Improving hand cut sections of Kato Unitrack.

G’day again. When working with T-TRAK modules one of the procedures that can need to be done is cutting  sections of  Kato Unitrack so that you only have the Unitrack at each end of the module track section for joining on to other modules and using Peco/Atlas or other non-Kato track for the stretch of track between them. This is covered in the Australian T-TRAK Guidelines but I have found through experience that there are some things that can be done to improve  the performance of the Unitrack sections.

The plastic base of Unitrack is hollow and is only reinforced at the ends and at the center. This means that when a section is cut in half, or shorter, then that section loses one section of reinforcing. What can happen with this is that the Unitrack base will bow outwards at the sides and downwards between the rails when it is nailed down. This problem becomes most noticeable when you have cut very short lengths of Unitrack, 30mm for instance.  A couple of years ago I came across the following idea in a Japanese model railway BLOG that helps to avoid this problem.

The simplest approach is to cut a strip of 0.040″ (1mm) thick styrene about 10mm or so wide and long enough to match the distance from the inside edge of one side of the piece of Unitrack to the inside edge of the other side. Then file a bevel edge on both ends of the piece of styrene so that it neatly fits inside the cut section of Unitrack as shown in the photo below, and glue it in place.

Unitrack section with simple reinforcing.

I found this method adequate but not substantial. The original Japanese method goes a few steps, excuse the pun, further. Cut some lengths of the 10mm wide 0.040″ styrene about a half and a quarter the lengths of the original piece. Then glue them on to the original piece as shown below.

When the glue has dried file of a bit more of the beveled ends so that the assembled piece fits not only between the sides of the Unitrack, but also the top section touches the bottom of the raised section of the Unitrack, as shown below (my example probably needs a bit more filing):

This results in a more robust piece of Unitrack.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Improving hand cut sections of Kato Unitrack.

  1. One enhancement to this method would be to glue the reinforcement in place, then cut the Unitrack in half. That way you can cut the piece of styrene to the exact shape you need, and you can clamp it tighter without deforming the track base.

    • ttrakandrew

      Marcus, an excellent suggestion. It would make it a bit more work to cut through the Unitrack and the styrene reinforcing, but that may be countered by the improved clamping etc. Definitely worth trying. Thank you for the input.

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