HELP! With Couplers

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Play-Doh, Jun 15, 2006.

  1. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Hey Folks

    Well in the mail yesterday arrived my kadee #5 couplers. Confusing little buggers, and the directions are difficult to understand, but I assembled the draft gear boxes and they work, so I figured that part out.

    My problem is this. Most of my rolling stock is cheap and the coupler gear box is mounted (or molded) to the truck. The directions show nothing of how to attach the gear box to the truck or use the coupler in the original draft gear box.

    Can I just cut the old one off and super glue the kadee in place?

    Thanks for your help

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    For truck mounted couplers - cut them off, and use the draft gear box and coupler instead, BUT mount it on the body of the rolling stock. This may involve some cutting and filing to get a good fit. I would not recommend assembling the draft gear box and coupler and then mounting to the body UNLESS you are very careful with the glue. If any gets into the coupler box, it will be toast. Alternately, you can use screws (not included if memory serves) to mount the box to the car.

    For body mounted couplers - most newer rolling stock has the correct shape body mounted/moulded on box to accept the little centering spring and coupler. The draft gear box that came with the kit is not needed.

    If you wish to retain the truck mounted couplers for simplicity, you may have to fiddle with the spring to get the proper fit. Most of the truck mounted coupler pockets I have seen are either a little metal cover that wraps around three sides, and can be carefully pried off, or a plastic shelf that kind of slots onto the bottom of the box, leaving the top more or less open. This too can be pried out with care. However, the couplers may end up too low.

    Hope that helps.

  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    A long time ago, Kadee used to make a separate coupler to drop into the the truck-mounted coupler boxes - I believe it was a #9. However, the #5 was identical except for coming with its own draft gear, so #9 was dropped.

    The #5 and centering spring plate will drop right into many draft gear boxes, both body mount and truck mount. That's probably the 1st thing to try, and the cheapest way to get Kadee couplers installed.

    On truck-mounted couplers, there is a real tendency for the weight of the draft gear stuck out on that plastic arm to cause the coupler to sag, which causes the trip pin to catch on trackwork and couplers to under-ride on vertical irregularities and uncouple. Also, cars with truck-mounted couplers do not back well. If there is any side push from the coupler, it is magnified to the wheels through the long lever of the mount arm, and causes the wheels to look for and derail at the slightest hint of a track or wheel problem. Most cars with truck-mounted couplers use cheap plastic wheel sets, which can be out of gauge, out of round, or not properly mounted on the axles.

    For all these reasons, often the best upgrade for these cheap cars is to replace the trucks and install body-mounted Kadee couplers. Doing those 2 things will definitely increase your operational reliability significantly. But it does cost $4-$5 per car for new trucks and couplers.

    Just body-mounting the #5 couplers and cutting off the coupler mount arm on the trucks will give improvement, especially in backing up your train for switching. The biggest issue in body-mounting couplers is getting the coupler height right. You WILL need the Kadee coupler height gauge regardless of which options you choose. If the gauge shows the coupler low (not likely on a switch to body mount), you can add a washer above the truck where it mounts to the body, file a notch in the underframe for the draft gear box, or switch to an overset Kadee coupler (shank is at the bottom of the coupler knuckle). If the coupler is too high, you can shim the draft gear box downward. Once the coupler knuckle is at the right height, you then adjust the trip to the correct height.

