Jul 6, 2017
Have you tried filing a 45° bevel on the top edges of the point rails?
Yes, I gave my point rails a few licks with the file to reduce the sharp angle at the immediate point and rounded over the tip too. It did indeed help to reduce picking. For a reliable solution though, notching the stock rails does seem necessary.
I will be using one on one of my single wide T-TRAK modules. It should be here in a few days and I'll post back with what I find.
On the 'points not closing' thing. I had that on one of mine, and took it apart from underneath to investigate. The throw wire had come off of the centering tab on the solenoid end and simply had to be reset. You could also probably replace that with a stiffer wire or do other modifications.
There's a whole lot going on inside that switch, kinda scary. After I studied one I resolved never to mount them so that I couldn't get them back out for maintenance. If it weren't for the fact that my switch is RIGHT at the edge of a double module on both ends, I'd never use them, I'd make adapters and stay Peco C55. While I got mine to work reliably on not derailing, I'm skeptical on the long-term ability of them not to corrode up in there.
By the way, Kato's electrical connectors for track power and turnout control are not proprietary. They're "Mini Tamiya" connectors, apparently used with RC vehicle power circuits.
Kato's cords with connectors are of excellent quality and are not terribly expensive, so remain a fine choice. However, "rolling your own" is an option.
To experiment, I bought a pack of male and female connectors from Pololu [ https://www.pololu.com ]. Female is Item 1936 and Male is 1937. What makes identification of a connector confusing is that the plastic plug is one gender and the electrical contacts within are the opposite gender! Figuring things out was making my head hurt until I found Pololu. They do a good job clarifying and helping customers with clear illustrations, and precise dimensional drawings.
I didn't buy the $35 crimping tool (Item 1928), but instead soldered the wires to the contacts with little difficulty. Be sure you poke the proper wire color in the proper plug hole because once inserted, it'll be there for eternity. Pololu also sells these connectors pre-crimped with 18 Ga. feed wires.
Have you tried plugging one of the "female" connectors into a Kato power pack (or other Kato "male" connector)? If the ones that you got work without significant filing, you'll be the first I've heard of.
The male/female verbage, while potentially confusing, is not unique to these connectors. Molex also calls what we would think of as a "male" housing, a receptacle due to the customary installation of the "female" crimp terminals. Personally, I've used the Tamiya female crimp terminals in salvaged Kato housings to allow fabrication of an adapter to plug into a Kato Power pack (or Sound Box) with heavier wire (16 gauge) that terminates in a standard Molex connector. Everything is straight plug-and-play Molex from there on (until terminating in those aftermarket Tamiya "male" connectors that the standard Kato track feeder wires plug into). I use the Molex branded crimping tool.
Also, fyi, those green Chinese Mini-Tamiya connectors are also available on Amazon super cheap. Either pre-wired or kit.
I made up a connector to mate with a Kato factory connector on a turnout and it works fine, no filing and good current flow, so am the first. To be clear though, the Kato connectors slide together more smoothly. The Pololu fit isn't as perfect as an all factory Kato-to-Kato connection.
If it was for the turnout cord to plug into, then you're likely talking about this mating Mini Tamiya:
Correct? Those aren't the problem. It is this one that is the problem:
Are you using the Kato switch controller?
If so, please try plugging one of your Green Mini-Tamaya housings into it and let us know how that goes. Don't worry about the terminals, just the housing is fine. Thanks.
NorsemanJack: If it was for the turnout cord to plug into, then you're likely talking about this mating Mini Tamiya:
Correct? Those aren't the problem.
Yes, that's correct. I made a 1937.
It is this one that is the problem:
Ah ha! No, I've not yet made one of those. Now I know where the problem is. Interesting.
Are you using the Kato switch controller?
No, I plan to build capacitive discharge controllers using toggle switches using the Paisley or Stillwell circuit. I'll be able to get by with 1937s only. Thanks for the caution.
