Is Kato #4 turnout still problematic? - Model Train Forum - the complete model train resource
Model Train Forum - the complete model train resource

Go Back   Model Train Forum - the complete model train resource > Scale Specific Model Train Forum > N Scale
Forgotten your password?

N Scale Atlas, Life-Like, Graham Farish, Micro-Trains, Minitrix and other N scale discussion.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-06-2019, 12:18 PM   #1
kflorian
Hobo
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 7
Is Kato #4 turnout still problematic?

Is the Kato #4 turnout still problematic?

If so, does using only Kato loco/stock ameliorate the problem?
kflorian is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 12-06-2019, 06:02 PM   #2
traction fan
Station Master
 
traction fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: San Diego
Posts: 3,407
Scales Modeled: N
West Kato #4 turnout

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Is the Kato #4 turnout still problematic?

If so, does using only Kato loco/stock ameliorate the problem?
ken.florian;

I will state up front that I don't use Kato turnouts,( I make my own) so the information in this response is secondhand. I do have decades of model railroad experience, and have recently done some online research about Kato, and six other brands of turnouts. The attached PDF file "All About Turnouts", explains what I have learned over the years, and found out in my recent research.

Mike Fifer, of Fifer Hobby Supply, has a video out addressing derailment issues on Kato#4 turnouts. He shows a simple modification that can be performed on the Kato#4 to make it more reliable. He slides the curved rail part way out of the tie strip, where he can work on it, and cuts a notch in the inside surface of that rail. The purpose of this notch is to let the point recess a little bit into the stock rail. This is a standard feature on some brands of commercial turnouts, and I build it into my scratchbuilt N-scale code 55 turnouts as well. Mike speculates that later production of Kato turnouts may come with this modification, but as of the taping of his video, speculation was all it was. I recommend doing this modification to both rails of any turnout that does not already have it from the factory, not just Kato and not just #4s. Having the end of the point rails recess into the stock rails is a very effective way to eliminate "picking the points", one of the most common causes of derailments on turnouts.

As for using only Kato rolling stock;

1) The modified turnout should solve the problem.

2) You shouldn't have to restrict yourself to only one brand of rolling stock.

Kato wheels are often a bit too narrow in gage to meet the specs. incorporated into an NMRA standards gage.(see photo) This is easy to fix, just pull and twist the wheels until they fit the "wheels" notches on one side of the gage. Use the "Track tabs on another side of the same gage to check the turnout's rails. The direction sheet packed with the gage shows other things that should be checked on any turnout. Once the turnouts and wheels are set to NMRA standards, derailments drop drastically. The PDF file "Improving Atlas turnouts" starting on page 8, shows how the NMRA gage is used to check a turnout, and how to fix and problem areas. If you don't have an NMRA gage, by all means get one. It is an essential tool for any model railroad. You can order a gage for your scale from www.modeltrainstuff.com

hope that helps;

Traction Fan

NMRA gages.jpg

All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf
__________________
To Puget sound, Electrified!
traction fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2019, 07:34 PM   #3
kflorian
Hobo
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 7
Thanks very much.

A lot to digest for this first-time builder, but I'll figure it out!
kflorian is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 12-06-2019, 08:23 PM   #4
traction fan
Station Master
 
traction fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: San Diego
Posts: 3,407
Scales Modeled: N
West Questions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Thanks very much.

A lot to digest for this first-time builder, but I'll figure it out!
ken.florian;

I didn't notice your small number of posts. By "first time builder" I assume you are working on building your first layout, is that right? I also assume you wish to use Kato Unitrack and their turnouts on your layout. That's a pretty good choice. Kato products in general are excellent quality and their Unitrack turnouts are way better than the quite awful competition, Bachmann's EZ-Track turnouts, which came in dead last in my recent quality ranking. The Kato #6 turnouts got a compliment saying that they were very reliable and trains ran through them quite smoothly. Perhaps you might want to use them?

