Why I Switched from Bachmann EZ Track to Kato Unitrack

The difference in Bachmann and Kato’s integrated-roadbed track products became clear.

I got my M2 and V2 sets. I cleared the table of Bachmann EZ Track, rolled up the life-size SCARM track plan featuring EZ Track, and set up the Kato UniTrack M2+V2 track sets according to the directions. (download these directions to see components of ALL the Kato track packs and how they work together! It’s a fascinating system and this manual is an excellent Kato UniTrack reference to keep handy.)

All I can say about this first experience with Kato Unitrack with turnouts and elevated viaduct on a 4×8 table is– wow. I used the Kato DC power pack and loved how the two switches click into the power pack. And those switches!!

Kato DC Controller with 2 attached switches
Kato’s Turnout Control Switch (#24-840) is FUN TO THROW!

I love manual switches and I will always have them on my layout. I wouldn’t mind if these Kato switches were a bit sturdier, but they look great and work great. I learned that you can attach switches to any 14VDC accessory power pack which I’ll explain more in detail how I handled that later. Suffice it to say my initial runs on my M2+V2 Unitrack setup were gorgeous. I didn’t use DCC yet; I just wanted to absorb the all-Kato product world for a bit to see how it worked together.

My earlier issues with Bachmann EZ Track were feeders, turnouts and pier sets. Here’s how Kato UniTrack did addressing them:

FEEDERS: I learned all about feeders in the days I was testing the new Kato M2+V2 setup. I read online about traditional model trains with feeders every X feet and bus wires running around and tons of soldering. Yuck. I knew I did NOT want to deal with ANY of that with my trains. I don’t care if some claim it’s better, cheaper, etc. I knew that I wanted a system–professionally designed and manufactured–for feeding track power that I could purchase, follow the directions, and it would WORK without depending on my novice soldering skills. The solution? Kato S62F 62mm Feeders and Unijoiners.

Kato N 62mm 2-7/16″ Straight Feeder (#20-041) is a short piece of track with an integrated removable plug to goes into the Kato power pack with a proprietary (or at least a non-standard) mini-Molex-type connector.

Kato Straight Feeder S62F (#20-041)
The S62F’s removable plug

This 62mm feeder is a lot handier to use than Bachmann’s 10″ feeder track. The only issues I have with this product is that while I love the plug is removable, I also didn’t want the under-track plug to disconnect under pounds of plaster in a permanent layout. I actually tried crazy-gluing them in place, and realized I wanted to disconnect them when I removed the track before plastering. Much more on that fiasco later when we get there in the story haha. Anyway, a revolutionary product that would allow my layout multiple feeders.

Kato also offers a Terminal UniJoiner (#24-818), which is a way to get feeders almost ANYWHERE on my layout.

Kato Terminal UniJoiner (#24-818)

It has the same mini-Molex connector on one end, and on the other end, two joiners that fit into the track. It’s kinda perfect and kinda not, as I’ll discuss down the road. Point is, it’s a second feeder option with virtually unlimited flexibility and another reason to bag EZ Track for UniTrack. I bought the UniJoiner separately from the Track Packs as they didn’t include one.

But this is where Kato wins the prize. They have a 3-way Connector (#24-827) that allows you to connect 3 feeders. Daisy-chain the connectors and you can power multiple feeders without home-wiring or soldering. Another big win!

This Kato 3-way Connector (#24-827) allows layouts with multiple plug-and-play feeders! No other company I’ve seen offers an option like this.

TURNOUTS: There’s a world of difference between Bachmann N Scale turnouts and Kato turnouts.

Bachmann’s Turnouts include Switches, but Kato’s Turnouts and separately available Switches are worth the extra cost.

Visually they are similar, but Kato’s looks less-toylike. Take a look close-up:

The real difference is performance. The Kato turnouts fired and changed points every time I threw the right switch. The trains still stalled, but the turnouts WORKED. The trains didn’t catch or derail consistently, either. I already knew at that point I could fix the stalling issue with additional feeders. The reliability of the turnouts, along with the look and feel of the Kato switches, was another solid win. Check out this amazing Kato page with a chart of all the UniTrack turnouts and crossings available.

PIER SETS AND ELEVATED VIADUCT: Oh My Gosh. The viaduct and pier set that comes with V2 is just breathtaking. I mean it’s simple, elegant as heck, and works flawlessly. The viaduct track itself is rock-sturdy, detailed and exquisitely beautiful. Check out this awesome video of a boy setting up Kato V2 on his floor. It really shows you the ease-of-use and beauty of this product.

Kato Viaduct is sturdy and majestic when assembled
Kato Viaduct with pier assembly
The Kato Truss Bridge is impressive
The Kato V2 takes up a lot of space!

Seeing my DC N scale steamer pulling its multi-car freight up and over the red truss bridge for the first time… that is a memory I will never forget. It’s when I totally fell in love with this hobby. I knew trains would be a part of my life forever after that, no matter what! I’m sure every model train lover has a similar moment.

Later, I did use my Bachmann EZ Command DCC controller with the UniTrack easily by marrying the S62F’s feeder wire with the Bachmann micro-plug track input. Converting a DC track to DCC was that easy! Of course, the DCC worked perfectly and I started understanding more that N Scale products from different manufacturers can work together, thanks to the National Model Railroad Association and its DCC Standards. I ran my Bachmann GP40 with its 9-car freight load all night long on that Kato UniTrack M2+V2 set-up, the diesel loud and proud with its (still only F0-F8) sound functions. It was awesome.

Needless to say, I fired up my SCARM to design an all-new 4×8 layout with Kato UniTrack. Back to the literal, proverbial drawing board!

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