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Discussion Starter #1
I have two questions that appear to be somewhat related. We am using Kato unitrack including their turnouts. At the moment the turnouts are all manual throw while we finish getting the wiring done. We have a Kato GG1 locomotive, a BLI Mikado, and 4 Bachmann trolley cars. All of the power units are DCC (the Mikado with sound). The layout has three loops of track that have cross overs, either from the double cross track Kato sells of from the use of their turnouts. Today, for the first time in a while, we had power to all three loops and we were running multiple trains. For most of the run, we had the Mikado on the outside loop, the GG1 on the middle loop, and the four trolleys running on the inside loop.

We are having a problem with the GG1 derailing as it goes over turnouts, even when the turnouts are set in the proper direction (all straight for tonight). It works well if we keep it down to about 30% throttle, and derails very quickly as the throttle increase. Between 30% and about 50%, the GG1 will make some of the crossings with no problem and might even go a full lap before it has a problem. Above about 50%, it derails almost every time it crosses a turnout. We did change which track each train ran on and the problem still existed withe the GG1. The Mikado and the trolleys both worked without a problem.

My son thinks the problem might go away once we get all the turnouts wired to power switches. It looks like the manual throw is not getting the points against the rail tight enough when we do it manually. Another possibility is the GG1 at higher speeds is vibrating the points over a little bit enough from the rail to cause problems.

So the first question is if anyone knows if this might be a part of the problem? Do the turnouts work better, especially getting set against the rail more closely, with the electrical switch working?

The second possibility is if there is something wrong with the GG1. I know it is at least partially because it has more wheels and trucks than the other power units, but it ran on the original ovals with no problems. And that is my second question. Does anyone know of anything that could be wrong with the GG1 that I can check and repair if needed?

At the moment, my gut feeling is that my son has a point about the turnouts and we will work on that first. I hope to have them all wired and powered next weekend. But I am also getting disappointed in the GG1 and suggested my son build us a diorama of the Washington D.C. crash where one went through the station floor. I like the idea of a diorama of that, but it does seem like a waste of a fairly good and expensive locomotive (well, I bet the PRR felt that way about the crash too).
 

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It could be a part of the problem. I have a couple of very loose turnouts that will move on their own if not secured. They are only used when a train needs to enter the yard and another exits.

I use a track nail pushed into the sub-roadbed up against the throw arm. It keeps the point rail secure against the through rail and I don't have derailing problems.
 

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The problem with the turnouts is most likely what your son suggests. All turnouts ppints need positive pressure against the stock rails, or at least enough friction to keep them from moving once thrown. Many brands relay on the friction of internal components to do this, and that's often not enough, especially after the turnout gets some wear on it. Peco turnouts have an internal spring to avoid the problem. Using any switch machine that uses stiff wire to throw the joints should provide enough positive pressure to fix the problem (the Tam Valley Depot servos I use can adjust how much pressure they exert). Just make sure there is no mechanical obstruction -- dirt, paint, adhesive, plastic mold flash, stray ballast, etc -- keeping the points from seating.

On the GG-1, you may not like the answer. It is undeniably a gorgeous and iconic locomotive, but with ten axles, six of which are located in two very long trucks, near the center of the loco, they require extremely broad curves and very gradual turnouts to perform properly. Those long trucks have a fixed arc that they can negotiate, and if your curves or turnouts are shorter than that arc, a wheel is going to come off the track or bind in the gauge. I have an ALCO PA and a GE E33 with that same issue -- those long trucks won't tolerate anything sharper than a 22" curve or #6 turnout (in HO). Remember that sometimes the spot where the actual derailment occurs isn't exactly where the wheel first came off the track. But unfortunately, the only real fix for that is to redesign your layout with broader curves and more gradual turnouts.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you @MichaelE and @CTValleyRR. You have confirmed that before I take drastic action with the locomotive, I need to check the turnouts to see if there is a strong enough spring to hold the points against the rail. My son thinks we might have a solution since the turnouts are built and designed to use the electric motor to activate the turnout and provide a manual throw more as a convention than for real use. I will make it a priority to get the switch wiring done to see if that help this problem.

