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Webskipper

Kato Unitram Layout

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brill27mcb

Hi Leon,

 

I do not understand from your photo what the issue is. Is it the width of the flangeway next to the railhead?

 

Generally, N-gauge is N-gauge -- you can mix rolling stock with tracks of various manufacturers. At our East Penn club set-ups, we routinely combine layout segments of Kato Unitram and Unitrack with Tomix paved and unpaved, with no issues. We also run trains manufactured all over the world. Very old European N-gauge rolling stock sometimes has very deep flanges which can clatter on the rail hold-downs, but both Tomix and Kato use fairly tall "Code 80" rail.

 

See this EasyTrolley picture gallery here:

 

http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/ET-pics/ETpics.htm

 

You can click on the photos to enlarge them. This, and the rest of that site, should give you a lot of ideas.

 

Rich K.

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Webskipper

N gauge regardless of the manufacturer's interpretation of size of structures, people, cars, locomotives, etc still uses rails 9mm apart.

 

Commonly used: 1:140, 1:144, 1:150, 1:160.

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Mudkip Orange

It seems like what you're noticing is the wooden crossties below the asphalt that are visible on Tomix but not Kato tram tracks.

 

This is an outgrowth of the fact that the earlier Tomix tram rails were simple snap-in plastic pieces that went over their normal ballast track.

 

However this is not unprototypical. Many tram lines were laid with normal ties then paved over.

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Hobby Dreamer
Kato restricts trams to roundy, roundy all day long.

 

Been thinking about tram track. Both Kato and Tomix designed their tram tracks to coincide with their rail tracks, which is a compromise for end use.

 

Kato has limited train track (in terms of turn-outs etc) but they seemed to trail-blaze the tram market. Maybe they have plans to break the fixed geometry of their layouts. Single track, track without roads would be welcomed. Varied lengths in their straights would help as well.  

 

I wish that Tomix had offset the tram rails within their track so that trams would be closer when passing each other but also to allow for road traffic. It seems to be awkward both as a right of way or when shared with road traffic.

 

Both companies were smart in how they addressed 2 trams passing on curves: Kato has that offset in radius so even large (future) trams won't touch as well as large radii; and Tomix has the wide spacing.

 

 

Both tram systems are "roundy, roundy all day long" until we get turnouts. I wonder how much the economy and the tsunami have hurt tram track development. I'm frustrated to start a layout with either system because the layout I would want is not possible with either just yet and I'm not into the hobby enough to want to change it often or do custom work.

 

I got both systems. I love what some of you here have done with the Unitram; and I got a bunch of Tomix to use for trams but may just build a cargo yard - and the Tomix track is perfect for that.

 

I also think both track systems would be great for subways/metros; and if I have a layout it would be great to have street level, subway and a viaduct!

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Barobutt

Buy some atlas flex track, snap track, or what ever you please,  plaster is over, enjoy infinite flexibility!

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Webskipper

Anyone hear of a release date for the Right lane road marking sets?

 

My lhs said Kato USA won't be getting anymore V50 and V54 sets until the new ones arrive later this year.

 

From a cost stand point they should produce generic streets without arrows.

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Webskipper

Quote from Kato USA.

 

"The right hand track is going to be a collaboration

with the European/German market, and will probably not see release until US

and European prototype light rail cars to accompany them are ready for

release or at the very least sufficiently far along in development."

 

I guess I can still continue to get the left hand stuff and paint over the arrows. Doesn't matter that much.

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leon

Sorry guys that it took a while to answer ...

 

Mudkip was right: what I meant was 'the wooden crossties below the asphalt that are visible on Tomix but not Kato tram tracks'. Therefore I said that Kato tram track looks better (see image).

