Completely frustrated with Atlas, Kato pulling and climbing performance

scottmitchell74 Mar 21, 2014

  1. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

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    I started a similar thread a while back about Atlas being easily outperformed by Life Like. I've had 4 or 5 really nice smooth running Atlas' that couldn't pull more than 5 cars up my admittedly steep Woodland Scenics 4% grade. So, I've been targeting Kato which has the reputation of being super-performers. I've had an F3 that ran jerkily, and now I currently have a Kato SD40 that is very heavy and...stalls out with just 7 cars!!! :angry: I'm adding video so you guys can see what I'm talking about and discuss.

    #1 - An old Life Like GP18 casually pulling 13 cars (with room/effort to spare, it's done more). It handles this with very low speed, and of course with more power as well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HszXr0jyGiE

    #2 - A Life Like E8 also doing it easily. I've had LL PAs and E6s do the same thing. Yes, they are heavy, but so is the SD40

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umwbkTItJ3I

    #3 - A tiny British N Gauge Union Mills 0-8-0 pulling the 13 car train

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYE95-MNza0 - This guy has a little hitch towards the top, but it does that with no cars - I have a "weird" track spot there where some of my engines react. I haven't figured out what's wrong and why some locos just breeze on by...

    #4 - My expensive and highly regarded Kato stalling with just 7 cars (the 13 car trial was, naturally, even more pitiful)>

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuhOAmBCT_g - Just dies...doesn't even come close.

    #5 - Finally, a $19 cheap-o Life Like Gp38 pulling the 7 cars, with room for more (I've had it with 10-11 before).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UEAD_ecEfo


    I get that that grade is 4% and that it's on a 9 3/4 curve (Woodland Scenics!! Oh, if I knew then what I know now), but why is it that only Life Like locos are able to pull this grade (some of them very, very casually) when the Atlas Gp9, SD60, U23, SD7 and my Kato F3 and SD40 can't? I get that my LL SW8/1200's can/will only pull 5-6 cars up that grade, but they are tiny and nearly match these Kato and Atlas locos.

    Also, I freely admit that the Atlas and Kato run much more quietly and smoothly on flat surfaces (though some of my Life Like are great, quiet, smooth runners as well), it's just this climbing issue I can't seem to solve with them.


    Rant over, thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear what folks have to say.

    On a side note, I'm utterly weary of the trial-and-error so I'm going to buy some Bullfrog Snot and try my luck with that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2014
  2. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

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    I notice you vids show the action on the inside/sharper curve. The SD40 is a longer loco and I wonder if maybe it is too long for the curve and grade combination?
     
  3. bman

    bman TrainBoard Member

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    I've a Kato SD40 and one of those boat anchor Like Like E8's, and while not bothering to weigh them, the E8 is heavier. So IMHO and quick answer, the older Life Like engines you have(I've had these as well since retired) are most likely heavier than their split frame cousins. Hard to believe I know. I can't weigh the 4 axle Like Likes I had as they've long since been buried in a local landfill. The Kato SD40 also has the 6 axle trucks vs the tight curve, where the extra weight of the E8 helps over come this. I've no experience with steam locos, so I don't know how heavy or if it has traction tires. Of the modelers I personally know, those who wish to increase the pulling power of a locomotive are attempting to add weight to it. A more expensive way to increase pulling power is upgrading rolling stock to either Microtrains trucks or using metal wheels.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2014
  4. rrjim1

    rrjim1 TrainBoard Member

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    Reduce the grade to 1%, problem solved.
     
  5. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

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    I tried the 11" curve as well...no go. Good thought, though. 11" may still be to severe?
     
  6. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

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    You have no idea how this issue has affected me. I'm preparing for my next layout, which will be scratch-built instead of a kit, and I will have NO grades. I'll use foam boards and cut out ravines/rivers for bridge scenes, but will have no climbing. On flat surfaces that Kato will pull whatever. It's just that *#@! WS 4% grade.
     
  7. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    Love the baseball field! A 4% grade with a 9 3/4" curve is a....ahem...tall order, but it does create an interesting comparison. My (mostly-older and heavier) Lifelike locos are also absolute stump-pullers. The heaviest loco I have is a Kato GP50 I recently picked up. Still has Rapido's on it so I haven't seen its pulling power yet, but I'm guessing it can pull stumps too. This thing is insanely heavy!
     
