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I have installed Kadees on hundreds freight cars. I use a "conversion car" with a knuckle coupler on one end and a Kadee on the other. All trailing freight cars have Kadees.

I recommend using the newer 700-series couplers. They do not have the little brass spring which is tough to install or replace if you have "senior" eyes. They do mate up easily with the prior 800 series. #740 is the one I use mostly; the 743s work well if you have a small area to install them in.

There are multiple 700s for high and low mounts, long shanks, etc. If your local hobby shop does not carry them, I have found Kadee in Salem OR to be very responsive. At the height of the pandemic I got five day service from OR to VA.

While earlier MTH and Lionel cars required shims, etc., to install, current production runs of Atlas, MTH and Lionel have mounting pads with predrilled holes for ease of installation.

Using Kadees reduces the space between cars by almost 50%. My late wife, many years ago, pronounced my conversion to Kadee couplers "the best thing you have ever done on your railroad."

@Rick Wright posted:

I have installed Kadees on hundreds freight cars. I use a "conversion car" with a knuckle coupler on one end and a Kadee on the other. All trailing freight cars have Kadees.

I recommend using the newer 700-series couplers. They do not have the little brass spring which is tough to install or replace if you have "senior" eyes. They do mate up easily with the prior 800 series. #740 is the one I use mostly; the 743s work well if you have a small area to install them in.

There are multiple 700s for high and low mounts, long shanks, etc. If your local hobby shop does not carry them, I have found Kadee in Salem OR to be very responsive. At the height of the pandemic I got five day service from OR to VA.

While earlier MTH and Lionel cars required shims, etc., to install, current production runs of Atlas, MTH and Lionel have mounting pads with predrilled holes for ease of installation.

Using Kadees reduces the space between cars by almost 50%. My late wife, many years ago, pronounced my conversion to Kadee couplers "the best thing you have ever done on your railroad."

Let me ask you a question, besides the look. Do you not have more issues with the scale couplers? I also run G scale outdoors and when I tried the American style coupler it caused all sorts of issues.

Kadees operate much better than traditional knuckle couplers.  They require very little force to close.  I like both the realistic appearance and the narrower gap between cars and between diesel units.

Older version Kadee 805:   Will couple with most knuckle couplers (if you want to keep some cars traditional)

New version Kadee 740:  More realistic appearance, no external spring

Best practice is to get a Kadee coupler height gauge to properly set your coupler height with shims.  There are other variations of the 700 and 800 series couplers that are underset or overset (to adjust height), long shank or short shank (with a smaller gearbox), metal or plastic couplers, and metal or plastic gearboxes.  98% of my installations are with 740 or 805.

I wrote an article on installing Kadees on a variety of rolling stock in OGR magazine Run 294 (access it as a digital subscriber or purchase back issue from OGR Magazine).

Here is my YouTube video on installing Kadees on Lionel GLA Hoppers.

Doug (Laidoffsick) did a 3 part series on installing Kadees (highly recommended), and a few other videos on specific installations. Here are his videos.  

Mario (CentralFan1976) made 6 videos on specific Kadee installations here.

Bob

I prefer the 805s as they seem to work a little nicer and seem to be more forgiving if you do a less than perfect job installing them. They are also the most common. The 74X series do look a little nicer though.

I would recommend correcting ride heights and addressing the desire to have fixed pilots where applicable before figuring out how to mount them.

As mentioned above, the height gauge should be your first purchase. I'd also start collecting mounting hardware such as 2-56 or 2mm machine screws of various lengths.

In my latest efforts, I am coming up with new ways of mounting Kadees with less grinding and cutting now that I learned 3D printing. It's been a lot of fun and I have very solid and reliable setups. If I decide to sell something off, the next guy could put the standard couplers back on if desired.

Last edited by Norm Charbonneau
@ThatGuy posted:

Let me ask you a question, besides the look. Do you not have more issues with the scale couplers?

No! Completely the opposite with Kadee couplers, as they stay closed, i.e. do NOT uncouple on their own, and you don't have to bash them together in order to get them to close and latch.

I also run G scale outdoors and when I tried the American style coupler it caused all sorts of issues.

Apples and oranges. The all metal Kadee #805 are the best, in my opinion (although I began using the #740 metal ones when they came out, as they look better).

As always, I default to Doug "LaidOffSick" and his Kadee installation videos which are excellent and well presented:

https://youtu.be/4rMYGZ9YhFU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt-3Mb6UpWA

There are several including this for diesel locomotives:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z17li17HVE0

For specialty draft gear housings and shims visit Mario Scalzo's site at Shapeways: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/gandyman?sort=name

There are other shim makers which an internet search will bring up several at Shapeways and MicroMark.

