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Unitrack or EZ Track?

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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, July 31, 2005 1:37 PM
I feel I should throw this at you since we've had a little more time to develop an opinion. The Unitrack turnouts seem to need a little tweaking to work correctly, especially going into the turnout in the open position. The outside rail of the throw doesn't match up with the outside rail completely on some of them. I's a very simple fix, but I would have hoped that they would have worked right out of the box for their cost.
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Posted by willpick on Saturday, July 30, 2005 5:52 PM
For what you want to do, a 3x6 space is more than adequate. I also will reccomend using Unitrack. It's the best track of it's type-- A quick way to start is to buy the K1 starter set, it has enough track to set up a 4' x2' loop. The only thing that bugs me about the Kato track system is the connectors for the track wiring and the switches. Kato uses a proprietary connector that has NO equivalent, generic clone. Thus, you are forced to do one of two things:
1) use Kato's electrical connector system(and pay for the [imo] overpriced items) or
2) cut off the connectors and use industry standard electrical items.

The Kato switch machine controller is a bulky object, that while it does work in an elegant fashion, is just too darn big(3" deep x 2" high x 3/4" wide) for most control panels, especially if you have a large number of switches.
All this said, I LOVE my Unitrack--- I dont think i'll be using my Atlas track much, even though I found out that the Atlas rail and Kato rail are very close clones, which means that I can mate Atlas & Kato without needing a conversion piece. Well, i'll stop for now, Hope this helps you and anybody else!

A Day Without Trains is a Day Wasted

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Posted by skiloff on Saturday, July 30, 2005 11:42 AM
Agreed. Its hard to swallow when buying a bunch of expensive turnouts, but the payoff is huge when you don't have all the hassles. I'll be heading to the big city to take a look around the hobby shop in just over a week so I'll talk to them, too. I'm thinking I might try and talk my wife into taking over a 3 x 6 corner in the basement where we have stuff stored right now and actually building a fairly permanent setup, so I might even look at the Peco and ballasting the track, but I want my son to be able to do some of the work and the Unitrack just seems like the least number of hassles in setting up. Thanks for all your comments, they are much appreciated.
Kids are great for many reasons. Not the least of which is to buy toys "for them."
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, July 30, 2005 11:27 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by siberianmo

...The crossovers are #6, whereas the turnouts are #5 - just to set the record straight regarding different sizes in turnouts (switches as many call 'em)...

I was talking about N scale EZ track, which only offers one type of turnouts.
Skiloff is planning his layout in N, I thought.

I was lucky enough not to get too far on my layout with EZ track, so I made the tough choice to rip the track up and to sell it. Over $400 worth of track & TO's.
This decision wasn't easy, but better now then never..
I rather take my time with my second go at a layout and use Peco 55. The
quality of the TO's is incredible, compared to Bachmanns. They cost twice as much, but that will be money well spend.
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Posted by TrainFreak409 on Friday, July 29, 2005 8:13 PM
I would avoid using N scale E-Z Track for a layout. I have this myself, and it works for on the floor, but it takes forever to set up, and its quality isn't the best.

Scott - Dispatcher, Norfolk Southern

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Posted by siberianmo on Friday, July 29, 2005 3:56 PM
A bit of info regarding Bachmann's EZ track. My HO layout has over 500 sections of this track along with dozens of turnouts and four crossovers (not cross tracks). The crossovers are #6, whereas the turnouts are #5 - just to set the record straight regarding different sizes in turnouts (switches as many call 'em).

My layout is rather large and is commonrail wired with insulated rail joiners and a bunch of toggle switches to control power to sidings and blocks. Works well for me, as I run four trains using two dual MRC's packs. Why Bachmann? Cost. It was that simple a matter.

Now, looking back to the days when I constructed this large layout - nearly 2 years ago, I can say I would have been better off with Kato. Why, quality shows every time. Bachmann's track has given me so many periods of downtime with trying to isolate dead spots generally due to the flimsy nature of their rail joiners, and absolutely awful customer service (disservice). That nonsense of asking the Bach Man will drive a sober man to drink! [tdn]

The turnouts do require some filing, all depending on what kind of equipment you run. I'm primarily passenger - 85' cars - and lots of diesels, F40PH and AMD103's. The crossovers are wired for DCC, therefore it takes a neo-electrical engineer to figure out how to undo that in order to operate them the old fashioned way AND to get one contoller to throw both tracks. I did it - but it was difficult and still causes me grief.

So, to sum it up - shudda, wudda, cudda in consideration - I'd go with Kato next time around.

Hope this helps you! [tup]
Happy Railroading! Siberianmo
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Posted by skiloff on Friday, July 29, 2005 12:47 PM
Thanks, Kyle. That has sort of been my biggest concern. If the turnouts are unreliable, the entire enjoyment is gone. I don't mind paying top dollar for a quality turnout because they are a key component in the layout. I guess I'll be buying some Unitrack next week.
Kids are great for many reasons. Not the least of which is to buy toys "for them."
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 29, 2005 10:49 AM
I would not get the Bachmann EZ track, even if it's for a kid. The turnouts are of low
quality and usualy require filing of the points, or you'll have problems with derailments.
Even more frustrating to a child the an adult, I reckon..
There's also only one size of turnouts with a tight radius available, which doesn't let
you fit a lot of track on a layout.
The track is ok, but what does that matter when the TO's aren't?
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Posted by skiloff on Friday, July 29, 2005 9:04 AM
Thanks for all your comments.

