Hooked on Couplers

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by ChadYelland, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    Hi I'm relitively new to the hobbie, i have an assortment of HO rollingstock and locos, they all currently have i belive whats called Horn and Hook couplers, and i was thinking of switching them all over to something more realistic, and maybe some that could be used with in track uncouplers. any suggestions as to what to change over to for cost and appearance in moderation? the mounts on the cars are random types of mounts,,,, what can i do?
  2. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Welcome to the hobby. In my opinion Kadee is the way to go. I have tried many others and always come back to kadee. They may be a little more expensive (very little) but worth it to avoid head aches. You can find out more at thier web site www.kadee.com. I believe all of the other or maybe most of the other people on here would be better way to put it, would agree with me.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Chad: Kadee has done something that noone else has: they made couplings to fit as many situations as they could. If you go to their website, you can look to see which coupling fits which car or locomotive.
    If you're going to the trouble, you should also consider removing any couplings from the trucks and mounting them on the floor.
  4. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    I have to agree with the others that Kadee are probably the best choice. Its the standard of the H.O. modelers. Kadee has been around a long, long time and so many train clubs have required them as a condition before you join. Kadee also sells a neat coupler height jig to check all of your installations before you run them. Occasionally you may have to place a thin washer between the truck and the bolster to attain the proper height. If not possible, fear not: Kadee offers "underset" or "overset" couplers to handle cars that sit either too high or too low. If you have lots of rolling stock to convert, may I suggest that you buy the 20-pack of No. 5 couplers which you can often find for about $20. The package does not include draft boxes, but all the cars you intend to convert probably already have draft boxes.

    Enjoy the hobby!
  5. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    what does it involve to change to floor mount as opposed to truck mount? whats the advantage, does it solve the de-railing from backing or sudden stopping? some of my cars i have had since i was 8yrs old and would like to do little if any permenant modifications. i'll post some pictures soon of what im dealing with if anyone is interested.
  6. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Changing the coupler from the truck to the floor/frame will solve many derailing problems, particularly when backing up and going around tight curves. It's a reletivly simple procedure:
    Cut the orignial coupler off the truck and discard.
    Assemble the kadee coupler in its draft box (the little two piece box the looks like it has ears)
    Build a suitable mount for the new coupler on the end of the frame (this may require you to shave the details in that area flush with the floor)
    using a kadee coupler height guage, attach the new kadee coupler to the floor. You may have to shimm the coupler up or down to get the proper height for it.
    The height guage is import because you must have all your couplers at the right heights for proper operation and to keep them from accidentaly uncoupling
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I would recommend that you don't change the cars from your "starter" set. I still have mine from when I was 7, and I display them on a shelf above my workbench.

    The reason is that changing the couplers is just the beginning. Those old cars tend not to be very accurate or "prototypical". To get them to run really well, you'll likely have to change the couplers, install metal wheels, add more weight, and then you might want to change some of the details like moulded on ladders, add weathering, possibly repaint or redecal, etc, etc.

    You are probably better starting with a new "fleet" of inexpensive cars from Accurail (yellow box) or Athearn (blue box). They work well, and only take a few minutes to about an hour or so to assemble. They often have "knuckle" type couplers, and the couplers are "body mounted".

    Keep your old train for the memories, but run the newer stuff.

  8. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Andrew is right. It is easier to simply get newer equipment and shelve the older trains for memories.
    My instructions were only if you really want to convert them to knuckle-type couplers.
  9. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I was going to say that in my original reply but didn't want to sound as though I was condeming your collection. If you have to cut couplers off of the trucks don't bother, set them aside for memorys and buy new one as these guys said. They are not that expensive and realy easy to assemble.
  10. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

  11. abutt

    abutt Member

    Chad...I won't belabor the point. The majority is for Kadees, and they're right! I have tried all the other type "knuckle" couplers and they come close but don't equal the reliability if Kadees. I finally bit the bullet and took all my rolling stock and mounted Kadee couplers, threw out all the weird trucks and mounted all with one manufacturer's trucks, weighted all the cars per NMRA standards...and now the only derailments are a couple of places where I did stupid things with a track joint!

