Con-Cor vs Kato passenger cars

Gary Helriegel Jan 18, 2020

  1. Gary Helriegel

    Gary Helriegel TrainBoard Member

    I've been putting together a GN Empire Builder passenger train using Kato rolling stock so far, but I'm not having much luck on eBay beyond the locos and 4-car set I already have. I understand that Japanese N-scale is 1:150 vs 1:160- does that extend to US passenger cars made by Kato? I've seen more Con-Cor auctions than Kato, but I'm not sure whether they're the same scale, so I'm hesitant to buy. Can anyone with cars by both manufacturers confirm whether they're visually compatible, at least in terms of scale?
  2. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    Kato's US product is 1:160 across the board. You'd have to go all the way back to the Kato production for Con-Cor to even be suspect. But their vehicles, accessories, etc. sold on the Japanese markets are 1:150.

    And to make it more confused, remember that Kato used to make all of Con-Cor's locomotives in the 60's-70's. And, Roco cars that were once MRC came into the Con-Cor fold as well.

    The 'new' Kato-branded equipment - going back to the first US passenger sets, remains some of the best RTR passenger equipment out there, even if getting individual cars out of full train sets can be a nightmare. I've been after an original-issue UP smooth-side diner ONLY for years with no luck.

    The old Con-Cor smooth-side cars just look so crude by comparison. In my pursuit I got an old Con-Cor UP diner; little detail, paint was wrong, trucks a mess. Not worth the fight and I resold it.

    I'll admit that to get two high-level ATSF coaches I wanted I bought the entire Kato El Capitan set and then resold individual cars I didn't need back onto Ebay. I actually made money off of the deal as a lot of people like you are hunting individual cars out of sets. Why Kato doesn't sell this way remains inexplicable to me.

    Now, there are a handful of items out there where it's mixed, but it's not Kato. Tomytec stuff is all 1:150, although for a lot of things it doesn't matter. The Atlas 2-6-0 is a model of a US-built narrow-gauge Porter produced by Micro-Ace, very much 1:150, but make it standard at 1:160 and only the cab gives it away until you put it beside a properly -scaled Atlas 4-4-0 also made by Micro-Ace that looks undersized but its not....confused?
  3. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    Somehow I just can't imagine Kato being either ignorant of the scale used in the U.S. or just not caring. So I imagine all of their US prototypes are 1:160. I have not seen any glaring differences in scale between the two nor have I seen or heard any chatter either on forums or in person about any difference which I think there would be a ton of if there was such a discrepancy. So I would think they are both 1:160. My passenger equipment is mostly Concor with a smattering of Atlas, Model Power, Lima LifeLike and Rivarossi with no Kato. As an aside, all Kato U.S. prototype locomotives are 1:160 and the LifeLike E7 shell fits the Kato E8 mechanism like a hand in a glove.
  4. SP-Wolf

    SP-Wolf TrainBoard Supporter

  5. Charlie Vlk

    Charlie Vlk TrainBoard Member

    Con-Cor equipment made by Sekisui-Kizoku / Kato was all 1/160.
    The only Con-Cor cars that were out of scale were the Chicago-tooled triple hoppers which seemed closer to TT than N.
    Kato has built some recent JNR non-Bullet Train equipment to 1/160 instead of the larger 1/150 which had been used to bring the cars and locomotives more in keeping with Japanese track gauge using 9mm track.
    Charlie Vlk
  6. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

    Well I may be able to help you out with the UP Diner
  7. Thomas Davis

    Thomas Davis TrainBoard Member

    This is actually a tough question, given that you are modeling a GN train.
    The Kato passenger cars are unquestionably higher quality. Most obvious is that the windows of the Kato cars are flush with the outside of the car (using a separate window insert for each side), where the Con Cor is the old fashioned clear styrene rectangle attached to the roof.
    Several of the Con Cor cars are based on GN prototypes. However, they made several errors, most famous of which is that the diner is a "mirror image" of the prototype car.
    A good review of both the Con Cor and Kato options was done some years back by Fred (apparently, the overactive admin software will not allow Fred's last name, which is part of the name of a major retailer that does not advertise here), still available online
  8. nd-rails

    nd-rails TrainBoard Member

    You may have read it, but you dont understand the difference it describes, between modelling 'N' IN JAPAN, and those models that are for modelling USA prototypes and sold everywhere outside. The former is their standard; the latter is proper N scale internationally agreed standard.

    The reason you are having difficulty obtaining GN KATO models is simply because you have come to this a decade after the models were released and they havent been rerun AFAIK. I bought a couple of these GN 'foreign road cars' for mixing in the CZ/ Prospector occasionally. But one requires a replacement truck that I haven't been able to locate privately nor buy (not available @ kato).

    Having said that- there are literally dozens of forums and fan articles about all these cars, some other sites are: - select N-Scale North American Passenger Cars

    Search or join:

    Many above are haunted by the same modellers, and many more, who post here and there are in some cases 20-25 years of commentary and history. If you cannot get access and have to join the 'site' and groups, it will pay off immensely.
    regards dave
  9. Gary Helriegel

    Gary Helriegel TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for all the info- I suspected that Kato might have had the scale correct, but unfortunately it doesn't indicate the actual numeric scale on the box, and they're the only passenger equipment I own. It's a relief that I won't have to fight over scale when acquiring rolling stock. I come from the miniature wargaming hobby, and am used to '28mm scale' meaning different things to different manufacturers (measuring eye height vs top of head, with or without a base... it's a mess).

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