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Posted - 2006 July 03 :  9:45:48 PM  Show Profile
Need a little help finding what MT conversions to use for the Kato (blue box)F7's A&B units.

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Posted - 2006 July 03 :  10:28:12 PM  Show Profile

M/T's # 2004 should do the trick. Since you said blue labeled box you may have to adjust the hole for the coupler to fit and use the clip to hold it in. The newer runs have the hole correctly sized for 2004's. As for the "B" end couplers, I leave them stock if they are not krapidos, or use short shank Unimates. Good luck!

Dave Rutan
Dayton N Track

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Posted - 2006 July 04 :  12:33:08 AM  Show Profile
2004 on the front, 1128/1129 on the aft. MT used to have a kit specifically for Kato Fs. By blue box, I assume that you mean the older ones, as my older Kato Fs are in blue boxes, the newer in green.

I do agree with the short shank UniMates, especially between units.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

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Posted - 2006 July 04 :  02:16:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit atsf_arizona's Homepage
I'll second (third?) the short shank Unimates on the rear of the A units and B units.

Here's some info on that from previous Sunday Night Foto Fun posts, hope it helps.



For many years, the accepted N scale 'standard' for close-coupling the rear
of the N scale Kato F3/F7 A unit and both ends of the B units, has been to use the
Red Caboose short shank Unimates, part number 51000, for all runs of the Kato
F units, from the oldest runs all the way thru to the newest 2006 runs.

Even though the Kato F units from 1999 and newer have knuckle couplers installed on
the A unit rear and on the B units, I think the inter-unit spacing with these couplers is a
bit too far apart for a real prototypical appearance; model photos such as this
Kato web site photo show what I mean:

For the same reason, I prefer not to use the Micro-Trains 1128s that MT recommends on
the back of the A and the Bs, those couplers also still give you too much
inter-unit space.

(BTW, I believe the *stock* Kato inter-unit spacing is not as bad or as far apart as
the out-of-the-box Intermountain F3/F7 inter-unit spacing. While I've not measured
with a scale ruler, it appears the stock IM inter-unit spacing is even larger, at
least to my eye).

Compare this with this pictures of close-coupled Unimate Kato F units:

Comparing these model photos to shots of real F unit coupling distances, looks
like the Unimates are really close to giving the actual spacing on the prototype;
it's just a hair longer space, but can't be seen enough to notice without a
N scale ruler (smile).

As I have stated in other posts, N scale F units have so little room at the
back, that I prefer truck mount couplers for close coupling, hence my current
decision to continue to invest in Kato Fs (even though the upcoming Intermountain
freight Santa Fe Fs are likely to be beautiful).

The Unimates for the Kato Fs are by Red Caboose, part number 51000, and the
desired ones for back-of-Kato A units and B units are the short shank ones
on the far right:

Note that *contrary to the above photo*, when using the above coupler on a
Kato F unit rear, a short 'nub' from the casting sprue needs to be left on
the T shank of the coupler, in order for the Rapido coupler spring to have
something to hold onto (if that's not clear, post back and I'll explain

I believe the visual difference is worth the Unimate installation effort.

Some experiencial advice for installing the Unimates:


1) The back of the F units are angled in such a way that there is plenty of clearance
and no binding on my 12" radius curves.

*Note*: I don't have any 9.75" curves on my layout to test if there would be binding with
this combination at that smaller radius level.

2) Be careful when twist-removing the Kato knuckle couplers. There is a small
plastic 'post' in the Kato coupler box for the coupler spring for the T shank coupler.
That small plastic post can be easily broken off during Kato coupler removal if you're
not careful. You do need that post to hold the coupler spring in the coupler box.

3) If you do break off that post, it's not end of world, just super-glue it back on,
as there is no appreciable stress on that post, especially when the locomotives are
all pulling forward.

4) When installing the Unimates, cut a *small* 'diagonal angle' on *two*
diagonal-opposite corners of the T shank. This will make twist-installing
the Unimate much easier, and less stressful on the Kato coupler box. There is no
loss of strength in the coupler's ability to hold the load.

5) Use the standard 'spring on the end of a tootpick' trick to carefully get the
Rapido coupler spring re-installed between the 'T-shank knub' and the coupler post
in the coupler pocket.

The short-shank Unimate installation produces, IMHO, the best (closest) N scale F unit
inter-unit coupling available today using standard parts.