And I concur that the GG1 design may be a significant contributing factor. I love the engine, but the Kato N gauge model has the front and rear trucks hanging much more loosely from the frame than I like. It was done to allow it to navigate a tighter curve but may actually be part of this problem. Kato says the loco can handle a 9-3/4" radius curve but I do not think it can. The tightest curve on my layout (for the trains at least) is 11" radius. My middle loop is 12-3/8" and my outside loop is 13-3/4. The GG1 will handle all of those well at slow speeds and I love the way the nose and tail swing out from over the trucks. But at even medium speeds on the 11" radius, I can see the loco lean a little (a great argument that I should be looking for super-elevated curves). At higher speeds, I can see the front wheel of the inner three axle trucks lift just a little on the inside of the curve. I have not seen it come down out of alignment yet but it is very possible. We had decided it would be restricted to the outside two loops for most running because we do not see that there. It will only go to the inner loop to pull into the passenger station we are building there. We are going to have a speed limit on the loco of 1/4 throttle for the lap it will take to get to the station and back out. I will have to check if this is actually contributing to the problem with the turnouts. If so, maybe redesigning the layout to move the turnouts even further from the curves would also help.
 

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Thank you @MichaelE and @CTValleyRR. You have confirmed that before I take drastic action with the locomotive, I need to check the turnouts to see if there is a strong enough spring to hold the points against the rail. My son thinks we might have a solution since the turnouts are built and designed to use the electric motor to activate the turnout and provide a manual throw more as a convention than for real use. I will make it a priority to get the switch wiring done to see if that help this problem.

And I concur that the GG1 design may be a significant contributing factor. I love the engine, but the Kato N gauge model has the front and rear trucks hanging much more loosely from the frame than I like. It was done to allow it to navigate a tighter curve but may actually be part of this problem. Kato says the loco can handle a 9-3/4" radius curve but I do not think it can. The tightest curve on my layout (for the trains at least) is 11" radius. My middle loop is 12-3/8" and my outside loop is 13-3/4. The GG1 will handle all of those well at slow speeds and I love the way the nose and tail swing out from over the trucks. But at even medium speeds on the 11" radius, I can see the loco lean a little (a great argument that I should be looking for super-elevated curves). At higher speeds, I can see the front wheel of the inner three axle trucks lift just a little on the inside of the curve. I have not seen it come down out of alignment yet but it is very possible. We had decided it would be restricted to the outside two loops for most running because we do not see that there. It will only go to the inner loop to pull into the passenger station we are building there. We are going to have a speed limit on the loco of 1/4 throttle for the lap it will take to get to the station and back out. I will have to check if this is actually contributing to the problem with the turnouts. If so, maybe redesigning the layout to move the turnouts even further from the curves would also help.
Steve;

If you look through old posts in this N-scale forum, you can find some from a member called "Gimme30." He had a similar problem with a Kato GG-1 derailing it's pilot trucks every time it came to any of his turnouts. He used Atlas "Snap Switch" turnouts, rather than Kato, but I think there may be some parallels between his GG-1 derailments on turnouts, and yours.

I suggested he use the information from my file "Improving Atlas turnouts" He did, with near-miraculous results.
After using an NMRA gauge to measure the flangeways of his turnouts, he discovered the fact that nearly all commercial turnouts have flangeways that are too wide to meet the NMRA specs. incorporated into the gauge. Adding styrene shims to get the flangeways down to the proper width solved his problem.
The wheels on all locomotives and cars also need to be checked with the gauge and corrected if necessary. Once the flangeways are correct, they will tend to derail any out-of-gauge wheels. However, when both the flangeways, and the wheels, are in gauge, turnout derailments drop drastically.

Gimme30's experience was that before the fix, he simply could not get the GG-1 across a turnout without the pilot/and or trailing truck derailing. (both trucks are very lightweight, lightly sprung, suspended on the end of a long, free-moving mount, and very free to move in any direction. In short, there's not much holding them down on the track.) He did try removing the pilot truck, and was able to run the GG-1 through the turnouts successfully, without it. It was always the pilot truck that derailed. The main, long driving trucks went through fine without the pilot truck.
After fixing the flangeways, he had no more derailments, and could run his GG-1 right through the turnouts with no trouble at all, and that was with the pilot truck back on the locomotive. The derailments were likely caused by the combination of pilot trucks that were too free to move sideways, and flangeways that did not restrain that sideways movement of the trucks properly. The wheels of the pilot truck would have been able to move sideways and hit the frog point of the turnouts, or even try to go on the wrong side of the frog point.

