The 10 year old Kato SD45 mechanism that will be powering my model of Conrail 6147 has put many scale miles under its wheels. While working on the paint and decals on the shell I realized I should also pay the mechanism some attention.


There were two main issues that I had to contend with. The first was electrical pickup. The unit had, like I said, run quite a bit in its past incarnations, and I expected to have to do a lot of cleaning. I was wrong.

A quick run over some alcohol soaked paper towels cleaned the wheels right up and the unit now creeps like it was brand new. Sometimes I swear Kato uses alien technology on this stuf.

I checked the contact tabs and strips for dirt, but they were both clean, so we were good to go on the electrical front.


Sadly, Kato models don’t come with 10/100,000 powertrain warranties, so I was on my own for addressing the occasional “squealing” that the unit was making.

Ron Bearden has long championed a technique involving removing the inner bearing blocks of split frame mechanism models. This helps eliminate friction and and the source of some alignment issues that commonly cause the “Kato Screech”.

In my case, I found that removing the outer blocks did not help (I started there since they’re significantly easier to remove than the inner ones) with my particular issue.

Instead of removing the inner blocks, I simply added a drop of Remington gun oil to the area around the block. I used the applicator that came with the oil (a long tube that I tapered to a point) and a tooth pick to precise application.

A few laps around the layout distributed everything perfectly.

In just a few moments, I took a dust covered mechanism and restored it for use. 6147 is now just some final finishing away from being ready for its next assignment.