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Thread: Giving up on Atlas sectional and going to Kato for the Scenic Ridge

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    Default Giving up on Atlas sectional and going to Kato for the Scenic Ridge

    Hi all I am a new nscale and 30 year armchair modeler. I started a thread about dcc and Kato Unitrack how difficult to instal. That led to my voicing aggravations with the atlas track never going back together or fitting correctly as I progressed on building the old standby in n the scenic Ridge I had read how much fun Spookshow had using sectional track and the stupidity of relaying sectional track after it is working well just made no sense even to a basic noob like me. But I digress if I do it correctly I can upload the poor progress mostly do to slow learning curve and discovering close enough is not good enough in N scale.

    Okay i I hear many happy experienced modelers sing the praise of Unitrack so I I asked one of my best friendís named Google to find out if it was affordable and if it was easy to order like a kit. Thatís where I found Kato. My biggest pain is having to rip out my work not real heartbreaking since I have yet to even run atrain around with out a push.

    I hope to get two bits of information has anyone built the layout with Unitrack and any pro or cons
    I also hope some track laying mistakes or tricks installing DCC on to a Kato Unitrack layout

    thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marksomebody View Post
    My biggest pain is having to rip out my work not real heartbreaking since I have yet to even run atrain around with out a push.
    Could you explain this a bit more ? Cause if you have dirty track or dirty loco pickups , it wont mater what track you use . And if its bad conductivity , it could just mean more feeders are required , as the rail joiners might not be passing on the power properly . Once again , this can and will happen with every brand and type of track .

    Steve
    Last edited by aflica; 17th May 2019 at 03:58 PM.

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    Thanks for the reply. I understand the track and for sure my test loco. But I mean get anything to complete the whole journey around. I have been following the book and each time I took the track off it would be so out of wack I’d spend a few hours getting it arranged the take it apart then have to get it to fit. I was just too frustrated. I am 73 years young have had 5 bypass and a valve relining �� I may not have the time to reinvent the wheel. I want to play with my trains damn it!!!
    Last edited by Marksomebody; 17th May 2019 at 03:05 PM. Reason: apple spell

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    Mark - We traded posts on your other thread. If you have the financial means to buy dual sets, here is a Kato tracklist for Scenic Ridge in case you didn't have it.

    https://www.katousa.com/track-plans/scenic-ridge.html

    You may have to modify your bridge area. I don't recall how long the Atlas bridges are, but Kato is 9 3/4" for a truss or 7 5/16" for a girder.

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    Dave. Thanks. I made enough selling my used Ho and atlas n track that I was compulsively buying and reselling that I have the Kato track and accessories to build the model on order from tonystrains.com.
    It hurts to take the flat putty knife wrecker but it must be done I figure if I take my time I save 70% or more of the foam risers. Then as I rebuild I can ask the chief financial officer and chairman of the board for a renegotiation of the space and how much rent she will extract from.

    ill try and document my work as I go maybe live stream with no sound so it stays pg rated at the most instead of nc17.
    I am not sure if it will be a labor of love or labor.
    Looking forward to your advice and this groups advice as I progress.
    Last edited by Marksomebody; 18th May 2019 at 02:58 PM.

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    Mark:

    I have less than fond memories of Atlas Sectional from my first go-round in N scale in the late 60's-mid 70's. When I started my layout 3 years ago, I went with Kato Unitrack. I love it!!! I think I've cleaned my track maybe 3 times in 3 years, and even then it was never, ever the problem that I remember with Atlas. My recollections with Atlas were that you ran trains nearly daily or spent a whole evening cleaning track.

    Kato Unitrack is a breeze to set up, connectivity is great, and it can be made to look very nice. I think you'll be very happy with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marksomebody View Post
    I am 73 years young have had 5 bypass and a valve relining �� I may not have the time to reinvent the wheel. I want to play with my trains damn it!!!
    Good for you! I'd be going the Kato route too at that point in my life. The trade-offs would be well worth it.

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    Good for you! I'd be going the Kato route too at that point in my life. The trade-offs would be well worth it.


    Thanks Paul. I kind of look at as we all have sell by dates. The problem I can’t figure out the bar code

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    We use KATO for our modified BendTrack module's mainlines. The expandable tracks sections are great for bridging the modular divides!