Sadly, Atlas "scale" couplers are not the best but can be replaced with a Kadee coupler using the Atlas draft gear box by simply filing or grinding off the crescent shaped boss on the underside of the Kadee's drawbar.

Happy Kadeeing!

@Quay Beck posted:

If I want to switch my couplersto Kadee how do I determine which couplers I need. There seems to be several models but not much explination what each is for.



Thanks

If you want to use Kadees, you need to decide if you want to do an all-or-nothing conversion or retain the hi-rail couplers on cars that are more difficult to switch over. In the latter case, you need to set up two "transition cars" with a Hi-rail coupler on one end and a Kadee on the other. I have several pairs of them for this purpose, though I'm switching my cars over slowly. The transition car allows you to use the more realistic Kadee 700-series couplers.

That said, here's the breakdown of the Kadee models commonly used:

  • #805 -- Metal Coupler/Metal standard sized box
  • #804 -- Plastic Coupler/Plastic standard sized box
  • #806 -- Short-shank metal coupler/short plastic box. This is most commonly required on MTH diesels with scale wheels, though in some cases you can shave down the standard box.
  • #740 -- Metal detailed coupler/standard sized metal box
  • #745 -- Metal detailed coupler/standard sized plastic box. This is the better option for installing on Atlas cars and brass 2-rail cars to insulate the car from others in the consist (long story for another time).
  • #743 -- Metal short-shank coupler/short plastic box. Essentially the same as the 806 but more detailed.

In the 700 series, Kadee makes special couplers for different situations -- long shank/standard box, over-set and under-set couplers for extreme height situations.

The 800-series are compatible with most Hi-rail couplers; the 700 series don't want to stay coupled to them.

The couplers are available directly from Kadee, from hobby shops, Micro-Mark, and from a site "kadeecouplers.com".

Hope this helps some.

That Guy, I think al lthe folks above have answered your question back to me. I'll add three additional observations:

1. The older style Kadees (800 series) work fine with the newer 700 series. A big advantage for my 71-year old eyes is the 700s have no little springs that have to be replaced!

2. I keep conversion cars (Atlas or MTH) with one knuckle and one Kadee for use right next to the motive power as I am loathe to get rid of the "remote" coupler capability in my MTH engines. I run three trains with DPUs: a SP beet train, a NS/BNSF oil shale train, and a BN/BNSF Powder River coal train. I add the additional DPUs about 20 cars back. For these trains I need a conversion car on each end. So I have three custom made SP beet gons, tank cars and Coal Porters that serve as conversion cars. One on the head end and two 20 cars back.

3. One additional attribute which my wife noted years ago. Kadee couplers give a nice "slack action" sound on long consists. I just finished three 22 car each ore/taconite trains for DM&IR, CN and DSS&A/C&NW. Those short ore cars always make the trains look "longer," and the slack action on my 2% grades really "pops" the scene.


Finally, as someone mentioned above, I too am not a fan of Atlas "scale" couplers. Running on Atlas track I can handle Atlas scale trucks but aways replace the Atlas couplers with Kadees. I do install Atlas trucks on all my MTH rolling stock. This can be a challenge in terms of both availability and price but I like the looks, lowering of height above the rail of the MTH cars, and the visible roller bearing caps on the 100T trucks. Those long beet, ore/taconite, coal and oil trains look...and sound...great!

@Rick Wright posted:

"3. One additional attribute which my wife noted years ago. Kadee couplers give a nice "slack action" sound on long consists. I just finished three 22 car each ore/taconite trains for DM&IR, CN and DSS&A/C&NW. Those short ore cars always make the trains look "longer," and the slack action on my 2% grades really "pops" the scene."


Rick, please post some videos of your ore trains!  I can't wait!

RTH, here are five images of my most recently completed Lake Superior & Ishpeming 24-car taconite ore train. I have another BN U30C in the process of being weathered with the appropriate "iron ore dust." The caboose still needs the white and yellow striping and the LS&I logo amidships. The final shot is a custom painted/lettered ore car (MTH body, Atlas trucks, Kadee 740s (note how close coupled the cars are), Circus City decals.) All the cars are painted/numbered for actual cars I photographed in four days spent in Marquette, Presque Isle and Gladstone on the UP.

