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Author Topic: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction  (Read 1978 times)

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Offline Leon

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Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« on: August 12, 2019, 01:23:50 AM »
My Kato layout, Wiltsbury Junction - Inspired by Westbury Junction, utilizes ONLY Kato track and points. Additionally, I've incorporated a Kato bridge and will probably convert a Kato rail bridge to a road bridge. Although most of my challenges can be addressed by any N Scale modeller, there are a few issues that are distinctly Katocentric. The plug and play nature of the Kato system presents a few problems (and possibilities) that are specific to Kato.

After a full year of construction, I'm at the point of comprehensively testing the workability of my track plan. Essentially, the trains on my layout will be controlled by three DC boxes. Controller #1 - the outside oval (Down,  London - Weymouth avoiding line); Controller #2 - the inside oval, (Up  Weymouth - London avoiding line; Controller #3 - all interior track including 1) Salisbury to Bristol (and other points north) through the station; 2) Bristol to Salisbury (and Portsmouth for one Southern train) through the station; and 3) Chippenham - Wiltsbury through the station (branch line service via motorcoach); and, 4) Trowbridge - Warminster through the station (branch line autocoach).

My wiring should permit the running of both Up and Down London trains and one other operation, simultaneously. In addition to the Controller #3 operations listed in the previous paragraph, there will be shunting locomotives in both the north and south sidings that can be worked when there are no operations on the Bristol-Portsmouth line. The plan requires the use of track insulators and Power Feed Control Switches. There is also provision for trains to leave the avoiding line (both ovals) and enter the station -subsequently rejoining the mainline. Kato makes this possible by the use of a Power Direction Control Switch - switching the polarity of the Down line to match the Up line and station tracks.

I've successfully run a locomotive on all the layout tracks using a single controller, but the implementation of multiple-train working is a bit more complicated. I've already run into one problem which I will outline in my next post to this thread, and I can anticipate there may be other issues as I proceed.

By starting this topic I hope there will be other Kato users who will be able to observe my progress with the electrics and offer alternatives or solutions. Also, I hope that other Kato users will use this thread to share their own layouts, problems, and solutions unique to the Kato system. Finally, perhaps new Kato modellers will be encouraged by any dialogue created here.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Offline Leon

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 01:35:17 AM »
Prior to starting this topic, I discovered that when I started a train on my Down line the train on the Up line was also started. There was no change in polarity so they were headed in opposite directions, but that wasn't supposed to happen. The first of the two following posts from my Wiltsbury Junction thread explain what was happening and the second post describes what I discovered after further examination of my wiring. That experience led me to start this topic.

I may be about to join Newportnobby (Mick) as another person confounded by layout electrics! Before I cite my problem, I'll refer you to my track plan.



I've wired my layout to enable the theoretical operation of three controllers, consecutively. Today, I discovered that Controller 1 is feeding electricity to both Up and Down mainline (avoiding) tracks. When I started my Castle locomotive on the Down track my Dukedog ran also, on the Up track - both in the correct (opposite) directions. Controller ! has just two feeders - on opposite sides of the layout with the only connection between Up and Down tracks being a double crossover (insulated) in the tunnel.

Now, the only feasible explanation is that I've switched one of the feeder wires to Controller 1 - a Down line feeder has been switched with an Up line feeder. I've not checked this, yet. Frankly, I had started this post before that possibility even entered my consciousness! So, if that's the case I'll not join Newportnobby - yet! I'll post the result of my inspection later but wanted to go ahead and admit that I overlooked a potentially simple solution. If the solution is not so simple, I'll have to call on somebody other than Newportnobby for help!  :D

Leon

Ok, so I'm pretty stupid or utterly careless. My feeder connector #1 (Down) and feeder connector #2 (Up) were plugged into the same Unitrack 3-Way Extension Cord! I unplugged connector #2 and things seem to be working. I can now run the Up train on one controller and the Down train on another controller. When connector #2 was plugged in, even when it was receiving no current,  both Up and Down trains ran regardless of the controller being used. So, Newportnobby, I join you in finding layout electrics to be beyond my total comprehension! I cannot understand how #2 could affect anything when it was not being powered. It was plugged into a Unitrack 3-Way Extension Cord with #1, however. Apparently, when running the Up train, power was somehow being transferred via the disconnected 3-Way Extension Cord to the Down train. (Power was going from the connector being tested via the rails to the 3-Way Extension, resulting in both polarities being powered by one controller.) I can just get my head around that, but I don't think there can any other answer! Alls well that ends well - until the next time! I've now got a lot of re-wiring to do - but that can wait.

Thanks to anyone who bothered to address this conundrum (though I suspect anyone using the Kato track system probably immediately recognized the problem).