Another thing that may be happening, ties in with your son's theory about the point rails not being over all the way.
Mike Fifer, of Fifer Hobby Supply, has several You Tube videos on Kato turnouts. One concerns the Kato # 4 turnout, and filing a notch into the stock rail where the point rail can "hide" from oncoming wheel flanges. This is a standard feature in most commercial turnouts, but apparently some Kato turnouts did not have it. Check your turnouts against the video, and modify them if necessary.
In his video, Fifer suggested modifying only the outer stock rail of a Kato # 4 turnout, and says the Kato #6 turnout was so reliable that it didn't need the modification at all. I highly recommend filing the notch on both stock rails of all your turnouts whether they are # 4s, or # 6s. By the way, which type of Kato turnouts are you using?
I include this notch in every turnout I build, and most commercial turnouts have it from the factory, on both sides, and regardless of frog #. I disagree with Mike Fifer's idea that Kato turnouts should be some sort of oddball exception to the general rule. To me there is no reason to exempt Kato turnouts, except perhaps laziness.

Finally, I doubt that the fact you are throwing the points of your turnouts manually, rather than electrically, makes any difference. The Kato switch machine, (built into the roadbed of the turnout) is momentary. Unlike the tortoise. or Switch Master machines, it does not stay energized to hold the point against the stock rail.
Also, unlike the Peco, or Micro Engineering turnouts, the Kato turnout does not have a bistable spring to hold the point in position. The Kato, Atlas, and some other, turnouts are designed to work equally well either electrically, or manually.

Good Luck;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If you look through old posts in this N-scale forum, you can find some from a member called "Gimme30." He had a similar problem with a Kato GG-1 derailing it's pilot trucks every time it came to any of his turnouts. He used Atlas "Snap Switch" turnouts, rather than Kato, but I think there may be some parallels between his GG-1 derailments on turnouts, and yours.
I suggested he use the information from my file "Improving Atlas turnouts" He did, with near-miraculous results.
After using an NMRA gauge to measure the flangeways of his turnouts, he discovered the fact that nearly all commercial turnouts have flangeways that are too wide to meet the NMRA specs. incorporated into the gauge. Adding styrene shims to get the flangeways down to the proper width solved his problem.
The wheels on all locomotives and cars, need to be checked with the gauge and corrected if necessary. Once the flangeways are correct, they will tend to derail any out-of-gauge wheels. However, when both the flangeways, and the wheels, are in gauge, turnout derailments drop drastically.

Gimme30's experience was that before the fix, he simply could not get the GG-1 across a turnout without the pilot/and or trailing truck derailing. (both trucks are very lightweight, lightly sprung, suspended on the end of a long, free-moving mount, and very free to move in any direction. In short, there's not much holding them down on the track.) He did try removing the pilot truck, and was able to run the GG-1 through the turnouts successfully, without it. It was always the pilot truck that derailed. The main, long driving trucks went through fine without the pilot truck.
After fixing the flangeways, he had no more derailments, and could run his GG-1 right through the turnouts with no trouble at all, and that was with the pilot truck back on the locomotive. The derailments were likely caused by the combination of pilot trucks that were too free to move sideways, and flangeways that did not restrain that sideways movement of the trucks properly. The wheels of the pilot truck would have been able to move sideways and hit the frog point of the turnouts, or even try to go on the wrong side of the frog point.

Another thing that may be happening, ties in with your son's theory about the point rails not being over all the way. Mike Fifer, of Fifer Hobby Supply, has several You tube videos on Kato turnouts. One concerns the Kato # 4 turnout, and filing a notch into the stock rail where the point rail can "hide" from oncoming wheel flanges. This is a standard feature in most commercial turnouts, but apparently some Kato turnouts did not have it. Check your turnouts against the video, and modify them if necessary. In his video, Fifer suggested modifying only the outer stock rail of a Kato # 4 turnout, and says the Kato #6 turnout was so reliable that it didn't need the modification at all. I highly recommend filing the notch on both stock rails of all your turnouts whether they are # 4s, or # 6s. By the way, which type of Kato turnouts are you using? I include this notch in every turnout I build, and most commercial turnouts have it from the factory, on both sides, and regardless of frog #. I disagree with Mike Fifer's idea that Kato turnouts should be some sort of oddball exception to the general rule. To me there is no reason to exempt Kato turnouts, except perhaps laziness.
Thanks, I should have thought of both checking old posts (I remember that about 50% of the time) and your hint about notching the rails. I read that but since I wasn't using the Atlas switches it did not jump to my mind. It makes sense to me that if you do that for every turnout, Kato should not be an exception to that rule.

