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How to change Kato body mount coupler


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This is my first post on this forum, so would request to be excused for any protocol breaches!

By mistake I bought a Kato 10-819 NOTO 489 series add-on car set of 4, not knowing that it has body mount Kato 11-731 (I think) close-lock type couplers. All my locomotives have knuckle type couplers, so now I need to change one coupler on the front car.

A Japanese modeler on YouTube, Otaku Oyaji, helped me, I quote him, "You have to replace the snow plow assembly on the front car to 4697-2c3 to replace the dummy coupler."


My first question is, how do I remove the existing coupler? I don't generally dissemble cars and engines, so I am a bit wary of proceeding without advice.

Second, Kato 4697-2c3 is not available in the US. Kato USA has a coupler 800002. Does it look like it could be used as a replacement? Since I don't run prototypical anyway, can the 800125 also be considered?


I am attaching pics of a car from the 10-819 which show the coupler and the truck. I am also pasting links to the 800002 and 800125.

I would appreciate any help.

Thank you,







Edited by EsK
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Welcome to the forum Krish.  These cars are designed to run in the middle of an EMU set, and as such are not designed to be connected to standard knuckle couplers.  The car has an assembly with the end underfloor details, part of which is the tight lock coupler assembly.  The couplers you link will not fit to replace said couplers, as kato doesn't anticipate anyone connecting middle car to a locomotive. 


The kato part 4697-2c3 is designed to fit in the front of a cab car, which could then be connected to a locomotive. If you purchase the set which includes the cab cars, (10-818) it already includes knuckle couplers on the end to connect to locomotives.  



Edited by Kiha66
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Thank you so much Kiha!

Kato USA said that they would get me the 4697-2c3 if I was willing to wait. Since I will not be buying a 10-818, do you think 4697-2c3 might fit the existing car? 

The pic I posted is of the car with the pantograph as seen in the pic that you provided. Could I please know if this car with pantograph is known as a cab car?

If you think that this is not going to work, I will simply return the 10-819.



Edited by EsK
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The set you have is 4 middle cars from a 9 car EMU. This particular train did not have a locomotive but driving cab cars at each end which you can see in @Kiha66 picture with head and tail lights and the service name or picture at the front. The cars with a pantograph obviously collected electricity for the entire real train but are not cab cars. Many real life Japanese trains have smaller motors along the whole train rather than a power car at one or both ends like many British and American trains have or at least had. 


These coaches are designed for a self-contained Electric Multiple Unit so would not be used behind other trains or locomotives.


As Kiha mentioned, the part you are looking at ordering fits only at the very front of the driving cabs, see picture again. Some 489 sets had support from locomotives at very steep inclines and so this part enables you to model the EMU with helper or banking locomotives. Here’s a short video of the 489 in a later, more horrible livery after JNR became divided into JR regions. 



If you wanted to run these coaches with a locomotive , you could remove the body mounted coupler, then purchase a new bogie with bogie mounted coupler to put at one or both ends. Kato produce a range of different bogie designs for their older modelled sets. The 489 probably has an accurate bogie 2 pack produced by Kato so you could add one at each end of this consist to be pulled by a locomotive. It wouldn’t be prototypical but that may not be an issue for you. 


The couplers modelled on your coaches are a pretty accurate depiction of the real couplers on these real life units. 

To remove them, it’s best to remove the body from the chassis. Once the body is off, you can easily see the clips that hold the coupler assembly to the chassis. 


“It would be a good idea to check how the bogies attach to the chassis too. I believe all of the bogie packs used screws to mount like the older Kato model designs (designed not produced). Some of the newer designs use a clip mount and that would mean the separate bogies wouldn’t be compatible.  I don’t have my Kato catalogue to hand but you would need a DT32 or TR69 bogie depending on the coach. “



Just looked at you photo of the bogie again and it’s a clip type so the above is obsolete. I’ll leave in for information to other members. 


For future reference, Tomix models generally come with bogie mounted couplers so all stock can be run behind anything else. Kato tend to produce a more accurate coupler depending on the train so they use numerous different coupler types as in real life. I personally prefer Kato’s methodology as I want to model accurate looking trains. Others will prefer the flexibility in creating fictional trains that Tomix allows out of the box. 

Edited by Kamome
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  • Like 3
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Depending on the locomotive, if it’s a Kato, wouldn’t it possible/easier to change one of the couplers for a Shibata coupler or a double head coupler?