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. The only "dumb" questions are the ones we don't ask. Here's a couple of questions for you.How much space do you have for your layout? Do you have any plans yet for what you want to have on it? Good luck with your building.

I've attached more files, don't feel you have to read and/or digest them now, or ever for that matter, I don't want to give you indigestion! They are simply some that I wrote for new modelers planning their first layout. Do with them as you will.

Have fun;

Traction Fan

WHERE DO I START rev 4.pdf

1 How to build a better first layout.pdf

2 How to build a better first layout.pdf

3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

5 How to build a better first layout.pdf

6 How to build a better first layout.pdf

MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

Model Railroad Terminology 3.pdf
__________________
To Puget sound, Electrified!
traction fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2019, 08:43 AM   #5
kenf
Hobo
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 7
Hi Traction Fan,

Thanks, again. I'm the same guy as the first post, but new account for (doh) obvious reason. This time I had more coffee before creating this account.

This is my first build since my Dad did it for me about 1.5 centuries ago!

I will do N.

My "story line" is intermodal ship to rail to over-the-road to warehouse to home.

My space is an "L" 54" x 30" and 72" x 30" OR 60" x 36"....I haven't decided on that second leg. I can go longer and narrower or shorter and wider.

I've purchased nothing yet, but the Kato track (and similiar tier for other stuff) is in my budget.

I'm learning and will eagerly read all the items you posted.

Thanks very much!

Ken

(p.s. pretend you never saw my first username. doh!).

Last edited by kenf; 12-07-2019 at 09:18 AM..
kenf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2019, 03:26 PM   #6
traction fan
Station Master
 
traction fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: San Diego
Posts: 3,407
Scales Modeled: N
West Longer & narrower?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenf View Post
Hi Traction Fan,

Thanks, again. I'm the same guy as the first post, but new account for (doh) obvious reason. This time I had more coffee before creating this account.

This is my first build since my Dad did it for me about 1.5 centuries ago!

I will do N.

My "story line" is intermodal ship to rail to over-the-road to warehouse to home.

My space is an "L" 54" x 30" and 72" x 30" OR 60" x 36"....I haven't decided on that second leg. I can go longer and narrower or shorter and wider.

I've purchased nothing yet, but the Kato track (and similiar tier for other stuff) is in my budget.

I'm learning and will eagerly read all the items you posted.

Thanks very much!

Ken

(p.s. pretend you never saw my first username. doh!).
kenf;

You're quite welcome! That's really the main purpose of this forum, model railroaders sharing information. We "senior modelers" (a.k.a. old farts) like passing on what we've learned (usually the hard way ) to new people like yourself.
If you want continuous running, you won't be able to go much narrower than 30". Those big, six-axle, modern, diesels, and long cars, used in intermodal service, will need fairly broad curves. On the other hand, if you are content with a point-to point layout, Narrow and long will give a more convincing illusion that the containers are actually going somewhere other than just round-and-round-in-circles.
Your "story line" sounds very interesting. Intermodal is a huge part of modern railroading. There are containers, front end loaders, cranes, double stack well cars, etc. available in N-scale. There are also some good books available. One excellent book for "newbies" is "Getting Started in Model Railroading" by Jeff Wilson. The chapters cover a wide variety of model railroad building subjects in simple text, and color photos. I recommend it. You can order a copy from https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/products/books The same site should have some books on intermodal operations.
One item that's nearly impossible to find is an N-scale ship model. Even a small coastal steamer from the post world war two era would be about two real feet long in N-scale. A giant, modern, container ship would fill almost all your available space.

