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  1. For some time now I have been working on a Unitram layout inspired by the layout in the Interesting German HO Tram Layout thread and inspired by the Tomytec release of Adtranz GT6N. I wanted a layout with narrower streets than Unitram's six lane monsters, features typical of European tram lines including parking bays (to display cars), tram only sections and intersection sidewalk bulbs. I also wanted a layout that offered more than just round and round the loop. Some form of block control without adding any pricey decoders in the trams. The layout is on a 60 x 30 hobby table. The gold sections are my stop blocks. Ideally I wanted a stop block on all four routes into the focal point at the front of the layout. I got three out of four. The limitations of Unitram prevented the fourth stop block in the precise location I wanted, but all is good. Using off the shelf plug and play Kato components I have created a simple block control for my Unitram layout. On the selected track piece, I replaced the normal Unitram Unijoiners with the black 24-816 Insulated Unjoiners and added a 44-847 Unitram Tram Feeder Power Cable under the selected piece of track. The feeder is plugged into a 24-850 Kato Power Feed Control Switch which gets plugged into the power pack. When the switch is turned OFF the car always stops at the selected location. When the switch is turned ON the car continues on through the block or if already stopped resumes running. Facing switches are set to power routing and trailing switches are spring switches in typical tram fashion. Limitations It is occasionally necessary to flip over the track to access feeders, turnout power routing screws, turnout cables or adjust insulated Unijoiners. I created removable building plaes with 1/4 inch balsa and .040 styrene sheets (as moisture would warp the balsa). The undertrack feeders on straights can face either direction which helps in maintaining the polarity. But the feeders on curves are more restrictive in their placement. Because of the changing track center (from 25mm to 33mm, then from 33mm to 25mm) the curve pieces themselves cannot be flipped. The Unitrack Terminal Unijoiner is a possible solution but it has a reputation of having a fragile solder connection. The photos below show construction as of March 14th. It started out as a Euro Layout, but I wasn't happy with the structures at the focal point. In the last week i have changed Centralplatz to a Japanese commercial district to tall, narrow medium buildings reminiscent of Shimbashi SL Square or Otsuka station on the Yamanote line. The price was right, the buildings and kts are readily available. I plan to cover the front of these buildings with signs and add rooftop signs. The outer blocks will retain their European building focus. Several of the European buildings were acquired second hand late last year. For operations I prefer articulated trams with axle centers of 12mm and at least eight wheel pickup. Mostly these are Tomytec trams but also a few Modemo. I don't have any of the more exotic failure prone trams, the Kato Portram, Modemo Hiroden 5000 or Hobbytrain Duwag 6 or 8. Under track stop block configuration. This layout should keep me happy and contended for the foreseeable future running my trams. i still have a small traditional Japanese tram or light train layout as well.
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