Kato Unitrack to other track transitions

Hi gang,
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,
MrZ
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On 29 Feb 2004 16:55:44 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MrZaremba) wrote :

Kato DOES make simple truss bridges, I have two of them. They are equal in length to the S186 straight sections.
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Hi
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.
Thanks,
MrZ
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MrZaremba wrote:

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 bit 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 Kato 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 the 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 a 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 the 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 has 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 atop Atlas piers. This leaves it 1/4 inch taller than Atlas track atop their #12 pier, 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 with supplied screws.
One more point: see the little clips at the top of the piers? It is often helpful (especially at points where changes in grade occur) to make a vertical saw cut and 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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On 29 Feb 2004 17:24:41 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MrZaremba) wrote :

I'm sorry...I thought you meant N-scale.
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