And I had thought about checking the gauge of the tracks and turnout. I had not considered that the wheels also might need to be checked for that. I am ordering a gauge tool so I can do that. I had been considering it, but Kato track had a good reputation and I wasn't experiencing problems before that made me think it should be a high priority. This does move it up.

I also realized since I made the post that I had one point I missed that leads me more towards it being the current turnouts. When I had the original two ovals set up, we did have the two turnouts for a siding on each oval (I forgot that we had them in the original post), but we used the switches from Kato to electrically move the points. The GG1 went through all of those turnouts without a problem. That also says to me that it is most likely the frogs not being all the way over and getting the rewiring done should help with the problem. Notching the tracks a little should also help with the problem.

It seems logical to me that Gimme30 was right about the front and rear trucks being able to swing sideways too easily could contribute too. As I said, I don't really care for how loosely they are mounted on the model. I haven't looked to closely at them yet, but it seems like they connect to the frame so far back to allow for the swing on curves that they might be almost useless for the model. If i still have the problem after the other two fixes, I might try taking them off to see if it helps me. I don't think I would leave them off, but I might try to rig something hidden to keep them more in line with the frame. I know that reduces the ability to go through curves though, so I might just have to accept it as just the way that loco is.

I am using a mixture of different turnouts. I use the #6 turnouts for the siding and for the cross-over between the middle and out loop. I use #4s to break into a yard and reform. I have two double cross-over tracks from Kato that I use for changing between the inner and middle loops. I don't know if they are based on #4 or #6 turnouts but they are pretty small angles to get the change in that short an area. I have read that they are using #6 angles but #4 spacing so the output tracks are the right distance apart, if that makes sense.
 

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Thanks, I should have thought of both checking old posts (I remember that about 50% of the time) and your hint about notching the rails. I read that but since I wasn't using the Atlas switches it did not jump to my mind. It makes sense to me that if you do that for every turnout, Kato should not be an exception to that rule.

And I had thought about checking the gauge of the tracks and turnout. I had not considered that the wheels also might need to be checked for that. I am ordering a gauge tool so I can do that. I had been considering it, but Kato track had a good reputation and I wasn't experiencing problems before that made me think it should be a high priority. This does move it up.

I also realized since I made the post that I had one point I missed that leads me more towards it being the current turnouts. When I had the original two ovals set up, we did have the two turnouts for a siding on each oval (I forgot that we had them in the original post), but we used the switches from Kato to electrically move the points. The GG1 went through all of those turnouts without a problem. That also says to me that it is most likely the frogs not being all the way over and getting the rewiring done should help with the problem. Notching the tracks a little should also help with the problem.

It seems logical to me that Gimme30 was right about the front and rear trucks being able to swing sideways too easily could contribute too. As I said, I don't really care for how loosely they are mounted on the model. I haven't looked to closely at them yet, but it seems like they connect to the frame so far back to allow for the swing on curves that they might be almost useless for the model. If i still have the problem after the other two fixes, I might try taking them off to see if it helps me. I don't think I would leave them off, but I might try to rig something hidden to keep them more in line with the frame. I know that reduces the ability to go through curves though, so I might just have to accept it as just the way that loco is.

I am using a mixture of different turnouts. I use the #6 turnouts for the siding and for the cross-over between the middle and out loop. I use #4s to break into a yard and reform. I have two double cross-over tracks from Kato that I use for changing between the inner and middle loops. I don't know if they are based on #4 or #6 turnouts but they are pretty small angles to get the change in that short an area. I have read that they are using #6 angles but #4 spacing so the output tracks are the right distance apart, if that makes sense.
Steve;

I don't use Kato turnouts myself, since I'm not a Unitrack guy. It's possible that they have some oddball problem with their manual operation vs. electrical, I don't know.
The closest I've ever heard to that scenario was a comment from a dissatisfied Bachmann EZ-Track turnout owner, who was actually experiencing the opposite behavior.
He found that throwing the points electrically did not always move them all the way over reliably. He said he had to throw them manually, with a certain amount of "gusto", in order for them to go all the way, and that sometimes they "bounced." This may tie in with CTValley's theory that the lack of a spring, or constant pressure from a switch motor, might let the points slip out away from the stock rail a bit. As with Kato, I have no personal experience with Bachmann turnouts either, so this is just speculation on my part.

One thing I do know from personal experience with some Kato locomotives, and many of their passenger cars, is that the wheels are too tight to fit in the NMRA gauge's "wheels" slots. I have had to pull wheelsets out of the trucks, and adjust the wheels a little wider by twisting them in opposite directions while pulling them outward.