    We wanted our modules to be bale to be set up quick and to run reliable. Kato gives us both of those.

    It may not be the most realistic looking track around, and I admire those who have perfected the art of flex track laying, but our group just wants to run trains and do scenery.

    There is a good resale market for Unitrack, I recommend purchasing the curves and straights via secondhand and the switches (unless proven to be in good condition, brand new.
    Bo D.
    B&O Keyridge Subdivision
    I'm not allowed to run the train, the whistle I can't blow. I'm not allowed to say how fast the Railroad Train can go.
    I'm not allowed to shoot off steam, nor even clang the bell. But let the damned Train jump the track, and see who catches hell!


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    Well itís gone. Iíll post pictures later today.
    I was pleasantly pleased that I was able to save for reuse close to 90% of the foam risers. I am really pleased the risers with the grade starters came off intact.

    Ill be mounting the base base board on a piece of 1 1/2 pink foam under it.
    As soon as I get my track Iíll lay it out on the base mark the location on the base and start gluing the risers

    I think I was able to save so much is the quality of my work leaves a bit to be desired. I am going to improve the second time around (I hope).

    As as always I look forward to any help or advice is welcome.
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    Last edited by Marksomebody; 20th May 2019 at 08:14 PM. Reason: Post pictures

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    Here's some tips I can share on working with Kato Unitrack.

    One, don't bother to glue the track down to your foam base. As it's an all-in-one sort of thing and much more rigid than the stuff you're used to working with, it will stay in place nicely once snapped together -- especially once you start wiring your turnouts and feeder wires. When you ballast, it will be held tightly in place by the ballast.

    Also, if you're a DC guy, they make black, insulating joiners for separating out your track blocks.

    Also, don't spend the extra money on their wire feeder sections...make your own. I use a small drill bit and drill a hole on the outside of each rail for the sections that I will be using as 'feeders'. I then feed stripped away wire up through the bottom of the section and solder it to the side of each rail. It's nice and neat and unobtrusive.

    Also, the turnouts are kind of delicate, careful with them. If they haven't been used in a while, run them back and forth a few times before an operating session to 'exercise' them. They're very reliable, just a little on the 'touchy' side if not used regularly. If you have problems with derailments on them, check your wheelsets with a NMRA gauge. If you still have issues, check the 'rake angle' of the points and make sure that they're seating against the rail tightly. I've taken a very small, fine file to a couple of mine, just to improve their working with a few of my fussier bits of rolling stock. Nary a problem since.

    Make sure that when you ballast, nothing gets in the sliding button hole on the side of the roadbed or in the points area of the switch. You can still get really nice results this way, and you can ballast right up to that slider hold *if you are careful*.

    And, if you want nice brown rails, spray bomb your sections BEFORE you ballast/lay down 'for good'. I didn't, and it's a pain in the ass to do once they are laid.

    If you use their curved or straight bridge sections, they look a little too modern and european for transition era layouts like mine. But you can get nice results if you paint them black, drizzle some rust on the sides and put your road's logo on them. Also, making those center 'safety rails' helps. I made mine by taking apart a section of Unitrack and bending the rails to suit my purpose and filing the ends to meet nicely, then CA gluing in place. (See pic.)

    Good luck, ask questions and have FUN!

    bridge.jpg
    Last edited by P-LineSoo; 20th May 2019 at 07:32 PM.

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    The turnouts in Unitrack - particularly the #4's, have a built-in defect that has been a chronic cause of derailments but is not impossible to fix.

    The points do not mesh into the stock rail, and anything coming 'headfirst' into the switch and taking the side route has a known issue of derailing.

    Several members here have gone through this, including me, on my Ttrak modules. Good news, it's entirely fixable. Bad news, if you're investing in Unitrack, and just gluing stuff down, you need to fix the switches BEFORE you permanently attach them. Seriously, or you'll end up taking it all up again.

    https://youtu.be/kRNAsbz-JqI

    I've done this to a couple and performance has been just flawless, even at absurdly high speeds on a T-trak layout.

    If you follow the materials list above, you'll get #6, not #4, and those do not reportedly have the same problem.
    Randgust N scale kits web page at www.randgust.com

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    There's also a 'thing' about block wiring and their turnouts, they *are* power-routing, so keep that in mind. Meaning that you can control where the power goes at the trunk end of the turnout by selecting which branch the points are touching. You can override that with some feeder wires or just roll with it.

