Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Bob Collins, Jul 22, 2002.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I'm very curious about what others do regarding the various types of couplers available and how you use them on your layouts.

    I've purchased several lots of older rolling stock, including some passenger stuff, all with horn hook couplers. I also have my fair share of Kadee's, etc.

    What do you folks do with a mix? Do you try to convert them all to one style, or set some cars up with one of each, or something else I haven't thought of yet :D :D

    I think some of the ones I have would be fairly easy to convert to knuckle couplers, but others look to be more of a challenge:eek:

    Would really like to hear how others have handled this situation. It must be fairly common among model railroaders.

  2. Bob, I posted a similar thread about a six weeks or so ago and got the same reply from many experienced modlelers, and that is Kadee, Kadee, Kadee. I have since visited their website, and have gotten all the necessary couplers, for various engines and cars etc., and have them installed on all my passenger train engines and cars, and have not had one uncouple to date...
    Good Luck, AT&SF Duey:) :)
  3. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    For your passenger cars do you use a coupler that basically has an extension on it? I'll have to take a look at the Kadee website and see what I might discover. Many thanks

  4. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Bob, Something you can do to overcome the horn hooks vs Kadees until you can convert them all over to Kadee is to make yourself a couple of "conversion cars".....IE: cars with a Kadee on one end and a horn hook on the other. That way you can run them "mixed up":)

    I've never used anything but Kadees....that was the only thing around for a long time and I've just stuck with them. Since I have converted over to narrow gauge I use the Kadee HON3 coupler but some applications call for a smaller coupler so I use Kadee N Scale couplers too. They mate with and work well with the HOn3 couplers.

    My thought on the whole thing is that the horn hook couplers just "don't cut the mustard" :D and that everything should be converted to working knuckle couplers.:)
  5. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Hi Vic;

    I've pretty much made up my mind to do exactly as you suggest. I was just wondering how other folks handled the situation.

    I already have a couple of boxcars picked out where it would be very easy to just change out one end for now. In the case of my heavyweight passenger cars I think I will go ahead and convert everything and be done with it.:D :D

    Have been away from the Gauge for a spell as I try to get other things in my life done too. With the weather hanging in the 100 degree area right now I have been busy working on a couple of ideas I have had on my layout. I think it is going to eventually work out really well and I seem to have the fire in my belly again about working on the train. I had done almost nothing over the past few months, but the recent progress makes me want to continue toward being fully operational later this year.

  6. pcentral

    pcentral Member

    Hi Bob,
    There is a coupler made that will couple Kadee to horn/hook type . Sorry but right now the name escapes me. My dad went through the same thing a few years ago with his rolling stock. The conversion cars are the way to go for now, but also consider making some engines that way.
  7. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Bob,
    Bachmann easymate is a lookalike Kadee, and is all I ever use for my HO railroad, does away with the bronze strip inside the box.

  8. BillD53A

    BillD53A Member

    IHC (used to be AHM) makes the coupler that will mate with both horn-hooks and Kadees...I think they called it the E-Z Mate.
    It has been said before so I'll say it again...Kadee Kadee Kadee. It has been my experience that the plastic look-alikes dont hold up. Most of them have a finger-like spring that holds the jaws closed...all mine have weakened and failed, requiring replacement. I understand there are some with a coil spring that work well. They do make couplers that will snap right in to IHC, etc.'s passenger car trucks. These might work okay if the train is light enough. I have never liked the Accu-mate split-shank design, though lots of people swear by them, especially their scale size coupler.
    I like the Kadee #58...the scale size coupler, wish they would make them in more shank styles. I cut the trip pins off and use a pick to open the couplers on my layout.
  9. msh

    msh Member

    What about....

    Great idea on the conversion car idea to keep one operating until all couplers are modified! I've been putting Kadee #5 on all new arrivals and like them very much - I thank all of you for the previous advice to do so.

    I'm curious though.... The concensus is knuckle couplers are THE only way to go, and won't dispute that since I like them too. But when Vic says "horn hook coulpers just don't cut the mustard", whether that's true or not, it makes me think of a time when the knuckle couplers were not even in existence - what did you guys do when horn hook was all there was? Weren't they fully functional, and if so, what fundementally happened to them other than the knuckle couplers coming out and changing perceptions? :confused:
  10. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    MSH, I am sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think kadee has been around about as long as horn hooks. Prior to both, there were several types of couplers, unique to each manufacturer, none of which were compatable. The horn hook was developed as a standard to allow the industry to grow, which it did. Kadee's were developed privately as a realistic alternative, which was widely accepted. It didn't take long for the other types to disappear, and the horn hook probably would've disappeared a while back if it hadn't been for Kadee's patent. With the expiration of the patent all were able to clone the design and the result is that rtr equipment now usually comes with knuckle couplers, not horn hooks.

  11. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Re: What about....

    Well, Horn-hook wasn't the only way to go. There were Baker and Mantua and Loop and hook and...

    Do you get the idea? The Horn-hook x2f coupler was proposed to be a good answer to the coupler question. It wasn't and it was never adopted by the NMRA which first proposed it as a compromise coupler. It just didn't work reliably and was scrapped. However, a large number of manufacturers DID pick it up and it became OEM standard although the Kadee was much better.

