Athearn Couplers

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by pondman, Nov 16, 2003.

  1. pondman

    pondman New Member

    I use ATHEARN CAR's and can't keep the couplers from falling off all the time . The metal clip comes off and i have to redo it a lot..I have them on right with the long side supporting the henry coupler as it said in paper work ..What am I doing wrong ?
  2. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    Have you checked to see if the metal clip is out of shape?
    I have had that problem and had to reshape the clip to engage the plastic tabs on the sides of the coupler pocket.
    I have also seen the tabs worn or flashing on the pocket that needed removed to allow the clip to engage the tabs.
    Usually bending the clip and reshaping the tabs with a small file will solve the problem.
    Hope this helps.
  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    You can also get replacement clips cheap. Some of mine broke.
  4. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I was gonna say--------but Ray said it first :D
  5. Vic

    Vic Active Member


    It's usually not the clip that causes the problem but the coupler box. Look closely at the coupler will see 2 little "nubbins" on each side of it...notice that the clip "snaps" over the "nubbins" to hold it secure.

    Some times these "nubbins" get worn down, mis-shapened, or broke off when installing the coupler box clip.

    The easy fix is to put the coupler in the box, put the clip on the box, hold the clip tight against the box and apply, with a straight pin put a tiny drop of super glue to each "nubbin" where the clip and the "nubbins" meet. Hold the clip tight against the box until the glue sets.

    If you use just the right amount of glue you can snap the clip off later if you need to change couplers. An added benefit is that by doing this your coulpers won't sag down.

    The other fix is to buy a new underframe with "fresh nubbins" on the coupler box!:D
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Danged nubbins. You don't think fresh nubbins would cause any problem Vic? I get saggy box syndrome too.
  7. Vic

    Vic Active Member


    Lol Jon.....Would you believe I was just working on that "saggy box" affliction when I got your post:D :D :D

    OK Fans! Here It Is!!

    Because of the way the underframes on Athearn cars are injection molded they can be distorted and really don't fit right to obtain the proper coupler height.

    Install an underframe and trucks on an Athearn car. Now take a look at the coupler boxes. Notice that there is a small gap between the top side of the coupler box and the bottom side of the carbody. When the truck screws are tightend the gap will become even more pronounced.

    Here's the fix.....Install the underframe and sure that your trucks are screwed down tight...we don't want them to turn right and left yet.

    Now check the ends of the car to see if you have any gap...If you see a gap proceed to the next step...If you don't see a gap loosen the truck screws until the gap appears.

    Using a straight pin and super glue place a small drop of the glue on top of the coupler box and hold it against the carbody until it sets. Do the same on the other end.

    Now install the couplers and either tighten or loosen your truck screws until the trucks rotate right and left freely. You should now have a coupler height that is within NMRA tolerences without having to shim the trucks with washers.

    Added bonus....Combined with my post about "nubbins" you now have couplers that stick "straight out" and no "saggy box"


    Attached Files:

  8. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    if i have problems with Athrean pockets i cut them off and super glue a MKD pocket on to the weight has worker well so far;)
  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member


    I find that very easy to believe if you've got 30 ro 40 old atherns, you could be doing that around the clock! :D :D :D

    Jim's idea, just cut it off, would eliminate the saggy box worries and you certainly wouldn't care about getting any fresh nubbins! :rolleyes: :eek: :D
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think when Irv first designed those metal coupler covers, he made them of spring steel. Later they switched to plain sheet metal. They are famous for coming loose. I put mine together, and then drill the post in the center with a #45 drill and tap it for a #2-56 screw. After I put the screw in, the couplers never come apart. Put a small chamfer around the edge of the hole, and use a flathead screw, paint it black, and you won't even see it.
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    That sounds like the right way to do it Russ, if you wnat it fixed for good and be able to get at it to service it.
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Here is my cure for the snap ons..After I mount the KD coupler I make sure I hear a "snap" when I put the cover on then with my needle nose pliers I GENTLY squeeze the clip con the nobs..I have had very few to fall off over the years by doing this..Guys you gotta hear that "snap" as it snaps in place if you don't then the clip is not seated correctly and will fall off..

    I also fully agree a 2-56 screw will end this problem and still allow you to remove the coupler if the needs arises.
  13. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    One Last Tip!!

    Having been in narrow gauge for over 20 years all Athearn cars have long been banished to "The Used Athearn Trade-In Lot" but one other little thing....:)

    On some of the clips that I encountered the leading edge of the flat side was a bit rough from being stamped and cut. A little burnishing with the smooth end of a drill bit will take care of that and the coupler won't hang up. A little "puff" of powdered graphite in the coupler box slicks things up even more.
  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    My first few Athearn cars had a coupler pocket with a plastic cover and a very short screw.
    The absolute first one had those rubber things that were supposed to go in the trucks to represent the springs and to hold the truck together.
    Anyone been around long enough that they ever got them to work?
    The clips seem to have come in about 1960/61 with the heavyweight passenger cars.

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