Having once attempted to create this effect with traditional snap track (and quickly giving up in failure), I am so excited to see a good, easy to add system being produced!
So how do they look? First, some comparisons: From left to right below is the Kato 414/381 radius double-track, super-elevated curve (item 20-181); to the right of that (the second Thalys) is a traditional Kato 381 radius, to the right of that is the Tomix 391 radius, 'canted' (i.e. 'super-elevated), 'wide rail', single-track section of Finetrack (item # 1744); and just to the right of that (out of the picture) is another Relay Tsubame on another plain jane 381 radius):
Here's another photo with a close up comparison of two Relay Tsubame's on curved track. As above, the track on the left is the Tomix 'super-elevated' with a radius of 391, next to it is traditional Kato 381 radius:
Here's a close up profile of the Unitrack Super-elevated curve:
Below is a profile shot of the Tomix 'cant' track (or 'wide rail' or whatever....).
Some observations on these curved tracks:
- YOU WILL NEED THE EASEMENT SECTIONS for both the Unitrack and Finetrack super-elevated curves. The 'easement' sections are just what they sound like....traditional 'flat' on one end of the curve, which then 'eases' into the 'super-elevated'elevation on the other end. Obviously, you connect your straight, non-super-elevated track to one end, and the super-elevated section to the other.
- "Short" easements and "long" super-elevated curves. In other words, the 'easement' sections for both lines are 22.5 degrees, whereas the super-elevated curves are 45 degrees. This limits some of the flexibility you might otherwise want if your actual radius is greater than the 381/391 or 414 that are offered. More on this below.
- For whatever reason, both the Kato and Tomix versions are molded and painted to resemble concrete ties. This is disappointing as it will 'stick out' when connected to traditional 'wood tie' track. I have it in my mind to try and paint the ties, but that's something down the road when I've run out of interesting things to do.
- And yes, the Tomix Finetrack curve is unusually wide. Not really sure what they're planning...perhaps it has something to do with increasing stability, or maybe its just an asthetic requirement to be consistent with other pieces they are producing. The Kato double track version is consistent with their other double track pieces.
You could do what I tried, which is to put two easements on the leading edge of the curves, add in the super-elevated pieces, and then plug some traditional straight pieces between the two super-elevated curves. Not sure if I'll stick with this arrangement, but it is possible and I haven't had any problems, but I also don't think I'm gaining anything over what I proposed in the above paragraph.
Yes, I'm 'sold' on super-elevated curves! I'm hoping that these products are successful and we can begin to see more variations in the sizes that are offered in the future so I can 'upgrade' all those traditional curves!
Here's the breakdown on the part numbers from each company:
Tomix "Wide Rail" 'canted' Finetrack:
Easements: Tomix Item 1754 "Wide PC Approach Track" CR(L)C391-22.5-WP(F) - This package includes two 22.5 degree easement curves.
Super-Elevated Curves: Tomix Item 1744 "Wide PC Curved Track C391-45-WP(F) - Includes 2x 45 degree sections.
To complete a 'half circle' or 180 degree curve, you'll need the 'easement' or 'approach' package (2 x 22.5 = 45 degrees), plus 2 packages of the Curved track (you'll end up with an extra piece unfortunately since you only need three of these [ 3 x 45 = 135, + the 2 easements/approach tracks which add another 45 degrees; so 135+45 = 180]. degrees). If you want a fill circle of track, then you'll just add another package of Easements and one more package of curves - and no extras!
Also, I just noticed that if the 391 radius is too large for you, Hobbysearch Japan also has a 354 mm radius version out now!
Easements: Kato Item 20-182 "Concrete Tie Double-Track Superelevated Easement Curve Let, Right 414/381-22.5" Similar to Tomix, you get 2 22.5 degree pieces in this package.
Super-Elevated Curves: Item 20-181 "Concrete Tie Double-Track Superelevated Curve 414/318-45". The options for Kato are the same as Tomix above regarding how many packages of each you'll need.
Also, Kato has the same curves in a double track viaduct configuration as well. I've also heard that there's a smaller radius version of the double-track super-elevated curves, but I haven't seen it.