Kato Locomtives

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JeffShultz said:
Okanagan/David,

Regarding Proto2K, one thing: SD9

After running (and pushing) those turkeys, anything P2K is going to be researched carefully prior to purchase.
Are you sure? I have 5 SD9's and they are my best running P2K engines.

Regards,

René Knoop
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Well the biggest issue with P2K units is the plastic gearing breaking, or being broken upon purchase.
 

Chessie SD50 8563

Conrail Modeler
Kato drives are better then any of Protos, some of the later Proto drives actually resemble Kato drives to point (for that matter Athearn's does too) The Kato drive is usually much smoother runing, more tollerant of durty and poor trackwork, and more powerful.... except when compaired to the Proto 60 series drive which is downright frighteningly powerful.

That said, Kato's electrical systems havent always been the greatest, the SD40-2's suffered from a problem with a poor metal tab pickup design. The SD80MAC's had a problem where a metal tab on the circut board was not cut to proper length causing a short and giving some DCC users issues, Almost every Kato board design has had a problem with resistors and diodes failing prematurely.

Proto's problems mainly revolve around the fact that no two units are geared the same, creating issues for DC users who want to run models together. Proto also has a problem with gears cracking over time, expecally with the early GP series drives that were simular to the athearn drives. Proto was always good about supplying replacment gears.... untill Walthers bought them. Thankfully Athearn gears are a drop in replacement. Proto for some reason uses low voltage lamps, Not DCC friendly. which means you either have to install resistors, replace them with higher voltage lamps or LED's, or use a special decoder. So while protos usually have the 8 pin plug, they are not 100% DCC ready. I'm also seeing a problem where older proto frames are starting to degrade, recently I had a E8 frame crack in half. About a year ago a club-members E8 did the same. Im not sure what to make of this, it might be just a bad batch, or wierd ironic event, or it could be a potential problem.

On the shell side of things, Proto is far more generous on detail parts then Kato usually is, Proto like most manufactures uses see though fans, and in some cases see though radator grills, and dynamics. For some reason Kato is still stuck in the stone ages in this department, Making units without the said items. Protos handrails and gribirons are closer to scale then Katos, but at a cost, they are also more fragile, but on a positive note, they usually come pre-installed, something Kato still isnt doing. Protos downfall in the shell department is sometimes they produce parts out of proper size, or miss certant details entirely. The SD60's cab and nose were of incorrect dimensions, and the trucks were far too wide. The GP38-2 is missing the door on the firemans side of the paper air filter box.

Paint wise its a toss up, Kato did a fantastic job on the SD80's, but a horrible job on the SD40-2's, Proto has had there good and bad jobs, that said I tend to find there paint a bit on the thick side. My GP38-2 has all kinda wierd paint mistakes.

I currently own 4 Katos, 3 SD80MAC's and a lone SD40, and 6 Protos, 1 GP38-2, 1 SD9, 1 SW1200, 1 SD60M, 1 E8 and a GP9

Out of all of them the SD80MAC's would have to be my favorite and also probily Kato's crowning achevement, they run well and are very well done. The fact that Kato went the distance and did a model of which only 30 exsisted correctly is very impressive, many manufactures would have probily not done it, or attempted to pawn off a slightly modifyed SD9043 in CR/CSX/NS paint.

My favorite proto would have to be the SD60M, its not 100% correct for CR but it is the only RTR model produced to date of the 60M, even with its detail flaws its still a very nice locomotive. I was working on a RPP one before I got this one but have put that aside now, anyone want a RPP SD60M shell and chassis?

My least favorite out of the bunch would be the GP38-2, Even with the revisions after the initial run (which was dreadful) theres still alot of glaring mistakes to be had. Its also managed to go though 2 motors for some reason.
 

BNSF dude

BNSF foamer
Well thats SD80's and AC4400CW's look what digitrax made Sound for Kato AC4400CW not SD80MAC but it will come soon. And Kato's do have the best performing motors on the market. Thats why Atlas uses them.
 
Chessie SD50 8563 said:
Kato drives are better then any of Protos, some of the later Proto drives actually resemble Kato drives to point (for that matter Athearn's does too) The Kato drive is usually much smoother runing, more tollerant of durty and poor trackwork, and more powerful.... except when compaired to the Proto 60 series drive which is downright frighteningly powerful.

