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Kato SBB-CFF Re 6/6

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Acknowledgements Eurolokshop

"ARBON" No 11619

Mine arrived today.
I am busy cataloguing, so have only had time to note a few basic things.
I may try to provide more detail later if I get round to actually running the handsome little beast in the next day or so.

The first interesting point is in wondering how Kato do their marketing and distribution.
Nowhere on the box is the name 'Kato' actually mentioned!
It is in fact labelled

by Lemke Collection . D-42781 Haan

I am fairly sure that 'Hobbytrain' is a specifically American orientated brand name
[Edit - WRONG! See comment later]

Kato's models are very popular in the USA.
Perhaps Dennis could expand on this?
It might well have made its way from Japan via USA,
although mine was actually sourced in UK on this occasion.

I am also fairly sure that "Lemke" is an upmarket model brand name popularly used in Continental Europe - the model is after all of a European prototype and it may be thought that Europeans would be more likely take a Germanic sounding name to their hearts. However, it is possible that 'Lemke' is also attached to the USA packaging, with the intent of 'un-Japanesing' the public perception of this quality Japanese manufacturer. Most of the Japanese car manufacturers do this in USA, probably the first being Toyota with their 'Lexus' brand, which has since spread across the globe.

This kind of background fascinates me and I would be delighted if any members could shed some light on the background and history of Kato and it's marketing outside Japan.

Apart from that, at first glance, this loco looks a little beauty. This one is in the red livery as illustrated, though green is also available. I was offered the choice of six individual loco names (take note Gary!
), mine being endowed with "ARBON". I managed to find data on 89 of the prototypes and each one was tagged with its own name.

Of instant note is the near scale depth of wheel flange - markedly finer than anything else I own. This is so obvious that no one could miss the difference when compared with older models. I may attempt to put comparative measurements on this at later date. Ugly excessive flange depth on N gauge products is one of my favourite areas for complaint, so I am immediately and deeply impressed!

As the picture shows, this is a Bo-Bo-Bo. The model has three swivelling bogies. The two outer ones are powered and collect current through all four wheels of each bogie, one wheel of each bogie bearing a traction tyre (that seems odd!). The centre bogie is unpowered and does not collect current, but does swivel freely and, in addition, has around 15mm of lateral side play PLUS a lightly coil-sprung vertical suspension, all of which precision engineering should enable this loco to handle small radius curves with ease.

The sprung pantographs are very precisely engineered, but I have yet to discover if they are electrically operational. This won't bother me either way - I am just naturally curious.

Flush glazing, impeccable paint finish, pin sharp lettering and well moulded fine detail, right down to the windscreen wipers, presents N Gauge in the best possible light. This has to be about as good as N Gauge comes. I'm looking forward to checking out its legendary Kato running properties, enhanced by their well-established fly-wheel drive.

Nice loco Kato!

I forgot to mention that this particular version is supplied with "Halogenscheinwerfer ", halogen lamps, at around a £5 premium on the price. Checking those out will have to wait a while also!

EDIT 20-Nov-05
The 'halogen' lights are very effective indeed. Where normal lights need at least 25% throttle to achieve anything like full brightness, these are brilliant at any throttle setting above full stop. If the loco moves, the lights are on full. Their stark blue-white colour is very different from the warm yellow of standard filament lamps, but appear to be faultless in operation. They operate directionally, illuminating only the direction of travel and reversing accordingly.

I have only run the loco over a short straight so far. It sits very square and stably on the track (Peco) and runs without the slightest trace of wobble or rocking. Subjectively, it appears to have as much pulling power as any N Gauge loco I have ever operated. It is quiet, but not silent, though I expect some running in will further reduce already low noise levels. Low speed running is good, but not quite as slow as I had hoped for - again, I expect this to improve with some mileage under its belt. High speed appears reasonably sensible rather than stupidly supersonic like some Arnolds I have known! Eventually I intend to set up some standard timings and distances for lowest and highest possible loco speeds, together with a simple rig to directly measure pulling power against a small spring balance.

A crude check on the flywheel effectiveness was simply to run at full speed and flick the controller right off. This loco, with its double flywheel, ran on about 100-120mm, which is about twice as far as the only other (single) flywheel equpped loco I own, a Fleischmann Re 4/4.

A dig through its box unearthed a clear exploded diagram of the loco, together with a formatted, priced list for the ordering of ALL spare parts, ranging from buffers to complete bodies, from Lemke's address in Haan, Germany.

Some data on the prototype
Electric locomotives type Re 6/6 were built from 1972 onwards for work on steeply graded lines, ie The Gotthard route. These Bo-Bo-Bo locomotives, weighing 120 tonnes, ride on 3 x 4-wheel trucks with all axles powered. Re 6/6 was designed as a 'universal' loco for both fast passenger and heavy freight trains. Re 6/6 offers a power of 4300 kW / 10.500 hp, with a top speed of 140 km/h capable of hauling 800 ton trains. A further requirement was the ability to maintain constant 80 kph speed while pulling 800 tons over a 2.6% grade.

With these technical parameters, Re 6/6 is one of the most powerful locomotives in Switzerland.
Some were later upgraded and renumbered into class Re 620.
This locomotive was built by SLM in 1975, with electrics by BBC
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It sounds like that they are trying to apeal to the German and Swiss, Like the "Funtrain", "Magictrain" or "Sparkytrain" - something that Fleischmann would probably use.

Some photos of the real thing here.
HobbyTrain is an old brand (Swiss) that Lemke, a European (German) distributer aquired in liquidation. Kato models of European prototype are marketed under this brand in Europe but not to my knowledge in the US. So it is the HobbyTrain brand that is know in Germany that is being leveraged.

Kato is a well know brand in the US that has a solid reputation. While they make great track it is their diesels that are sought after here.
As usual, Dennis has his finger on the pulse!

Hobbytrain sounds so American but isn't - a bad assumption on my part.
And 'Lemke Collection' is a nebulous (German) organisation that seems to have ties with all sorts of strange bedfellows including the well known Franklyn Mint, famous for its so-called limited editions of all sorts, ranging from pottery to miniature die cast cars and many others.
It's hard to know who owns what these days.
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Having at last got around to running the loco a little, I have added a few paragraphs to the origial post above, for those who may be interested.
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