KATO 10-1132


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 shell off.

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!