there is a European street track system called Luna

 

The Luna track is not without problems and its already about 3x what it should sell for...

 

I contacted the EASYSTREET chap last year and he seemed keen that it would work in N and without overhead wiring, but you are probably right about the wheels.. I think the N.A. N-scale trams would work sans modification but the low floors might be "iffy ". The gouge in the track is not very deep. (You don't have to solder these tracks as there is a small piece of metal that is placed in a gap below the track and if it is glued it should be OK.)

 

I am not endorsing the product but if there is no other new track from Kato/Tomix in the horizon 1 year from now I may experiment.  Its all about turnouts for me, at least for trams because I want a tram barn and a bit of something more than an oval...

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Martijn Meerts

That easystreet stuff looks amazing, but I don't see how it would "work" in N-scale. Obviously you can lay the track with 9mm spacing, but wouldn't the track look far too big?

 

 

 

I am not endorsing the product but if there is no other new track from Kato/Tomix in the horizon 1 year from now I may experiment.  Its all about turnouts for me, at least for trams because I want a tram barn and a bit of something more than an oval...

 

What I dislike about the Kato (apart from the lack of anything other than the oval sets, but hey, it's new ;)) is that you're pretty much stuck with what they think is good. Tomix has this in a way as well, but their newly announced tram track accessories are a bit more flexible. Of course, Tomix also has the sharp tram-like turnouts etc.

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bill937ca

Here is a plan (with all the track pieces listed)for a Y shaped double turnout like Martin's.  The track is easy, now you have to add track covers for all these pieces.  I built a turnout, less complicated than this in 2007, but never got all the track covers done.

 

http://jw_cad.fukurail.gozaru.jp/pattern/TOMIX/delta/tram01.png

 

It would almost be easier to plaster this intersection. How many boxes of tram track would you need?  Even custom plastic sheeting or card stock would probably be easier.

 

It's hard to find any sizable Japanese tram layouts. I firmly believe that Tomix tram track was aimed at the micro layout where people build a half circle or full oval and little else. You see this quite frequently. From what I have seen this is a very large market in Japan.  Kodansha, Tomytec and to a lesser degree DDF are all in this market. Here's an example.

 

http://mongtagna-campagna.at.webry.info/200804/article_1.html

 

http://mongtagna-campagna.at.webry.info/200804/article_5.html

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Martijn Meerts

The micro layouts have a certain something, but to be honest, if I were to make something that small, I'd go crazy with the details, and using the standard Tomix tram rail accessories packs wouldn't cut it ;)

 

Attached (image 1) is a closeup of a Tomix turnout with the tram bits added.

 

Also attached, details of the clearance of the wheel flanges of a Modemo Enoden tram (image 2) and a TomyTec Portram motor unit (image 3.) You can clearly see there's plenty space to do something interesting. I'm looking into using styrene strips in various shapes and sizes to simulate the tram track embedded in a road. Using metallic paint it should be possible to make the styrene look like steel. Turnouts would need some surgery though ;)

tomix_tram_turnout.jpg

modemo_wheel_clearance.jpg

tomytec_wheel_clearance.jpg

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bill937ca

I've been searching Japanese web pages since I'm working on the tram layout again.  One thing I have noticed is that the Tomix tram centers are right for Nagasaki's main line and parts of other tram lines in Kumamoto and Kagoshima.  It also replicates 3'6" interurban street track very well such as on the Fukui Railway, Meitetsu's former 600v lines in Gifu and the single track running on the Enoden, which is described as being beloved by the Japanese people and media. Interurbans running 16m cars on 3'6" track would need a wide track center especially at curves.

 

When Tomix introduced the tram track it was just after the tram and interurban lines closed at Gifu on March 31, 2005.  There was a great deal of interest in those cars and those lines.  There were articles in model train magazines after the lines closed and there are still dozens of web pages and videos about those lines on the internet. Until 10 years ago there were 1920s interubans running on the lines at Gifu of a reasonably American design.  Portram did not even exist in 2005.

 

The Meitetsu 600v interurbans and the  Enoden cars probably account for up to half of the cars produced by Modemo.  The 510 Meitetsu interurbans have been released at least five times in N gauge by Modemo. (NT8/NT9, NT20/NT21, NT46, NT62 and NT103).

 

Many of the lines operating these cars (Portram, Enoden, Meitetsu 600v, Fukui Railway)  besides being classified as tram lines are also considered to be railway lines. In fact, I found out this week that Portram operates 85% of its mileage under a railway license. Japanese modelers really do not need street tracks to model those cars as they can be found on railway lines for the most part. Getting an exemption from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for not using high platforms must have taken forever.

 

Tomix tram track is so right for modeling Enoden's short street running single track section, I sometimes wonder if that was the entire motivation behind bringing the tram track out.

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