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Thread: Noob questions with Kato & Flex

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    Default Noob questions with Kato & Flex

    Hi Guys,

    Have done some searching and I see it is common to use Code #80 Atlas flex in conjunction with Kato Unitrack.

    My question is; starting a first layout from scratch would it be best to buy numerous Kato straights or just use Atlas flex for longer straights? This will determine the items I will order ex-Japan.

    I'm thinking a layout like Amherst. I only have 2'6" x 6' 6" shelf layout initially.

    Peter

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    Forget the KATO track. Use flex track EXCLUSIVELY. This way you can design what you want, not just KATO puts out. Nice broad curves, and easements leading into curves. Some thing else besides # 4 #6 turnouts. Atlas has #5 #7 and #10 turnouts to be used. Make your track "BULLET PROOF" from the beginning and NEVER worry about it again.
    DIESELS ?!?!?! We Don't Need NO Stinkin' DIESELS!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by porkypine52 View Post
    Atlas has #5 #7 and #10 turnouts to be used
    Yes, Atlas has these in code 55 only. In code 80, they only have #4 and #6's. I really think OP is looking at code 80.
    Too bad shinohara isn't around anymore for the guys that want to use code 80 track. Their turnouts were great.
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    If you use the Atlas flex, you will need to add roadbed (cork or foam) to get it to the same level as the Unitrak. And you need to pull the Kato joiners at each junction between the brands and use an Atlas joiner......... Atlas added a #8 to it's code 80 lineup, but I don't see a major difference in running between #6 and #8 and the list on the Atlas remote #8s is $35 so they aren't a cheaper option. Kato track also seems to be more readily available. Kato elecric turnouts are also a lot more streamlined than the Atlas "big black canister". You should be fine either way, but you'll have a lot less headaches if you pick one brand and stick to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodsup9000 View Post
    Yes, Atlas has these in code 55 only. In code 80, they only have #4 and #6's. I really think OP is looking at code 80.
    Atlas makes #8s and wyes in code 80 also

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    Yes I/m thinking just to buy turnouts and cross-overs etc from Kato and flex track the rest as much as possible. Having not done any model trains since my school years I'm an absolute Noob with this N gauge.

    KATO will be the basis for my first layout so I'm torn between just buying a number of the turnouts etc or buying a couple of starter kits to begin with plus extra turnouts.

    I want to do a basic two industry type layout, desert type scenery (well actually tussock rolling hill type) which my childhood memories of trains rolling through our family farm in Marlborough New Zealand evokes.

    So a couple of basic sidings, maybe a quarry industry and a winery building of some sort.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MRLdave View Post
    If you use the Atlas flex, you will need to add roadbed (cork or foam) to get it to the same level as the Unitrak. And you need to pull the Kato joiners at each junction between the brands and use an Atlas joiner......... Atlas added a #8 to it's code 80 lineup, but I don't see a major difference in running between #6 and #8 and the list on the Atlas remote #8s is $35 so they aren't a cheaper option. Kato track also seems to be more readily available. Kato elecric turnouts are also a lot more streamlined than the Atlas "big black canister". You should be fine either way, but you'll have a lot less headaches if you pick one brand and stick to it.
    This cannot be stressed enough. You do not need to purchase the Kato Flex conversion track piece to connect Kato to Flex track. This piece is specifically designed to connect Kato and Tomix track. It can be used to connect to flex track, but it is not needed. As stated above, you just need to remove the Kato joiners and use atlas joiners.
    Jerry

    If you haven't broken something along the way, you haven't learned anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike the BN Freak View Post
    Atlas makes #8s and wyes in code 80 also


    Oh yea, I forgot about that.
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    I don't know the details but Kato has "new" flex track and accessories.
    https://katousa.com/n-unitrack-flexible/
    "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." -- Benjamin Franklin

    Mario

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    So others have pretty well answered your original question - not hard, just be aware that you'll need roadbed underneath the flex track to match the height of the Unitrack. Peco tie spacing is the closest flex track to Unitrack that I've seen... though I haven't actually seen the Unitrack brand flex track yet, and one would think it would be a pretty good match...

    I want to ask you a question though - why Unitrack? I'm not asking that to talk you out of it. Common answers are to get the track up and running faster, or to be able to experiment and rearrange the track easily. If it's either of those reasons though, I'd recommend using as little flex track as possible. Just use it for any curves that Unitrack doesn't lend itself well to, or where you want track at ground level rather than on raised ballast (such as a spur). If you're using a whole lot of flex track with the Unitrack then in most cases I think that defeats most of the advantages of using Unitrack - just go all flex track. And if you are willing to consider all flex track, does it need to be code 80?

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    Good question why Unitrack?

    Get it up & running quickly and without too many issues was my first reason. I want to see trains running quickly.
    Secondly; this will be my starter track and I see myself building a bigger / more complex layout in a year or two when I fully retire and we move house.
    I do take your point regarding just using Unitrack and not incorporating flex track in this layout but I was also looking to see if it made financial sense to simply buy Kato or another brand points / turnouts and use flex track for all curves & straights totally.
    I was trying to gauge the degree of difficulty for a noob to do this.
    If I did do the flex track what is the suggested code? i suspect that is a whole other discussion. Is code 55 the closest to real scale size? I think I read code 55 can be challenging?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ihmsakiwi View Post
    Is code 55 the closest to real scale size?
    Basically, yes. At least it's the closest that is readily available commercially, without hand laying your own track.

    Quote Originally Posted by ihmsakiwi View Post
    I think I read code 55 can be challenging?
    The issue can be the flanges on the wheels of some locomotives and rolling stock is too big for code 55. In the US, it is only an issue with older locomotives and rolling stock (like 20 years old or more, roughly speaking). Since it's easy to change the wheels on rolling stock and most locomotives old enough to have that issue (at least here) don't run as well as modern ones, it's easy to ignore that concern here in the US. I don't know enough about N scale in New Zealand to say if that would be a problem for you or not.

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