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I am new to HO, previous N scale for years. I've read about problems with #4 Kato switches. Does the problem still exist or has it been corrected? Want to use some #4s, but not looking for problems with my new HO project.
 

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I've been running a small-sized railroad (based on the MR plan "Black River Junction", but with modifications) for a couple of years now.

All track is Kato, and I use all their various switches:
  • #4 powered
  • #4 manual
  • #6 powered
  • #6 manual

The #4 switches are "power-routing" and this is fixed, cannot be changed.
With the manual switches, you can change them from "power-routing" to "NON-power-routing" by reconfiguring two screws on the bottom.
I don't remember if power-routing is selectable on the #6 powered switches or not.

Having said that, I'll mention glitches/problems I've had:
  • The powered switches cannot be disassembled (take bottom plate off) without breaking them -- or at least I haven't discovered how to.
  • The manual switches CAN have the bottom plates removed if you need to for some reason. There are numerous parts "in there", but they all can be fit back together and the back can be replaced.
  • I've had the powered switch motors "seize up" on both a #4 and a #6. As mentioned above, I couldn't get the back panel off without messing up "the works" inside, and there doesn't seem to be a way to "free up" the motor or replace it if need be.
  • I've added the separate switch motors to the manual #4 and #6 switches. The motors work well enough, but when it gets on the cold side in my basement (I reckon under 50-55F), I've noticed that the manual switches (after having motors installed) may not "throw all the way" to reverse position sometimes. They always "normal up" properly, the glitch only manifests when the switch is thrown to reverse position. When things warm up, this goes away. I'm going to guess that the internal "springs" and levers just don't "mesh up" as well as they should in the cold.

So... my advice if you're just starting out would be:
  • I'd suggest buying the manual #4 and #6 switches. Add the switch motors if you need to.
  • Use the #4 powered switches but only if the manual #4 won't work in that location. The powered #4s work but realize they are power-routing only and if the motor fails, the only option is to replace the entire switch.
  • I'd recommend using the manual #6 rather than the powered version. Again, if the motor fails, it can't be fixed, and you need to replace the whole thing.

There IS one advantage with the powered #4's -- they have a more graceful turning radius than do the non-powered #4's. But all my stuff (including some short-wheelbase 6-axles (SD7, SD35) run through the manual #4's without problems.
 

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I am new to HO, previous N scale for years. I've read about problems with #4 Kato switches. Does the problem still exist or has it been corrected? Want to use some #4s, but not looking for problems with my new HO project.
Marv,

There is a good youtube video from Mike Fifer hobbies on modifying Kato #4 turnouts that you might want to check out. The mod consists of marking the stock rail where the point rests against it and then pulling the outer stock rail out far enough to file a notch in it for the point to recess into. I suggest doing this to the inside stock rail as well.
I have also seen a different video where the bottom plate was removed from a powered Kato turnout, a repair done, and the turnout put back in service. I should explain that I've only seen the videos. I don't use Kato turnouts,or track, and have no personal experience with them. J.Albert obviously has had personal experience, so while one of the videos I saw, contradicts one point he made, I don't discount his excellent response. After all, he has experience, and I don't.
There is a way to bypass the power routing feature of other turnouts, which might be adaptable to Kato turnouts. A Peco insulfrog is power routing out of the box. Soldering power feeders to both routes bypasses the power routing feature.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 
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