Need help "splitting" a 5x10 layout in half or three

Paulct Oct 13, 2015

  1. Paulct

    Paulct TrainBoard Member

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    I co run an annual train show here in town. We are just finishing testing the track for our new HO layout. It is a 5x10 plan which I hope I am able to upload. It is Kato Unitrack. I know its a basic layout, but it is a show, so we need continuous running. We can run two loops on this, with some variation on the left side. Its Digitrax DCC.

    Our challenge is how to cut or separate the track so we can take it down and put it up every year. 5x10 is too large to manhandle. All our O, G and S layout are on sections of 2x8 foam board/wood panels. On those layouts, we remove the track every year, as its not delicate and the layouts are simple. However on this layout, we want to leave the track down and secured and most of the scenery intact.

    Since the track sections don't line up perfectly at any one spot, we are wondering if we can make little joiner tracks. I've seen some discussions about this, but not sure the best way to proceed. We'd like to leave the center untouched, where all the switches are, and cut off the ends. So basically make three tables out of this.

    Thanks! kato_dual_loopv4.jpg
     
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Check out Mike Fifer's site for how to make custom sized unitrack. It is very easy. Too bad this isn't N scale, because then you could use the adjustable track pieces to bridge the sections.

    On the left side, you already have a reasonable spot for the split, where the outside loops all align. For the inside sidings, use shorter straights, and simply bridge the join with short removable pieces. On the right, you might want to consider adding a bit more length to the layout, to give yourself a section of straight tracks that all line up.

    Good luck.
     
  3. Paulct

    Paulct TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Rick. Those look like good spots to break it. I am concerned it will be very difficult to put the tables together while aligning and snapping six tracks! I remember when I helped with some atlas HO modules we had little pieces where you could push the rail joiners back all the way, drop the piece in and slide the rail joiners back in place. Has anyone ever done that with Kato track?

    Thanks again, Paul.
     
  4. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That is why the adjustable piece, in N scale, is so useful. My suggestion would be to put a series of alignment pins on your tables, with the pins able to engage in the mating holes well before the unijoiners engage. You might also want to trim the hooks off the unijoiners, so it becomes a "smooth" join / unjoin, rather than need any of the normal twist / force to disconnect the track.
     
  5. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    As a friend of mine would say Saw Zall time. Gosh he's a saw zall fanatic.

    To bad you guys didn't build this with four modular pieces.

    Playing around with Unitrack isn't the same as playing with Atlas sectional track. However you can cut it and and coustomize your own gap tracks as described by Rick Brodzinsky. I've done that on several of my own layouts and it works out fine.

    Just thinking back to the past. It was a layout a lot like this that I enjoyed as a kid. Had loads of fun with it and the layout taught me some essential lessons. Cutting it in to three separate sections is going to be a problem now. But you already know that.

    Get out the Dremel tool, a fine cutting disc and cut the track first. As already noted, you can cut the Unitrack anywhere and put in the sliding rail joiners. You can mend it back. Shoot I cut this stuff all the time when building a layout.

    Best of luck.
     
  6. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson TrainBoard Member

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    Make modules. Easy Peasy


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - now Free
     
  7. Paulct

    Paulct TrainBoard Member

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    We ended up making four "modules". Two 2x5 for the ends and two 2x6 (which is on a 5x6 frame) for the middle. The track breaks will work fine. Appreciate the comments! Now on to DCC wiring!
     
  8. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Buy some trailer connectors from the local auto parts store. Male and female and you can run a DCC bus line all the way around the modular pieces.
     
  9. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson TrainBoard Member

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    Actually these would do just fine. I found them at the hardware store in the electrical department.
    [​IMG][​IMG]


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  10. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    You can find all kinds of connectors that are quick disconnect at most electronic and hardware stores. I happen to like the automotive disconnects the best.
    It's all about choice.
     
  11. Paulct

    Paulct TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, I will go with PowerPoles. I use them for ham radio stuff and have bagfuls and the crimp tool!
     
  12. Paulct

    Paulct TrainBoard Member

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    Just thought I would let you all know the layout is working beautifully. It is Digitrax DCC controlled. The entire layout has to be taken down each year, so we can't make things as fancy as we'd like, but it does the job. In the video below, the trains are being run by computer, using Big Bear Rail. I have also tested JMRI and was able to control the trains with my phone.

    It is not prototypical in any way, it is for the kids! You might see some "minions" in the video. Those with kids know what those are. We have a scavenger hunt at the shot, and the kids have to find lots of things. By the way, the crazy noise is from the O gauge and American Flyer layouts that are right behind me.

    We ended up permanently mounting the track on the center 6' section, and the two 2' sections at the ends get the track laid down each time we set up. Seems to work fine.



    Thanks for your help!
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Glad to see it is all working as hoped.
     

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