Let's Talk Couplers

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Cannonball, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    One more aspect of N gauge that is going to drive me crazy. :( :mad: :oops:

    Micro-Trains, Katy, Rapido, ect..... How many different brands are there?
    And it seems like each brand has at least a couple different styles. (regular long short.... etc)
    (Well that holds true it seems except for Rapido one coupler all the time.)
    I think it was Micro-Trains that actually had a chart for all it's different couplers.
    (Although it made about as much sense as NMRA standards to me.)

    Are there any that retrofit to most cars without hacking them up, filing them down or making shims so they are at the correct hight? And what about the eingines? On my Bachmann, the couplers are attached to the trucks. Does this mean I have to change out the whole truck if I want to change couplers?
  2. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I know what you mean Cannonball. I spent 3 hours today replacing the rapido couplers on my TH&B SW9 Life Like locomotive ( I had to file the body )
    I try to stick to Atlas locomotives and rolling stock because they all have Accumate ( Micro-Trains compatible ) couplers. That's the case with the TH&B Atlas GP7.
    I'll have to buy 2 Micro Trains Bettendorf trucks to modify 1 TH&B Intermountains 40' boxcar.
    I've never heard about Katy couplers.

    I don't have any Bachmann engine but looking at the Bachmann conversion chart , you can replace the original coupler with a Micro-trains truck mounted coupler. How difficult is it ? I don't know.
  3. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    There are different brands because there are different demands from the modelers.

    The reason there are so many styles is because of the different cars they're attached to. If the distance from the truck bolster to the couple box is long, the length of the arm from the coupler box to the coupler needs to be long also in order for the car to navigate turns without uncoupling from its neighbor.

    Having correct hight adjustment is very important when dealing with rough track or any kind of grade. You don't want your cars letting go of each other.

    Keep in mind that if in the real world a coupler's hight can be off by an inch, maybe two, in N scale that means it can only be off by 1/160th of an inch. Unmeasurable by the human eye :)
  4. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    It's going to be a real pain to keep everything in Rapidos then.
    That's what I've started with and I don't need more headaches trying to convert them to something else.

    If I ever decide to start spending more $$$ on higher end engines and rolling stock, I'll just sell off all the stuff with Rapidos and pick one of the others to stick to.
  5. Bobster

    Bobster New Member


    What I have done is to make a couple conversion cars. I have a Roundhouse boxcar with a Rapido on one end and an Acumate on the other, everything came in the box. Got the car off ebay.

    I also have an Atlas box car that came with Microtrains couplers on both ends, I just popped the whole truck off one end and put a Rapido coupler truck on. Just a couple bucks and about 30 seconds, very easy. Got the car and the parts from a train shop in Spencer NC. The guy behind the counter matched the truck style for me, even though I could have done it myself.

    Time will tell how well this works, but with my limited switching all has gone well. Most of my cars are 40 to 50 footers. If all continues this well I will try the same with the 85 foot passenger cars. Haven't decided on truck mounted or body mounted couplers. I may try one passenger train of each, to see how it works.
  6. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I've thought about doing something similar as well.
    I've been watching a boxcar that has both types of couplers in the box and you can put on whichever set suits you. One on each end would make it easier to mix and match.

    Welcome to the forum, Bobster! :wave:
  7. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    If you are trying to go with knuckle couplers for all of your rapido equipped cars look at the bulk pack of Micro-train couplers. The coupler is truck mounted and they come with several styles of trucks (i.e. arch bar, bettendorf, etc.) Most of these are short shank I believe but should take care of most of your freight car needs.

    While body mounts are more prototypically correct, the truck mounts can be a very effective way of standardizing your couplers.

    I have done that with about 80 cars to date and still have 20+ to go. I ran out of couplers. Will restock at the next train show.
  8. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    How do I now which truck I need?
  9. DavidB-AU

    DavidB-AU Member

    That really surprises me. I've never had any trouble fitting a 1015 into the LL coupler pocket. It's usually less than 10 min to convert an SW8/9 or SD7, including assembling the couplers. I did four SD7s in a little over half an hour the night before an exhibition.

    The longest LL conversion I've had was an E8. Took well over an hour to do both ends.

  10. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    OK.... Next question.... which brands of knuckle couplers will mix with each other?
    We already know that Rapido is pretty much on it's own.
  11. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    I used a coupler converter car when I was moving from hornhooks to kadees on my HO layout. I think this is fairly common practice. Also, it makes it easier to mix rolling stock with a friend's layout if he doesn't use your chosen coupler type :)
  12. SeriousSam

    SeriousSam Member

    All of them. Even dummy couplers. I have a large fleet of locomotives and rolling stock with all kinds of different knuckle couplers. Ive never had any problem with uncoupling. I do try to stay away from the accumate couplers though because they are not as "tall" as the micro trains.
  13. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Cool. Thanks :)
  14. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    David, it took me a few hours because it was my 1st coupler conversion for an engine so I want to take the time going through that job.
    The first problem was that when I removed the shell, 2 out of the the 4 contact strips fell off ( they are just badly hot spot welded on the shell ) So I decided to glue the 4 contacts with crazy glue.
    I knew about that problem ( see link )
    The 2nd problem is that I had to slightly file the front and rear part of the shell so the Micro-Trains could be inserted.
    The 3rd problem is that during the conversion one of the trucks fell off the frame but I inserted backward lol.
    For sure my next engine coupler conversion will go smoother ( one cannot escape the law of the learning curve ).
    But at least my SW9 is back to work now . I like the Life-Like SW9, it's a smooth switcher.
  15. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    If the truck looks like that it's a Bettendorf friction bearing truck :)

    Later they were replaced with roller bearing trucks.
  16. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I use a coupler converter car too because the Atlas track cleaning car comes equiped with rapido couplers and as far as I know there is no knuckle replacement coupler for that specific car.
  17. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    From my personal experience, there is no problem at all mixing Micro-trains , Atlas ( made by Accumate ) and Micro-Trains knuckle couplers.
    Beware if you buy some Micro-Train boxcars online because some come equiped with rapido style couplers and some come equiped with what I call "pseudo knuckle couplers )m because they look like knuckle couplers but are made in 1 piece and don't have a trip pin.
    So check Intermountain website first:

    That link will teach you more than you ever wanted to know about Micro-Trains couplers:

    At my age ( 58 ) I don't messaround with the couplers, I just buy the whole Micro-Trains truck .
  18. nscaler711

    nscaler711 Member

    Hey guys dont forget about Kato Unimate Knuckle couplers! These are the best looking couplers they look more realistic than accumate and they are also smaller than the accumates(lil bigger than Z-scale couplers)...and the work like a charm. problem is though is that they will not couple to a MT very well you kinda have to force them together. the Unimate works well with Accumate and Bachmanns dummy knucle couplers. and if your really lucky it will work with a rapido coupler................NOT! heheheh

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