Con-Cor/Kato (Japan) JNR DD13 Centercab Switcher

Introduced: 1978

Kato's DD13 is actually modeled after a Japanese prototype. And although originally produced solely for Kato's Japanese market, Con-Cor went ahead and painted them in North American livery schemes anyway (in a vain attempt to pass them off as USA prototypes). Unfortunately, the DD13 was designed to run on Japan's 3'6" gauge lines, so the chances of finding one operating in the USA is/was nil. My assumption is that Con-Cor figured these were a "close enough" foobie for GE's SL-144 -

As for "reality", 416 DD13's were manufactured in Japan between 1958 and 1967. They were primarily desiged for switching duties, although some were also occasionally used to haul both freight and passenger trains (despite their lack of steam generators). They're all retired from JNR service now, although some live on in private service. A few were converted to standard gauge for MOW usage on the Shinkansen line. The dual-headlight Kato model represents a later version (the first version having a single headlight).

For a 1970s-era model, this is a very advanced (and yet simple) design. And certainly a direct precursor to the groundbreaking Atlas/Kato diesel models of the 1980s. It features an all-metal, split-frame chassis with PC boards on either end providing directional lighting. Current is transferred from the wheels to the truck assemblies via wipers. Current then runs through the trucks themselves into the frame halves and on into the motor (no wires anywhere). The walkway/handrail assembly is a separate piece from the shell. All wheels are geared, although only six provide pickup (with each truck having one traction tire equipped wheel). All gearing is plastic. The couplers are truck-mounted Rapidos. The motor is a small open-sided 5-poler with dual metal driveshafts connected to plastic worm gears. The wheel flanges are not overly large, so this model will run on Code-55 track.

Performance is good, although not quite up to modern standards. Overall it runs smoothly and quietly. However, operations at extremely slow speeds aren't quite what they should be (not for a yard switcher, anyway). The starting speed is just a bit too high, and performance at the low end of the throttle tends to be a bit uneven overall. I've also experienced occasional pickup problems through turnouts (no doubt owing to the traction tires). A bit of Conductalube behind the wheels helps in that regard. And simply getting rid of the traction tires entirely would probably help more. Still and all, for a locomotive that came out in 1978 this is an impressive enough runner (and definitely a harbinger of better things to come).

To remove the shell, simply slide it up and off (it will separate from the walkway assembly).

Grade: B

Reviewed: 5/79 Model Railroader ("The Kato model scales 46'-2" long, 10'-4" wide, and 14'-0" high in N scale, and rides on scale 7'-6" wheelbase trucks. Although it represents a locomotive built in the United States by GE for service in Japan, a very similar 136-ton locomotive was used in switching service on the Chicago & Northwestern. A similar but earlier model centercab switcher also saw use by the Monogahela Connecting RR. Thus, despite the "foreign" prototype, it could be useful to the American modeler. The model has an injection-molded plastic superstructure, resilient plastic handrails and steps, and a cast-metal frame enclosing the mechanism. The drive train features 8-wheel pickup and drive, two wheels with traction tires, a can motor, and diode-controlled directional lighting. Each truck is fitted with a Japanese variant of the Rapido coupler, which is compatible with standard Rapido designs. Although this engine runs excessively fast, its minimum speed is good in comparison to other N scale locomotives, and it can be controlled smoothly at switching speeds. The traction tires give it a very high drawbar pull in relation to its weight, and it should pull 35 to 40 average N scale cars on level track. This is a well-made model with posibilites that modelers should not ignore. Undec, SF, PRR, Southern, SP. $44.98")

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