    Also, I agree, save the collectibles and start with new rolling stock. Try to keep yourself limited to one or two kit manufacturers. I promice you'll get much enjoyment from the hobby this way. Lotsaluck

    Allan (abutt)
  12. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    Thanks guys for the quick and informant replys. so i guess it will be mostly changing locomotives over. some of my rolling stock is cheap new stuff that i don't mind modifying, i suppose i can make an adaptor car if i ever want to run my old stock around the track, or just use my old engine. Anyway it sounds like kaydee is the way to go. And did someone say that cars you assemble your self are a much more cost effective way to go? because grain cars up here sell for $25 and up and that seems awfull high even if you only drag 10 at a time. i have a 200? Walthers catalogue but i don't really know what to look for,, hey as long as its Canadian i'm interested. I started a layout in the basement at the farm, but now that were in town, i have way more room but my folks (mom) is bucking the idea of moving it here, but since the farm house is more of a summer home and unheated in the winter i don't want to put anymore work into it because the moisture and temp will just ruin it.
  13. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Athearn "blue box" kits are the way to go. they have body mounted couplers that are designed to take kadee #5s without modification. those $25 cars are only for detail demanding modelers who have the cash to burn and not the patience to build it themselves. Not bad if you want the extra quality and detail though. I have an Athearn Genisis car, and its good stuff.

    I will say that kits are more fun, so maybe buy one or two kits, and a rtr, and see which you'd rather want.
  14. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!


    I have a number of old freight cars that still have horn hook couplers. I've decided to weed out the few that derail occasionally and keep the rest for "through trains" during operation. They do derail when being backed through turnouts so I don't use them for local switching. My eqipment with magnetic couplers is used for this purpose. Keeping the old stuff on the rails satisfies me though!

  15. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Generaly though i wouldn't stick with older train cars. eventualy they won't look right to you. you'll out grow them. Its probably best to just buy new cars. Kadee does sell special couper pocket sets, and little rings that fill in the space between a #5 coupler's hole, and the pin on truck mounted coupler boxes, although body/chassis mount is probably the best way to go. You can use a number 50 tap drill to make a hole through where you want your coupler box. then you just need to screw in the standard 2-56 screw common on model railroad equipment through the center of the coupler box and into the body. It will take a bit of force, but thats a good thing, because the screw is threading the plastic as it goes in.
  16. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    This is what i had planned/started it was all layed out and the grades built, the track was just layed for test runs and only the right hand mountain was built and thats as far as i got. still debating on if its worth moving, its 8-10 inches too long to place here where i would like to.... so i'll have to see

    Attached Files:

  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You won't be able to reach the back of that layout in quite a few places if you don't have access all the way around it. Typically the longest one can reach across the benchwork is 30-35 inches. If the benchwork is located at shoulder height, your reach is even shorter.

    Also here is a tip I use to make mounting Kaddees easier. I have found that when you put together the Kaddee #5 coupler box with centering spring, coupler, and cover; and then try to mount it to a car, the whole thing gets unweildy quickly. It gets even worse if you need to take it down to add a shim to correct the coupler height. What I do is put the box together with the spring and coupler, and run a 2-56 screw through it with a washer on each side, and then put a nut on the screw. The screw and nut hold the assembly together while I glue the cover to the box with some Testors or other liquid cement. Be very careful not to get any cement inside the box to interfere with the centering operation of the coupler and spring. After the glue has dried, take off the nut and remove the screw and washers. I usually make up a half dozen or more of these assemblies at a time. At this time I also cut off the "ears" from the Kaddee box. I have found that on most kits there isn't room for the "ears" anyway. Now the coupler and box is a one piece assembly that can be mounted, adjusted, etc. without having everything come apart.
  18. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    Ya, i can't change the depth of that part as its built, i'm tall and have long arms so i can still reach the back track, wich i left straight and level to add safety. and my table is about waist high that allso helps. i'm going to do some measuring here in town and post the shape on here soon.
  19. rockislandnut

    rockislandnut Member


    Since I don't believe you've started in the coupler business yet ( [​IMG] ) here is Probably the newest Kadee coupler out and for the average engine/rolling stock it probably may be the best, its called "Wisker" #148.

    [​IMG]But best of all it does not need a centering spring.[​IMG]
  20. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    Nice - I hadn't seen that one yet! The best thing about the plastic couplers is the attached spring - nice to see Kadee has an answer!

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