Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Bob Collins, Feb 15, 2002.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I have a problem and I need to pick your brains on this.

    I find that if I don't trim the air hose on the Kadee #5 knuckle couples I have installed on a number of my rolling stock they will catch on turnouts and crossovers and cause a derailment. Yes I can clip them off and solve the problem, but before I do that I am wordering if the "hoses" serv e and purpose, especially with magnetic uncoupling?

    Any comments?

  2. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Bob!
    The "hoses", or "gladhands" are essential if you are using the uncoupling magnets. If you're not using the magnets, you can cut them off.
    It sounds like the couplers might be a little low.
    Is it all the cars, or just one?
    If you want, you can gently, with some needlenose pliers, bend the gladhands up slightly.
  3. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    It seems to be on most all of them, although I particularly noticed it on a set of Athearn heavyweight passenger cars I put together yesterday.

    If I clip them and don't use the magnetic uncouplers, what are my other choices for automatic uncoupling, if any?

  4. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Charlie, you need to get yourself a Kadee coupler gauge. Cheap like borscht, and then you know for sure if the couplers are set too low, or the coupler "gladhands" are just curved wrong. And yeh, bending them with pliers works quite well sometimes (other times, even I have to admit, I just can't be bothered, and clip the damned things).
  5. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    But I'd still like to know if clipping them removes my only option for automatic uncoupling?

  6. Jim de Bree

    Jim de Bree Member

    The earlier suggestion about the Kadee height gauge is excellent. Also MicroMark sells a special pair of pliers to bend the hose on the Kadee couplers to the correct height (you can bend the hose either up or down). If you get both the height gauge and the pliers, your couplers will work great.
  7. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks Jim and welcome to The Gauge. As you look through the site you will see that we come from all parts of the world and have a great deal of fun getting together here from time to time. As many posts as I have on here now I'd probably be finished with my layout if I did something other than play with the computer.

    Again, welcome and chime in anytime.

  8. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Bob, you don't have to bend the "hoses" they will (with the help of the needle-nose pliers) slide up and down in the coupler. If you remove them there is no other option I know of for automatic uncoupling.I remove mine and uncouple with a Rix Pic (I feel it's more realilistic), but if you have spots that are hard to reach you may want to use them. Be forwarned though, to high and they won't work, to low and they hang on turnouts or give you the always thrilling flying uncouple (this is really fun on a steep grade, no don't ask me how I know).:p
  9. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Oh, and did I mention the little !@%#@$ are always going out of adjustment? Another reason I cut mine off.:D
  10. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, No other automatic way I know of. You need that height gauge. I bend mine with needlenoses as mentioned above. A few words on placement of the magnets. First off, I hate the sight of the between the rails type. So, I used the under track type with steel plate to strenghten the magnetic field. These work well, but be forewarned that when used on any thru track (as opposed to an industrial spur) you will wind up with unwanted uncouplings. That is, any slack caused by a moments hesitation while couplers are over the magnet, will cause uncoupling. This got so annoying on my previous layout that I vowed never to use them except on dead end spurs. I had found an article in an older MR on building your own electromagnetic uncouplers and proceeded to do so. Kadee also makes one, I have no experience with it. For thru tracks, I recommend their use, or uncouple manually wherever possible.

  11. Billybob Reuben

    Billybob Reuben New Member

    Kadee! A name associated with the best and the worst in coupling! Unfortunately, the Kadees are the best couplers around so we have to put up with their faults.....AND THEY HAVE MANY!

    But Jim-d is right! The Kadee coupler height gauge and the pliers that adjust the uncoupling levers are both a must if you intend to keep your levers on, but other factors enter into the equation as well and should be considered before you start snipping your levers off. The first of these can be corrected by the average modeler, the other, unfortunately, cannot.

    First, you must check the level of your track. Any abrupt rise or depression in one or both of the rails can cause an unwanted uncoupling or, worse, a derailment. This can happen when the uncoupling lever hangs down far enough to touch a rail, and this almost always occurs on a turnout or crossing where one or more rails pass directly under the coupler. Adjusting the uncoupling lever with the Kadee coupler height gauge and adjustment pliers can usually keep the levers far enough above the top of the rails to prevent this from happening.

    The second problem is one we cannot fix on our own. This has to do with the excessive vertical play inherent inside the Kadee #5 coupler box. Whoever designed this box should be excommunicated to Siberia, or worse, since it allows the coupler to move up-and-down much more than necessary for the couplers to couple, track and uncouple properly. The obvious answer, of course, is a re-designed coupler box with a flat inside lower surface on which the coupler can ride, thus preventing the coupler head from dropping down below the level of the box....which is exactly what it does now. I understand the folks at Kadee are impossible to speak with and, apparently, are totally pleased with the design of their products, so a fix from them seems out of the question. The answer, therefore, must lie with another manufacturer willing to stand the costs to design and market a replacement.