 

Meanwhile I find it unbelievable that tramtrack in N gauge is only manufactured by 2 japanese companies: Kato with a beautiful product but no imagination (only left traffic like in Japan) and far too expensive extensions in 2011. Tomix offers more possibillities but a less beautiful product and is difficult to purchase where I live (Europe). When I was an engineer I'd think this was a goldmine ...

post-559-1356992794842_thumb.jpg

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cteno4

track is a tough sell for manufactures. its a pretty low price item that requires a lot of different moulds and assembly jigs that are expensive and a big investment if you have dozens of different ones to do (and if you do it the customer will want a lot of variations!). then you have to inventory not only a large amount of each type of track, but you also have to inventory and distribute a large amount of types of items. this gets to be very expensive ongoing process and with a pretty low priced item means you need big volumes to make it work. even then its tough. how many things do you see out there that have like 50 or more different types of the same items that you would need to produce, distribute and stock? not many. while track is pretty easy to engineer and produce, that does not mean it will be ultra cheap to produce or make money on and thats the big issue here with the business model.

 

its not a lack of imagination on kato's part its just them doing what they can make money on first, the left hand japanese roads and equipment. they see the alternative right hand market as they are out in them in the US and Europe, but tomix really never goes outside japan -- they have decided to focus on their local market, international markets take a lot to develop. plus the fairly uniform japanese n scale market probably equals the whole train market in the rest of the world, so its a no brainer to focus on that and branching out is going to be some diminishing returns even if it is a leverage of an existing japanese market product.

 

the really nice but expensive or cheaper but less beautiful should be pretty self apparent. nicely done stuff aint cheap to do. volume can make up for this, but traction is a small part of the overall train market right now and until it gets to be more mainstream then we wont get the volume to get great prices on really nice stuff.

 

sorry its just some of the realities of the business end of the equation.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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bill937ca

Kato is a very conservative, family run company and has apparently said that there will no be a right hand version until there is an European  partner with an inventory of trams.

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Mudkip Orange

My hobby store said that Kato said the Western Unitram sets will be released "later" this year.

 

Really? I haven't read this ANYWHERE, but it'd be neat if so. They'd have to go further than arrows, though, since you also need double-yellows instead of a single white for the center.

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brill27mcb

If Kato is working with a European distributor on this, as I've read twice on this forum, than I would guess that the road markings would be done to match European practices, not necessarily North American practices.

 

Rich K.

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Mudkip Orange
If Kato is working with a European distributor on this, as I've read twice on this forum, than I would guess that the road markings would be done to match European practices, not necessarily North American practices.
So everything is white but we get a 130km/h speed limit instead?

 

That's a fair trade.

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Webskipper

They'd have to go further than arrows, though, since you also need double-yellows instead of a single white for the center.

 

With some imagination, a resourceful modeler can start with a kit and make it spectacular. I love kit bashing.  A little black tar over some arrows and add some crosswalk lines, and a one-way street is born.

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Webskipper

Do the Kato 23-411 Station Area Road Plates mate with the Tram tracks? Can't tell.

 

Otherwise the cars will have to jump the curb to park near the viaduct stations.

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KenS

By odd coincidence, my LHS recieved some DioTown plates recently and I picked one up today to see if I might be able to make use of them myself.  I don't specifically have the station area plates, but I believe those are compatible with the DioTown plates.

 

The DioTown road system and the Unitram plates are fundamentally incompatible.  The Unitram plates are about 7mm thick on both road and building areas (thicker in the sidewalk).  The DioTown plates are about 4mm thick in the road, and closer to 3mm thick in the building areas.  Also, while they use a similar type of connector, the connection points on the two do not line up.

 

The two-lane roadway beside the tram tracks and the DioTown two-lane roads are the same width and have the lines painted in the same relative placement, so with shimming you might be able to make them work.  Note however that the street color of the DioTown plates is a yellower gray than the medium gray of the Unitram plates so I think they wouldn't look very good together.

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cteno4

i was wondering about this. i dont have any of the diotown plates, but i thought they were thinner than the unitram plates.

 

understandable that the unitram needed to be thicker. unfortunate that they dont really jibe up, kato invested a lot over the years to push the diotown plate sets. perhaps they realized things that needed to be done different and just did a clean break with the unitram plates. wonder if there will be a new round of diotown plates that match the unitram plates in color, height and road alignments.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Webskipper

Well I'm in trouble.