    You see, it was a matter of license. If they used Kadee, it was patented and there was no break from Kadee for the manufacturers to include it with the original car kits. The Horn-hook was cheap to make and it did work, sorta, if you didn't want to uncouple the cars automatically.

    Now that Kadee's patent has run out, there are several Kadee compatibles on the market. Personally, I'll stick with Kadee myself because I like the number 5,7 and 58. Works for me.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    One thing to watch on the older rolling stock is whether you can get the old coupling off without major damage to where you have to mount the Kadee.
    The horn-hook coupler was not adopted as NMRA standard and the manufacturers did not stick to the specs so that some brands were incompatible (Airfix made an OO sized version and called it the "cornhook"). As well, they never developed a decent uncoupler. There is a minor problem caused by the sideways pressure from the spring, especially on truck mounted couplings.
    It used to be that coupler discussions required boxing gloves and referees from a different gauge.
    Kadee became the standard because they adapted their mounting to fit everything. Have you noticed that the knock-offs concentrate on the #5 mount and leave the more esoteric ones to KD?
  13. Sorry Bob

    Sorry for the late reply Bob, I just read this post. No I used KaDee#5 for all my athearn passenger cars, and am now installing the same on all my freight cars. There are however different numbers required for different engines. Check with KaDee with your engine model's and they have a list of which numbers to use. AT&SF Duey

  14. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Older Couplers

    Although the X-2F was supposed to solve the standardization problem it just didn't work out. There was no real standard ever established and there was a great deal of varience between manufactures in size and in quality. While they all would couple together to some degree they always were just a "pain in the neck" The ones from Athearn were short and fat (probably the best plastic ones) and the ones from Mantua/Tyco were short and skinny (broke real easily). You could just forget the ones from AHM as they hardly ever worked. Atlas and Prefect made what they called "uncoupling ramps". What you were supposed to do was back the cars to be uncoupled over the "ramp" and it would spread the so called knuckles open. Most times all it did was derail the cars. Rail-Line made some metal X-2F couplers that were supposed to work with a magnet...another joke. As Roger has said the Baker and Mantua loop and hook couplers were probably the best thing going at the time but they were large and had no relationship in appearence to a coupler. There were some "dummy" knuckle couplers available from Kemtron in brass that worked quite well if you filed the knuckles out so they would mate with each other but of course there was no automatic uncoupling or coupling. Most of the time we just use the "five finger big hook":D to accomplish the coupling chores.

    Well, that's the history lesson for today.
  15. RI541

    RI541 Member

    If I may add my 2 cents worth.....

    If you are going to go through the expense of replaseing the couplers. I think it would be better if you went with body mount Kadees.
    1. The body mounts look more prototypical.
    2. When you mount the coupler to the body, you will have less problems when you are backing the train up. What I mean is when the train is backing up with body mounted couplers the pressure is on the car its self. But with the truck mounted couplers the pressuer is on the truck, The wheelset furtest from the coupler is forced to rail.Which can most definatly cause a derailmant. With the pressure on the car the wheel set is pushed to the rail but with no pressure so the truck is still allowed to move freely.

    I read this in an N-scale book but It should apply to HO and any other gauge I would think.

    When I'm doing kits for my father in law I use the body mount. He had me convert all his "older stuff" to knuckle couplers. I used McHenery couplers since alot of it was Tyco and the trucks mount to the body in a strange fashion.

    Now my question is McHenery and Bachmann E_Z Mates made by the same company? I've seen McHenery couplers with E_Z stamped on the shank?
  16. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I have come into possession of a couple of pieces of rolling stock that have hornhook couplers and I am totally baffled on how I can get them apart to put on knuckle ones.

    The one I have here in front of me is a Bachmann. The coupler is truck mounted. When I pop off the top so I can see both ends of what holds the truck in place it looks like a plastic plug that has been melted just slightly to hold it in place.

    Is my assumption correct that if I want to change couplers I basically am going to have to remove the current truck/coupler arrangement and replace both?:mad: :mad:

  17. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Bob, Take the blade of a knife or a small screwdriver and gently pry up on that plug until you can get a grip on it to pull it out. It's actually a plastic pin that holds the truck to the bolster.

    If you want to continue to use the orginal trucks what I would do would be to just take my flush cutters and cut away all of the coupler mounts from the trucks. Then I would body mount the Kadee to the underside of the floor and then put the trucks back on.

    You'll either have to shim the Kadee coupler box or the trucks or both to get the coupler height right or maybe you'll get lucky and the height will work out right without them:D :D :D
  18. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks Vic;

    I'll give it a try and let you know how it works out.

  19. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Hi Vic;

    It turned out to be even easier than you suggested. When I pried off the coupler-truck as you suggested I discovered a small lid on the other side of the place where the coupler was attached, popped it off with the edge of my small screwdriver, exchanged couplers and reversed the process. It works just great and I have a nice boxcar with compatible couplers!

    Many thanks.

  20. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Bob, Glad it worked out for you:) I wan't really familar with the Bachman cars but I figured that it had to be something close:D

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