Just so you don't get confused, *don't* get these Unimate couplers #51060
shown below for use on the rear Kato F units truck mount coupler. The truck
mount Kato back coupler pocket has no provision for a 'post' on which to mount
these particular couplers.

However, these Red Caboose 51060 couplers *are* the ones you need to use for
close-coupling the rear body-mount Intermountain Fs units (smile).

Hope this helps!

John Sing
San Mateo, Calif
Modeling the Santa Fe's Peavine Line (Ash Fork->Phoenix, Arizona) in the 50s and 60s

Edited by - atsf_arizona on 2006 July 04 02:21:56 AM

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Posted - 2006 July 04 :  02:19:01 AM  Show Profile  Visit atsf_arizona's Homepage
Kato F unit coupler compare

Hi, all,

I've finally gotten back to continuing my research into working front knuckle coupler
options for the N scale Kato F unit.

As of 3/9/06, my bottom line for front knuckle coupler options on Kato F unit:


1) The MT 2004 apparently works well as nose coupler for all runs of the N scale Kato F unit.

2) The older MT 1159 kit is probably not needed, unless one is running long NTrak trains and
needs the extra strength given by the special MT body mounting clip supplied in the MT 1159 kit.

3) One can also use the stock Kato knuckle coupler off of E units and PA1s, they seem to be
exactly the same coupler as the stock Kato F unit knuckle coupler.


(I'm open to any corrections on the opinions given in this post - smile)


Here's a group shot, comparing the resulting appearance. In the following photos, left to right, are:

Kato knuckle coupler; Micro-Trains 2004; Micro-Trains 1015 using MT 1159 kit:

Kato knuckle coupler; Micro-Trains 2004; Micro-Trains 1015 using MT 1159 kit:

(For improved appearance, I cut off the standard MT magnetic coupler pins).

Here's some closeups:


Stock Kato coupler (i.e. I replaced the original Rapido with a stock Kato knuckle coupler off a 2000 run
Kato E unit):

IMHO, the stock Kato coupler (I re-used the front coupler from my converted-to-Micro-Trains
Kato E units and PA1s) looks better, as it is smaller than the rather huge-looking MT couplers.

The stock Kato coupler is stiffer in side-to-side-swivel than the MTs.

While not a problem with the F units, I and others have experienced that the stiffer Kato
coupler, body-mounted on the nose of the Kato E units and PA1s, and used on smaller radius curves
(especially non-easemented curves)..... can knock the leading truck-mount Kato passenger cars
off the rails at the entry to the curves.

In those cases, using the MT couplers below will probably resolve that problem.


Here is the Micro-Trains 2004 coupler:

The MT 2004 is a smooth, easy install on the Kato F unit, just a drop in...
albeit, it does look rather big.

The MT 2004 worked just fine as a slide-in replacement into the space available on these
1996 era Kato freight F units - re-using the stock Kato coupler clip.

The MT 2004 is made specifically as the MT replacement for stock Kato couplers on diesel
locomotives - as a result, the MT 2004 coupler shank is vertically offset to account for
the lower height of the Kato coupler mount point. It also looks like MT made the MT 2004
coupler box *smaller* than the MT 1015 coupler box, in order for the MT 2004 to fit
properly into the Kato coupler clip and space available.

I suspect that the Kato F unit coupler clip and space available hasn't changed over the years.

The front coupler clip and space available seems to be the same for my 1996, 1999,
and 2000 era Kato F units, E units, and PA1s. (I don't have any of the 1992 run, or
new 2005 or 2006 run, of Kato F3s / F7s / PA1s, to compare).

On my layout with 12" non-easemented curves hidden in the tunnels, the much more
free-swiveling MT 2004s solved the Kato E unit / Kato PA1 problem of the 'stiff
Kato stock coupler knocking leading passenger car off the rails'.

Therefore, one place that I use the MTs is on the nose of the trailing A unit.

I tend to use the stock Kato coupler on the nose of the leading A unit, where the
smaller size lends a slightly better appearance.

- - - - - - - -


The Micro-Trains web site recommends a MT 2000 kit for the Kato F unit.

The MT 2000 kit consists of a MT 2004 for the front, and a MT 1128 for the rear,
along with the requisite 'four toothpicks' for easily removing the Kato shell.

