Upgrading couplers and troucks on rolling stock

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by railBuilderdhd, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. Being new at this hobby and never upgraded, the standard equipment that is installed on rolling stock I wanted to know how would I know what is the proper parts I need to get to replace couplers and trucks on rolling stock. I would like to replace the cheap couplers on some rolling stock I got on eBay with the knuckle couplers and upgrade to metal wheels. Do I need to purchase particular parts or will most fit most cars that I want to upgrade. Do I need to be sure that all couplers are the same on all my rolling stock? What are the details I need to look for on these parts? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Kadees are the standard replacement/upgrade knuckle coupler. Their web site lists almost all the conversions imaginable. You can also go for McHenry, or Sargent (very near scale couplers that work best iwth each other, not other knuckle couplers). Bachmann EZMate and Accurail's Accumate are also now available as replacements, but are plastic construction and somewhat more prone to failure than the all-metal Kadees.

    As for wheelsets/trucks - You can replace just the wheels. I like Proto2000 33" ribbed back wheels for my pre-WW2 rollingstock. Proto also makes replacement trucks, as do a number of other manufacturers, including Accurail. Some wheelsets are also available in different axel lengths which might be necessary depending on the model you have.

    A tool that is extremely useful when upgrading wheelsets is the Reboxx "Tool", which reams the inside of the journal to ensure the ends of the axels have the smoothest ride possible. Goes a long way to making the cars roll better.

    Good luck!

  3. Thanks for the info this is a great help.
  4. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    I use McHenry almost exclusively as it is a one-piece pop-it-in coupler. Simply unscrew the cover on the coupler pocket, remove the old coupler, insert the new McHenry, and replace the cover. Kadees are also good but can require a bit of extra work fitting the copper spring in place. You can mix and match these types of couplers.

    Some coupler knuckles are actuated by a small piece of plastic which will end up breaking off. You don't want these kind. Regardless of which coupler you use, make sure that the coupler knuckle is actuated by a small copper spring that you can clearly see on the side of the coupler.

    As to wheel sets, you are looking for those with metal wheels. You can buy the individual wheels on axles (usually metal wheels on plastic axles). It's a simple matter of twisting the truck and removing the wheels and popping in new ones. Your local hobby shop should have packages of 10 - 12 wheels in different sizes.

    Wheel sets are rated according to the diameter of the wheel (eg 33", 36", etc) Take some of the wheel sets you want to replace with you when you visit your local hobby shop.

    Wheel sets come in two "styles" - flat or ribbed on the inside of the wheel. As to which style you use will depend upon your preference. For some ideas as to which style you would like, take a look at some prototypical wheels.

    Bob M.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    For mounting purposes, the Kadee #5 is very versatile. It drops into the boxes on most cars that have then (it was originally designed to drop into Athearn's boxes; now many manufacturers make boxes to fit). It also comes with a plastic box that can be mounted on a floor. Also comes in bulk packs, with and without boxes.
    There are loads of variations. There are a couple of different mounting/springing systems. And couplers are available with the head mounted centre, high or low. And most come in 3 different lengths. Also #5 variants with integral springs, tank car "shelves" and a smaller "scale" head.
    All of these couple together; you just select the one that's easiest/most appropriate to install.
    They also make an "old timer" very small coupler. This isn't as strong and may be fussier to couple.
    Kadee's web site has a major collection of diagrams giving dimensions and specs.
    These will all couple with the "clones", but not as successfully in odd situations. The clones don't have as many variations, but some have special mountings that Kadee doesn't provide.

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