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That’s another option but would need the older EF63 double coupler with the hook from the looks of the picture. The newer JR era EF63s used a different version without the hook after Kato redesigned their Shibata style couplers. I have a 189 that is not compatible with the newer style couplers although Kato now to an update kit for these couplers.



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Thank you folks!

It was a wrong purchase by an inexperienced modeler 😬

Will simply follow Katoftw's advice


If you have the option to return. Do that.

Best, Krish

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It’s probably best, Kato is not the most flexible coupler wise. They have too many options and it’s hard to know which one fit what. I would definitely go the Tomix way first if you want to freelance unprototypical trains. Or get a blue train 🙂

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In the US, Model Train Stuff recently started carrying Kato Japan models, although at slightly higher prices than ordering direct from Japan.  



For locomotive hauled passenger coaches, might I recommend the series 12 coaches which could be found all over japan with steam, diesel and electric locomotives pulling them.  The set comes with both kato knuckle and rapido type couplers for compatibility. 



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unfortunately, no real Tomix distributors in the us now. Few odd but’s Andy pieces kicking around from the waltzers deal of a few years ago, but that seems pretty much dead now and was more on structures and track and little on Japanese trains for the us market. Only item you see still popping up is the track cleaning car. We had a great importer years ago, but long gone. Newer one a few years back but sadly he passed away and no one took over the importing business.


model train stuff carries Kato Japanese trains intermittently, kind of ebbs and flows and changing stuff. Usually like a big order then nothing new for a year or two till the stock is sold off (sometimes on sales) and new big order.


luckily sourcing from japan is very reasonable, even with express only shipping with current flight levels and increased costs.





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If Kato is more readily available than you could look at some individual coaches like the 50 series which are red. Oha are middle coaches, Ohafu are end coaches but all come with standard n gauge rapido couplers as train lengths were anywhere from 2 to 8 coaches long. These were general use coaches for loco hauled passenger services around Japan. 




If you decide to buy coaches in a set, make sure you get the base set as this will have locomotive compatible couplers on each end. The add on sets, especially for 24 series blue trains have intermediate couplers which don’t connect with locomotives. Most of the sets are still listed on Kato’s website so have a look before purchase or ask the forum members. The majority of full length formations are usually split across 2 sets, with some exceptions split across 3. Base sets always have a number, 1 digit lower than their relevant add on set . Example


Kato 24 Series Fuji formation 10-855 is the base set, 10-856 is the add-on set, 




As you are new to Japanese railways Krish, probably a good idea to ask you what it is you want to model before we all weigh in with further ideas.


I hope the above information clarifies some of the nuances in buying and running Japanese train models. A Kato catalogue may be a worthwhile investment as although written in Japanese, there are many illustrations and photos of their rolling stock, parts and coupler options amongst other things. 


Edited by Kamome
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8 hours ago, EsK said:

Where in the US can I get Tomix! I searched the forum and came across this 2018 thread


Most of us around the world directly order from Japan, it's usually stress free and there are a lot of reliable retailers. Ordering locally usually means less availability and paying exorbitant prices.

If you are new into the world of Japanese model trains, I recommend browsing Hobby Search English page, https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/rail/. They have a very thorough and well indexed archive of past, present and future releases. It will give you an idea of what is available and of the variety of Japanese trains. If you are overwhelmed by the quantity, you can filter by manufacturer, region, railway company or by availability.

8 hours ago, EsK said:

What is a blue train, please?

Loco hauled passenger/night trains. They are called like that because of the color of the coaches, though a few famous sleeper trains were not blue (like the Cassiopeia or the Twilight Express).

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I am really overwhelmed by the support in this forum! Can't thank folks enough!


@Kiha66 - MTS is the place I get lot of my stuff from. In fact that's where I bought the 10-819. The Kato 10-1550 6 car set is very attractive at $120 but I was looking for a 4 car set, if any are available.


@Kamome - I am a relatively new modeler who stumbled into the hobby and have made every rookie mistake possible. So though my track is all N scale Kato, the track plan cannot run anything prototypical. And that's why I was tempted to try the 10-819, also because it came for just $56.

I am more into operations and enjoy my automation with iTrain software.

Given this, all the advise that has been provided by all the forum members has really helped me learn a lot in just these last 2 days! Now I know where to ask if I ever see something Japanese on MTS.


@cteno4, @Kamome & @disturbman - thank you for all the information.






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