Skip to main content

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Sorry to. Keep banging on the kadee couplers but is there one company that sells Rolling stock that is easier to do conversions than any of the others? If so who would you recommend?

I know that most of the later production of MTH Primer line freight cars come with the mounting pad with pre-drilled holes, plus the proper shim to mount the Kadee gearbox. Atlas Master Line cars are also set-up for mounting their own Atlas 2-Rail "Kadee like" coupler.

The kadee ready lionel cars are the easiest.  Just unscrew the lobster claw from the truck, put the kadees on and go. They come with a pad, but sometimes the pad makes the coupler sit too low. For Lionel cars without pre-drilled holes, there are a lot of available 3D printed pads available for various cars that will properly locate the coupler and aid in drilling the holes.

Recent MTH cars are pre-drilled, but you usually have to completely take the car apart to remove the truck to get the old coupler off.  The "Right" way to get the coupler off is to disassemble the whole truck (pull the springs out) and remove the frame around the bolster. Normally that ends with one or more springs being launched into oblivion. Ive started just drilling the coupler off the car with increasingly larger bits until the coupler mount is removed. I guess a dremel would also work. A more expensive alternative is to replace the trucks with Atlas ones, using the insert that Atlas provides with the separate sale trucks. If you use 3R trucks, modify as below.

Atlas cars are easy as well, remove the truck, dremel off the coupler and mounting arm, and screw on kadee. Since atlas uses their own coupler, the atlas brand ones are easier to fit (screw on. With Kadees, the holes wont line up with the kadee holes (naturally). the front one will go in and then use the box to drill the back one in the right spot. On hoppers and tank cars (things where the coupler goes into an end platform), just use the atlas couplers. With the atlas couplers, I replace the atlas springs with kadee springs, which are softer and make the couplers work a little easier.

Weaver cars are pre-drilled for Kadees. They just screw in. You need to cut the coupler arm off but keep the piece that goes between the truck and the car body in most cases.

Always check your work with the #812 height gauge.

Last edited by Boilermaker1

If you want to do a trial run to see how they work. Weaver is by far the easiest. Remove the truck and discard the coupler. You can then add washers to get the 3 rail wheels to clear the frame if needed. Holes are there to mount the Kadee’s. All the manufactures that are Kadee ready are as far as mounts. But on some you must do surgery on the truck to remove the coupler. There’s no turning back. Atlas isn’t bad. You may have to trim the coupler mount for clearance on some cars. Mounting Holes are provided. For their coupler. The Kadee’s will mount after drilling out the Kadee box to allow the 2mm screws a little wiggle room to line up.

Weaver is pretty much the only one you can go back if they are not to your liking. As far as shimming for height.  I wouldn’t worry about it till you totally commit on this route if your just doing a couple of Weaver cars. They will mate fine with one another.

Last edited by Dave_C

If one was to change a diesel to kadee's would he or she be able to.

Of course if you are a creative and serious Model Railroader.

Still do lashups with legacy?

Yes, as the couplers have nothing to do with any of the commando control systems. You just no longer have remote uncoupling of the locomotives. When I was actively modeling in 3-Rail Scale (check out the 3RS Forum on the OGR Forums), I had everything up-graded to Kadee couplers. I never missed the remote uncoupling feature of those ****ed unruly lobster claw couplers!

I as you can see  am in the dark on legacy remote. 🤪

Bill, I’m guessing by lashup. You mean can you mix and match Kadee’s and Lionel’s coil couplers as far as engines. If you stay with the older 805 coupler you should be fine in mating with a coil coupler. You just have to make sure you mount the coupler to the truck itself so that it pivots with it. I’ve made brackets out of 3/4 wide brass stock. Basically you remove the coil coupler. The bracket I make is tapped for I believe a #8 threaded screw. You  adjust the bracket for height as needed. Then thread the screw up through the bottom. The one shown below is for an 0-8-0 steam switcher. The concept is the same for a diesel.



Images (1)
  • 82C24D18-A28D-4ECE-901A-528800D8DDF3

Legacy SD45. So far it’s not complaining:


This came with factory “kinematic” pilots and Kadee mounting pads. Though I planned to fix the pilot all along I installed Kadees using the mounts just to see what happened. The engine operated normally except the Kinematic pilots swiveled in curves and it sounded as if the wheel flanges were rubbing against either the pilots or more likely the die cast Kadee mounts. That’s on O72 and even O81 curves. I don’t know if that would happen  on other Lionel models. It probably depends on the model and truck length and placement  

At any rate, I fixed the pilots in place as planned, filled the gaps and installed full railings.  I also fabricated my own mounting pads for closer coupling. No rubbing or grinding from the wheels now. I liked the result so much I tracked down the other roadnumber and upgraded that one too.



Images (1)
  • 84AC988E-8FF6-4071-ABAC-A5552014505F
Last edited by Rich Montague

So if I understand correctly you would have to mount kadee's on the truck and not the body if i wanted to use on 54 degree curves and under

No, I would say 0-42 and under, as my yard tracks are 0-42 and I spot cars no problem with fixed kadees.  Remember Kadee's are meant for scale equipment with large curves and more or  less smooth track.  Grades are allowed but need to have smooth transitions.  Kadees are not meant for semi-scale, smaller, tight curve layouts.

Rich, as usual, nice job on the SF SD45!! beautiful- as for Kadee couplers, they are by far the best. I would not be mounting these to the trucks-- you ruin the entire effect here. Body mounted is the best way to approach this. Just my opinion here, but seriously, these couplers look so nice mounted on the freight car itself. 

Sorry to. Keep banging on the Kadee couplers but is there one company that sells Rolling stock that is easier to do conversions than any of the others? If so who would you recommend?

It really depends on what rolling stock and motive power your in to...  Anything can be done with the right patience. 

Can you share what era and rolling stock you already have that you'd like to convert?  There may be some options for you already.

Atlas RS1 & Lionel steel reefer:

Installing Kadee Couplers using Mario's[ CentralFan1976 ) Shapeway products: update 27 Oct MTH GP30 | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Lionel GP30:

Lionel Burlington GP30 | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Lionel F3:

Fixing' the pilot on a recent Lionel F-unit? | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Lionel PS-1s:

PS-1 Conversion Sunday | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Atlas F2:

Correcting Atlas F2 Headlight Lens | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Lionel H16-44:

mounting Kadee couplers on legacy diesel engines | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Lionel Milk cars:

8-Minute Lionel Scale Milk Car Kadee Conversion | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Atlas steel reefer:

Atlas steel reefer Kadee install video | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum

Atlas box cars:

There's so much!

Definitely read through the 3RS forum.


- Mario

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.