One old modeler's trick you can use is to put really big stuff on a painted or photo backdrop or use flats as in low relief structures, or in this case 1/2 a ship. Another trick that might help with "fitting" a ship into your layout space is using mirrors to optically double your space. If you use what's called a "front surface" or "first surface" mirror you can make a convincing representation of a "whole" ship while only modeling the front half. The "rest" of the ship is an optical illusion, reflected in the mirror. The common bathroom mirror, and most mirrors, for that matter, are "rear surface mirrors. This means the silver reflective coating is painted onto the back of the glass. When you look into this kind of mirror you're looking through the glass (sorta like Alice in "Through the Looking Glass." sorry, I love puns, & corny jokes!) With a front surface mirror, you still see your reflection, but if you touch the mirror with say a pencil, you won't see any gap between the pencil, and it's reflection, as you would in a normal (rear surface) mirror. So your front half ship would appear to be joined to the "rear" half reflected in the mirror. There would be no ship-splitting gap running the length of the good ship "S.S. Bisected" (Must be a really sharp, super narrow, iceberg out there!)

The photo below shows the "scene deeping" effect of a backdrop. This trestle scene on my N-scale shelf layout, is actually only 8" deep at the bottom and 16" deep at the top, but it looks like it goes on for miles.


Have fun!

Traction Fan

Garrison creek trestle good view.JPG
__________________
To Puget sound, Electrified!

Last edited by traction fan; 12-13-2019 at 10:56 PM..
traction fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2019, 11:27 PM   #7
DavidJones
Hobo
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 29
What is involved in handbuilding turnouts?

I often hear people in forums talking about these. My current main problem stopping my railway from beginning operations are those Bachmann switches you talked about. Most of them have required modification, or replacement to get them reliable. As anything comes out, the curved rails will get the 'notches' cut in. I was staring at them and my files (and my dremel tools, my sandpaper etc) trying to figure out how to cut them. I've had to go to a lot of effort fitting and adjusting each, so I'm not keen to take them out to carve the notch.

My layout is a 42x82 door layout. I do want to add a switching yard at the end (to make an 'L').

I'm thinking about what is involved in making my own turnouts. To replace the ones that I can't get working (BTW, yesterday I went into the local hobby shop to pick up a kato- I thought it was a misprint- $87 each! Cdn, but still. And to make a multitude (of the kind I like) for the switching yard

So REALISTICALLY is it possible to learn how to and make a better turnout than the bachmann's after just a few trials, or is it a many years of acquiring kind of skill? What tools and jig do I need? Are there some good links on doing it?

Thank you
DavidJones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2019, 01:07 AM   #8
CTValleyRR
Train Master
 
CTValleyRR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: East Haddam, CT
Posts: 8,786
Scales Modeled: HO
You can eat a handful of plastic chips and an ingot of nickel silver alloy and puke a better turnout than the Bachmann ones....

I have never really done it myself (I've been happy with higher end commercial offerings), but I did attend a 2 hour clinic at a train show, and it isn't that hard. With a decent template, even your first one has a pretty good chance of coming out well.
__________________
Connecticut Valley Railroad -- A Branch of the New York, New Haven, And Hartford

"We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing." --George Bernard Shaw
CTValleyRR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2019, 10:54 PM   #9
traction fan
Station Master
 
traction fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: San Diego
Posts: 3,407
Scales Modeled: N
West Turnout options

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidJones View Post
I often hear people in forums talking about these. My current main problem stopping my railway from beginning operations are those Bachmann switches you talked about. Most of them have required modification, or replacement to get them reliable. As anything comes out, the curved rails will get the 'notches' cut in. I was staring at them and my files (and my dremel tools, my sandpaper etc) trying to figure out how to cut them. I've had to go to a lot of effort fitting and adjusting each, so I'm not keen to take them out to carve the notch.

My layout is a 42x82 door layout. I do want to add a switching yard at the end (to make an 'L').

I'm thinking about what is involved in making my own turnouts. To replace the ones that I can't get working (BTW, yesterday I went into the local hobby shop to pick up a kato- I thought it was a misprint- $87 each! Cdn, but still. And to make a multitude (of the kind I like) for the switching yard

So REALISTICALLY is it possible to learn how to and make a better turnout than the bachmann's after just a few trials, or is it a many years of acquiring kind of skill? What tools and jig do I need? Are there some good links on doing it?

