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Kato - Rolling Stock Details


gavino200

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I'm curious about the little fine details that Kato supplies with rolling stock, but doesn't actually assemble for you. I mean the little plastic pieces that are still "on the sprue", that are tucked into the corner of the box. Does it really lower the production cost of the unit significantly? Do they do it so that buyers can feel that they've helped to assemble the item. It doesn't bother me. Some, like the little handles on the front of a few freight locos are extremely hard to work with. But most are fairly easy and sort of fun to add. I'm just curious why they do this.

 

vgRnmMK.jpg

Edited by gavino200
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9 minutes ago, railsquid said:

I imagine it's a cost factor, outsourcing the fiddliest and potentially personnel-intensive part of the operation to the end user.

 

Interesting. I guess it is a form of outsourcing. I wonder how much I'm getting paid for doing this.

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Personally i have a few Kato sets where every detail was applied. In one case (Kato Nohabs) i have to actually remove them as they are not epoch correct and were added later or in some case not at all for that certain locomotive (3 out of 4 had to be modified in some way). For another set, the JNR series 13 kumoni, the applied handle parts are extremly flimsy and if they were added to the package as extras, i wouldn't have put them on. If you want to transport the models to exhibitons, tend to have small accidents (routing and shunting errors) or want to handle them more easily then it's better to have less fiddly parts to break off.

 

So i found a few other reasons besides cost:

-safety during transportation, so the parts won't get damaged between the factory and the buyer's home

-epoch correctness as some parts, like radio antennas were installed later during the service life of the vehicle

-multiple option, this is the usual case when you get more than one part type and must choose which one matches the region and the epoch you want

-and being more child (or clumsy hands) safe

 

Actually if i could choose between a nicely applied external detail part of an N scale handrail or one moulded into the shell, i would say the second is better. Doesn't look as good, but it's less likely to break off. I also build Lego trains, not the toy sized offical sets, but scale correct ones (1:42) with car lengs over half a meter. Still the cars i build could be picked up with one hand and turned upside down without falling apart or the passengers getting loose. Some people in my club build more detailed ones, but if you don't lift them at 4 locations with 2 hands and keep them level, they fall apart. Also a small shunting error (higher speed) and you are halfway in the last car with your locomotive. (at least it's Lego, so the owner could rebuild it) Nice to look at, but so fragile, they are almost unusable outside a display cabinet. The N or H0 scale models are the same way meant to be toys as the Lego models. The more flimsy details one has, the more it turns into a model and get harder to play with. For someone who prefers to run their trains this might get to the point of having a so detailed locomotive that you can only handle with white gloves and it's so flimsy it needs a transport frame just to be placed into its box. I have a Kato steam locomotive this sensitive and there are only 2 small surfaces on the whole loco body where you can touch it without breaking off anything. 4 if you add the permanently attached tender. This is barely enough to get it off the transport frame and onto the tracks and back again. Also you have to take out all the foam inserts to get the frame out. Compare this to the open bookcase, grab car in the middle and place on the track method for most of my japanese trains.

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58 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

Interesting. I guess it is a form of outsourcing. I wonder how much I'm getting paid for doing this.

 

Your "payment" is a lower price, one of a number of reasons why a brand-new Japanese RTR loco is 1/4 ~ 1/3 the price of say a British one...

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1 minute ago, railsquid said:

 

Your "payment" is a lower price, one of a number of reasons why a brand-new Japanese RTR loco is 1/4 ~ 1/3 the price of say a British one...

 

Yes, I know. I was being a smart ass. I mean, I wonder how much these five or six finicky parts lower the price. I don't suppose it's really an answerable question.

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8 hours ago, gavino200 said:

 

Yes, I know. I was being a smart ass. I mean, I wonder how much these five or six finicky parts lower the price. I don't suppose it's really an answerable question.

 

I suppose you could work out what it costs Kato to employ a parts assembly operator, add the additional overheads in the production process, work out how long it takes them to add the bits (including rectifying mistakes), and calculate the additional cost from that. Maybe add on a bit to cover the cost of additional returns due to parts detaching/breaking in transit etc.

 

To make up some figures, say it costs Kato 1600 yen an hour (very conservative estimate) to employ the parts assembly operator, and it takes 15 minutes to add the bits to each locomotive, you're looking at an additional 400 yen per locomotive, which is not far off 10% of the typical (pre-sales tax) consumer price.