For my September Open House I had my CN/DMR taconite train running. I made two movies of the 24-car taconite ore train working up the 2% grade to Armstrong, but I cannot figure out how to get the movies on to the Forum. (Technology is most certainly NOT my strong suite.)

I have two other ore trains: a 12-car DSS&A/C&NW iron ore train and a 24-car DM&IR iron ore train. Both of those trains run under only mid-50s steam and diesel.

But as is the case for the LS&I train, all my ore cars are MTH bodies, Atlas trucks, Kadee 740s and Circus City decals.IMG_1990IMG_1993IMG_1992IMG_1991IMG_1994

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Rick Wright:  GREAT STUFF!

I like the fact that you carry the ground cover over the edge of the benchwork.  So many otherwise great layout photos are spoiled by having facia of some kind cut off part of the scene and blow the effect.

Question: What do you use for your iron ore loads?  In modeling the Chicago Great Western, I need loads for standard 3 bay open top hoppers, as that is how low grade ore was transported from the on-line mines at Ostrander, Minnesota.  Commercially available loads are inappropriate because the cars were only partially loaded (by volume) due to the weight of ore relative to other commodities.

A video of your ore trains would be GREAT, however, I, too, have no idea how to post them.

@Rick Wright posted:

RTH, here are five images of my most recently completed Lake Superior & Ishpeming 24-car taconite ore train. I have another BN U30C in the process of being weathered with the appropriate "iron ore dust." The caboose still needs the white and yellow striping and the LS&I logo amidships. The final shot is a custom painted/lettered ore car (MTH body, Atlas trucks, Kadee 740s (note how close coupled the cars are), Circus City decals.) All the cars are painted/numbered for actual cars I photographed in four days spent in Marquette, Presque Isle and Gladstone on the UP.

For my September Open House I had my CN/DMR taconite train running. I made two movies of the 24-car taconite ore train working up the 2% grade to Armstrong, but I cannot figure out how to get the movies on to the Forum. (Technology is most certainly NOT my strong suite.)

I have two other ore trains: a 12-car DSS&A/C&NW iron ore train and a 24-car DM&IR iron ore train. Both of those trains run under only mid-50s steam and diesel.

But as is the case for the LS&I train, all my ore cars are MTH bodies, Atlas trucks, Kadee 740s and Circus City decals.IMG_1990IMG_1993IMG_1992IMG_1991IMG_1994

Wonderful

RTH, right now I am starting with the Scenic Express basic ground cover of "iron ore," "Dark Gray" ballast and "Coal." For taconite I mix the last two together, then stain everything with Floquil Grimy Black. Colors of taconite are never consistent, from a reddish gray to a solid gray to an almost black. I like that variety on my cars, particularly the LS&I ones. Iron ore for the 50s era train is stained with a weak Grimy Black solution, but is for the most part "iron" in color.

My next project (I only devote 4 hrs every day to the railroad; I have a "structured" life in retirement) is to do essentially what you are contemplating for CGW. I spent a half day at Gladstone at the ex-DSS&A/SOO/WC yard watching CN working cars in the yard, and photographed 19 ex-C&NW hoppers from Powder River Coal service (Green with yellow ends; Berwyn's makes these--another great custom run from these folks; just add 100T RB Atlas trucks and Kadee 740s) sitting in the yard.

The classic ore cars I shot on LS&I and CN/DMR in June '21 are not allowed to be used on "all rail" movements to the mills in Indiana, Illinois and Alabama after Lake Superior freezes over. CN is now using these C&NW PRC hoppers in just the sort of service you are contemplating. My plan is to cut up gator board remnants from an earlier HO project, and custom fit 19 of these cutouts into the bottom of the hoppers. As you correctly note, these hoppers cannot be loaded to the "top" like they were out west in the coal fields, so my taconite "loads" will be about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the cars. (You can see drone movies of these all-rail movements on YouTube, a great modeling source IMO.) I have already re-lettered/numbered the 19 hoppers and heavily weathered them to reflect a lot of "hard" winter duty, just like I saw them at Gladstone.

As winter arrives here in VA this will be a great project for "indoor" work. Once the gator board cutouts have been inserted, I'll brush paint them with ScaleCoat weathered black, layer on taconite atop them, and hold everything down with diluted Elmers white glue.

One great advantage with this approach is that when I change my locale to the Thunder Basin in the 90s when I saw these C&NW unit trains running alongside UP and BN/BNSF, I'll just insert the MTH plastic coal "loads" atop, and add real PR coal that I have collected over several trips out there 30 years ago.

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