If so, please try plugging one of your Green Mini-Tamaya housings into it and let us know how that goes. Don't worry about the terminals, just the housing is fine. Thanks.[/QUOTE]
Thanks for the confirmation. Just a word of caution to anybody who tries to use these green, made in China, Mini Tamiya connectors. The 1937's referenced above (male terminals, female housing in Kato Unitrack world) work find. The white clip on the mating Kato factory original might not easily engage the "nub" on the green housing, but a small amount of filing will correct this.
The 1936's above (female terminals, male housing in Kato Unitrack - the one you need to plug into your Kato Power Pack, Kato Sound Box or Kato switch controller) will not easily fit. One of the housing's "legs" has square corners (Kato's are rounded) that prevent it from entering the Kato mating connector. They can be filed down, but plan to spend an hour with marginal results. Better to use the original Kato's for this interface. If you want heavier wire gauge, they can be retrofitted with new wiring/crimp terminals if you have a kit like shown in Hardcoaler's links and a Molex crimping tool. The Chinese terminals are just fine, it's the green housings that are a problem. The original terminals can be released and removed from the Kato housings with a bit of fiddling with a very small flat head screwdriver to release (i.e. bend inward) the two metal "ears" on the terminal that pop out to lock it into the housing when it is originally installed. If these were standard Molex crimp terminal connectors (I wish), Molex makes a special tool that releases the terminals rather easily.
Bottom line. Let the buyer beware when buying aftermarket Mini Tamiya connectors to use with Kato Unitrack. Only the female housing/male terminal version works readily.
I broke one of the "half unijoiner" which is used with the #4 turnout. Have not been able to find the part number of the replacement. Do I really have to spend $30 for a complete new turnout to replace this part? That's an unfortunate problem. I'll try and cut a full joiner but it won't be exactly right. Any other suggestions?
It isn’t a big deal if it isn’t “perfect”. You only actually need one of them, not both, for each switch.
Thanks Rick, absolutely correct. You pushed me to try and it worked out fine.
I spoke to an N Scale modeler today who told me to not use Kato Unitrack on a hollow core door because of the reverberating noise from the small void under the Kato track sections and from within the door, and that putting a sheet of blue foam on top of the door wouldn't help. I was rather stunned at this advice because my entire new railroad is planned using all three of these elements and I'll be brokenhearted if it's true.
Has anyone had experience with this combination? My thought is that this is N Scale where the trains are light and less likely to set up an audio dynamic like he described.
I don't think this is a problem, but if it is worrisome, I've found that the thin craft foam that Michaels and etc sell can be used to deaden the sound of the train running over the thin top. I use the 1/4 or so plywood from Lowes as my track base. I was concerned about the amount of noise, so decided to use layers of different material to help knock it down.
I use a bead of clear latex caulk, spread with a putty knive to stick the foam down. Set the Unitrack out on the foam and run a thin bead of gray caulk along the edge to stick the track to the foam. Makes a very good sound mute.
My last layout was on an HC door with a half inch foam base. The current on is on a HC door with a half inch Owens Corning pink foam. The mainlines are all on standard cork roadbed and the branch lines on cork shelf liner. The only noise I have are the soothing clickety clack of the wheels over rail joints and the purr of the little motors in the engines multiplied by the number of locos in the lash up. I could see this happening possibly in O or S scale and maybe in HO scale. The real 1 to 1 isn't silent. and I prefer a little noise especially when my attention is somewhere else. If it goes silent it means there is a problem that needs my attention. And honestly this is the first time I have heard this.
I used Unitreak on my first HC layout. Track caulked right to the door. I dont remember any "reverberating noise from the small void under the Kato track sections and from within the door". My guess is that advice came from a Untrack hater...one of which I was until I tried it !
Unitrack directly on a HCD can make noise, but you should be looking at some foam on top of the door, anyway, as a scenic base. When I did, briefly, use a HCD with Unitrack flat against it, I didn’t find the noise bothersome.
This is good news guys and I thank you for describing your experiences with layout construction. I want to stick with what I planned because my layout will be moved someday, and strength, light weight and some portability are vital. Again, thanks for your prompt replies. I'm feeling a whole lot better right now.
The real trains we all love are very noisy in their passing us. And quite far off into the distance. Should we really expect models to slide by silently?