Magnetic couplers

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by ezdays, Feb 12, 2003.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I have searched this forum's archives and haven't really got an answer to my question being this: is Micro-Trains the only source of N scale couplers? I have been to the Micro-Train web site and now my head is swimming. It seems as if they have a different coupler for each manufacturer and each type of car or engine for that manufacturer, about a dozen different couplers with trucks and several different lengths. What's a newbie to do except maybe pause for a few cool ones? At that point it probably won't matter as much.

    But, any suggestions on how to get started, what to buy and where's the best place to get what I need? I know I'm asking a lot, but I'm about 50 years behind some of you out there and I really got to try to play catch-up.;)

  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Don, Although not an N scale modeler this is a prevelant problem in most any scale...The has been no standardization among the mfgs. of model rolling stock as to the use of knuckle style magnetic couplers such as the Kadee's or MicroTrains.

    As model railroaders we are fortunate that Kadee/MicroTrains has endevored to design and develop various applications for their couplers so that they will fit most anything. In your case (N Scale) it would probably be best to be guided by their specific reccomendation. Unfortunately, there is no "universal fit" when it comes to this style coupler....but by the same token they are a far cry better than "horn hooks" for HO and the "Rapido" style for N Scale....Just hang in will all clear up with experience:)

    Most any good trainshop, mailorder house or internet train store should have the couplers that you need...:)
  3. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    Hi Don,

    For someone just starting out I would stay away from the Rapido type couplers. By rolling stock that has the newer type couplers. Atlas has recently come out with a new coupler that will match up with the Micro train couplers. A lot of the modlers like myself had to buy our rolling stock with the Rapido type coupler because that was all there was. Needless to say most of us had to spend a lot of dollars changing over to the better couplers when they came out.

    For me they were not easy to change out as my sixty plus eyes are not getting any stronger. Buy good rolling stock with the newer type couplers as they work very well and stay coupled together. The Rapido type does'nt. I tend to stay with the Atlas rolling stock as there somewhat cheaper the Mico trains are.

    I also feel there weighted correctly as I never had any problems with mine. I have all kinds of rolling stock including Model Power, Model Die Cast, ConCor and others. Not all but most will need to be weighted as they will wobble going down the track and it won't be long until they derail or come uncoupled. I myself would rather build senery and buildings and watch my trains run then fool around with cheap rolling stock. Pick out your track and lay it down as well as you can and take your time. Thats the most important part of the layout as well laid track keeps those trains going. Then run those trains to make sure you don't have any problem areas. Hope I been a little help. Ron ;)
  4. Ty Rayles

    Ty Rayles Member

    Don as a N-scaler for some years now, I use #1037's on most all freight car types. These are truck mounted couplers/med. length shank. The good news- being truck mounted they are all the same height so no shims required. The bad news- if you run equipment over 50 scale feet in length or trains of 12 cars or more and try to back the train up thru #4 or #6 switches (turnouts) or sharp curves you can have derailments on cars with truck mounted couplers. My layout is a shortline set in the late 60's so my longest freight cars are 55 ft. and I never have more than 2 loco's, 9 cars plus a caboose. I don't use #4 switches and I don't have derailments ( for that reason anyway :D :D :D ). If you are going with modern cars and long trains then you will need to go with body mounted couplers. You will need to get a K-D coupler height gauge and you can get from K-D their book that tells you which coupler to use with which car. I will suggest you buy your couplers already assembled as there isn't much difference in the price and trying to assemble the suckers in n-scale is a real pain in the a**! :D #1015 body mounted couplers seem to work on most loco's and cabeese although some will require shims. Hope this helps! :)
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    If I read you guys correctly, what you are saying is that most "quality" cars already have magnetic couplers??? I do have some cars that need to be converted and I guess I was under the impression that all cars and locomotives needed to be. Based on that assumption I went to Micro's web site and got blown away with the vast and confusing choices. "Do I buy trucks with couplers installed, and if so, which do I buy? Do I buy just the couplers and again, which ones?" These were questions I asked myself and thought "gee, maybe there's another manufacturer that makes a one-size-fits-all product."

    Ty, are you saying that K-D makes N scale couplers, or are these Micro couplers?

    All your comments have helped, but I'm not ready to say I fully understand. :rolleyes:

    Regardless, I'm not too shy with working with small stuff in spite of my 60 plus years. I worked with small electronic parts under magifier lamps for so long, I'm use to it. That's one reason I'm attracted to N scale, gobs more fun in much less space. :)

  6. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    Ty is right on the button! Personally, I took the easy route and decided to buy heaps of MT truck/couplers. They fit most anything in N gauge.
    Body mounted couplers are to be preferred for the reasons Ty gave, but not all manufacturers of rolling stock have their underframes at the same height so it can be tiresome shimming or filing the underframes to fit those.
    My darling wife in her generosity bought me a couple of packs of MT "assemble them yourself" body mount couplers. I came close to dementure trying to assemble them without the MT assembling jig. Now that I have the jig, I smile more often :) .
    The coupler height gauge is a "must have" as it checks more than just coupler and trip pin height.
    As to truck style (if you decide to go with those), Bettendorf's were common on early half of 20th century. All (I think) modern stock use Barber roller bearing trucks.
    I suggest you obtain at least 2 prs of truck/couplers and test out Ty's theory about reversing on YOUR trackage. I use a couple of #4 turnouts and have no trouble with them