Thank you
DavidJones;

First, that hobby shop you visited must be run by bandits!

Eighty-seven dollars is ridiculous for any single commercial turnout. Were you possibly looking at a Kato double crossover? It contains four turnouts and a crossing in one assembly. Eighty-seven dollars for that would still be pretty steep since it sells online for less than $60.
A single Kato Unitrack electric, remote control, turnout costs about $20 at www.modeltrainstuff.com or www.trainworld.com or my local train store Reeds Hobbies in La Mesa, California.
Some markup to stay in business is one thing, but charging over quadruple retail is highway robbery, plain and simple!

Second, you have other options.

1) you can attempt to repair the Bachmann turnouts you have now.

The Mike Fifer video on Kato #4 turnouts, showed him marking the end of the point rail on the adjacent stock rail with a fine point magic marker. He then pulled the curved stock rail out about an inch, so that he could file the right spot on the stock rail for the point to recess into. I recommend doing this to both stock rails the curved and the straight. (If you want to watch Mike's video google, "Mike Fifer youtube video on modifying Kato #4 turnouts") The same may be possible with Bachmann EZ-Track turnouts.
If the rails won't pull out like the Kato rails in Mike Fifer's video did, then you could drill several small holes near the inside surface of the stock rails directly opposite the points. Join these holes into a slot just big enough to fit a miniature file through. You could then file the notch into the inside surface of the stock rail so the point can recess into it.
I have never owned a Bachmann turnout, and I don't expect to. From what I have read online, and seen in a repair video, They seem to have several problems. The only reason to try to repair them is that they are already paid for. Whether it's worth the effort or not is for you to decide.

2) You could buy better turnouts.

Peco turnouts are excellent, and Micro Engineering turnouts are a close second. Pecos are more ruggedly built, and Micro Engineerings are more realistic looking. Either is about $18-$25 ea. retail. You can find discounts on e-bay and elsewhere online. Neither has the gray plastic roadbed piece underneath like Bachmann or Kato, but you can easily shim them up to a matching height with cork roadbed, or wood.

3) Yes, you can make your own turnouts. I have made dozens of them over the years, and also taught other people, including a ten year old, how to make them. Every single person I have taught has made a good working turnout on their very first try.

So No, you don't need to spend months learning some sort of exotic witchcraft in order to make turnouts. No experience is necessary, and it's not hard to do.

There are many different methods online. Some use gages. Fast Tracks is one such gage-dependent method.
I don't use gages because they're quite expensive,(Well over $100ea.) and also quite unnecessary. I make my turnouts with common modelers tools.
Scratch built turnouts are inexpensive, (about $5ea. for the materials.) Of course you will be doing the labor, and it takes a lot more time to build a turnout than to buy one. So, it's a simple case of trading time spent, for money saved.

My method, and the materials, and tools needed, are explained in detail in the first attached file, "How I scratch build turnouts."
The second file, "All about turnouts", explains the basics of turnouts in general, and compares the merits or deficiencies of seven popular brands of commercial turnouts. I may have sent this to you already. If so, please excuse the duplication. The third file, "Improving Atlas turnouts", is included only for the text and photos starting on page 8. They explain about this notch filing business and how it helps keep trains on the rails as they pass through a turnout. It also shows other areas of a turnout that should be checked, and may need modification. This info is applicable to most commercial turnouts. The first seven pages are about Atlas "Snap Switch" turnouts. You can skip both those seven pages, and the Atlas "Snap Switch" turnouts. They're down in the bottom of the quality barrel with the Bachmann EZ-Track turnouts.

I hope that answers all your questions;

Traction Fan

How I scratch build turnouts new(8).pdf

All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf
__________________
To Puget sound, Electrified!

Last edited by traction fan; 12-13-2019 at 11:11 PM..
traction fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


» Visit These Sites:
LGB World

Or Our European Train Website ModelRailForum




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:13 AM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.