Kato Unitrack Wiring

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by stepchild, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. stepchild

    stepchild TrainBoard Member

    How do you wire unitrack?

    Do you use several peaces of their track that allows a connection?
  2. Tudor

    Tudor TrainBoard Member

    They have "feed wires". You purchase them separately. They are basically, the track connectors with a wire soldered to them. You use them in place of the regular track connectors.
  3. stepchild

    stepchild TrainBoard Member


    I not sure I understand. Do you have a link to them. Hopefully that would help.
  4. Hoochrunners

    Hoochrunners TrainBoard Member

  5. mavrick0

    mavrick0 TrainBoard Member

  6. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Glad you asked!

    I'm glad you asked. The answers to your question will benefit me. I can give you another alternative as I solder in my own wire drops. Soldering the wire directly to the track. I simply drill a hole through the plastic road bed and drop the wire lead down the hole.

    I do like Katos resolution by connecting directly to the rail joiner. I've done this while building several HO layouts, soldering a wire to the rail joiner. When I tried this with N scale I kept breaking the wire loose. The options provided here prove there's more then one way to get the job done.

    Have fun!
  7. stepchild

    stepchild TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for all the idea's on how to wire unitrack. I really appreciate it.

    One more question.

    Is there a book, site or anything that explains bus and feeder wiring? I think I understand just not sure. A diagram would really help.
  8. Zandoz

    Zandoz TrainBoard Member

    Kato has two "over the counter" methods...the 2-7/16" straight feeder tracks that come with a connection wire that plugs into the bottom of the track, and terminal joiners (Unijoiners with wires attached to the metal part of the joiner). The feeder tracks are the most positive and durable hookup. The terminal joiners have a bit of a negative rep...the wires tend to come loose with very little wiggling or pulling...but they are the only over the counter solution for feeding power on curves. The word on the street is that if you put them in carefully, do not play with them, and secure the wire so that there is no stress on the connection, they will work fine. To be safe, in areas where I have only the terminal joiners, I'm putting them in more frequently than areas where I have at least one feeder track.

    Also, some folks complain about the terminal joiners raising the track off the surface they are laying on. I suspect that this is more of a hard surface problem...like plywood. On foam, a little indention in the foam, hidden by the track, seems to be all that is necessary to avoid the problem.
  9. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    Here is the simple answer courtesy of N Scale Supply and Digitrax:
    "From the booster unit wiring is very simple to the track. Using at least 16AWG wire only two wires are needed. Run these two heavier gauge wires around the layout dropping feeder wires to the track every 6'-10'. These feeder wires can be smaller, such as 20AWG wire."

    And for a way to attach the feeder wires to the bus wire without soldering: http://www.posi-lock.com/posiplug.html

    And for a solderless way of attaching feeders to Unitrack using regular Unijoiners: http://joseph.bales.googlepages.com/unitrackfeedertutorial

  10. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    I used this method with great results and I used the Kato wired terminal joiners. Both were equally effective.

    The comment about "raising the track up" is correct. If you use foam it is easy to make indentions.
  11. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    Quite true, the solder joint can be easily broken. After you have used a few you will see how fragile the solder joint is. To minimize breakage, carefully insert the wire ends of the joiners first. It helps to slightly enlarge the notch in the track bed where the joiner seats, allowing additional room for the wire. The enlarged notch also helps the joiner to be inserted flat on the bottom of the rail, not at an angle. Then attach the bare (non-wire) ends of the joiners to the adjoining track. Again, be sure that the joiners fit over the rail properly and flat with the bottom surface of the rail.

  12. stepchild

    stepchild TrainBoard Member

    Hey thanks for the information. It has been very, very helpful. The pics were worst a thousand words.

    Do most of you use feeders every 6', 10' or on every peace of track?
  13. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    I don't use feeders on every piece of track. Spacing varies, I think I have at least one stretch of over 10 feet without feeders.

    Also, I don't install feeders on track between turnouts on double-ended passing tracks or yards. I prefer to take advantage of the power routing Unitrack turnouts, leaving the alternate route unpowered when the mainline is in use and vice-versa.

  14. stepchild

    stepchild TrainBoard Member


    Thanks for the info.

    I now have a good idea on how things work. Just need to get a layout and start building.
  15. caldog

    caldog TrainBoard Member

    Very very informative. Thanks for starting this thread Stepchild.

    But now to a question that I have, this was actually brought in by Ben (ABC&RRone) earlier in this thread. Once the wire has been dropped through your base, (ie plywood, hollow core door), how are they wires connected together. Do you connect them to something like the Atlas Connectors, or run them directly to your power supply?

  16. J Long

    J Long TrainBoard Member

    I solder my feeders directly to the rail too. Using a sprue cutter, I cut out a slot between two of the pre-cast holes under the rails to get the feeder to the underside of the rail. You have to work quickly, otherwise you overheat the rail and distort the roadbed.

    Unitrack joiners have excellent continuity and I find that a feeder every 15 sections works fine.
  17. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    The wires you have dropped through the base (feeder wires) are attached to the larger gauge bus wires. The bus wires are then connected directly to the power source. Imagine an inverted comb with teeth missing. The remaining teeth are feeder wires and the backbone of the comb represents the bus wire. Two such "combs" are needed, one for each rail.

    Connecting (by soldering, for instance) the feeders to the bus wires requires stripping a short section of insulator from the bus wire. Or if you don't want to strip the insulation from the bus wire, you can use this type of connection to the bus wire: http://www.posi-lock.com/posiplug.html

  18. stepchild

    stepchild TrainBoard Member


    On the posi tap so you have to run wire through the connector? What asking is if you have your bus wires already run will these work?
  19. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    Part L3 of the Posi-Lock is slotted so it can be fitted on the bus wire before screwing it and part L2 together.

  20. stepchild

    stepchild TrainBoard Member



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