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Author Topic: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections  (Read 10122 times)

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Offline gc4946

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Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« on: September 14, 2013, 02:40:21 pm »
I own a circuit comprising double track ground level sections which I like very much because, like Scalextric, I can assemble and disassemble the pieces and store them away in one small box when not in use. For someone who lives in a small flat, this is a welcome bonus.
This shows what size layout I can make up with the sections I own:


Having looked through Kato's product list, they produce an amazing amount of track and accessories, including stations and bridges, etc.
However I wanted to create a home-made compatible module which could also function as a display item in one of my display cases.

When Modelzone entered administration, I bought up quite a lot of discounted sheets of plasticard (styrene), mostly 20 thou (0.5mm) and 40 thou (1mm) thick black sheets.

Considerable care was taken in constructing this module in order that it could be compatible in length and thickness with existing Kato straight track geometry. Measuring up the thickness of the original Kato sections showed the track needed to be glued on a laminated base of 3mm. As this was also going into a display case when not in use as a module, it had to be no more than 20cm wide.

I laminated three layers of 40 thou plasticard, weighted down on a flat surface for at least 24 hours after gluing each layer to avoid distortion.

Here is the module as partly built, the platforms haven't been fixed down yet, as they need cleaning up, having been bought as a job lot from a local model railway event. I also need to check loco-platform clearances.


The next photo shows the module against a similar length of standard Kato track (NB: the sections have been pushed in but not been locked together so the total length is longer)


So far I haven't built up the layers on both side of, or between the tracks. I attached standard Kato sections at each end in order to correctly mate and centre both tracks before gluing them down.
This step takes time and careful measurement of distances between the tracks before fixing is essential.
I haven't decided if I'll match the shades of grey of Kato's standard pieces or not, although having your own scheme make it stands out as distinctive.

Hopefully following this idea means one can create uniquely designed modules which are compatible with normal Kato sections.

Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2014, 08:32:00 pm »
I've made some progress lately:

After checking for vehicle clearances, the platforms (secondhand Kestrel Models sections) have now all been glued down but they needed raising up to match the height of Kato's track.


More laminations of 40 thou plasticard and adding the platforms means this baseboard is now getting very rigid.


I've still to fabricate the station approach's steps and ramps, build up enough height for a barrow crossing at one end and partly infill the gap between tracks.

Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2014, 04:33:26 pm »
I've started work on another similar sized module, but done differently:

Instead of laminating several layers of 1mm/40 thou styrene, I found a source of 3mm thick sheet made by Radoesch in the Netherlands, size 320 x 194 mm, in a non-railway model shop local to me.
I glued two such pieces end to end minus 20mm cut off from one end of one of the sheets.



Again I carefully aligned the track with pieces of standard Kato double track at each end.
This time I'm including a few houses rather than a wayside station.
However I'll still laminate further layers onto the board to give it strength.


Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2014, 09:04:02 am »
I'm considering two options for housing development:

1. The contemporary look - Late last year I visited the one day Bradford model rail show and left with several models of contemporary housing which must have been scratchbuilt by an architectural modelmaker for a developer in order to show the council an impression of the estate that they wanted to build for planning permission.
I presume once the development was accepted or rejected the model was broken up and the buildings disposed of.
As far as I know I've never seen these models commercially produced.





2. The 1930s suburban look - I measured up the footprint of an unbuilt Kestrel Models 1930s semi and it's feasible to model the whole dwelling including gardens and sheds if I turn the pair of semis sideways facing opposite each other on a cul de sac butting up to the railway.

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2014, 09:44:10 am »
This seems like a very well thought out development of the Kato system, which in turn is very suited to your needs. Very well executed too.

Thinking about it, I am surprised more people with space constraints, aren't doing the same and writing about it.

Well done. You could have kicked off a new trend.

Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2014, 10:56:27 am »
Thanks for encouragement, Parkend

Although I own more material (except track) to build more modules, I'll finish off the two I've already started in order to see how the different building methods compare over time.
I only have three shelves available in my chosen display case to show my results.

Offline Pengi

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2014, 12:02:05 pm »
One of our members, Bilbo Baggins, also went down the Kato modular route

Link to thread
Just one Pendolino, give it to me, a beautiful train, from Italy

Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2014, 01:13:12 pm »
I've seen Bilbo Baggins' work, the individual modules look very good  :envy: but too bulky for my home situation, although they could be assembled to form a layout on the floor or any large solid base.

Whereas I'm aiming for compatibility with Kato's ground level double track sections, using similar materials which I'm more comfortable with, and also inspired by their DioTown range of urban scenery.

Again I could mount my plastic-based modules on a larger board, display case or sub-frame.

Just happens to be different ways of approaching the issue  :)

Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2014, 05:02:15 pm »
Because I had ready made housing in stock and as this style is rarely modelled I settled for contemporary housing.





I paved the area delimited by this development by 20 thou plasticard, black sheet was used for tarmac and brown imitation brick sheet for car parking and rear footpaths, with remaining areas between paths and housing as lawns, once the plasticard surfaces are painted.

Online Tank

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2014, 05:18:13 pm »
I'm really enjoying seeing your modules.  Keep up the good work.  :)

Offline Pengi

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2014, 07:02:03 am »
Excellent - love anything contemporary :thumbsup:
Just one Pendolino, give it to me, a beautiful train, from Italy

Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2014, 09:53:02 pm »
For any future modules, on recent form I'll go with a 3mm thick sheet base rather than laminations of 1mm plasticard.

Even though I thought I was careful with gluing and weighing down each layer, I found the base (my first effort featuring a station) delaminated in a few places so this has had to be re-glued.

Today I experimented with a 90mm high backdrop attached to the back of the station module, glued from two layers of 40 thou plasticard.
In order not to made the board any wider than 20 cm, so that I can fit it into a display case, I cut 5mm off one side of the module (the side with the bit of extra platform jutting out) and then fixed the backdrop in place.

Once I've decided what to model, I'll add some low-relief buildings.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 09:54:19 pm by gc4946 »

Offline scottmitchell74

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2014, 10:06:17 pm »
Good thread! Keep up the work.
Spend as little as possible on what you need so you can spend as much as possible on what you want.

Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2014, 03:26:37 pm »
Further to fixing a backscene, I've decided to build a modern "parkway" station.

The idea only first came into my head when I bought a job lot of Kestrel Models platform sections from a show in Sheffield yesterday, which had been used on a layout and my first plan was to keep them aside for another station to be built.

I realised the design and profile of these mouldings made them ideal for cutting up into a multi-storey car park by carefully cutting pieces away. The car park will appear as an example of concrete architecture.

Here's my early result, however the entire assembly and backscene will be cleaned up with fine wet and dry paper before painting. (The backdrop is vertical even though it looks distorted in this photo)



I also fashioned a ramp (on right of picture) cut up from a spare piece of another Kestrel Models platform ramp moulding.



Offline gc4946

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Re: Expanding Unitrack by home-made modules/sections
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2014, 11:51:41 am »
This is my station board with trains on display:


My platforms can hold a 3-car 158 ...
or a 2 + 2 HST, which was why I started a thread on these short HST formations
http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=19944.msg203803#msg203803

I haven't decided on a name for this station yet and am thinking on how best to tackle the footbridge as it's likely it'll be scratchbuilt if I want to represent a post-1980s style type with lifts and some form of covered access.

However I'm very tempted to call my contemporary housing development "Styrinthorpe" as a pun on its construction from styrene sheet :laugh:


« Last Edit: April 12, 2014, 12:10:31 pm by gc4946 »

 

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