Skip to main content

The traditional couplers that come with stock Lionel and MTH products have never bothered me because it's consistent so the appearance is forgivable. 

But I came from conventional locomotives in the late 90s and early 2000s. They didn't creep like modern locomotives that I have now. I keep backing up to grab some cars...and then I pull away and I'm not coupled to the string. Do scale couplers like Kadee couple a lot easier and at slower speeds? Am I going to give up command control couplers when I convert engines? It seems to be more of the modern rolling stock I have with this issue. Maybe they need oiled or broke in? 

Am I just doing it wrong? 

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

The Plywood Empire Route is a mostly switching pike where slow-speed switching is the main activity. Unfortunately Lionel “claw” couplers require a lot of force to couple so more like an Olympic sprinter’s speed is needed thus defeating the realism of slow-speed switching. A switch to Kadee couplers would solve the problem BUT the only space available for a return loop/interchange track/fiddle yard requires an O31 circle so truck-mounted couplers must be used and no one yet offers a way to mount Kadees on MTH freight trucks. So I’m stuck with crash-coupling claws. What is needed is brakes on standing cars so I assembled and installed several such devices.

         IMG_3383

 

         IMG_3378

 

        IMG_3377

 

There is a thread where I provide more detail:

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...85#90547142152123785

Attachments

Images (3)
  • IMG_3383
  • IMG_3377
  • IMG_3378
Last edited by geysergazer
@BillYo414 posted:

The traditional couplers that come with stock Lionel and MTH products have never bothered me because it's consistent so the appearance is forgivable. 

But I came from conventional locomotives in the late 90s and early 2000s. They didn't creep like modern locomotives that I have now. I keep backing up to grab some cars...and then I pull away and I'm not coupled to the string. Do scale couplers like Kadee couple a lot easier and at slower speeds?

Absolutely YES! Having been an HO Scale modeler (from the mid 1950s through the late 1980s) I was very familiar with Kadee couplers, so when I got into 3-Rail SCALE modeling, I up-graded everything to the O Scale Kadee couplers. When properly body mounted, you can actually couple into a standing single car WITHOUT MOVING THE CAR, with Kadee couplers.

Am I going to give up command control couplers when I convert engines?

Yes, although some manufacturer's "claw couplers", i.e. "Electro-Couplers", will couple to the Kadee #805 coupler.

It seems to be more of the modern rolling stock I have with this issue. Maybe they need oiled or broke in? 

Am I just doing it wrong? 

 

I feel like @geysergazer has the easiest idea to implement. That wouldn't be too tough at all.

Kadees might be the way to go if I didn't have to go backwards and upgrade the rolling stock I already have. That would be a huge project in terms of time and money. Likewise with the idea of taking all the couplers apart. Although, I've never done that job so maybe it's not as bad as I imagine.

Prototypical coupling speed is 4 scale mph or less.  Few 3-rail locos made before the '80s would run for any distance at that speed, so gentle coupling wasn't a priority.  I find that Postwar and early  MPC couplers work pretty well at slightly higher speeds, say 6-8 mph.  But in the '80s quality control waned, and that's when the trouble began.

Kadees definitely work better than modern-era O gauge "lobster claws."  But the usual practice is to mount them on the BODY of the car (which may inhibit operation on sharp traditional curves.)  You could make a couple "transition cars" to get yourself started.  But if you want to perform realistic switching operations you'll have to convert your entire fleet, install appropriate magnets in the track, etc. -- a major undertaking.

Another option is try to fine-tune all of your O gauge couplers in an attempt to improve their operation.  Depending on how much rolling stock you have, this could literally take many hours!  As the number of manufacturers proliferated in the '80s and '90s, some of them strayed away from the time-honored Lionel geometry, or perhaps didn't exercise good quality control (K-Line and Weaver.)  Their couplers won't mate automatically with other brands no matter how hard you press the two together.  If you have some of these cars, you can swap trucks, or sell off the ones that are incompatible.

None of this addresses the epidemic of pull-aparts on long trains.  Which brings us to the third solution, my solution:  Keep the knuckles closed at all times.  Black rubber bands, hair bands, twist ties, or zip ties are all discreet and won't hurt the resale value like crazy glue.  When switching, back in slowly until the knuckles touch.  Then lift the parked car up by hand and engage the closed knuckles over each other.  100% reliable, no slamming.  If your sidings are out of reach, then you'll need to serve that industry with a specific set of cars that's known to be reliable.  IMO among modern cars, the Lionels which have a tab that you push inward are about the best (but they're not convenient to operate by hand.)

Honestly, the whole situation stinks.  I really think Lionel Postwar was better in this regard.  Especially if you can live with slightly faster running and coupling speeds -- at least the product was equal to its promise.  So much for progress!  

Last edited by Ted S

These are the offending members. I bought a six pack because I'll be running a substantial coal/coke operation and the couplers are rough. I might get some Kadees just to try them since these already have the mounting area. I only have three spots on the planned layout with 0-36 curves and they're just single pieces between two straights. I'll just need to check and see that Kadees work on 0-36 curves. I definitely wasn't expecting this issue and didn't account for it at all in the track plan. 

 Adding Kadee’s Is not a problem if the mounts are in place. Taking apart the MTH trucks can be tedious. Some simply use cutters to remove the coupler. Then there’s no turning back if you decide to change back.

 My suggestion. Buy a couple of Weaver hoppers that will fit your scheme with diecast trucks. Easiest conversion you will ever do. One screw removes removes the truck and coupler. Leave the coupler off and mount the truck. Shim accordingly with washers so that there’s no wheel rub on the underside. The mounts are present to add the Kadee’s. I wouldn’t even bother with a height gauge for the time being. If you don’t like it. Your only investment was the 2 cars and couplers and you can easily go back.  If your retaining your coil couplers. The Kadee 805’s mate better with the 3 rail coupler. Most MTH coil couplers don’t play well with Kadee’s. Lionel and Atlas are fine.

Last edited by Dave_C

Lou, must be interesting when you get the car in the wrong place and that tube lifts it off the rails.

I safeguard against that by making sure the car is spotted correctly for the remote uncoupler to actuate the coupler. Hopper car spotting is kind of critical because there's not a lot of space between the truck frame and the hopper chute.

Plus, the pin won't lift a car body because I use the Tortoise supplied piano-wire lever between the Tortoise machine and the brass plunger. The piano wire simply flexes if the plunger comes up against something on the spotted car.

Add Reply

Post
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×