    Many modelers like the centering whiskers of the new, otherwise identical #148 couplers much better than the brass/copper centering plate of the #5 coupler. The centering action of the spring plate was not always the most reliable for me. Often I found smoothing the front edge of the plate and the shank of the coupler with a file helped. Also, I needed to make sure the swiveling of the coupler on the pivot pin was smooth.

    yours in coupling
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would add that often cleaning out the truck side frames with a tool made for the prupose and replacing the wheel sets with Kaddee, Intermountain, or P2k wheel sets will improve the operation of inexpensive plastic rolling stock tremendously at about 1/2 the price of replacing the trucks. On cars with talgo trucks that have no provision for a body mounted coupler, I assemble the coupler box & Kaddeee coupler first with a screw and nut to hold it together. Then I put a lttle glue around the outside of the coupler box to hold it all together. Then I mount the box to the car with a screw through the center of the box. I can then check for the correct coupler height and if it is too high, it is easy to remove the screw, and put either a shim washer or a styrene shim between the body and the coupler box to lower the coupler to the correct height. If it is too low, use Fred's suggestion of putting a Kaddee shim washer between the truck and bolster to raise the body slightly.
  5. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Well, Good news folks. I didnt want to do it, but after alot of debate my only option was to cut off the old draft gear box and glue the new one in its place. Now, I didnt really want to do this but it worked perfectly and came out quite well. Everything matches up. But, one important lesson was learned, from here on in, only good quality cars with body mounted couplers! I think these few cars will just become some secondary rolling stock to play around with...practice some weathering!
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    When you say you glued the coupler boxes in place, does that mean they are still truck mounted or did you body mount them?
  7. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Sadly I truck mounted them for simplicity. Except for my caboose which I body mounted. Im pretty sure these are going to be retired here very shortley since I am looking into some rolling stock wtih body mounted couplers.
  8. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Sadly I truck mounted them for simplicity. Except for my caboose which I body mounted. Im pretty sure these are going to be retired here very shortley since I am looking into some rolling stock wtih body mounted couplers. Its not that I am ignoring your advicie, I just dont want to waste too much time on such cheap rolling stock.
  9. KCS

    KCS Member

    I've done this to some cheap Tyco cars. Pull the trucks from the car and cut off the coupler box's on them. You'll need some 2-56 screws for mounting the Kadee's to the car frame. you'll also need a drill a little smaller than the size of the 2-56 screws and a thread tap to make threads in the plastic that you ust drilled for the screws.I highly don't recommend tring to thread tap the plastic with the screws as it could go in crooked and ream the hole out bigger than it should be. Body mouting is far better than truck mounting. Railroads didn't do this because the car is only supposed to ride on the trucks not be pushed and pulled by them. If it were made that way they wouldn't have a single car on the tracks today.
  10. KCS

    KCS Member

    Note: DON'T SUPER GLUE! you might have an accident one day and have to repair it. With the glue you'll never get the parts back off as to where if the plastic where the screw strips out you can use a piece of round plastic to fit in the hole. Glue that in, file flat then go back drill and retap it again.
  11. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Good advice everyone. Ok, Ok, im off to do my best to body mount the couplers. While on the subject though....I have been looking at plenty of freight cars online...and sadly they do not show or state where the coupler is mounted. I have seen them truck mounted even on there a way to tell, or a rule of thumb?
  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Generally most train set cars will have talgo mounted couplers (truck mounted). All car kits will have body mounted couplers with two exceptions that I know of. Athearn used talgo mounts on their passenger cars and 89 foot freight cars in order to allow them to operate on 18 inch radius curves. You can buy a coupler height gauge made by Kaddee. It will function as a track gauge and will allow you to set all of the variables on a Kaddee coupler or other knuckle coupler. It is really very easy to body mount couplers. On a flat car, gondola, hopper or covered hopper where the hole for the coupler might be visible from the top if it should go through the body, I drill the hole all the way through and use Kaddee's plastic 2-56 screws to mount the coupler box. I then cut the screw off flush and paint it to match the body where it would come through, and the screw disappears.
  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There's another gauge that is handy for coupler mounting -- one for the top of the coupler pocket. Kadee/Micro Trains have one in N - on the opposite end of their coupler gauge. This can be used to determine how much shimming you need between the pocket and the floor.
    Unfortunately, you are likely to need a bunch of these to do all the variations in Kadees.
    You might want to get the Kadee coupler assortment or beginner's kit or whatever they call it. A variety of couplings plus some good tools.

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