That said, Kato's electrical systems havent always been the greatest, the SD40-2's suffered from a problem with a poor metal tab pickup design. The SD80MAC's had a problem where a metal tab on the circut board was not cut to proper length causing a short and giving some DCC users issues, Almost every Kato board design has had a problem with resistors and diodes failing prematurely.

Proto's problems mainly revolve around the fact that no two units are geared the same, creating issues for DC users who want to run models together. Proto also has a problem with gears cracking over time, expecally with the early GP series drives that were simular to the athearn drives. Proto was always good about supplying replacment gears.... untill Walthers bought them. Thankfully Athearn gears are a drop in replacement. Proto for some reason uses low voltage lamps, Not DCC friendly. which means you either have to install resistors, replace them with higher voltage lamps or LED's, or use a special decoder. So while protos usually have the 8 pin plug, they are not 100% DCC ready. I'm also seeing a problem where older proto frames are starting to degrade, recently I had a E8 frame crack in half. About a year ago a club-members E8 did the same. Im not sure what to make of this, it might be just a bad batch, or wierd ironic event, or it could be a potential problem.

On the shell side of things, Proto is far more generous on detail parts then Kato usually is, Proto like most manufactures uses see though fans, and in some cases see though radator grills, and dynamics. For some reason Kato is still stuck in the stone ages in this department, Making units without the said items. Protos handrails and gribirons are closer to scale then Katos, but at a cost, they are also more fragile, but on a positive note, they usually come pre-installed, something Kato still isnt doing. Protos downfall in the shell department is sometimes they produce parts out of proper size, or miss certant details entirely. The SD60's cab and nose were of incorrect dimensions, and the trucks were far too wide. The GP38-2 is missing the door on the firemans side of the paper air filter box.

Paint wise its a toss up, Kato did a fantastic job on the SD80's, but a horrible job on the SD40-2's, Proto has had there good and bad jobs, that said I tend to find there paint a bit on the thick side. My GP38-2 has all kinda wierd paint mistakes.

I currently own 4 Katos, 3 SD80MAC's and a lone SD40, and 6 Protos, 1 GP38-2, 1 SD9, 1 SW1200, 1 SD60M, 1 E8 and a GP9

Out of all of them the SD80MAC's would have to be my favorite and also probily Kato's crowning achevement, they run well and are very well done. The fact that Kato went the distance and did a model of which only 30 exsisted correctly is very impressive, many manufactures would have probily not done it, or attempted to pawn off a slightly modifyed SD9043 in CR/CSX/NS paint.

My favorite proto would have to be the SD60M, its not 100% correct for CR but it is the only RTR model produced to date of the 60M, even with its detail flaws its still a very nice locomotive. I was working on a RPP one before I got this one but have put that aside now, anyone want a RPP SD60M shell and chassis?

My least favorite out of the bunch would be the GP38-2, Even with the revisions after the initial run (which was dreadful) theres still alot of glaring mistakes to be had. Its also managed to go though 2 motors for some reason.
Thanks for the info!:)
 
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conrail92

Member
Well thats SD80's and AC4400CW's look what digitrax made Sound for Kato AC4400CW not SD80MAC but it will come soon. And Kato's do have the best performing motors on the market. Thats why Atlas uses them.
Im not worried about sound system its very much out of my price range
 

JeffShultz

Stay off the tracks!
The problems I've seen with the SD9s is basically an electrical connectivity one - it looks like once the axles ream out the brass contact plates, connectivity can get very iffy.
 

conrail92

Member
well my range is low :p im rebuilding my layout and most of my money is split between wood, foam, wiring, track. and the wood foam and track is going to soak up a good bit but adeventualy i might think about getting a larger dcc system and think about getting sound system but thats a way down the line
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
Sound prices have come down, it was once $150 per decoder or more. Now, a good one can be under $100.

It still can be a prohibitiive cost, if one thinks about retrofitting an existing fleet. I have a few sound-equipped locos, but even though I had an existing fleet, I've made more acquisitions via eBay, etc., so that fleet has gotten even larger. At $70 a pop, that's a heck of an expense.

Even at $25/ea for just a plain old decoder, that's a lot....

