Kato Precision Railroad Models
Kato Precision Railroad Models (関水金属株式会社 Sekisui Kinzoku Kabushikigaisha) is a Japanese manufacturer of model railroad equipment in N and HO scales. The Tokyo-based company manufactures models based on Japanese prototypes (such as the Shinkansen bullet train) for the Japanese market, North American prototypes for the North American market and European high-speed trains for European market. The design and distribution of models for the North Armerican market are handled by their U.S. subsidiary, Kato USA, located in Schaumburg, Illinois.
The Kato (pronounced kah-toe) model railroad companies were founded by Yuji Kato, father of current president Hiroshi Kato, of the parent company Sekisui Kinzoku Co., Ltd.
In both N scale and HO scale, Kato also manufactures an integrated roadbed model railroad track brand named Unitrack. What distinguishes Unitrack from other brands of integrated roadbed track is Kato's Unijoiner. This unique track joiner is also used by Tillig in their TT scale integrated roadbed Bedding Track products.
Kato N-scale locomotive features include:
- Powerful 5-pole motors
- Blackened metal wheels
and on some models:
- Operating ditch lights
- Directional golden white LEDs
- All-wheel electrical pickup
A multiple train control system named KATO Digital was introduced in the late 1980s for HO scale model trains. Conceptually it is similar to Digital Command Control (DCC). Although an important milestone for Kato, KATO Digital was not very successful; both the controller units and the decoder modules required for the locomotives were expensive, and locomotives equipped with a KATO Digital decoder could not be used on conventional systems, making it difficult to run one's locomotives on friends' layouts or club layouts.
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