Leon
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 01:36:38 AM by Leon »
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Offline colpatben

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 07:47:10 AM »
Hi Leon

A bit late for you now but I found that a track plan with colours differing for each section worked for me

All droppers and 3 way connectors were marked with printed coloured plastic tape produced with a Dymo label maker.



Mind you it can still go awry if you leave it to a colourblind and dyslexic colleague.  :worried:

In the sprit of this Topic then maybe this approach will assist others.  :thumbsup:
We never have problems, only solutions!

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Colin

Online weave

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 08:43:39 AM »
Hi Leon,

I can't help/advise you as my up and running layout is small and very simple but the other one will eventually be more complicated so thank you for starting this thread. I'm sure it'll be very useful for all of us Kato folk.

Cheers weave  :beers:

Offline njee20

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 09:01:15 AM »
Are any of these problems or features Kato specific?

Online Bealman

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 09:09:24 AM »
Op reckons they are, so worth discussion.
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline njee20

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2019, 09:16:07 AM »
And with the utmost respect to the OP he’s not used anything else.

They’re certainly worthy of discussion, but why limit it to a “Kato layouts” thread if they’re just general problems with DC wiring? I accept problems like having plugged a wire into the wrong Kato connector may be more relevant to Kato, but transposing two feeds on any system would likely have the same effect.

Online Bealman

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2019, 09:31:43 AM »
It's a Kato specific thread.

You are the one introducing generality.  :thumbsup:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline njee20

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2019, 09:37:02 AM »
And trying to help the OP reach a wider audience.

I’ll take your hint and leave.

edit: Sorry, passive aggressive thumbs up needed  :thumbsup:
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 09:38:49 AM by njee20 »

Offline GreyWolf

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2019, 09:49:07 AM »
I have Kato only layout ... but using DCC (coz it was simpler for me) ... so can't help!

Cheers  :beers:

Offline Ben A

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2019, 09:52:59 AM »

Hi Grey Wolf,

Did you have any compatibility issues with Kato points and DCC control?

cheers

Ben A.



Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2019, 10:00:39 AM »
To create some sort of balance I did consider recreating my large layout in Kato as opposed to the current Peco code 55 as I'm such a numpty when it comes to electrics and Unitrack could have simplified a lot. However, having conducted an experiment with over 100 items of rolling stock through Kato #4 points there were so many derailments suffered it was obviously a no-go. The sheer size of the #6 points would mean the track plan would not have been possible, and the lack of curved points in the Kato range really killed some of the point formations I have in Peco.
I post this merely as a caveat that not all is hunky dory by going down the Unitrack route. There are issues with all types of track one way or another, I guess.

Offline PostModN66

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2019, 04:07:21 PM »
My Lofthole layout is completely Kato if it is of interest - link below.....

Kato-specific wiring considerations as I have found them...

1. Point operation using two wires rather than the usual three
2. Switchable point power routing (incorrectly marked on number 4 points)
3. How many electrical connections to make given the large number of separate lengths of rail compared to flex track (actually this is relevant to any sectional track)?

Other Kato issues not related to wiring...

4. How to stick it down!
5. How to make it look realistic
6. How to hack it to get the layout you want (surgery on track sections)
7. The infamous no. 4 modification as alluded to by Newport Nobby above
8. The fact you can easily use alternative baseboard materials since you don't have to instal point motors!

Cheers Jon  :)
“We must conduct research and then accept the results. If they don't stand up to experimentation, Buddha's own words must be rejected.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

My Postmodern Image Layouts

Lofthole http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=14792.msg147178#msg147178

Deansmoor http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=14741.msg146381#msg146381

Offline Leon

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2019, 05:00:43 PM »
Are any of these problems or features Kato specific?

Having never modelled other track systems I can't say the problem I identified was Kato specific, but it can perhaps be understood better by another Kato user. The 3-way connector is Kato specific, and my problem was that one of these connectors passed current to the wiring that was connected to the controller. I'm not sure I've adequately articulated here what occurred, but maybe my original explanation was better. I'm sure layouts using other track systems have similar problems but are addressed differently - i.e. Power Feed Control and Power Direction Control devices fit directly to the Kato Controller.

Leon
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Offline Leon

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Re: Kato Layouts - Design and Construction
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2019, 05:15:28 PM »

I post this merely as a caveat that not all is hunky dory by going down the Unitrack route. There are issues with all types of track one way or another, I guess.

Mick, thanks for your post. I've experienced the #4 point problem, also, and the #6 wouldn't work for me on one occasion. You've unscored my reason for starting this topic. I feel there is a need for Kato users to share problems that, if not specific to Kato, are specific to Kato users - relative to Kato devices and/or restrictions imposed by those devices.

There was no intention to restrict participation in this thread, but as the Kato population is more limited on this forum I thought it might be a way for the minority to exchange experiences - both positive and negative.

Leon
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

 

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