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Kato Model Railroads & Trains

KATO Precision Railroad Models was established in Japan in 1957. KATO is an affiliate company of Sekisui Kinzoku Co. Ltd., founded by Hiroshi Kato. The company initially sold to its home market, but expanded into the U.S. market by selling its products under the Con-Cor and Atlas labels. In 1986, Kato established a U.S. division, KATO U.S.A., which is based in Schaumburg, Illinois. The company produces model locomotives and model train sets in HO and N scales. They also produce Unitrack, a rail and roadbed modular track system.

KATO's primary line of model railroad products are produced in N scale. They are known for their production of iconic American locomotives such as the Conrail SD8omac and the Budd RDC. The California Zephyr is one iconic train that was produced as an entire set rather than just the locomotive. These trains were selected because they all have stories behind them, which appeals to KATO's Japanese model railroad hobbyists.

All of KATO's model railroad products are manufactured in Japan. Their research and development of North American products, plus North American sales and distribution are all conducted out of the Schaumburg facility. North American models that require service are also sent to Schaumburg.

Quick Facts

  • KATO makes custom models out of its Kobo division, based in Japan. These models are hand assembled with accurate details and custom lighting
  • Many KATO models feature Digital Command Control, or DCC. This system allows model trains to be operated digitally and to be independently controlled on the same section of track. The term DCC has been trademarked by the National Model Railroad Association
  • Many hobbyists credit KATO with saving N scale model railroading by introducing a low friction propulsion system that allows N scale model trains to operate smoothly and quietly

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