Dan, he is most definitely motivated. He tells me about 8 times a day how much he wants a train set for his birthday (he has a lot of the Thomas stuff, but he wants something like he sees at the train shows). As for his dexterity, I think either his mom or I will be around to help him out, but he is pretty good with his dexterity. He was assessed a couple years ago for speech delay and one thing they commented on was how advanced his dexterity was. His speech is good now, too. Funny how you spend several years trying to get them to talk and then they don't shut up!

I'm also concerned about N scale and how persnickety it can be, but I was hoping that the Unitrack and high quality cars and engines would take care of most of that. I just can't see where I could find room to have a satisfactory HO scale layout. He would get tired of a basic oval or figure 8 very quickly, but I can fit a lot of N scale track on a 3' x 6' table.
Kids are great for many reasons. Not the least of which is to buy toys "for them."
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, July 28, 2005 9:48 PM
I'll throw my two cents worth in, since I have the Kato Unitrack WGH plan set. It is roughly a 4' x 8' HO set. ALthough it is HO, and not N scale, I think the N scale would be pretty much the same. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. The HO scale Unitrack turnouts can be made for power routing (DC), or non power routing (DCC), by only moving a small pair of screws underneath. If you ever decide to upgrade to DCC later on....when he gets hooked...and he will, conversion will be fairly easy. So far, I'm very impressed with the Kato quality. Having said that, I need to tell you this: I have been out of the hobby for several years, and am a newcommer to DCC, which is what my layout will be. All I have done is assemble a small bit of track on a table and run some trains on it in DCC. So far, I am very happy. Even though the track is pre ballasted, I still like it. You're right. It is a bit more expensive. If the N scale is the same quality as the HO, I would say it is well worth the extra cost.
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Posted by AltonFan on Thursday, July 28, 2005 9:04 PM
I've used N scale Kato Unitrack for a temporary layout I had for a couple of years. The Unitrack system is good, and usually works well, but it requires a bit more dexterity than a typical six-year-old can muster. It is all too easy to slide a rail into the plastic joiner, but not into the bronze sleeve inside that joiner, resulting in a kink in the track.

I've found that Kato's track geometry requires the use of one or more of the expandible sections.

Finally, Kato turnouts must lie absolutely flat. I had a turnout that was located in a slight warp in the old door I was using for a table, and I had frequent problems with derailments and stalling.

All Kato turnouts contain a switch machine and come with a controller and some wiring. I used the turnouts manually, and never bothered powering them. I don't remember if there was a plug-in connector. And the turnouts are sprung like Peco, so the points remain in firmly in place. IIRC, the turnouts are power routing

There was only one locomotive I had that didn't work well with the Unitrack, and that was the Bachmann 4-4-0, which always snagged on the turnouts. (And I was never able to figure out what was catching on the turnout.) My Con-Cor PA-1s were a little cramped on the 13.5" curves, but my Life-Like SD-7s and other six axle power worked well, and even the Bachmann 4-8-4 operated satisfactorily.

In general, I do like the Unitrack for a temporary layout, and I got a lot of enjoyment from using it during a period when I could not have a permanent layout. But I tend to think that a six-year-old may be still a bit young to use it on his own. And to be perfectly honest, I tend to think N scale is not suitable for six-year-olds - it is just too small, fragile, persnickety, and expensive. (In fact, N scale is just too small, fragile, persnickety, and expensive for some adults.)

OTOH, a motivated youngster with proper guidance might still make a go of it. I hope this information is helpful.

Dan

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Posted by mechanic on Thursday, July 28, 2005 7:37 PM
I can answer only some of your questions because I have never used unitrack,
but I have used EZ track.
My 10 year old daughter wanted her own layout in her room.
I have a HO layout in the attic but she wanted her own that was more available
to her, so we went with a N scale Bachmann "Highballer" set with EZ track.
I'm not sure about your sons coordination or dexterity level, but there is NO WAY my daughter could possibly snap the N scale EZ track sections together by herself.
It goes together with alot of difficulty.
As for turnouts, the Bachmann units come pre wired.You just have to plug the connectors into the switch and the other wires go to the power pac terminals.
The Bachmann turnouts in N scale leave alot to be desired however.
Every time my daughter tries to back thru a turnout her locomotive derails.
Thats very discouraging.
I can't imagine how the Unitrack would not be the better choice.
Thats what I would do if we had it to do over.
HTH
Eric
"Friends don't let friends use Bachmann E-Z track switches"
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  • From: Saskatchewan
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Unitrack or EZ Track?
Posted by skiloff on Thursday, July 28, 2005 4:42 PM
My wife and I have decided to buy my son some track and a train for his birthday (he will be six, but he's been around my stuff since he was three and is quite good with them). I want to get Unitrack or EZ Track, so he can set up and pull apart again, and still be able to build a permanent layout in the future together. We'll be getting N scale, though, because of our limited space and all I remember from my youth working with N scale is the problems I had with derailments. I don't want him to have that frustration, so one of these two types seems like the best fit.

Anyway, I'm wondering which, if either, is better. My guess is the Kato is, but not having any experience with it, I thought I'd ask it here. I know its expensive, but if I get reliable operation, it will be worth every penny to me.

I was also wondering about the turnouts. Do they come prewired with remote switching ability, or do you need to add a switch machine to them? Do you need any special wiring to use the turnouts? Thanks in advance for your help.
Kids are great for many reasons. Not the least of which is to buy toys "for them."

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