KATO SERIES 0-2000 SHINKANSEN
N-SCALE TRAIN SET
09/28/15- This is a rite-purdy train, one that I just had to get for
nostalgic reasons. My layout is tiny so I didn't have any serious plans
for running it. Shinkansens are long trains: A proper station platform would
fill the length of my layout! Besides, half of my layout has curves below
the minimum recommended radius (R315) needed to run this. The pint-sized
4-car set was the least I could spend to satisfy the craving.
It may seem foolish to buy and spend money on a train that you know
you can't run on your track. I assure you, it is. When I was seduced by
this train's looks, I didn't realize that it wouldn't run on half my layout.
I found that out after it constantly derailed on my inner loop, and I
looked it up. Yep, I can confirm that a minimum R315 train will not
run on an R249 curve, except as a serial derailment machine. At least
it could run on my outer loop, so that justified having installed a DCC
decoder in it. In hindsight, I was grateful that it gave me somewhere
to test and use one of my EM13 decoders.
Most of Kato's trains are 1:150 scale but their Shrinkansen trains are
1:160 scale. Shinkansens are big trains, so this puts the model versions
closer in size to Kato's other trains (but they're still bigger). The
tiny pantograph hints that it might be a different scale, but frankly,
I wouldn't have realized this unless I'd read it somewhere.)
Non "DCC Friendly" Installation The Series 0-2000 Shinkansen, being an older product with an older motor
design, is noticeably more noisy than the Series 489 Hakusan when run as DC on
a DCC track (it hums loudly when stopped).
It's more challenging to access the Shinkansen's "guts" since
there are more things to take apart to get to them. It's not readily apparent
how you do that since there are lots of little clips to unhook to separate
the layers. With the 489, removing the underside cover (which slides/hooks
on) gives you access to everything you need to solder in a decoder.
I DCC'd the Shinkansen using a soldered-in Kato EM13 decoder, since I have
two of 'em. (It turns out that I didn't burn out the first one.) The Kato
decoder is long and you can't easily reduce its footprint by clipping
off the long contact "legs". The motor-side contact pads are
about 5 mm long at the end and if you clipped them off, you'd have a heck
of a time soldering wires to the tiny circuit traces that connects them
to rest of the circuit.
Unlike the "DCC-Friendly" design, the decoder and wires are
most naturally mounted topside, in the passenger compartment; I used a
generous amount of wiring on the decoder so they're visible through the
windows in silhouette. If I were going to light this train, I'd trim the
wire length: The Shinkansen motor car's passenger window area is relatively
short and located in the center of the car, so it should be relatively
easy to hide stuff. However, even without adding DCC, the interior has
shallow detailing (compared to the new design) and the brass contact strips
are visible on the floor, if you look hard enough.
When run with Kato's DCC decoder installed (but not programmed), it
has lower low-end speed and is quieter than running it as DC on a DCC
track. From the factory, the Kato decoder is configured as a race train,
with very little momentum effect. Fortunately, those parameters can be
configured on the decoder, at least in theory. I successfully changed
the momentum (CVs 3 and 4), but had no luck changing the top and middle
speed (CVs 5 and 6). YMMV. At top speed, it takes more than a full loop
around my track to come to a stop... that's some serious momentum! I didn't
pursue this any longer than the 30 minutes I spent to arrive at this observation;
the throttle works well enough as a speed governor. However, I won't be
buying another EM13 decoder; I'd rather spend the additional on a full-featured
ESU LokPilot that I can program.
Headlights: On a DC track, the lighting switches between yellow
and red depending on the direction of travel. Since I can run this train
only on my outer loop, I didn't plan to install headlight decoders. I
was curious though, so I attempted to open a cab car to examine its innards.
The construction is different than the usual passenger train cab; for
one thing, the body shell doesn't separate at the bottom edge, but at
the border between the blue trim at the bottom and the cream-colored body.
It's tough to get the separation started, but once you do, it's easy until
you get to the headlight area. I tried all sorts of tugs and pulls short
of resorting to brute force, and couldn't figure out how it was attached!
I even removed the roof hoping to get a better view, but that just revealed
the closed top of the body casting. I gave up because I wasn't actually
planning on installing a decoder. However, the I did get enough of a glimpse
to see that there were two incandescent bulbs, one on top of each other,
one painted red.
I don't know how Kato does the switching with DC polarity reversal except
to surmise that there are probably a pair of diodes in there to block/pass
the DC to each of the bulbs. This also means that both bulbs are lit when
running on a DCC track (you can see the red light through the first window)
but I'm surprised that the yellow and red light don't produce a more orange
glow when mixed at the light tubes.
At any rate, incandescent bulbs have shorter lifespans than LEDs, so
when they fail I'll be more motivated to figure out how to get the body
Couplers: This train came with Rapido couplers; I swapped them
for Kato's 11-703 Shibata/Scharfenberg couplers that they put on their
new passenger trains. The swap process was very easy. Although I find
them occasionally frustrating/aggravating to couple on the 489, these
seem to click together much more easily.
Performance: With the three other cars attached, performance was
not as good as the newer-design 489. YMMV, but I found that there was
less low-end speed control, the throttle had to be turned higher just
to get it rolling, and that when running it at the slowest speed, it tended
to jerk a bit. This could be due to the EM13 decoder, or the motor being
designed for speed instead of torque, or the motor being an older design.
Hmmmm. I dunno... it smells kinda rancid...
Sure looks tasty though!