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    I think dcc is the way. The layout plan has limited operational ability but I can just hear a pair of Diesel engines pulling a string of tankers up that 4% grade.
    I am thinking that I’ll free-model Pennsylvania during the oil boom after WWII. That way I don’t have to build or buy many structures.
    Every railroad needs a purpose I think this will work okay.

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    Transition era is a lot of fun! You get to run a lot of different stuff that way. It was before my time, but somehow it just seems natural to me...but I'm a bit of an old soul anyway.

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    As a resident and now historic resident rail curmudgeon of western PA....

    While the post WWII 'oil boom' in shallow well drilling happened up here, the railroads didn't get all that much of it due to pipelines and trucks. What did happen post WWII up here was the huge impact of Bethlehem Steel in Buffalo as the predominant traffic continued to be coal headed north to Buffalo, up the Allegheny valley or over the hills, and routes via PRR, B&O, EL, etc. Everybody got it. Pick any railroad you like and get a bunch of hoppers. Until Bethlehem started in Buffalo in the 1920's, this entire rail area was gasping for air after the first oil boom ended in the 1880's.

    We're seeing more impact from oil drilling and fracking on rail traffic now than any prior time, inbound frac sand, butane in and out, outbound asphalt (Canadian crude locally piplelined in) inbound ethanol for mixing and while we're down to only a few regional refineries in the western half of the state, the survivors have grown and so has the traffic. Coal is 100% gone now except out of the Mon valley. The post WWII era is at least more interesting for the surviving era of regional passenger service particularly on the PRR that can be done with pretty short passenger trains and existing models. Fun to model.

    But, if you like long tank car trains, the era to model is actually now, and watch the nightly show of G&W yanking a 40-car train uphill out of the valley with 4 units in Run 8 and shaking the ground. It's still here.
    https://www.railpictures.net/photo/516028/
    The east side of the Kane, PA hill (ex-PRR, PC, Conrail, IWK&J, ALY, A&E, now G&W) is one of the most miserable local eastbound grades (almost 3%) and the reason that the "Philadelphia & Erie" concept never turned into a real main line.

    You may not need many structures, but you're going to be getting ground foam and tree materials by the bushel basket!
    Randgust N scale kits web page at www.randgust.com

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    Thanks for the reply. I am not that advanced in scenery or structure building to take on that kind of a project. My wife of 48 years says I live in a dream world and I think maybe I was in my alternate reality world for the models time I hope I will be able to advance in the art to concern myself with a real model train.

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    You could always shift the time period to during World War II. A lot of tanker business was shifted to the railroads in the eastern U.S. because of a shortage of tankers and German U-Boats sinking ships along the coast.
    Good luck with it.
    Cheers!
    Maurice
    Attempting to apply the K.I.S.S. principle to Model Railroading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marksomebody View Post
    I am not that advanced in scenery or structure building to take on that kind of a project.
    You'd be surprised at what you can do. I'm pretty much a newbie at this, I started my first layout about 3 years ago, it's really my first (though my dad and I had one when I was a kid...)
    My wife of 48 years says I live in a dream world and I think maybe I was in my alternate reality world for the models time I hope I will be able to advance in the art to concern myself with a real model train.
    Don't obsess too much on this, unless it's really a goal of yours. There's a lot of fun and flexibility in having a layout set in an alternate reality. My Soo Line layout makes some pretty wide assumptions about a particular line that was actually ripped up in 1946 and never had anything bigger than a 10-wheeler actually run on it. I played the 'what if' card, as in 'What if the Soo actually had the long-hoped-for connection at Portage, WI and the line thrived and survived? What if the ghost town of Liberty Bluff, where today nary a trace of the town exists (the rest area on I-39 between Coloma and Westfield, WI is about where the station was), grew into a typical Midwest small farm town with some tourism and a rail yard?

    It's your layout and your hobby.

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    I think your getting some good advice from P-LineSoo .
    Not everything has to exist in real life , you can make up as much stuff as you like

    Steve
    Last edited by aflica; 22nd May 2019 at 05:16 PM.

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