:D

Kennedy
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
Chessie SD50 8563 said:
Kato drives are better then any of Protos, some of the later Proto drives actually resemble Kato drives to point (for that matter Athearn's does too) The Kato drive is usually much smoother runing, more tollerant of durty and poor trackwork, and more powerful.... except when compaired to the Proto 60 series drive which is downright frighteningly powerful.
Actually Kato & P2K copied the basic Athearn mech that's been around since the 70's. Its just that they added things that make their mech's run better. Athearn still makes a mech that can rival Kato, if you're willing to spend some time.

I used to give a clinic at various meets and conventions, called "A Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear".

In this clinic I showed how to take an Athearm mech, do some things to it including polishing the gears, removing the old slotted drive components, smoothing the commutator at the least, and balancing the commutator at the most (this is not to be done without a way to remagnetize the alinco magnets Athearn uses in their older motors), and improving the wiring. The final part consisted of two things. Sealing the motor in place with hot glue, and adding a minimum 10oz of weight to the shell/mech.

After this is done, the needed amperage will drop most times by half and the mech becomes extremely quiet. I always demonstrated the difference this "tune up" made by running the mech as slow as possible after the clinic during a standard Q&A session afterwards. I would put a pointer, (pencil, pen, screwdriver) down at the end of the loco where the run started. Generally after the Q&A, (about 10-15min the loco would move only a foot or two in that time, with the motor barely turning). You'd be surprised at the number of people who wouldn't notice the mech was moving at all.

Kato's and P2Ks mechanisms, in my mind, are just Athearn mechanisms built like they should have been and not like they were, simply to save money for the customer.

Now if we could just get a steamer in HO from Kato, I might consider getting one.
 
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jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
I just sold an OLD school athearn drive, from an old SD45, and the buyer stated "Smoothest Athearn Dive I own", now I'm kinda annoyed that I sold it, but the $25 was worth it.
 

MLW

Active Member
I do not own any Kato but my friend has 2 and they are very smooth runner, very quiet and great low speed control. However, I do have quite a few Proto and the details are very very good above the aforementioned Kato’s and my Atlas C424. By far the best puller is my Proto C-Liner. Neither Kato nor Atlas comes close to that baby!!
 

Diesel Power

New Member
This was a good thread for me to read and learn a few things from. I was unaware of the paint issues with the KATO SD40-2, which I own two of. Perhaps that is why I am having a little trouble selling them even though they are MIB. After purchasing them back in '98(?) I realized I would rather model in the late 1940's, and through the 1950's.
 

Sprinkles

Put down my Brass!!!
With my Experience with both Proto and Kato, they both Have their good parts, as stated above. I actually havnt owned any KATO, but I feel I can say this since I have sold over 40 models in my time of working at the Hobby Shop. And really, wasnt me selling them, they sold themselfs. I have Owned a few Protos, one of which was a real nice SD60 UP, and that thing pulled more then anything else I have ever owned, more then my brass. I cant say enough for the Proto's, at least the 60 series. I do, How ever, Own a GP-9, which I have owned since it was brand new, and from the begining, it will not run right. It makes slipping noises, and the trucks are jumpy. I opened them up, and most of the gears where cracked. So I replaced them with Athern gears, and they still do it. So, I havnt found the cure, even though, I know someone else, Like Jeff, Most likely has. But Like I said, they both are very good.
 

Alcomotive

Grandson of ALCO Bldr
:D :D I have a pair of RS3 RI and a RS1 RI that are Atlas but powered by Kato. I picked these up back in 93 and the guy I bought them from never ran them and he was the original owner. They run like silk sewing machines with precision on the low end and the top end. I have been offered so many times by guys that wanted to buy them... not to mention the rare paint schemes. Although now I see some manufacturers are starting to make that series again. I still wont part with mine even though I am a UP man. If some were to trade me for UP RS units for them of that caliber and quality I would consider.:rolleyes:
Anyways Katos are great running units. I have a SD90mac43 UP#8105 that is the bomb! It runs like a real bull. I tested its pulling power at a local area club that had NMRA cars (meaning weighted etc) I pulled 113 cars no slippage! I put the 114th car on it showed some slip. A lot of cars!!! No complaint by me. Flat and level! The guys there had a $ pool going on after the 85th car LOL it was fun!:D
 




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