I have seen the Unitram street trackage out there for some time, but had not bought any, as the line lacked that in which I was most interested-turnouts. Yes, I have been aware of the TOMIX inserts, but had never seen any. I could always do straight and curved trackage to my satisfaction, but had never been happy with the turnouts. Recently, Kato issued street turnouts as part of its Unitram line. I assume that Kato intends for the trackage to be used with its modern streetcars, but I want street trackage to do street running for local freight.
I bought one turnout set in each direction, left and right. In addition, I bought two pair of the curves that run in different directions. I then did some test running. There were various test locomotives, but the test rolling stock remained the same: one MT forty foot wood outside braced boxcar (truck mount couplers) and one Fox Valley Models B&O waggontop boxcar(body mounts).
The good points:
1. Appearance: The track in street looks good and convincing. This is what interests me the most. Yes, the attempt at cobblestones or whatever and the safety markings look fake, but I had never intended to keep any of that. I intend to take off the paint and redo it and add some terrible street patching to reflect street trackage that I have seen over the years.
2. Functionality-The track is in gauge and the switch points operate properly. They come in the power routing mode. The track goes together easily, and when put together properly (more on that later), the electrical continuity is good.
3. UNITRAK joins right to it.
1. NUMERO UNO-the plastic on the diamonds. Keep in mind that this is sectional double track, so the diverting trackage from the outer line must cross the main trackage of the inner line. The spacing of the plastic on that diamond causes certain locomotives to stall due to lack of conductivity.
2. This is double trackage and most street trackage is single track.
3. The pieces will go together only in a limited number of ways. You can not necessarily turn around pieces and expect that they will connect. Also, certain sections will foul other sections if connected to the turnouts in certain ways.
Word of CAUTION-The curves and turnouts on the Unitram line are SHARP. I would not use this for modelling certain places where there is, or was, main line street running such as Whatever-that-town-in-Indiana is where the B&O Chicago line runs through the middle of town in the streets or parts of the ATSF San Joaquin Line where the main line runs down the middle of the street. Nope, this is good for traction or local freight, only.
The test subjects: The rolling stock, again, is MT outside braced wood boxcar (truck mount) and FVM B&O waggontop boxcar (body mount). These are both forty foot cars.
Locomotives-Steam-Bachpersonn 2-6-0, MP 2-6-0 with B-mann SPECTRUM USRA Standard tender, Atlas Shay, MDC 2-6-0 and MDC 2-8-0.
Diseasels-Bachmann 44 and 70 tonner, LL SW-9, Kato NW-2, Atlas RS-1.
Traction-B-mann Peter Witt Streetcar.
I began with the streetcar. It stalls on the diamonds. Next, came the B-mann industrial diesels. They stall on the diamonds, although the 44 tonner does so less than does the 70 tonner. The LL SW-9 and Kato NW-2 went through all trackage in every configuration with no trouble. The RS-1 climbs on the turnouts but not the curves. The MP 2-6-0 will go on its own or with the MT or the FVM on the tender. It climbs the turnout with the FVM on the pilot. The 2-8-0 does the same as the MP. The MDC 2-6-0 went with no trouble regardless of the rolling stock or where it was. The only exception was when I had an S-curve made up of a curved section that went opposite to the curve of the turnout. The MDC climbed the turnout with the FVM car as it hit the opposite curve. The B-mann 2-6-0 went through all trackage in every configuration with no trouble. I did not try the Atlas Shay, as it has enough trouble with nine and three quarter curves. These are 7,8 inch curves.
I am considering taking a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel to the track pieces to make single track. This would be simple enough with the straight and curved sections, but I will need to disassemble the underside of the turnouts to see if this can be done with them. If I can split them, this would address the stalling problem, as I would cut off the rails before the diamonds. Both turnouts throw simultaneously if you use the manual; I would assume that the same applies to using the switch machine.
I do intend to use them in some fashion. I am glad that we finally did get a decently operating street turnout.
ADDITIONAL LOCOMOTIVES TRIED:
Allright, I tried the Atlas Shay. It would not even stay on the track on the curves.
Kato F-unit-Stayed on the curves but climbed on the switches.
LL GP-20-Again, stayed on the curves, but climbed the switches.
I did not try any of the failures with any freight cars.
(Surprises, too)-I used the same two freight cars, then added an Atlas outised braced wood boxcar (truck mount couplers, but does not
1. E-R Baldwin shark- Yes, it has truck mount couplers, but it stayed on the track and all of the cars that it pushed and pulled from both ends stayed on the track. It has the first knuckle coupler that C-C put onto its Budd corrugated cars on the nose and a short-shank Unimate on the aft.
2. LL ALCo FA-1: It did not like it, but it stayed on the track and all cars that it pushed and pulled from both ends stayed on the track.
I did not try an FA-2, as since the FA-1 did not like the sharp curves, I suspect that the FA-2 will climb.