 

I have a whole plate of parking lot of tram plate to use . The Ntrak mountain line/ viaduct station runs smack dab over the seams.

 

Adding a double wide station eats space but looks impossible with one line feeding the 3-4 tracks.

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leon

I think I'm giving up and sell whatever I bought from Kato. Unitram is a magnificent product but overpriced and the extensions don't come (no junctions and crossings etc.). I discovered this: http://www.proto87.com/easy-street--track-system.html, a realistic tramstreettrack. Only disadvantage: not in 1:160 ...

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Hobby Dreamer

Hi Leon,

 

Before you go overboard with the Easy Street track, there might be a few things to consider...

 

For one, its not in scale as you noted.  Its a lot of work to develop a road bed especially around turns; but the sinker for me was that I don't think it will accommodate all N-Scale trams AND its a pain to wire..

 

Many HO guys run overhead wiring so there is no concern about wiring through the turnouts and crossovers, as many HO trams have pick-ups on the overhead poles.

 

Until Kato teased us with the Portram pre-release ads I was ready to go HO, but the quality and look of the N-Scale stuff sold me. And N scale seems better for cost and space..

 

With East-Street you will need track covers so why not get a bunch of N-scale track and cover them..

 

Its just a thought..  I'm waiting to see what Kato/Tomix/Greenmax etc come up with because I think that more is to come. Its just the economy and the Japanese disaster that has held back development..

 

A few years ago I researched that there were 11 manufacturers of tram track in HO and N but there were many downsides to these tracks and also with tram availability. I wanted a hobby that was fun to do and not rife with frustrations and that is all there was.. In the end it just seemed that ES track would be a lot of work for N-Scale

 

Good Luck!

Rick

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leon

Hi Rick,

 

thanx very much for your reply, I will think about all your remarks! For costs: that was one of the reasons I thought it was better to turn to H0 - here in Europe there's much more choice in models and tracks and they are cheaper than what Kato has to offer. But for the space: yes, therefore I chose scale N and the Kato system (models and streettrack) is superb.

 

As I said, I will think things over, thanx again!

 

Leon

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Hobby Dreamer

Hi Leon,

 

This is a great Euro forum/site for trams..

 

http://www.modelltram.de/

 

they have great ideas and seem like a good group of guys, in translation anyway..

 

Good Luck

Rick

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leon

Hi Rick,

 

great forum, thanx for the tip!

 

Btw if Kato sold tramtrack like this (see image) in N scale, I would pay the price with pleasure!

 

Best regards,

Leon

post-559-13569928755948_thumb.jpg

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bill937ca

i was wondering about this. i dont have any of the diotown plates, but i thought they were thinner than the unitram plates.

 

understandable that the unitram needed to be thicker. unfortunate that they dont really jibe up, kato invested a lot over the years to push the diotown plate sets. perhaps they realized things that needed to be done different and just did a clean break with the unitram plates. wonder if there will be a new round of diotown plates that match the unitram plates in color, height and road alignments.

 

 

I was looking at Unitram today and there are streetscape expansion sets like the 40-820 and 40-821 with no track.  Will these eventually replace and orphan the Diotown plates?

 

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10123784

 

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10123776

 

Crossovers are in the V51 expansion set.

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KenS

I hadn't seen the 821 before, or looked closely at the 820; interesting.  I think you're right, that makes it look like they're moving to have a general street/building environment even if you don't use the trams, which would make the diotown plates obsolete.  Since they made the new plates thicker than the Diotown ones (likely a necessity due to track height), it makes sense that they'd want to replace them rather than try to integrate them into the system somehow.

 

But what they've done is replace the "track" part of the big avenue with a median and two more lanes, making it a 6-lane avenue.  The side streets are four-lane, and about all you could do is put two 820s back-to-back, as they don't have a long two-lane section today.

 

And, of course, the streets are a bit large for Japan.  Not that they don't have such large avenues, but where are the 1.5-car wide side streets?

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