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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All,

I am designing a new HO layout (10' X 11" U-Shape) and will use Kato Unitrack. A separate yard will follow when this layout is up and running.

The outer mainline (double track) circles the layout but due to some home piping in the far corner I cannot make the mainline symmetrical. I'm happy with how the design is coming but obviously with Unitrack I am limited in my angle options. Because of this limitation as I close the loops I don't have a perfect match. The CAD/Design program I use, which has the full Kato track library, has a "close the gap" feature which is great. It closes the gaps on both mainline tracks using the Kato library but leaves 0.02" and a 0.03" gaps.

Obviously these are very small gaps but wondering if anyone has experience on the gap tolerance of Kato Unitrack? Will this gap be manageable?

Thank you,

Walman
 

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If the metal joiners make contact for at least 1 mm, that will suffice. That's for electrical continuity along the track system.

Your trains will handle substantial gaps, less well on sharp curves as the gaps lengthen. So, your trains won't mind much about gaps.

What WILL make things go wrong is kinks...vertical or horizontal. As a steamer gets longer and has more drivers, it will like kinks less and less. Long-framed diesels won't be to bad, but all locomotives have pilots, and vertical kinks can cause the pilots to bind up against the tops of the rails, or the uncoupling curved wire on the forward coupler can snag. Similarly, kinks that are substantial due to alignment problems and length problems can cause lurching, even derailments when they run horizontally.

If it doesn't work so well as you begin to test it with your rolling stock, try removing both track elements on either side of the gap, lay some cork roadbed, and just cut and fit in a length of flex track. It's good practice if nothing else, but you get a nice curve there and no more problems.
 

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"It closes the gaps on both mainline tracks using the Kato library but leaves 0.02" and a 0.03" gaps..."

I don't think that's going to be a problem at all...
 

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Gonna' be expensive compared to flextrack. Unitrack isn't cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Re: Thank you

All,

Thank you for the information. I watched a few videos from Mike Fifer this weekend and learned his technique for cutting Kato to any length as well as how to turn straights into 'flex' track. Also, as one of you suggested, I grabbed some code 83 Peco flextrack and with cork roadbed I was able to do anything I needed. Feeling pretty comfortable.

Regarding the Kato cost versus regular track you are absolutely correct. But the ease of use for my needs and my lack of time (I know who has enough) made my decision easy.

Walman
 
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