While doing research into HON30 engines, I came across the Kato 11-103 in a post. This N scale drive is the underpinnings for a number of Kato N scale engines. Of course, being N Scale, it will run on HOn30 track and has to potential to be the underpinnings for scratch built or kit bashed HOn30 scale engines. These 4 wheel drive units are reported to be smooth runners and are quite inexpensive. When I found they could be had for $10 apiece from Japan, I ordered two, assuming I would find an application later. Because they were coming from Japan, I had to be patient. Meanwhile, I acquired a Minitrains 0-4-0T and a Minitrains 0-4-0T saddle tank that will serve as the steam engines for my mining spur. Builders logs for both are under way.
The two Kato drives showed up yesterday. Here is a view of one from the top.
I got out my digital calipers and took off dimensions. The following shows raw takeoffs and then converted from 1:87 to 1:1 scale. For those dimensions that are appropriate, I also compared to the 1:1 dimensions for the Skagit M.A.C 4-40 speeder. Dimensions are in inches.
The dimensions were closer than I thought they would be. Major variances were deck length (easily stretched) and deck width (also easily stretched). The one troubling dimension is the height from the track to the top of the motor. That could be overcome by using the drive trains as a base for an enclosed unit. There are posts on the web on how to convert one of these to DCC. There is certainly room inside an enclosed cab for the decoder.
Identifying the Host for the Drive
This is a bit odd. Normally you pick up or scratch build a critter then figure how to power it. This is coming down the other way around.
Option 1: An Enclosed Cab Skagit Speeder
I didn’t have to look very hard for a speeder. This is an image of a Skagit MAC 4-30 speeder. Note that some of the loggers in this photo are sitting the deck with their feet on a dropped foot rest. The footrests along with a front and rear pilot could be used to hide the diesel underpinnings. An enclosed cab would cover the top half of the drive. Skagit offered enclosed cab options.
I love critters. To me a speeder is one variety of critter. But variety is the spice of life
Option 2 – Rail bus
I came across a post from a model railroader that used a Highway Miniatures 1934 Ford 21 passenger bus to model a railbus. Here is the kit.
He cut the windows out of the bus containing the wheel well, rejoined the sides, shortened the top, then placed the bus body and engine compartment on the Kato drive. I picked up one of these kits on eBay for $15 last night. If this approach works, my powered rail bus will cost $25 plus $20 for a DCC decoder plus the cost of detail parts. That is a cheap piece of custom powered rolling stock.
Mack 15 Ton Switcher
I came across this Highway Miniatures kit while searching eBay for the Ford Bus.
I love the chunky look of this engine. It is probably too short for the Kato drive, but I could get around that problem by extending the rear compartment. In running searches, I came across a Wiseman version of the same switcher. It is a bit more expensive but is white metal castings with more detailed parts.
The hoods may be too narrow, but I could model something similar to the hoods on the Highway Miniatures locomotive in styrene and brass. If needed, I could also extend the hood length a bit without throwing off proportions too much.
I’ll start a builders log as soon as I’ve determined which two of these three options to build.