How/Why I Chose Kato Unitrack

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by atsf_arizona, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona Member

    Mar 27, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Hi, all,

    I was trying to post supplemental contribution to the other thread on 'what track to use?'

    Somehow I mistakenly started a new thread and can't delete this post!

    So, I'll let it stay here as a contribution.

    If you see some things here that sound interesting, you can
    find more information at my Community Webshots home page:



    How/Why I chose Kato Unitrack
    Experiments in Painting Kato Unitrack for Improved Appearance


    The bottom lines are:


    1) Wanted robust reliability and ease of use.

    This is my first layout as an adult;
    I have limited time due to career and family
    and I wanted to do the track once and be done with it.
    Unitrack has delivered bullet proof reliability.

    Also, prior to April 2003, I had very limited
    space, and needed the ease of setup/breakdown that Kato
    Unitrack offered. (sort of Japanese-style requirements,
    which is why Kato engineered their track the way they did).

    I have needed to tune the #4 turnouts
    (which I have on my mainline), by judicious filing and
    sharpening of the points ,and making an indentation
    in the adjoining rail for the points to sit into.
    With those quick, easy, and pleasant modifications,
    my #4 turnouts no longer give me any problems at all.


    2) My layout has grown organically.

    I didn't start out with some grand plan to
    make very realistic Unitrack, I just
    wanted to enjoy my trains, with an emphasis
    on scenery and one-train-per-scene style.

    I came up with the track plan I have
    by buying Unitrack pieces slowly and piecing it together
    over time. It was great to be able
    to know exactly what would/wouldn't fit on my
    desired 4'x4' space. Given that Unitrack has the
    28" and 19" curved sections, I created some easements
    which improve the appearance and flowability of the
    track noticeably. When I was satisfied I then started


    3) I really enjoy scenery and realistic appearances.

    My first digital photos of the stock Unitrack on the
    layout caused me to think, "Hmmm, not so great. Could
    it really look better if I painted it?" So I started to

    The results are below, and on my Community Webshots

    At some point, I intend to sculptamold my Unitrack and
    integrate it into the scenery, per my experiment blocks above. As you can
    see, I have used HO scale Woodland Scenics roadbed under the Unitrack,
    for sound deadening.



    But that will come at a later time when I'm ready to
    lock the track down for good. At that time, the sculptamold
    will hold the track down just fine. (for right now, my track is
    not glued down).

    Then, after that, if I get the mood to be even more
    realistic, I can ballast.

    In the end, if I ballast, I imagine the Kato Unitrack circle will have
    come complete, you wouldn't know if it was Unitrack or regular
    track underneath. But the journey (and the reliability)
    will have been worth it.


    4) As for what I used for painting

    I use PollyScale water-based Roof Brown with a little PollyScale
    Grimy black mixed in. On the Community Webshots page
    Volume I, I have described what I have done in more detail,
    go there and have a look in 'Vol 1: Kato Unitrack Painting".

    I have a text file that describes my steps in a little more detail, if
    there's interest I can repost that here.


    5) Price of Unitrack

    If I were to do it all over again in my specific circumstances,
    Kato Unitrack fit the bill and I'd use it again. The painted
    appearance fits my needs as 'good enough for now'.

    The initial price of Unitrack I agree is higher,
    but given the small size of my layout it was acceptable.

    There are many online hobby dealers that can give discounts on
    Kato Unitrack, in particular, those of us on the Yahoo Kato
    Unitrack group have found the best prices are generally at:

    And then go to 'N scale Products', and then go to 'Kato'.


    6) The future

    If I ever build a much larger (permanent) layout I will
    likely try Peco C55 and/or Atlas C55. Any way you cut it,
    those tracks would look better after they are all finished.

    At such time I would plan/allocate a significantly larger amount of
    time to getting the track running right.

    But for now, I am quite happy with the way the Kato Unitrack
    has turned out.

  2. n_gineer

    n_gineer New Member

    Jul 20, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the post, the pictures and the information. After seeing your pictures I know I made the right choice. I like things to be as realistic as possible but at the same time I'm not a rivit or tie counter. Your track looks great.

    I bought some Atlas code 55 to try and it is very nice track. However, I don't want to get into changing wheels and messing around with switch mechanisms etc. I'm mostly interested in running trains on a reliable track system with as little work as possible. I want to concentrate more on the rolling stock. I'm going to check out the Unitrack group at Yahoo too. Thanks again for your post.
  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Dec 28, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Welcome to the Gauge atsf_arizona
    It's good to see how unitrack can be used.
  4. Gavin Miller

    Gavin Miller Member

    Aug 4, 2002
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    Wow! For so-called "toy" train set track, you have certainly done a great job improving it's realism. I loved your choice of paint. I think painted rails look just so much more realistic and the effort is well worthwhile (as your photos show).

    It certainly IS very reliable and it is a "snap" (quite literally) to put together. I have a box full of it which my nephews pull out and assemble on the lounge room floor whenever they visit.

  5. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    May 23, 2003
    Likes Received:
    It sure looks better once it's painted! Nice work!