Nov 2014 2

New loco: Kato DD16

I always get excited about new arrivals to the roster. The latest new loco to join Utrainia is Kato 7013, a model of the DD16 diesel locomotive. This was developed by JNR to replace light weight steam locos, and is has an axle loading 12 tons, total weight 48 tons. It has a diesel hydraulic transmission, as is common in Japan, with a maximum speed of 75km/h and length of 11.8m.

In other words, it is a very small loco. I had seen it listed online and it immediately appealed, however I was too slow to buy it and it sold out! So I placed my name on the waiting list at Hobby Search, and a couple of months ago I received an email alerting me that more had come in. I ordered one that night and it arrived a week later in a well padded box from Japan.

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Feb 2014 15

A quick workbench update

With the lack of communication you may think nothing is happening in Utrainia, but that isn't quite the case. As usual I have a few pots on the boil.

First of all, a new arrival! A little wee tram recently turned up in a box from Japan, and delightful it sure is. As usual for Utainia, the international theme continues, and this tram is no exception. It is a German tram, gifted to Hiroshima after the war. Now it is running in the vaguely New Zealand setting of Raparapa, passing British and American cars, while French trains scream past on the other track.

I have also been playing with a halogen bulb for photography, which emulates the strong shadows of daylight very nicely.

Meanwhile, a huge truckload of our stuff from Christchurch arrived; amongst it is the best new ...

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Nov 2013 28

Populating the Glacier Express

Yes it's the Glacier Express again! First off have a look at the real thing traveling through utterly unrealistic scenery that you could never get away with on a model railway. As my granddad would say, "Switzerland is one big model railway"...

... back to the model world. There are many things that stand out about the Glacier Express, but as a passenger perhaps what you'd be most thankful for are the massive windows that the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) has put on their carriages.

And so of course Kato has put massive windows on the model, which leads to a problem...

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Nov 2013 28

Upgrading the Kato Glacier Express

The Kato Glacier Express (Kato No. 10-1145 and 10-1146) is a great set, but there is one glaring problem:

Passengers traveling from one carriage to another must long jump from carriage to carriage. Not good. For such a beautiful set, it seems a shame to put such gigantic gaps between the carriages; apparently this was done so that the train could negotiate 100mm radius curves, however that seems like an odd design objective for an otherwise beautiful looking model.

So I did something about it.

First of all I bought the Kato/Roundhouse close coupling set (No 28-186) from RailNippon. I was pleased with their prompt service, good prices, and simple postage. The instruction sheet is very Japanese, howe...

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Nov 2013 21

DCC decoder installation for the Kato Glacier Express

The Kato Glacier Express is a beautiful model of a very iconic railway. It's also the first European train that I've purchased. There is one glaring problem with it though: it's difficult to put a decoder into. I believe Digitrax now makes a drop-in decoder, but I don't have the luxury of such things, so instead I've spent the past few days hard wiring an NCE Z14SR decoder into it.

Dismantling the shell

The first step is to completely dismantle the loco. Start by gently prising the sides apart so that the top pops off the chasis.


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Nov 2013 15

DCC for the Kato TGV

My Kato S14701 TGV arrived in pretty good condition, but still needed a bit of TLC before it would run. It dates from the 1980s and the wheels looked like they haven't ever been cleaned, but apart from that, all the paint is still in tact, nothing is missing, etc, so I think I did pretty well. However that said, if I wanted it to move at all, it would need a DCC decoder.


First trick is to dismantle the power car. The only outward clue is a small screw on the nose which must be removed:

(Yes I know the wheels are clean here, I cheated and took this photo at the end!)

Then one needs to gently prise the body away from the shell. Do this front and back around each set of bogies.

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