  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    some of us older modellers have a problem with names. The coupler firm started out as "Kadee" for Keith and Dave Edwards. They made HO couplers, then N and all the other scales. Then they started making N cars. Then they split up, one of them took the N scale stuff and the other took the rest, and the N scale stuff is now called "Micro Trains".
    So if you catch us older guys calling it Kadee, that's the habit of a lifetime.
    Kadee/MicroTrains established themselves by making, not only a good coupler, but making something to fit all the situations. There seem to be no standards for coupler mounting.
    The debate over truck vs body mounted is endless. I prefer body mounts, but often you can't get them to go properly (I always had trouble with tank cars). All I'll say on that is "Don't mix them!"
    The Rapido couplings were the original and became established because Rapido allowed everyone to copy them without royalties. They have a major problem in that they don't have a good uncoupler.
    Most of the MT variations are for mounting on locmotives.
  8. Ty Rayles

    Ty Rayles Member

    As others here have said K-D, Kadee, Micro-Trains, all the same thing at one time. :)
  9. scoobyloven

    scoobyloven Member

    as for the couplers i have done both ho and n scale and i have a monster fleet of n scale locos and cars this is what i did on my fleet the locos have the long shank coulpers and any car under 50 scale feet has med shank coulpers and the one over 50 scale feet has long shanks i stay away from the truck mount and went with body mount some pepole think i was worng for doning it this way but i can run any car any where in line and with the long shank hook to a med shank a little less jerk of the car on start up and no truble backing in to #4 turn out .
  10. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Although I model in HOn3 there are some cars that the Kadee HON3 coupler just will not work with...The solution....Kadee/MicroTrains N Scale couplers....:) .... they are 1/2 the size of the Hon3 coupler and are of the same design....they couple and uncouple just fine when mated to the HON3 coupler. In fact Precision Scales Hon3 cars are set up for Kadee/MicroTrains N Scale couplers!!!:)

    BTW...The "trick" to get body mounted couplers to work well with any car is to be sure that the coupler shank, when in the centered position, aligns with the center line of the car. Works everytime... :) ;)
  11. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Thanks again

    I have taken all your comments and tried to figure out the best route to go for me. I have good information from you guys, but not enough from Micro-train's web site. It doesn't appear that I can order direct from them anyway, and so far I have only found one catalog supplier that has MT, Standard Hobby, and I did download their N scale catalog and found the model #'s that Ty mentioned. Are there any other suppliers that I could check with as well, or are these guys OK to deal with? I know I could check with a local hobby shop, but the closest one that handles MT is better than an hours drive from here.

    I would like to run longer trains, so I guess I'm going to have to experiment a bit to see which works out best.

    Now just one more question. Uncouplers, Standard hobby lists a #1310 magnet. Is this a permanent magnet or a switch operated electro magnet? Which is the preferred way to uncouple?

    I told you I was full of basic questions:rolleyes:

  12. billk

    billk Active Member

  13. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Here's a 'nutter one!!!:)

    Catalog, N scale, couplers, Microtrains, search

    No direct link to the page available.
  14. alex_mrrkb

    alex_mrrkb Member

    Hi Don !

    4 days ago I bought a pack of Micro-Trains #1035-10 (10 pairs of 1035 Barber roller medium shank truck mounted couplers) from N scale supply (http://www.nscalesupply) and shall receive them late next week.

    I also bought the conversion kit for my Kato SD40-2 (coupler kit #2001 or 2004 if I remember).

    As soon as I start installing them (should be a snap) I'll report some feedback here.
  15. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    More thanks

    Now I have two more sources for N scale and even see where there is a N scale magazine (N Scale Railroading). Does anybody know if this magazine at is worthwhile? I thought it rather strange that the first time I see it is at a dealer's web site.:eek:


  16. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Don,there are two N scale only mags. One is N scale railroading (the new kid on the block) the other is N scale Magizine. They are both decent mags IMHO.I have all of the N scale Railroading mags and about 7 years worth of N scale. :D
  17. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If there's only one uncoupler listed, it's probably a permanent magnet. I think there might be another which is mounted in a section of track.
    You can tell by the price; if it's only a couple of bucks, it's permanent; if it's 10 to 20 bucks it's an electromagnet. (I don't remember an electromagnet in N.)
    If possible, you want to avoid permanent magnets on the main line. Any little slow down is likely to cause the train to come apart.
  18. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Yeah, it was about $6 for two so I figure that is was a permanent magnet. Are you saying there are no N scale electromagnets? What do you use if there isn't, or am I reading you wrong? I probably have a few electromagnets around left over from my security days, but I have a feeling they would suck a whole car in since they are designed for door releases:D


    Thanks, I've looked up both magazine web sites and I'd like to take a look at both. I haven't seen these in any hobby shop in Phoenix so I'll give both magazines a call next week.

    Thanks again,

  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah


    I just looked at the micro-trains web site.
    They don't show an electromagnet.
    They used to supply a spring to be put in your caboose truck to add friction. (I can't add much more because I haven't been active in N scale for about 2 decades.)
  20. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Don,
    Another option is the Accumate N-scale coupler, which comes already installed on some Atlas rolling stock. It's a simpler Knuckle design which will also mate with the MT.

    Pix and info seem to be hard to find for some reason. The Atlas on-line catalog lists them but the Accurail site does not???

Share This Page