Kato designed a "Pocket Line" series - small, "chibi" style engines, cars - that is designed to run on their smallest radius curves and turnouts. Due to the low price and how great of a runner they are, these small motors are a great entry point. I had seen online where someone "diesel-ized" the steeple-cab "Freight Car" set locomotive, and I thought this would be perfect for my first layout. Particularly since I was never gonna find a commercially made TCKR locomotive, I knew I would have to custom paint any locomotive. So I customized and "diesel-ized" the electric steeple cab, with TCKR's 50-ton switcher in mind. (DuraBond actually had a GE 50-ton and a 44-ton Whitcomb used for yard jobs, and neither were ever numbered.)
Changes I made to the locomotive:
Removed the catenary, and added a horn. (The horn actually helps a lot for quickly recognizing which end if Front :-D )
Removed the roof awnings (they did not feel very "US" to me)
Added window glazing to most of the windows (not the driver's window), and the 'dividers' that are seen on the cab of the GE-55 ton
Added engineer into the cab
Replaced the rapido couplers with Bachmann dummy couplers. (These work well with MTL couplers)
Custom paint job with custom decals
Did it Twice...
While working on customizing the little freight engine, I kinda fell in love with it and it's rolling stock. I was about to have these two unused wagons, and was trying to come up with a plan. It was about that time when I saw a few posts on Facebook showing where a gentleman had customized his own set, including the wagons, to make an AMAZING little Japanese scene. It was at that point that I "pulled the trigger", and bought a second set of the Pocket Line Freight set.
So now I have a second locomotive (as seen in the comparison photos above) just in case I mess up the TCKR customization. When the TCKR conversion was successful, I then proceeded to customization the "spare" locomotive along with the 4 wagons I now had. They all received replacement couplers, some weathering powders, and custom loads. Both the Locomotive and the Brakeman hut received figures.
This little fella has become quite the hit at train shows with both kids and adults. The kids find it cute (not as cute as Thomas, but a close runner up :-D ) and the adults always seem to be quite curious about it. Best part, is this little guy can run all day long on the smaller inside loops that get created with some of our T-TRAK layouts.
Full view of the locomotive, and my 4 car consist
Locomotive: painted bottom half yellow, and added window glazing and an Engineer. I am not aware of if there is a Japanese prototype this is based on or not.
Toki (gondola): Added tie-down posts, and a load of cut logs.
Toki (gondola): Removed the brakeman's hut, and added a tarp.
Toki (gondola): scratch build a wooden crate.
Toki-fu (gondola w/hut): Added a waving brakeman, stone/ballast load, and tank.
* I don't know if I am using the correct Japanese terms for the cars, but I think so based on what I found at http://www.sumidacrossing.org/Prototype/JRFreight/FreightCars/ Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.