(As I noted earlier in various threads, I prefer to use Red Caboose short-shank Unimates,
rather than the MT 1128s, on the rear of the F units. The Unimates provide
much better appearing, much closer inter-unit spacing than the MT 1128s on the rear).

Therefore, for the front couplers of the F's, I found it's cheaper to just buy the MT 2004 kit
which has qty = 4 couplers, as I've no need for the MT 1128s.

- - - - - - - - -

Note: the MT 1015 is *not* the correct coupler to use on Kato F units, *unless* you also use
the older, out-of-production MT 1159 installation kit (see below). The MT 1015 doesn't have
the vertical offset coupler shank that the MT 2004 has; the MT 1015 coupler box also appears to
be bigger and would not fit into the Kato coupler clip.


Here is the Micro-Trains 1015, installed as part of the hard-to-find, older MT 1159 kit:

The older, hard-to-find, out-of-production MT 1159 / MT 1015 kit for the Kato
F unit works fine, however, it does require some cutting of the F unit's pilot
above the MT coupler box to install. You can see that in the above photos.

The MT 1159 kit consists of a MT 1015 for the front coupler, and includes a
replacement body-mount clip to attach the MT 1015 front coupler very firmly to the chassis.
(The MT 1159 kit also includes a MT 1128 for the rear of the F unit).

Because of that front clip, according to Tony Burzio of San Diego Model RR Museum,
the MT 1159 still has a valid role to play for Kato F unit use on long NTrak trains.
Tony has noted that when running long 100+ car NTrak trains, this stronger MT 1159 nose
clip is much better suited to handling the strain on the coupler (compared to the MT 2004).
(Thx, Tony, for that tip!)

If not needing the 1159 kit's stronger coupler mounting clip..... IMHO the easily
available MT 2004's probably suffice nicely, and you can eliminate the need to search
for the out-of-production, hard-to-find, more expensive MT 1159 kit.


In summary, I observe when viewed together, they're all fairly close in appearance:

Left to right: stock Kato coupler; MT 2004; MT 1015 which is part of the older MT 1159 kit

Left to right: stock Kato coupler; MT 2004; MT 1015 which is part of the older MT 1159 kit


I also have some pictures of the MT 1159 kit's nose clip, email me if you would like to see those.
The photos compare MT the stock Kato F unit / E unit / PA1 coupler clip, to better document what I
was talking about above regarding the 'stronger' MT 1159.

I'd be happy to hear any additional experiences - especially if you can confirm/deny
that the old 1992 Kato Fs, or the new 2005/2006 Kato F3/F7s/PA1s have the same (or
different) coupler clip and space available.

The above is just my experience and my opinions - pls send corrections or suggestions.

I hope this may be of help, and save some time for you. It was was fun building this post.

John Sing
San Mateo, Calif
Modeling the Santa Fe's Peavine Line (Ash Fork->Phoenix, Arizona) in the 50s and 60s

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Mike G

Posted - 2006 July 04 :  06:02:27 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mike G's Homepage
For me, attempting to install MT couplers on older Kato F units was an excersize in futility (kind of like installing the detail parts on a Kato Mikado). I ended up breaking 4 of the 6 trucks on an ABA set. After ordering new trucks from Kato, I settled with the Unimate couplers. Installation of the Unimates was easier and a lot less frustrating.

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Posted - 2006 July 04 :  06:20:01 AM  Show Profile
Thanks for the GREAT answers guys! Will go with the uni-mates if I can find them.


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Michigan Central

Posted - 2006 July 04 :  11:16:36 AM  Show Profile
Mike - Discount Model Trains, Addison Texas and Papa Ben's in Houston both had pretty good supplies of the unimates last time I was there a month or so ago.

The early Kato F unit MT conversion has to be one of the most dificult in all of N - I tried unsuccessfully to the point of risking damage to my early Kato F's and decided just to leave the rapidos on.

Obviously someone is buying MT fantasy cars, could it be you?

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Posted - 2006 July 04 :  1:16:39 PM  Show Profile
I had to give up on converting mine.

But I cheated and took them to a guy at the train shop and he did it for me.

I do like the idea of the unimated on the B units. I have a set of F-7's that are setup like that, and I am tempted to move all of my F-units to that configuration.



Our Future is what We Make It!!!!!

Edited by - Sharkman on 2006 July 04 1:24:12 PM

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