If you use your NMRA gauge to set the wheels and check the track, things should improve. The gauge comes with a direction sheet, and it has many things to check on turnouts. I recommend checking them all, and fixing all you can. Kato turnouts are a little different than other brands, and all the adjustments may not apply.

Pulling the front truck off the GG-1 was strictly a temporary test, the loco would look pretty ridiculous that way. I tried adding weight, and spring tension, to my GG-1's pilot truck, with no success whatever. I didn't try to limit the truck's swing, but you shouldn't have to. My Kato GG-1 can navigate through my scratchbuilt, Peco, and Micro Engineering, turnouts with all it's wheels on the track. The wheels, and turnouts, are properly gauged. Other than that, you shouldn't have to do anything else.

Although my file is aimed primarily at improving Atlas turnouts, the too wide, and too deep, flangeways problem exists on most other brands of commercial turnouts too.
Micro Engineering is one exception, It's flangeways are slightly too narrow, rather than too wide. I widened them a tiny bit to match the gauge. I installed flangeways shims on my Peco Unifrog turnouts as well. While Pecos are famous for their reliability, mine are in a hidden staging yard, and I want all the reliability back there that I can possibly get.

While it's a common practice among modelers to put smaller frog # turnouts in their yards, than on the mainline, I disagree with this idea. The yard is where trains back up with the locomotive is pushing a string of cars, rather than pulling them. Pushing cars is a lot harder than pulling, when it comes to keeping the wheels on the track. I recommend using at least # 6 turnouts in a yard, and keeping the yard ladder as simple and with as few curves, as possible.

Good Luck ;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Thanks, I should have thought of both checking old posts (I remember that about 50% of the time) and your hint about notching the rails. I read that but since I wasn't using the Atlas switches it did not jump to my mind. It makes sense to me that if you do that for every turnout, Kato should not be an exception to that rule.

And I had thought about checking the gauge of the tracks and turnout. I had not considered that the wheels also might need to be checked for that. I am ordering a gauge tool so I can do that. I had been considering it, but Kato track had a good reputation and I wasn't experiencing problems before that made me think it should be a high priority. This does move it up.

I also realized since I made the post that I had one point I missed that leads me more towards it being the current turnouts. When I had the original two ovals set up, we did have the two turnouts for a siding on each oval (I forgot that we had them in the original post), but we used the switches from Kato to electrically move the points. The GG1 went through all of those turnouts without a problem. That also says to me that it is most likely the frogs not being all the way over and getting the rewiring done should help with the problem. Notching the tracks a little should also help with the problem.

It seems logical to me that Gimme30 was right about the front and rear trucks being able to swing sideways too easily could contribute too. As I said, I don't really care for how loosely they are mounted on the model. I haven't looked to closely at them yet, but it seems like they connect to the frame so far back to allow for the swing on curves that they might be almost useless for the model. If i still have the problem after the other two fixes, I might try taking them off to see if it helps me. I don't think I would leave them off, but I might try to rig something hidden to keep them more in line with the frame. I know that reduces the ability to go through curves though, so I might just have to accept it as just the way that loco is.

I am using a mixture of different turnouts. I use the #6 turnouts for the siding and for the cross-over between the middle and out loop. I use #4s to break into a yard and reform. I have two double cross-over tracks from Kato that I use for changing between the inner and middle loops. I don't know if they are based on #4 or #6 turnouts but they are pretty small angles to get the change in that short an area. I have read that they are using #6 angles but #4 spacing so the output tracks are the right distance apart, if that makes sense.
Steve;

I just read a post from Wooky_Choo_Bacca about derailments he was having on his Kato crossover turnouts. He filed the slot in the stock rail for the point rail to fit into, and the derailments went away. That should be encouraging for you. If you want to read his post it's at the end of his "Let the transformation begin" here in the N-scale forum.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Thanks TF, So far the notch seems to be working, outside rails only. I ran it for over an hour stitching back and forth between the two crossovers and not even a hop Though when putting them back in I missed one connector, cars were dropping over that joint, been corrected
 

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One thing about minimum radius. It means "our engineers were able to coax the model through curve of this radius" not "it will run smoothly through them pulling anything you care to couple to it." Worth remembering.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update on this problem and the results. My son used his dremel to try to notch the rail so the points would set in it. When he finished doing that, every time the points were thrown, the track would get a short and shutdown. I don't think he did it correctly somehow.