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I had a lucky find today with regard to this detailing problem. I had tried and failed to apply the little handles that fit on the front of Kato freight locos. You need 4, and they give you 6, so I had used up all my extra lives. I decided to wait until I thought of a good method. Better still, a good method was just handed to me by Kato. I was looking through the 2018 Kato catalog today, for the umpteenth time when I noticed they do a little feature on this detail. I didn't bother to translate it as the picture illustrates the idea perfectly.

 

Basically, you leave the handle on the sprue. It's much easier to handle that way. Glue the handle to the front of the loco with the sprue attached. Then clip off the sprue when the glue has dried. It's still difficult but it's doable.

 

DXxuV8R.jpg

Edited by gavino200
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Thanks for the tip!  I'd previously given up on installing the grab irons onto my kato EF66 cause of this problem, do you have a suggestion for a nipper that works well?

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34 minutes ago, Kiha66 said:

Thanks for the tip!  I'd previously given up on installing the grab irons onto my kato EF66 cause of this problem, do you have a suggestion for a nipper that works well?

 

Funny, you should mention that. I was on my way to 'the tool shed' to bitch about the Tomiya nipper that I recently acquired. The blades cross slightly which makes it unpredictable. I couldn't use it for this job. Instead I used a pair of Radio Shack nippers. I've had them for years and they've taken a lot of punishment but they still worked perfectly for this. Much better than the Tomiya pair. 

 

Edited by gavino200
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Thanks!  I've been meaning to get a pair of nippers but they are rather pricy and I dont know which ones are quality.  Some cost more than a locomotive!

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Just now, Kiha66 said:

Thanks!  I've been meaning to get a pair of nippers but they are rather pricy and I dont know which ones are quality.  Some cost more than a locomotive!

 

Yes. I even considered buying a pair of the much venerated "Godhand" nippers. After this experience, I think I'll stick with the cheap RS ones. I hope the online store stays afloat. All the physical stores have closed in my city.

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I looked through the 2017, and 2014 catalogs, hoping to find more useful tips. It seems they just run the exact same article every year.

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13 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

Basically, you leave the handle on the sprue. It's much easier to handle that way. Glue the handle to the front of the loco with the sprue attached. Then clip off the sprue when the glue has dried. It's still difficult but it's doable.

 

 

Nice of Kato to at least have a little sprue on these small handles! I was installing the GreennMax ones on my Odakyu 1000 series and that is an absolute terror....

 

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/image/10332245/50/1 

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4 minutes ago, JR 500系 said:

 

Nice of Kato to at least have a little sprue on these small handles! I was installing the GreennMax ones on my Odakyu 1000 series and that is an absolute terror....

 

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/image/10332245/50/1 

 

Wow! that looks horrific. Without using the sprue these little beggers kept springing loose from my forceps and flying across the table. 

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22 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

Wow! that looks horrific. Without using the sprue these little beggers kept springing loose from my forceps and flying across the table. 

 

yap... good news if it just sprung out of the forceps and onto the table, to be easily found. 

 

Bad news is that there are NO additional handle bars provided. and if you lost one then that's it. further, GreenMax doesnt have spares to be purchased.... it seriously sucks. i did once when i was in top form and got all 4 handle bars on my Odakyu 1000 1051-formation, and lost one on my Odakyu 1000 red version which i really like.... 

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For parts like this I like to use needle/tweezer nose pliers to hold them. They grip better and less likely to to sproing with pressure inserting parts. You do need to use sharp tweezers to place the part into the pliers just right though!

 

https://www.widgetsupply.com/product/BCU49.html

https://www.widgetsupply.com/product/BDH53.html

https://www.widgetsupply.com/product/BER17.html

 

cutters can vary widely on how they are ground down. Two pairs from the same make can have very different quality of grinding and thus cutting. I’ve had great pairs of both cheap and expensive ones over the years. Zurons are generally decent for a decent price and if one is not ground well they will replace them. Cheap ones are a total crap shoot, I have a few excellent $2 cutters and a bunch of pretty crappy ones that I use for cutting non critical stuff. Sadly one of those just gotta see and try it things. I’m not sure if the new pairs of the RadioShack will be the same as your current ones, just have to try...

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Just my 2 cents but the Godhand nippers are worth the price. You do have to be careful using them (you can mess up the blades by being careless) but they leave a very clean cut and are indispensable for small detail parts for me now.  

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