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Kato EF81 Knuckle Coupler Compatibility with NA Rolling Stock


James-SNMB

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James-SNMB

Help!

 

Are the knuckle couplers included with the Kato EF81-400 Kyushu (https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10250408) compatible with the knuckle couplers found on rolling stock offered by North American manufacturers? I have a Kato USA ES44AC with whatever standard knuckle couple comes on that, and it works fine with the Kato, Intermountain, and NARC rolling stock I have. But I can't tell for the life of me how similar the knuckle coupler that comes with the EF81 would be?

 

I know, it's kind of a bizarre question, but it starts with good news. My oldest daughter (6) has gotten very excited about the idea of having her own little layout to decorate. I've got to act quickly to seize this window of excitement before this window of wanting-to-do-stuff-with-Dad closes in a few years! I've got plans to whip up a 2x3 foot unitrack layout, and I was trying to figure out what kind of locomotive she would like, assuming I would pick up some second-hand North American loco locally. I starting showing her some stuff online to get some idea. Well, she's 6 and likes everything. The more colourful the better. I went ahead and showed her some Japanese locomotives on RG-Rokko, and she spotted the pink (rose?) EF81 400 Kyushu, and told me to forget about everything else! And honestly, for the price it's probably not much different from what I'd be able to find for a decent used NA locomotive locally.

 

She'll mostly be using it to pull gondola's and hoppers to give her n scale animals and cars rides. Compatibility gives us flexibility to pick up second hand rolling stock locally.

 

So I very need to confirm:

  • Is the Kato knuckle coupler that comes with the Kato EF81-400 Kyushu compatible with other knuckle couplers found on North American branded rolling stock?
    • And to qualify "compatibility", it just has to attach and not frequently randomly uncouple. It's ok if it's a bit finicky. I know it's going to be anyway, just based on what I experience with my other NA cars, but once they're together, they stay together.
  • If not, is there a replacement coupler that is compatible?
  • Would I expect it have any issues running on 249mm radius unitrack curves?
  • Lastly, it really is pink right? It's hard to tell for sure in all the range of photos I've seen. Looks like maybe a rose or light red-pink.

 

Thank you in advance for helping me force share this hobby with the next generation!

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disturbman

I know it's not what you asked, but for a six-year old, I would chose a colorful Tomytec Railroad Collection as a first train. Or one of the painted DMUs from Tomix, like the Pokemon with YOU train. They are a lot of very kids friendly options in Japanese N scale models.

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James-SNMB

Thanks. There's no option off the table at this point, so I'll check out your suggestion @disturbman.

 

Thanks for clarity on the colour @katoftw. I found some videos that show it as a more of a light red, as you say. She says she's still into it, but she's into everything. No right answer means no wrong ones, right?

 

Coupler compatibility could be a deal breaker though.

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James-SNMB
24 minutes ago, katoftw said:

I have said model if you want me to take a pic?

No need to go to the trouble. I understand that although it looks a little pink in some photos, it's a shade of red.

 

Can I explain that to a six year old? Will they use that information to re-assess their preference? We'll see.

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James-SNMB

Awesome stuff @roadstar_na6! Thanks for that confirmation. Should be good to go then. The EF81 remains on the list of options!

 

She still sounds sold on it, even if the colour is a light red. But we'll see what shiny object catches her attention next!

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@James-SNMB - To know what it comes as coupler, you can go to https://www.katomodels.com/product/n/ef81_400

 

Usually (which is not the case here), you can download the Assy ( basically the small green flyer coming with the rolling stock) and check what add coupler comes with

 

Here the standard coupler is a Arnold one (the 'standard' N coupler), thus you shouldn't face an issue with. From my personal experience, all the locomotives (Electric & Diesel) come with Arnold coupler. 

 

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disturbman

They come equipped with Rapidos, but they have a replacement knuckle couplers in the box.

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1 hour ago, disturbman said:

They come equipped with Rapidos, but they have a replacement knuckle couplers in the box.

