Coupler advice needed!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by stripes, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. stripes

    stripes Member

    I have rolling stock and locomotives that have a mix of hook & horn couplers, and some with Kadee couplers. As I am building my layout and do not have alot of trackwork done this has not been a big issue. Now, I am going to DCC and have culled through everything to eliminate life like, Backmann, etc... (The lower quality stuff) and want to make all of my couplers compatiable.
    I have read many threads that pertain to couplers but I guess I am still confused!

    So !!! Here is my question!

    What is the simplest, least expensive way to convert to a standard coupler?

    I am leaning towards the Sargent coupler,

    Any advice please!

    Thanks everyone, and Happy New Year!

  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The least expensive functional coupler will probably be McHenry's with the brass knuckle spring or Accu-Mates. The various knuckle couplers with the flat plastic spring are not worth the time it takes to install them. The best compromise between cost and function are probably Kaddee #5. The best couplers from what I have read here are the Sergent's, but they won't be cheap. They may well be the most expensive of your options. I haven't used them yet, but I haven't seen any complaints by anyone here on the Gauge who has used them.
  3. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Also, the Sergent couplers are NOT compatible with Kadees, so if you already have a lot of Kadee couplers installed on your rolling stock, you will have to change out ALL of them to Sergent.. Which will further increase your cost (by quite a bit).

    Unless you are a rivet counter with very deep pockets, I would just stick with Kadees.
  4. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Don't skimp on the couplers :) The track and couplers are the most important things to look at when designing a layout. After building many N, HO and G layouts, I find that they are the areas that have the tendency to cause the most aggravations....

    .... Can't help you with the couplers - but wanted to add my 2 cents :D
  5. forton

    forton New Member


    Kaydees for sure. They are reasonably priced. They also have a very good reputation for quality and consistency. And no, I don't work for them. :thumb:
  6. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Been using them for years. In fact, when I get a piece of new rolling stock that comes with either of the other knuckle couplers...They come out, and Kadees go in. Even if I buy a "Antique" Tyco at a show...I get the Kadee conversion kit.
    I have a parts draw filled with Accu-Mates and others...
    Anybody want them?
  7. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    Well, ya learn sumpin' every day, I guess; but I'd like to know more. I never heard of Sargent couplers until reading this thread. Just for curiosity's sake, would someone please tell me a bit about them? Thanks in advance.
  8. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

  9. nhguy

    nhguy Member

    I like the way the Sargent's look and work. To bad they won't couple with Kadee's. I mostly #58 scale couplers. They won't even couple with those. I suppose you could use a transision car. The Sargents are good for contest models to.
  10. stripes

    stripes Member

    Ok, Then which Kadee couplers are the most user friendly, ease of installation etc...
    There seem to be about 5 types?

  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    There are a lot more than 5 types, but the various Kaddes are for different applications. The nearly universal coupler from Kaddee is the #5. The #4 has a different shank on it, and I've found it to work well on steam engine pilots when there isn't room for the pivot loop on the #5 to fit. The #48 are Kaddees "scale" sized couplers. You will also notice that Kaddee has couplers in various # series (20's, 30's, 40's, etc.). What those are used for is specific applications. Sometimes a locomotive will have a longer pilot that requires a long shank on the coupler, so some models in each series will have a longer shank. On my f-units which run on a modular layout with a minimum radius or 36 inches, I can run reliably with the ABBA set close coupled to prototype distance. To get closer coupling, Kaddee offers short shank versions of their couplers. If you are running on 18-22 inch radius, you can't have the units coupled so close together, so you need a standard shank. Kaddee also offers underset couplers where the shank is mounted to the bottom of the coupler knuckle for locomotives or cars where the coupler height is too low. They also offer overset couplers where the shank is mounted to the top of the knuckle for applications where the coulpler mounting is too high. Finally, they offer the 20 and 30 series couplers with a hairpin spring and coupler pocket that allows the coupler to mount to locomotives where there isn't enough room behind the trucks to mount the longer #5 coupler pocket. I have never succeeded in getting the hairpin springs into the coupler box myself. I have used the 20 series or 30 series in some f units that didn't have enough room for the #5 type coupler pocket, but I didn't bother with the centering spring. I realise that this reply may seem long and rambling, but Kaddee has tried to make a coupler to fit every situation for every model produced. Oh I almost forgot, they also make some couplers with extra long shanks to fit Rivarossi passenger cars. I think if you go to their web site, they probably have a chart listing the couplers that they reccomend for each common plastic model locomotive or car. They also sell packages of shims in 2 different thicknesses. The thinnest ones are grey and the thicker ones are pink. You can use them between the truck and the car body to raise the car slightly to raise the coupler height.
  12. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    Long and rambling ... no :) :thumb:, full of information i need yes!!:wave:

    Thanks this answers almost all my questions about why so bleeding many couplers exist!! :) now .. if there were only a similar post w/ why so many truck and wheel sizes exist...... hahahaa

  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The reason so many truck and wheel sizes exist is because we modelers want to replicate the prototype in scale. With diesel engines the locomotive wheels are bigger than the wheels in the rolling stock. Passenger car wheels are bigger than most freight car wheels because passenger cars were operated at faster speeds than freight cars in the old days before Amtrak. Then when we get to modern freight cars 70 ton trucks have smaller wheels than 100 ton trucks. Finally we have models of various freight trucks that were used on rolling stock over the last 100 years or so. The trucks that are ptototypical for 1900 are not legal to use in interchange service in 2000. If you are modeling a steam railroad in 1910, the trucks on your cars would be different than the ones on modern freight cars behind the latest high horsepower hood unit.
  14. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    Awesome thanks!! :) I have to get out some calipers adn start measuring my wheels i plan to replae the trucks. Now that i have a good engine and decent couplers i want them to roll properly.

    Along the lines of couplers I've been doing some research. I'm going to post all the reference material I've found in this thread starting w/ this, scroll to "Coupler Basics".
  15. stripes

    stripes Member

    Thanks, maybe it will become a sticky!


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