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Creating My Own Kato Unitrack Style Prefabricated Track

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  • Member since
    March 2020
  • 250 posts
Creating My Own Kato Unitrack Style Prefabricated Track
Posted by Engi1487 on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 3:56 PM

I dont have a dedicated space nor table to put my Kato Unitrack to run my trains, so for now I run trains on Kato unitrack on a clean floor when I get the chance.

The largest Kato Unitrack curve pieces I have to create two half circles for a loop are the 31 1/2" pieces and the 34 1/2" pieces that are used for the Unitrack switches & turnouts, and smaller in length in size you need like 34 or 36 pieces to create a full circle. 

 I then went online shopping saw these track alignment gauges by RibbonRail for 36", 32" and 42" curves. I wonder why I didnt see any for 38" or 40". However this gave me an idea, as to why not create my own refabricated track in the style of Kato's Unitrack? I do like bigger curves and this could be a way to make my own.

There are a few problems. I would like to somehow make this homemade prefab track attach into Kato straight sections. However there are two small knotchs in either end for Katos specific rail joiners so I am not sure how I'm gonna dig into balast to do that.

 Also, what about creating a mold for the prefabrciated ballast? Also, because Kato Unitracks track ties are molded inside the ballast evenly leveled. I am not sure of how to get track into that depth level into the ballast. I would have to measure carefully the hight so it matches up with Kato Unitrack. I would use code 83 track.

 Has anyone attempted creating their own refab track?

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,179 posts
Posted by wjstix on Thursday, April 29, 2021 11:06 AM

Engi1487
Also, because Kato Unitracks track ties are molded inside the ballast evenly leveled. I am not sure of how to get track into that depth level into the ballast. I would have to measure carefully the hight so it matches up with Kato Unitrack. I would use code 83 track.

The RibbonRail is just the roadbed, like using cork roadbed. It's just gray Upsom board, it's not meant to represent ballast. You would lay track on it like code 83 flextrack, and then add ballast between the ties and on the side. You wouldn't be sinking the track into the roadbed.

I used RibbonRail on my previous layout, I believe the curve pieces go from like 15" radius up to 48" radius. Not sure if they make the curved track gauges for every one of those or not, but they do make them in many sizes I believe. BTW if you do use RibbonRail be sure to paint it with a non-water based paint to seal it in. The Upsom board is sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity otherwise, and can cause kinks in the track laid on it.

Unitrack works great on a temporary set-up like you have, the track 'clicks' together to make a firm electrical connection that you don't have with regular track. My current layout for a long time was a shelf-layout, so I would set up a temporary oval of Unitrack on the floor to do break-in or test runs on engines.

Stix
  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 6,202 posts
Posted by rrebell on Saturday, May 1, 2021 9:18 AM

wjstix

 

 
Engi1487
Also, because Kato Unitracks track ties are molded inside the ballast evenly leveled. I am not sure of how to get track into that depth level into the ballast. I would have to measure carefully the hight so it matches up with Kato Unitrack. I would use code 83 track.

 

The RibbonRail is just the roadbed, like using cork roadbed. It's just gray Upsom board, it's not meant to represent ballast. You would lay track on it like code 83 flextrack, and then add ballast between the ties and on the side. You wouldn't be sinking the track into the roadbed.

I used RibbonRail on my previous layout, I believe the curve pieces go from like 15" radius up to 48" radius. Not sure if they make the curved track gauges for every one of those or not, but they do make them in many sizes I believe. BTW if you do use RibbonRail be sure to paint it with a non-water based paint to seal it in. The Upsom board is sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity otherwise, and can cause kinks in the track laid on it.

Unitrack works great on a temporary set-up like you have, the track 'clicks' together to make a firm electrical connection that you don't have with regular track. My current layout for a long time was a shelf-layout, so I would set up a temporary oval of Unitrack on the floor to do break-in or test runs on engines.

 

Ribbon rail are track gauges. Also they make a 38 and a 40.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,179 posts
Posted by wjstix on Monday, May 3, 2021 4:40 PM

RibbonRail is a line of upsom board pre-curved and straight roadbed pieces. The line has changed owners a time or two, when I used them in the 1980's they were made by Earl Eshelmann (spelling?). The curved track gauges are made to the same radii as their roadbed so that you can bend flextrack to match the roadbed. 

It may be the roadbed line has recently been discontinued or is out of stock, or has been cut back (when I used it, it was available at all radii from 15" to 48" for HO) but I think it's still being made.

https://www.trainmastermodels.com/searchresults.asp?searching=Y&sort=13&brand=Ribbonrail&search=ribbonrail%20roadbed&show=180&page=1

 

Stix

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