  12. Jim de Bree

    Jim de Bree Member

    I too have experienced a lot of the problems you mention. Track laying is really critical. One point not mentioned in this thread is the proper weighting of cars. I have conformed to the NMRA standards for weigthing cars and have found that this helps with some of the uncoupling and a lot of the derailment problems.
  13. Billybob Reuben

    Billybob Reuben New Member

    Another point I forgot to mention yesterday is that if you are thinking of using the new so-called Kadee "scale" type couplers, which, of course, are not really scale at all, the uncoupling and derailment problems become potentially worse because of the fact that the vertical mating surfaces between the two knuckles is smaller than on the standard Kadees, so even more care must be exercised in the laying of your track.

    Speaking of Kadee's new "scale" couplers, ordinarily I would have commended Kadee for attempting to produce a working coupler in HO that was even "close-to-scale", but unfortunately the design they chose to market simply doesn't make it! It looks no more like a prototype coupler than a Kadee #5 and, in fact, looks much less so...the problem being that the knuckle on the new coupler had to be extended unproportionately farther away from the coupler body in order for it to mate with the older and larger Kadee #5 design that most modelers still use. This design requirement resulted in a very visible gap between the knuckle and body of the new design. Kadee should have at least attempted to disquise this gap in order to make the overall appearance of the coupler more acceptable to the modeler.

    Back to the drawing board....
  14. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    We've had a fairly detailed critique of the Kadee couplers and now I'd like to know how people feel they stack up against other brands; McHenry, EazyMate, etc.

    Is it worth the effort to switch over to one of the others? How much difference in costs are we talking about?

  15. Jim de Bree

    Jim de Bree Member

    My view of the world is to do whater it takes to maximize operating efficiency and minimize problems. That often comes at the expense of prototypical accuacy. With respect to couplers. I will stick to the #5 and its cousins because they have worked very well for me. The problems that the originator of this thread experienced are, based upon my experience, solvable if you pay a little more attention to details.
  16. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I started this thread because as a new modeler I didn't know the answer to the question I asked about the function of a part of the coupler. I am certainly sorry if Jimmy de Bree thinks I asked the question because I lack the ability to look into the details of the problem. I certainly will be more guarded and more detail oriented before I consider posting such trivia again.

  17. Jim de Bree

    Jim de Bree Member

    Hi Bob:

    Many clubs require Kadee's on their layouts. I prefer Kadees in most cases because I think that they are more durable and may hold up better if you are running really long trains. I have been using the couplers that come with the newer cars (I think most are Bachmann Easy Mates) and have not experienced any problems.

    I have a number of Rivarossi passenger cars and steam locos. I have installed the McHenry couplers and have found them to be reliable. As I stated earlier in this thread, I weight all of my rolling stock to NMRA standards, and I am generally happy with the way things run. I also run on code 100 track, have a minimum radius of 30" and do not have any grades in excess of 2%.

    One final point, last year MR ran a story comparing all of the couplers. that is the best side by side comparison that I have seen.

  18. Jim de Bree

    Jim de Bree Member


    I am sorry if you took offense to my earlier comment. I think that you misunderstood me. I am glad you asked your question and please continue to ask any and all questions. What I meant about paying attention to the details is making sure that you use the height gauge, adjust the hoses using a pair of pliers and properly weight the car. Getting the cars to run correctly requires detailed, meticulous attention on the front end. If you pay attention to what many see as trivial details, your rolling stock will run much better. I've learned all of this stuff the hard way.

    Again, I am sorry if I offended you in my earlier comment.

  19. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, Like some others have stated. I prefer Kadee. The other couplers, such as the ones which come on LLP2000 units, seem to be inconsistant. Several of the couplers which came installed on LL units had coupler faces which would not stay closed. I leave the couplers which work alone, replace others with Kadees. I find the Kadees uncouple more reliably also. So far, I haven't seen any reason to stray from Kadee. It may just be customer loyalty, I've used them for twentyfive years.

  20. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks Gary and to all of you who have responded. I firmly believe that this is one of the major values of this forum is to be able to learn from others. Those of you who have been at this for a spell and who basically had to figure it out yourselves or maybe had access to a train club where you could share ideas or waited for the next issue of MR to arrive, hoping it might have a blurb about your most recent problem probably think we newbies have it pretty soft, and I agree. But I wouldn't change it either, because the other really great benefit of this forum is the friends we each make on here almost every day. I won't be able to travel along Highway 60 in southern Missouri and see a UPRR train without wondering if Mishka is on board, or read an article in the paper and see Boonton, Marion, Bettendorf or Columbia and wonder what effect this story might have had on one of my Gauge friends.

    I enjoy the exchange of information and at the same time try not to be a pest. I make it a point to sit down and try to think things through or look in my now small library of reference books before I come onto the Gauge to ask questions.

    I think my DCC equipment will arrive today, so I am excited about getting on with that phase of the construction. This is what makes it exciting for me. I can see better now why I hear considerable reference here on the Gauge to folks tearing down and rebuilding, or "I'm working on my seventh layout" or probably what I now think is probably the real truth about this hobby, you never finish building it:D

    Again, thanks to all of you. I have taken a number of very valuable pieces of information away from this conversation.


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