I'm helping my nephew get introduced into model railroading. We bought some
Kato unitrack in HO scale about three months ago. The choice was made on the
basis of wanting to get going quickly and not having to add ballast by hand.
Naturally, we've gotten tired of watching trains run in circles so we're adding
some grades and scenery.
One of the things we want to add is a simple truss bridge. Kato does not
appear to make one in HO scale, so we're looking at one by Atlas. I'm
wondering if anyone has experience in transitioning between Kato Unitrack and
Atlas (or any other brand) who could share some pointers.
Thanks for the very quick response. Can you provide a part number? I went to
the katousa.com and walthers.com websites and could only find N scale bridges,
not the HO scale bridges I'm looking for.
I think our enthusiatic friend has named the N scale bridge. But I've done what
you want to do.
Rail joiners: if you use Atlas code 100 track then their 100-83 transition joiner
will mate the Atlas-Kato rails nicely. The Kato rail ends often have a little
of a metal lip on the flange; removing this with a jeweler's file will make it
easy to install the joiner. I've not tried to mate Kato to Atlas code 83, but I
expect that the usual Atlas straight joiner will work. It's possible that the
joiner will work, with the Atlas rail end fitting a short distance into the
plastic body of the Kato joiner; I haven't tried this.
If you use Atlas joiners look for the "curved" style joiner, not the "flat"
style. I don't have images but a direct comparision makes the difference
obvious. I find the "rounded" works better. These both have the same Atlas part
number so you just have to look for them.
If you use the 100-83 transition joiner have a needlenose plier ready to adjust
the double bend in the joiner to exactly match the two rail tops. (Of course the
Kato rail joiner must be removed first. Kato makes a tool for this, or if you're
lucky you may already have a suitable set of tweezers that you can use to
accomplish the trick of simultaneously compressing the plastic tabs on the Kato
joiner so that it can be removed.)
How do you intend to construct the approaches to the truss bridge? If you use
Atlas pier set, then the "ground level" Kato-Atlas transition can occur at either
a #1 or #2 pier, depending on what ballast or roadbed, if any, you use under the
Kato. In my case I use carpet as basic grassland scenery upon which the Kato
rests directly. For this the #2 pier works best: using a small metal saw I make
vertical cut in the pier perpendicular to the track at the pier's midline, cut
down to the base of the pier and remove half of the column, so that the end of
Kato rests atop the exposed base and the rail joiners are in their usual location
(on the midline of the pier). In other sub-track situations the Kato railhead
will come to nearly the same height as does the Atlas in a #1 pier, in which case
it's trivial: just slide the pier along the Atlas so that the join occurs at the
edge of the pier base with the Kato butting up to the edge of the base.
Even using the Atlas piers the grade doesn't have to be continuous. My layout
flat sections using bricks for support. Here the transition occurs with a (for
example) #7 pier sawn completely in half vertically. The half-pier supports one
end of an Atlas girder. The cut side of the pier butts up against a vertical
surface of the brick and adjoins a Kato section resting atop the brick.
The Atlas truss bridge is made by Roco and requires some adaptor bits to rest
Atlas piers. This leaves it 1/4 inch taller than Atlas track atop their #12
so for a transition section I use an Atlas plate girder bridge (their Warren or
deck bridges would work as well, but I think the plate looks best). One end of
this rests atop a #12 pier in the usual way. The other end rests atop the exposed
half of the truss bridge adaptor bit, which is retained into the truss bridge
One more point: see the little clips at the top of the piers? It is often
(especially at points where changes in grade occur) to make a vertical saw cut
remove the upper horizontal section of each of these so that track can drop
straight down onto the pier. Intact clips want to force the pier to be exactly
perpendicular to the track, which of course is not consistent with a grade; the
result of which is that the pier wants to rest at an angle to the vertical rather
than sit flat on the ground. Of course the vertical sections of the clips should
be left in place, to constrain lateral movements of the track.
If you build scenery for the grades, then all that about the piers is moot :_>
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