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Kato Track - Opinions & Views


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Hi All,

 

I have been researching Track and looking at all the various manufacturers, I have had a look at Kato and like the look of it, but the height and false ballast put me off. How does everyone else view this? Pros and Cons between this and standard Peco/Hornby track.

 

Thanks again from a green newbie...

 

Matt

Edited by Tynecastle TMD
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I have a bunch of Kato N gauge unitrack.  It's  not that realistic- but neither are any of the alternatives.  There are several systems that are like it (or it is like), probably the best direct one is Bachmann EZ track.    If you are stuck with a layout that has to be taken apart, I think it is a good option.  I would investigate in OO Bachmann EZ track, as the range in HO/OO of Kato is more limited.   https://shop.bachmanntrains.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=258_366_367&sort=20a&page=1&zenid=kpoqjc4a383sv2pgsog17mupl5 

(in N, I think Kato wins hands down...but moving up to 16.5mm gauge, I suspect Bachmann would be a better choice)

 

James

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Kato Unitrack in N wins hands down, nothing comes close from their  competitors, for the diverse range of components something like seven  radii, unique features such  canted track complete with transitions, and  with their pier system  you can construct high-level loops as easily as baseboard level track. There are adaptor tracks,  designed to connect Unitrack to non-Unitrack, and weathering etc can compensate for appearance  but as peach james posted, no track system has any merit for looks.

Unitrack layout design is so versatile it is addictive, a branch of the hobby in itself. Unitrack is very well made and durable, some say it is expensive, but take into account the high quality, durabilty and  ease of  Unitrack such criticism folds.

Edited by Pandora
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The Kato N Gauge track can be disguised and weathered to create quite an acceptable appearance, so by no means is it a lost cause on that score.

 

A For the performance compared to Peco/Farish track - it is a world apart. I had some Peco/Farish stuff and after three or four months of assembly/reassembly (something that I admit it probably wasn’t designed for, but it is a train set after all) the connectors between track segments were so knackered that every single piece of track needed attention.

 

Ive now had the Kato Unitrack starter set for nigh of five years and it has worked utterly faultlessly throughout that time, despite being used in the same way as the Peco/Farish track. Can not recommend it highly enough 

 

EDIT - I even wrote a review I was so impressed - link below in case it might be useful

 

 

Edited by Edge
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I don't know much about Kato, but I've had a bit of a play with Trix track - which is much the same idea - and been very impressed by it. If you're going to be rearranging your layout frequently then the moulded roadbed gives a load of extra robustness, and the Trix system at least is very cleverly designed so that you can get a lot more formations than you might expect from sectional track. It can be made to look pretty good with a bit of effort, too (according to the internet).

 

Though saying that, I probably wouldn't use it for a permanent layout, it's easier to get better appearance with streamline, and I don't think you can get flexible track with a moulded roadbed.

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Ian has done a nice scenic job with it on his Swiss layout in N on here

 

Model Railroader have also used it for a fully scenic project layout too so it can be made to blend in well

https://mrr.trains.com/how-to/get-started/2017/05/the-salt-lake-route-part-1-the-inspiration-for-a-small-layout


Kato even sell ballast to match to blend it in on a scenic layout. 
F0656FF3-D99C-4662-AB67-4D8BF81A18D8.jpeg.810379bea87895cc821770d6e1c432f6.jpeg

 

I’ve got the N and HO versions plus Tilligs 12mm gauge clone of it and it’s a great test track and I use it for 3D layout planning as I can actually test it with stock before committing to a plan. 

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What about the European track systems  like Roco and Trix  or Fleischmann etc .I have the Geoline as a test track  circle and kids put up and take down and it works fine ?.i know that system has been stopped but others have taken over.

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56 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

Ian has done a nice scenic job with it on his Swiss layout in N on here

 

Model Railroader have also used it for a fully scenic project layout too so it can be made to blend in well

https://mrr.trains.com/how-to/get-started/2017/05/the-salt-lake-route-part-1-the-inspiration-for-a-small-layout


Kato even sell ballast to match to blend it in on a scenic layout. 
F0656FF3-D99C-4662-AB67-4D8BF81A18D8.jpeg.810379bea87895cc821770d6e1c432f6.jpeg

 

I’ve got the N and HO versions plus Tilligs 12mm gauge clone of it and it’s a great test track and I use it for 3D layout planning as I can actually test it with stock before committing to a plan. 


Hi Matt and welcome!

 

I’d definitely recommend Kato’s Unitrack for N scale. 
 

What scale are you planning and are you looking at a permanent set up or something you can put out and put away again?

 

I’ve seen relatively few H0 or 00 scale Unitrack layouts but it looks to have similar benefits to the N scale version. I love Phil’s outdoor test track above!


One of the main advantages for me is the integrated point motors built into the plastic ballast/roadbed and the fact that their electrical components are ‘plug and play’. It means you don’t have to do any soldering unless you’re up for that. 
 

The other aspect that others have highlighted is that it has a satisfying LEGO-like quality when it comes to fitting it together. 
 

Downsides are:
1. it doesn’t look particularly like British track if that’s what you’re modelling

2. it’s relatively expensive 

 

Hope this helps. Good luck with your plans!

 

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The OO cork underlay strips that are available with a chamfered edge  turned upside down neatly butt against the Kato N track to disguise the height. WIth the track suitably painted it completely IMO loses its toy like look.

 

The expanding rail section is great for baseboard joints.

 

There can be issues with the N gauge No.4 points with some locos where the pick up wiper is low on the back of the wheel and the wheel / wiper gets jammed between the running rail and a check rail - a swipe or two with a file on the check rail overcomes the problem.

 

The one missing point from the N gauge range is a 3 way - I have tried a Tomix 3 way which with the rail joiners swopped fits in okay with slight packing underneath but I found it unreliable point motor wise.

 

The track (OO and N) is also good for forming a temporary test track on the floor for running locos in if you do not have a continuous run layout - I form an oval and run locos for a quarter of the running in time round the oval, reverse them for another quarter and then turn the loco round and repeat so that all the pick ups get a basic testing while the motor gets run in.

Edited by Butler Henderson
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I have used Kato n gauge track for a fiddle yard. It works but the joints can be temperamental and are not always smooth. The points also don't always hold in place as the trains go over them. From an aesthetic viewpoint I hate the look of it and have yet to see a layout that is convincing (to my eyes). 

despite all this, I would use the track again but only for a test track or fiddle yard.

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