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When you can't find parts for older locomotives...


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I'm sure we all have them - that one older locomotive (or maybe more!) that we love and couldn't do without. But what happens when you break a part on it? And even worse, that part is not available anymore?


When I was in Kyoto nearly two years ago, I purchased two secondhand Kato 3009 locomotives from Popondetta Kyoto Aeon Mall - a 3009-1 without box, and a 3009-5 with box. Unfortunately the '09-1 took a nosedive onto the floor of the Kyoto Central Post Office when it was being sent back to NZ: although I didn't know it at the time, one of the coupler/plow assemblies broke on impact. Fast forward to now, and the '09-5 has donated a replacement plow to its red sister which now runs regularly - but I would like to get the '09-5 running again, with couplings at both ends. I've tried using newer ED75 and ED70 parts but no joy - they hang a bit lower than the originals, so they grind along the top of the rails.


So, then, what should I do to fix this? Buying a complete locomotive for the chassis seems a bit pointless, and I can't find any suitable parts online. Any suggestions?

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With luck and patience you should be able to track down the needed replacement part if you know it's number or maybe even the JAN code. I spent over a month searching for a body shell but in the end found one at Yahoo Auctions.

What might also work is trying coupler assemblies from other locos where spare parts might be easier to get.

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12 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

Can you post a few pictures? Sometimes it's surprising what you can do with styrene, putty, and paint.

I'll dig the good plow out and post a few pictures of it later this afternoon.

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I had that problem with an older Kato EF81; newer part seemed to fit but coupler was way too low:



Kato EF81 coupling assembly replacement by Rail Squid, on Flickr


Options are basically:

- hope to find the part somewhere still available (very unlikely for these older releases, which are easily 20 years out of production)

- find a very cheap junk version with the part still in place

- modify the new part


I think in this case with some modification the part can be modified to fit, just a question of getting round to it.

I have since sworn off purchasing older locos, even if cheap, as by the time you've sourced parts you can easily end up spending the price of a new one.


FWIW if you have an older Kato EF81 like this and need a replacement pantograph (also impossible to find), the Kato EH500 one (still available) is a good match and fits (though it doesn't have the diagonal bar which slopes from pantograph to roof).

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As promised, here’s a picture of the good plow and the ‘09-5 it came off. Right now it has a set of ED70 plows on it, and, like @railsquid‘s EF81 they hang a little too low. Perhaps a wee bit of gentle sanding might fix that?


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1 hour ago, roadstar_na6 said:

You could make a silicone mold from the intact one and cast it with resin.


I’d be interested in knowing how to do that. Can you describe the process?

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