Unitrack Feeder Tutorial

Solderless Terminal Unijoiners

A tutorial on creating cheap, solderless Unijoiner feeders for Kato N-scale Unitrack

I once built a layout using Kato N-scale Unitrack. Unitrack is known for two things: being easy to work with and being very expensive. I bought most of my Unitrack at a discount store to help with the cost, but when it came time to buy the terminal Unijoiners, I balked at the price. I estimated that I would need at least 15 pair to properly wire my trackplan and at $4.25 per pair, that's at least $70. I figured there had to be a cheaper and easier way.

I went to the internet and searched for answers. The first solution I found was soldering my own terminal unijoiners. The instructions were simple and straight forward, but my soldering skills are somewhat lacking. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to grow the third arm out of my chest that would be required to perform this soldering job. I also looked into other methods, but they all seemed to involve some sort of soldering and as I noted before, soldering is not my forté.

Finally, I came across the perfect solution in this post on Trainboard.com. It is a cheap and completely solderless method for creating terminal Unijoiners, and I didn't even have to buy anything special. All you need are a pair of wire cutters/strippers, wire (I used 22 gauge), and Unitrack (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1

The first step is to remove the Unijoiners (Fig. 2). I used my teeth, but a small pair of pliers and some gentle pulling would probably do the trick as well.

Fig. 2

After the Unijoiner is out, I stripped off about one half inch of insulation from the end of a 22 gauge stranded wire. I then twisted the wire so that the strands would not separate (Fig 3.). See the picture below to get a feel for how much insulation to strip.

Fig. 3

Once you've stripped and twisted your wire, insert the bare wire into the Unijoiner (Fig 4.) The wire should be inside of the metal part of the Unijoiner where the track goes.

Fig. 4

Next, bend the wire down and back under the plastic part of the Unijoiner. Figure 5 shows the wire bent down over the end of the Unijoiner and back underneath.

Fig. 5

Insert the Unijoiner back into the Unitrack bare metal end first (Fig. 6). It will be a tight fit, but shouldn't be too difficult to insert.

Fig. 6

The new feeder is hardly noticeable from above (Fig. 7) and should completely disappear once the track is painted.

Fig. 7

The wire will be extremely secure and will stick out of the bottom of the track section for easy consealment (Fig. 8).

Fig. 8

And that's it! I told you it was cheap and easy. Once you have the track put together, check the joints between your feeder tracks and make sure there are no bumps. Some quick filing can be done to level out any issues. Go try it yourself and let me know the results.

Thanks to bryan9 on Trainboard for letting the world know about this method.

© Joseph Bales 2006