But as we looked and were trying to diagnose it, he noticed that this one turnout was sitting on a small bump in the mat we used for grass. We were planning on gluing the mat down today anyway, so we spent some time removing the layout and putting glue under the mat, with a lot of weights to hold it down. This worked beautifully until the glue dried and he saw that it had not spread out but had laid in beads. Now we had lots of bumps in the track.

We have decided to solve this problem by removing the mat altogether and doing a little more work for it. We will get another sheet of foam so that the top surface is smooth again (I do not expect the top to stay smooth as he pulls the mat off of it). We will lay the track on the foam directly, and he will flock the mat around the track. He has done this before for some dioramas he has built and claims to know what he is doing. I think this will work for two reasons - one is I trust his artwork which is also why he is in charge of scenery and I am in charge of layout design and financing; and the second is because we built a small layout on a piece of drywall while we were waiting for the glue to dry and all of the trains would work on it with no problems. I also bought some self-stick 1/4 ounce weights that I can put into each of my passenger cars and some of the longer boxcars that were having the problem derailing.

If there is a change either way, I will let you all know.

Steve
 

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Using a Dremel to notch the track is kind of like using a 30 pound sledge to drive a nail... He likely removed way too much material with the Dremel. A couple of passes with a needle file would have sufficed.

In the meantime -- yes, you'll want to make sure everything is nice and flat under your track. If you're going to lay the grass mat, spray adhesive is a good, if expensive option. Otherwise, work in smaller sections and spread your adhesive carefully. Those fake credit cards you get in the mail work really well as disposable spreaders. Also, get a wallpaper roller at the hardware store and use that after application to really smooth things down.
 
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Update on this problem and the results. My son used his dremel to try to notch the rail so the points would set in it. When he finished doing that, every time the points were thrown, the track would get a short and shutdown. I don't think he did it correctly somehow.

But as we looked and were trying to diagnose it, he noticed that this one turnout was sitting on a small bump in the mat we used for grass. We were planning on gluing the mat down today anyway, so we spent some time removing the layout and putting glue under the mat, with a lot of weights to hold it down. This worked beautifully until the glue dried and he saw that it had not spread out but had laid in beads. Now we had lots of bumps in the track.

We have decided to solve this problem by removing the mat altogether and doing a little more work for it. We will get another sheet of foam so that the top surface is smooth again (I do not expect the top to stay smooth as he pulls the mat off of it). We will lay the track on the foam directly, and he will flock the mat around the track. He has done this before for some dioramas he has built and claims to know what he is doing. I think this will work for two reasons - one is I trust his artwork which is also why he is in charge of scenery and I am in charge of layout design and financing; and the second is because we built a small layout on a piece of drywall while we were waiting for the glue to dry and all of the trains would work on it with no problems. I also bought some self-stick 1/4 ounce weights that I can put into each of my passenger cars and some of the longer boxcars that were having the problem derailing.

If there is a change either way, I will let you all know.

Steve
Steve & son;

I haven't used a "grass mat" since "grass paper" was popular a bunch of years back. No, I don't mean the kind used to roll marihuana into doobies! o_O
I'm referring to the iridescent, garish green, stuff with dyed sawdust semi-glued to it. Thankfully, this product from Life Like, (which it was anything but) is no longer with us. The point behind all this preamble down my old geezer's very long memory lane is that model railroad grass comes in other forms than mats, either the new and hopefully much-improved, current type, or the older, seriously-in-need-of-drastic-improvement, variety. Ground foam grass is easy to apply and goes onto the layout after the track is glued down. It therefore can't cause any bumps under your track. There is also "static grass" another semi-powder type material that can have it's individual "blades" of "grass" stood on end by generating static electricity over it, for a more realistic, vertical, appearance. So why use grass mats if they're causing you problems? Well, you have already figured that out, and decided to do something else. I don't know what kind of "flocking" you have in mind. The only flocking I know about, other than the type practiced by sheep, is the coating applied to some christmas trees to simulate snow. Hopefully that will work better. You might also consider ground foam. The scenery in the photo has a light sprinkling of Woodland Scenics ground foam applied over finely ground real dirt. It could use some more grass though.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I haven't used a "grass mat" since "grass paper" was popular a bunch of years back. No, I don't mean the kind used to roll marihuana into doobies! o_O
I'm referring to the iridescent, garish green, stuff with dyed sawdust semi-glued to it. Thankfully, this product from Life Like, (which it was anything but) is no longer with us. The point behind all this preamble down my old geezer's very long memory lane is that model railroad grass comes in other forms than mats, either the new and hopefully much-improved, current type, or the older, seriously-in-need-of-drastic-improvement, variety. Ground foam grass is easy to apply and goes onto the layout after the track is glued down. It therefore can't cause any bumps under your track. There is also "static grass" another semi-powder type material that can have it's individual "blades" of "grass" stood on end by generating static electricity over it, for a more realistic, vertical, appearance. So why use grass mats if they're causing you problems? Well, you have already figured that out, and decided to do something else. I don't know what kind of "flocking" you have in mind. The only flocking I know about, other than the type practiced by sheep, is the coating applied to some christmas trees to simulate snow. Hopefully that will work better. You might also consider ground foam. The scenery in the photo has a light sprinkling of Woodland Scenics ground foam applied over finely ground real dirt. It could use some more grass though.
Kind of funny, but when Chris first told me he would flock it, I had the same thought - that spray on snow for Christmas trees - and even in green I wasn't really interested. Being the lazy, non-artistic type, I thought the green paper mat would work. It looked good, and I might see using it for a quick temporary setup now, but I admit I was wrong about it being good for a permanent layout.

