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I thought I posted this - must have done it wrong.

I just received my Lionel B6sb switcher and two Lionel plug door reefers. There are two problems I've found with the couplers on the reefers. The first and largest is that they will not cause the coupler on the B6 to close. I've tried holding the reefer until the wheels on the B6 slip, and I've tried banging them together with force, but the B6 coupler will not close. This is also true of other Lionel freight cars: the open coupler on the other car will not close when pushed against the reefer.

The second minor problem is that the couplers on the reefer will not operate consistently over uncoupling tracks. The moving plate either will not come down far enough to open the coupler, or it will stay down after the coupler opens so it cannot close.

I have not tried lubrication on the coupler mechanism yet - was hoping to hear from someone who has solved the problem first. These are good looking cars and I want them to work (already have operating plans for them). I bought these from TrainWorld, and their response to the problem was to contact Lionel.

Has anybody else experienced problems like these with the new reefers?

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Thank you for the information, Jim. I did not know how to view my previous posts, but now I do. I deleted the redundant post.  I had not expected a lot of replies since the plug door reefers are just being delivered. They are being manufactured in Vietnam instead of China - perhaps that has some effect on compatibility.

Thank you for the pictures. I put the reefer on the track with a Lionel box car, got a magnifier, and watched as I pushed the two together gently trying to get them to couple. There seems to be enough difference in the geometry of the new couplers to prevent the couplers from closing.

I have an RA number from Lionel, so I'll see if they have a solution - right now it seems (to me) the fix will be replacing the truck with the older couplers.

I just received my Therm-Ice reefer today.  These new truck/couplers stink.  First issue is the coupler pocket is not deep enough to couple with older rolling stock. I tried to couple this car to a CNJ PS-1 boxcar - the coupler from the boxcar won’t fit into the reefer coupler. Second, and very significant issue is there is no articulation between the coupler shaft and truck. These cars can’t seem negotiate curves smaller that 036.

I don’t know why the original tack-less design was abandoned- those actually tracked better and had a spring suspension.

"I don't understand how you go from the having best trucks and couplers, to the worst."

"I don’t know why the original tack-less design was abandoned- those actually tracked better and had a spring suspension."

It's very simple:

Old design = all metal, spring suspension (more difficult to assemble) = expensive

New design = lots of plastic, no spring suspension (easy to assemble) = cheaper

Lionel's goal is to make money and providing cheaper trucks accomplishes this.  Very few of their customers couple and uncouple cars.  Most run the same train of cars on their loops or sit the cars on shelves to look at (or keep them in boxes in closets).

Maybe they will modify the new design to be compatible with the old one.  We'll see.

I enjoy operating like a real transportation system: a mainline train brings cars to a yard, drops them off, picks up another string of cars and departs. Meanwhile the switcher works the local industries picking up and dropping off cars as appropriate.

I've only been in O for 3 years, and planned the layout with this concept in mind (yard tracks with multiple uncoupling tracks, spurs leading to on-line industries, etc). Most of the curves and switches are O-36 and while there is a way to configure the loop to loop plan for continuous running, that was not my goal.

Until now I have not had any problem with Lionel cars and locos coupling and working together. These reefers completed the fresh produce supply for a couple of small towns.

I'm hoping Lionel does find a way to make the new couplers compatible with the existing ones (and wants to) so people like me who want to do switching as part of their operations will be able to. If not, the solution might be buying older style replacement trucks for the new cars, or just buying older rolling stock off of eBay.

@Bob posted:

"I don't understand how you go from the having best trucks and couplers, to the worst."

"I don’t know why the original tack-less design was abandoned- those actually tracked better and had a spring suspension."

It's very simple:

Old design = all metal, spring suspension (more difficult to assemble) = expensive

New design = lots of plastic, no spring suspension (easy to assemble) = cheaper

Lionel's goal is to make money and providing cheaper trucks accomplishes this.

Best of luck to Lionel.

It's cheaper for me too ,as I won't be buying any of the new rolling stock.

Last edited by RickO

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