  8. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

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    "Love the baseball field!" - Thanks!

    I get that weight has a lot to do with it, and that E8 is SUPER heavy, but that GP18 and Gp38, I don't think, outweigh that Kato SD40, and all the Atlas models I've had were pretty weighty as well. I don't know. Why did LL have to stop making their locos like they did in the early to mid 90's? Man...


    I would like to improve my rolling stock so that all of them will be smooth as possible, but that doesn't change that this Kato is being smoked by "lesser" Locos.
     
  9. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    From what I heard...the loco was still running just slipping on the rails. Do the Atlas and Katos still have the blackening on the wheel treads ? If so...get that &&^^%&%$()_@# off the treads ! Dare I mention how my NEW FVM ES44AC couldnt pull 12 cars up a straight 2% grade until I did. I would check that before doing the BFS.
     
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have a feeling the curvature is a lot of your problem. A Kato SD40 might negotiate an 11" radius curve, but the tighter you go, the harder it gets for anything. The way their trucks are made, with those three axles, you may simply be binding against the rails as you try to go up and around at the same time.
     
  11. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks guys. Knowing "what's up" is at least half the problem. These are things that never occurred to me. Well, I'll keep it because a CSX unit will work on my way in the future UP/BNSF layout.
     
  12. papahnash

    papahnash TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Scott, I also started with a WS kit (Scenic Ridge). The grades are very steep and I ran into the same problem you are facing. Most of the grades go front to back around the corners.
    To lessen the grade I tipped the layout by adding about 1" to the front edge. This doesn't change the left to right rise but it makes the grades on the corners easier. The train will tip a little but you'll be the only one that knows it.
    Hope this helps.

    Harold
     
  13. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    This sounds alot like the sports team that lost the game blaming the field for their poor performance. Look, the grade and curvature were the same. Substitute Kato four axle units for the SD40 and the result will be the same. My LifeLike FA/B 1's [an ABBA consist] will out pull a Kato ABBA consists of F9's and do it on grades as well as on level track. Both consists had all powered units. The Kato F9's are no slouches either but the LifeLike FA's just simply out perform them. My ABBA consist of LifeLike FA/B 1's once pulled a 143 car train around a Ntrak layout and did so with ease. It could have pulled more too but we only had 143 cars on the layout, the show was closing and we were getting ready for tear down. The layout was in the shape of a "J" with eight 90 degree corners with two of them forming a 180 degree turn [bottom of the "J"]. That train occupied between five and seven of those 90 degree curves at any one time with no effect on the engines.

    P.S. Try that on your HCD!!!
     
  14. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have 3 dogs who love to play 'fetch' in the backyard...

    P.S. Try that on your HCD!!!

    *Yea...I dont get it either...LMFAO !! *
     
  15. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would venture to say that my Lifelike FA's weighs nearly twice what a Kato F unit weighs. I know for a fact that my Lifelike E units are twice the weight of my Kato SD45s.

    Remember , they took away lead for our own good.. I


    Randy
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    On the prototype, if you haul x tons up a tangent 2%, versus the same tonnage and grade with added curves, you will need more power simply due to those curves. I doubt the same is not true for model railroads. Also, what might be true for your model railroad might not be for the next person.
     
  17. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

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    True but the physics are unchanging. Just like on the real ones, tractive effort/adhesion starts with weight on drivers. Grades on the real roads are often compensated for curves. A 1% uncompensated grade can easily become a 2% compensated grade depending on the curves.
     
  18. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

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    That's not a bad idea at all and I don't know why I didn't think of that before. Thanks!
     
  19. emaley

    emaley TrainBoard Supporter

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    Try double heading the locos that don't pull as well. I have 4% grades and small curves on my layout and I can pull a full 12 car consist Super Chief just by adding a second F7. With one, it spins. Also, really nice job on the layout. Looks nice.

    Trey
     
  20. papahnash

    papahnash TrainBoard Member

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    I noticed in the video that you were climbing the grade on the smaller radius line. I ran all mine in the other direction so that the up grade was the larger radius.
     

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