Yesterday, we went to one of the art supply stores and they called it flocking but it was Woodland Scenic ground cover powders in various colors (green, brown, white, etc.). Chris showed me how it is applied and I believe it will work now (if he does it, I could still screw it up).
 

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Kind of funny, but when Chris first told me he would flock it, I had the same thought - that spray on snow for Christmas trees - and even in green I wasn't really interested. Being the lazy, non-artistic type, I thought the green paper mat would work. It looked good, and I might see using it for a quick temporary setup now, but I admit I was wrong about it being good for a permanent layout.

Yesterday, we went to one of the art supply stores and they called it flocking but it was Woodland Scenic ground cover powders in various colors (green, brown, white, etc.). Chris showed me how it is applied and I believe it will work now (if he does it, I could still screw it up).
Steve;

From what I've read, the current grass mats are not "wrong" at all for a permanent layout. They can be laid, with even gluing, and pressed firmly down, as CTValley suggested, to cover a whole 4 x 8 layout. I did that with the godawful old stuff, back when that was all that was available, and I was a newbie & didn't know any better. One downside of this "everything is very green" approach is it tends to resemble a man-made, and meticulously maintained, golf course, more than it does natural scenery. I've seen photos of excellent grass effects using current-production grass mats cut into patches, and glued into a scene. I think that's a better way to use the product for realistic scenery.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #16
From what I've read, the current grass mats are not "wrong" at all for a permanent layout. They can be laid, with even gluing, and pressed firmly down, as CTValley suggested, to cover a whole 4 x 8 layout. I did that with the godawful old stuff, back when that was all that was available, and I was a newbie & didn't know any better. One downside of this "everything is very green" approach is it tends to resemble a man-made, and meticulously maintained, golf course, more than it does natural scenery. I've seen photos of excellent grass effects using current-production grass mats cut into patches, and glued into a scene. I think that's a better way to use the product for realistic scenery.
Sorry for the unclear communication. I was saying that I was wrong in thinking I could use the paper mat for my permanent layout. I agree that it can be made to work for others with more skill. Chris and I discussed what we should have done, which was to paint the glue on the foam and lay the mat out over it using something like a squeegee to get the air bubbles out as we did it (I never would have thought of @CTValleyRR's suggestion of a paint roller for that). I have done (a little) wall papering and that is how we should have thought of doing this. I had thought that we could get rid of air bubbles like we did with wallpaper, by slicing it with an Xacto knife and then squeezing the two sides down. With wall paper, I could usually leave the overlap but here we would have had to trip it or still have a bump. I decided to not get another mat to try that because it felt like we would end up pulling most of the "grass" off the mat.

You are right that when it was done, the whole mat looked more like a giant lawn than any real life grass. One advantage of the Woodland Scenics flocking is that Chris is going to get different shades of green for different areas, maybe mixing some brown in too. He did say he was thinking of darker brown for dirt roads and slightly larger pieces to resemble gravel for the parking lot in our park.

All of this is now a future plan and we need to see how far into the future. Chris wants to get the track all laid out and tacked down before he starts any of the landscaping. In a lot of ways, that makes sense to me but in some ways it concerns me too. I have to trust his judgment as this is his specialty, but I know I could never get the grass up the the track correctly without overflowing into grass in the track. And I do know how to mask off areas, I just know my skill level too.
 

