Friday, February 21, 2014

Voiding The Warranty

While in the UK many of the ready to run locomotives are produced by Hornby, Bachmann, or Dapol there are many other companies which produce locomotives and roling stock. In Japan, for instance, KATO are one of the main manufactures of HO and N gauge models. One of the ranges they produce in N gauge is the Pocket Line Passengers. I'm guessing the name comes from the fact that the range is quite cheap, and so could be bought with pocket money, and in fact a full set consisting of track, controller, a steam locomotive and two carriages costs just £45. Mind you its cost is reflected in the quality of the models, as you can see from this publicity shot.

Now you may be wondering why am I telling you about a cheap Japanese N gauge train set? The answer lies in the carriages.

To anyone who has ever handled an N gauge steam locomotive it will probably be obvious that the locomotive in the photo doesn't actually contain a motor, there is simply no where to put one; even a micro-motor with a belt drive through the smoke box would struggle to power that model. The solution KATO have gone for is to fit the motor into one of the carriages. Basically the entire bottom section of the carriage, everything that is black, including the hand-rails on each end, is part of a small powered chassis. Now not only do KATO sell the full train sets but they will happily sell the chassis as spare parts, and it turns out that they are perfect for providing power for OO9 gauge locomotives, such as the Baguley-Drewry diesel locomotive from Narrow Planet that I'm intending to build. So a few weeks ago I ordered the chassis (it's KATO part number 11-104) from a supplier in Japan, via Amazon, for a total price, including P&P of just £13.01. It arrived last weekend, but I've only just got around to doing anything with it, and the first thing I did definitely voids any warranty it might come with!

Although the chassis is very small it is too long and slightly too wide to fit in the body shell of the Narrow Planet kit. Fortunately making it fit is fairly easy. Narrowing the chassis is simply a case of filing off the axle boxes and leaf springs, making it shorter, however, requires more drastic action.

On the way to work yesterday (after being slightly delayed after a truck hit the railway bridge in Penistone), I briefly called in at antics model shop and picked up a razor saw (specifically this one from Expo Tools). With the razor saw hacking the ends off took just a couple of seconds, leaving me with a 46mm long chassis (or around 11 foot 6 inches at 4mm to the foot scale), perfect for powering the Baguley-Drewry. One precaution I took, and which I'd recommend, was to use masking tape to cover the top of the central section while making the alterations to stop small bits of plastic getting into the motor and drive assembly.

As I haven't done anything about a track plan yet, I tested the chassis by running it around Jerusalem for an hour or so in each direction to make sure it was well run in, and it runs perfectly at both high and low speed, even over the points. So now I have the chassis sorted I can start thinking about assembling and painting the body.


  1. Presumably I'd know immediately by the weight but as the last thing on earth that would ever occur to me is that the train is powered by the carriages and not the locomotive I might well have had a deal of problems if I'd bought that.

  2. A great solution...and at a very reasonable price!