I’ve been interested in the TTRAK modular model railroading format since it came out. When BANTRAK started TTRAK activities, I decided that I wanted to try and see what I could do with the format.
I decided to build a small demo of what my modeling tastes are: winter scenery and fine scale scenery.
One of my biggest challenges was figuring out to do with what is TTRAK’s major virtues and vices: Kato Unitrack. I tackled this challenge with two approaches: painting and ballasting. I first painted the entire track with a “track” color. I didn’t do as neat of a job with this as I’d have liked (the photos below tell the tale), but the effect was pretty good. The next prong of attack was trying out ballasting with Sanded Grout. This was my first project with the product and I really liked the way it turned out.
There was one ironic lesson I learned about the track though. With TTRAK modules, there is only one critical thing you have to do: get the track centers right. As long as you do that, and have them extent a touch over the end of the module, you’ll be fine. Well… I screwed up the one thing you can’t screw up.
We discovered it when we setup the module in its first show, and things didn’t line up properly. It looks like, after I got things setup, the track shifted a bit while drying, and I didn’t discover it until after everything was all ballasted up.
The sanded grout was difficult to remove (which is generally a good thing), but I was able to chisel out what I needed, reset the track and got everything re-ballasted. When lining things up the second time, I used a trick I learned from Ed Hyland: use a small piece of the Unitrack ballasted concrete tie track (which is fixed at the proper spacing) as a jig to maintain the right spacing. I went out and bought myself a set of the Kato 20-044 2-7/16″ Straight Double Track to make sure I never screw it up again.
My scenic plan of attack was to make the double-length module a stretch of “nothing”. This mean some subtle terrain undulations, a proper right of way, and scale height trees.