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Thoughts on Kato's N Gauge Pocket line series


The Birmingham train spotter

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The Birmingham train spotter

I've been on the Internet for a while looking for cheap N Gauge Japanese products so I can start strong when I order my first locomotive The EH200 and I came Across Kato's N Gauge Pocket line series of engines and trams,Now at first the Freight train pack had my attention as I like Electric locomotives and diesels ( Steam is still a favourite of mine btw) but it looked rather cheap in Quality and size,I know N Gauge is a small scale hobby for model trains but I was against ordering it.It looked like a lovely starter set for a good price ( £20 in British money or 3021.20 in Yen) but I'm still conflicted on a engine to buy

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disturbman

The pocket line is not designed to be on par quality wise with other, normal n gauge models. They are intended to be cheap(er) toys for a younger audience.

 

If you want a proper model, save money until you can buy the locomotive you really want. Otherwise, chose the pocket line you prefer.

 

Like for B Trains, there is not really a point in being too picky about perceived quality/realness with the pocket line.

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The steam engines are non-powered with the power chassis being under the first coach.  As the power chassis has a long wheelbase resulting in minimum radius of R117. Newer units have a better drive that offers low speed running.

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It’s a bit like the difference between a train set and a model. I would say the pocket line is a great starter for those wanting to run a short train through a little scene or on a small table top. They navigate very tight curves and I’m sure are a lot of fun if you’re not interested in detail and just want to have something running.  They’re certainly not bad but serve a specific purpose. Actually for the money, they’re pretty bloody good.

 

They don’t by any means represent the real world. As others have said, if you’d really like a model of a real life train, save your money for what you really want or you’ll probably wish you had. Just imagine, when you get that locomotive you really want,  and you will at some point, you’ll be really happy you saved for it. There will always be temptation from other things. If you look in the “for sale” section, there’s plenty that forum members are selling as they were tempted and realised it wasn’t quite their area of interest after all.

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Welshbloke

The current Pocket Line electric locos are freelance and pretty basic, but at the same time the new mechanism is a superb runner for a four wheel loco in N. You won't find a new loco for less and they're good fun. I bought the Gaugemaster one in BR black, which I plan to dress up with buffers, red bufferbeams and glazing. It lines up nicely with Peco 10' wheelbase wagons. Note that the standard versions of the model in red or blue include a couple of basic Japanese wagons for the same price.

 

I would suggest looking for one of the Kato Kukoden 103 Series sets too. Yes they're basic, the tooling dates back decades but they have a current spec chassis and run as well as anything else without flywheels, I've had mine towing three or four extra coaches with no problems. Easy to add detailing parts from Greenmax or Kato Assy Parts range, just doing some detail painting and adding Kato Shibata couplers works wonders for them. I turned one into a replica of the Tsurumi Line units and the other is halfway through having aircon pods fitted.

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So the blue freight set was the first Japanese model I purchased. I understood the limitations, but I didn’t know what I wanted to model (and the variety of Japanese prototypes is overwhelming) and this seemed like a low risk jumping in point.

 

I’ve purchased a number of freight cars since then, but no other motive power. Funds are a bit tight as we close on a house in a couple of weeks.

 

The dream is to model Hokkaido in the 70s. In the meantime, this little set will form the basis of a small private electric railway. From my research, it seems that onesies and twosies were not unusual when it comes to steeple cab electrics for small private railways, so I think I can justify this fictitious  locomotive.

 

One of the things that’s prevented me from doing a lot of actual modeling has been my crippling sense of rivet counter perfectionism. I hope this low stakes set will give me the internal freedom to get some experience to detail and upgrade it. I figure that if I botch the shell, I still have a great mechanism that I can use for something else. 

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On 10/14/2021 at 6:34 AM, Welshbloke said:

 

I would suggest looking for one of the Kato Kukoden 103 Series sets too. Yes they're basic, the tooling dates back decades but they have a current spec chassis and run as well as anything else without flywheels, I've had mine towing three or four extra coaches with no problems. Easy to add detailing parts from Greenmax or Kato Assy Parts range, just doing some detail painting and adding Kato Shibata couplers works wonders for them. I turned one into a replica of the Tsurumi Line units and the other is halfway through having aircon pods fitted.

I’d be interested in seeing some pictures of your Kukoden 103 detailing projects.

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