 Sorry @James-SNMB, I was a bit quick into my response, @disturbman is right

 

Looking to this page as an example : https://www.katomodels.com/product/n/ef64_1000

 

You can download different Assy where the additionally delivered knuckle coupler is presented

 

Below what comes with my EF64-1000 in JRF white-blue livery

 

 990456922_Capturedcran2022-01-20101407.thumb.jpg.af68c8bfa73d568a8963f7a763d4ab6a.jpg

758450037_Capturedcran2022-01-20101452.thumb.jpg.3d5134b46aaf06470fbdb40e2160f977.jpg

 

On the same page, another Assy for the special EF64-1030/1031 with a specific multicompatible knuckle coupler

 

2054125350_Capturedcran2022-01-20101232.thumb.jpg.736cce25df2261ca3c45964a934cfa6c.jpg

696600235_Capturedcran2022-01-20101521.thumb.jpg.2b5bc41d8433a97889ef65c7e55bbf4d.jpg

 

 

Edited by JR East
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James-SNMB

The collective knowledge of the members is astounding! Thanks for all of you input! Looks like the Kato knuckle couplers will work, and even the rapidos are a nice option in case we pick up some older second hand cars that have rapidos themselves. Maximum flexibility! 6 year olds pay no mind to "prototypical operations", so this is going to be fun!

 

Pretty interesting that she's picked out a Japanese locomotive too. My only Japanese rolling stock are a couple Shinkansens (soon to be more...) and some trams, so my daughter will be the one making the first true leap into Japanese modeling. I guess I'll have to make her a JNS account.

 

@disturbman you are 100% correct. The flowers, the dolphins, the pink handrails... the ingredients are all there! But I'm abstaining from Japanese auctions. (That's a slippery slope if I've ever seen one!) So you can go ahead and bid unopposed 😉.

Edited by James-SNMB
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You can also get the magnetic couplers found on Kato American locos and use on Japanese stock too. It’s essentially the same thing as the knuckle that comes with Japanese locos but has an additional hole to house the magnet bar. They usually do a long and short shank version so really depends on your turn radii. Perhaps not of interest to your daughter at this stage, but when Dad uses after hours. 

 

I would imagine you could get these from Kato USA or your local dealer that stock Kato products.

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6 hours ago, Kamome said:

You can also get the magnetic couplers found on Kato American locos

 

I did not found that on Kato japanese site. Isn't that sold in Japan ? It seems really convenient

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Englehart
On 1/20/2022 at 7:48 AM, James-SNMB said:

 

She'll mostly be using it to pull gondola's and hoppers to give her n scale animals and cars rides. Compatibility gives us flexibility to pick up second hand rolling stock locally.

 

I guess since it's second hand mostly are still rapidos if not micro train line coupler. it's compatible for the kato knuckle on the latter one 

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James-SNMB
3 hours ago, Englehart said:

I guess since it's second hand mostly are still rapidos if not micro train line coupler. it's compatible for the kato knuckle on the latter one 

Yes, I have also had good experience connecting kato couplers with micro trains and whatever comes on intermountain cars on my North American rolling stock. All the brands of knuckle couplers over here seem compatible with one another (though I have read that some users who are into switching operations find some combos that work better for that than others, but that doesn't matter to me). I do plan to pick up some 11-702 kato couplers to swap out any rapidos we come across on second hand rolling stock, so that will be nice to have on hand. Can't beat the price. Or we could just leave everything in rapidos for a while too. We'll see what comes.

 

We've now collected most of the other essential things for her layout (unitrack, grass, flowers, animals) so she is excited to get started putting it together next weekend. But she's probably going to have to wait until April/May for her loco to show up along with some of my other pending pre-orders, so hopefully I can keep her interested until then!

 

Honestly, I'm actually a little jealous that she's going to have a finished layout waaaaaaay before I will! It's going to be really fun putting it together with her, trying to make some stuff like tunnels, making changes as we go, and not worrying about making everything perfect. Pure fun only. It's inspired me to build my own micro layout, just for the fun/experience! (Like I need more projects)

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Englehart
11 hours ago, James-SNMB said:

Yes, I have also had good experience connecting kato couplers with micro trains and whatever comes on intermountain cars on my North American rolling stock. All the brands of knuckle couplers over here seem compatible with one another (though I have read that some users who are into switching operations find some combos that work better for that than others, but that doesn't matter to me). I do plan to pick up some 11-702 kato couplers to swap out any rapidos we come across on second hand rolling stock, so that will be nice to have on hand. Can't beat the price. Or we could just leave everything in rapidos for a while too. We'll see what comes.

 

We've now collected most of the other essential things for her layout (unitrack, grass, flowers, animals) so she is excited to get started putting it together next weekend. But she's probably going to have to wait until April/May for her loco to show up along with some of my other pending pre-orders, so hopefully I can keep her interested until then!

 

Honestly, I'm actually a little jealous that she's going to have a finished layout waaaaaaay before I will! It's going to be really fun putting it together with her, trying to make some stuff like tunnels, making changes as we go, and not worrying about making everything perfect. Pure fun only. It's inspired me to build my own micro layout, just for the fun/experience! (Like I need more projects)

don't forget the castle or windmills 😅

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