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Back to the turnouts for a minute . . . . . in the pics you can see the differences in the point rails on the 2 different turnouts. The first one I believe is a #4, a single crossover that is two turnouts and the rails look to be thinner metal and have two pivot points and seem (to me anyway) to be a little flimsy. If yo look close you can just make out the notch I filed in the outer rail, this is a single crossover that is two turnouts in one unit. The other pic is of a #6 and the point rail seems more robust with a single pivot point

555493


555494


Now back to your regularly scheduled programming 😁
 

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Back to the turnouts for a minute . . . . . in the pics you can see the differences in the point rails on the 2 different turnouts. The first one I believe is a #4, a single crossover that is two turnouts and the rails look to be thinner metal and have two pivot points and seem (to me anyway) to be a little flimsy. If yo look close you can just make out the notch I filed in the outer rail, this is a single crossover that is two turnouts in one unit. The other pic is of a #6 and the point rail seems more robust with a single pivot point

View attachment 555493

View attachment 555494

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming 😁
WCB;

Thanks for the photos of Kato turnouts. Yes, I see the difference between the two types. It looks like the one in the top photo has a plastic frog? The photo cuts off most of the frog, so I can't be sure. The bottom photo shows the all-metal frog on that turnout. I also see the notch you filed. Good work. Was it difficult to do? I would file notches on both rails of all the turnouts just to decrease any possibility of a wheel "picking the points." But I tend to lean more toward make it as reliable as possible. It's a little strange that Kato is about the only manufacturer who doesn't have notches for both rails in every turnout they make.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Sorry for the unclear communication. I was saying that I was wrong in thinking I could use the paper mat for my permanent layout. I agree that it can be made to work for others with more skill. Chris and I discussed what we should have done, which was to paint the glue on the foam and lay the mat out over it using something like a squeegee to get the air bubbles out as we did it (I never would have thought of @CTValleyRR's suggestion of a paint roller for that). I have done (a little) wall papering and that is how we should have thought of doing this. I had thought that we could get rid of air bubbles like we did with wallpaper, by slicing it with an Xacto knife and then squeezing the two sides down. With wall paper, I could usually leave the overlap but here we would have had to trip it or still have a bump. I decided to not get another mat to try that because it felt like we would end up pulling most of the "grass" off the mat.

You are right that when it was done, the whole mat looked more like a giant lawn than any real life grass. One advantage of the Woodland Scenics flocking is that Chris is going to get different shades of green for different areas, maybe mixing some brown in too. He did say he was thinking of darker brown for dirt roads and slightly larger pieces to resemble gravel for the parking lot in our park.

All of this is now a future plan and we need to see how far into the future. Chris wants to get the track all laid out and tacked down before he starts any of the landscaping. In a lot of ways, that makes sense to me but in some ways it concerns me too. I have to trust his judgment as this is his specialty, but I know I could never get the grass up the the track correctly without overflowing into grass in the track. And I do know how to mask off areas, I just know my skill level too.
Steve & Chris;

Yes, normal sequence is to lay track and paint the track, before adding dirt and grass, also ballast, unless you're using roadbed track like Kato, or Bachmann. Masking the track before doing scenery is a good idea, and commonly done. Gravel roads, or parking lots, can be made with fine ground ballast, glued down juts like dirt or grass.

Keep Having Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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WCB;

Thanks for the photos of Kato turnouts. Yes, I see the difference between the two types. It looks like the one in the top photo has a plastic frog? The photo cuts off most of the frog, so I can't be sure. The bottom photo shows the all-metal frog on that turnout. I also see the notch you filed. Good work. Was it difficult to do? I would file notches on both rails of all the turnouts just to decrease any possibility of a wheel "picking the points." But I tend to lean more toward make it as reliable as possible. It's a little strange that Kato is about the only manufacturer who doesn't have notches for both rails in every turnout they make.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
Here is another pic of the crossover, it has a metal frog too. On the bottom side you have the options of power routing or not and frog powered or not. The notch was fairly easy to do, make a mark with a sharpie on the rail where the point sits, carefully slide the rail out enough to get a small flat file in. I started the notch with the file edge and then laid it flat against to taper the notch, go slow and test check, file more if needed. BE CAREFULL sliding the rail back into place making sure the rail catches under the hold downs and don't bend it. I think you'd only have to do the outside rails

555507
 
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