I purchased one of these ramps about a year after they came out. I had some problems with it and I figured out what the problem was and fixed it. I then posted what I did here on the forum. However, I do not think that thread still exists, so I am reposting my post here. Also I used 18 volts with this accessory.
So here is my original post:
Lionel’s 456R coal ramp coupling solution!
At York on Friday, I purchased the 456R coal ramp reproduction that came out last year. I had reservations about buying this accessory because I had read a number of reviews and commits by others on the computer lists. Many of these talked about how hard the train had to hit the coupler at the top to get the car to couple. Also, I already owned the postwar version, which worked well, but the only hopper to work with it is the postwar car. I have a number of modern era operating hoppers that would not work with the postwar ramp. So I had been interested in the modern ramp but with the negative commits I had heard, I had not purchased one.
Then at York, I found the modern era ramp for a very good price so I took the plunge (like the hopper cars do when you release them. (Zoom…) and purchased it.
Well I set it up this past week to test it and guess what? The only way the hoppers would couple at the top is if I rammed them into the coupler at the top with my hand!! (the old 0-5-0 method??) Even then the car only coupled about 20% of the time. This was unacceptable.
So I started to study the problem and I noticed the spring bumpers were pushing the coupler back before it had a chance to couple. So I took a second plunge and started taking the ramp apart to see if I could find the problem. I removed the metal plate that is on the back of the bumper pier. This is the piece of metal which starts at the base goes up to the top of the pier then bends to form the top of the pier. The red light lens is mounted in it too. To remove the piece of metal, you must straighten two metal tabs under the base of the ramp. Then pull straight up on the metal plate. It fits tight, so pull hard, it will come – suddenly! You will then have clear access to the bumper.
I then saw the problem! On the end of the sliding bumpers there are black plastic tubes. These tubes are to long so when the car is pushed in to couple, the sliding bumpers push the spring-loaded coupler away before it can couple to the car. Of the two black tubes, the shorter one, which pushes the contact switch that turns the bumper light on, is the main problem. It must be reduced in length. The tubes are easily removed from the sliding bumpers by taking the small Philips head screw out from the end of the tube. You will need a very small screwdriver for this task. I then cut the tube with a razor saw, and cleaned up the cut with a fine file. I actually cut a little off at a time and experimented until I had the proper length. The longer black tube on the other sliding bumper also needs to be reduced in length however the length on this one is not as critical. When you reassemble the bumper sliders the small electrical switch, which operates the bumper light, may need to be adjusted. I did this by using a small pair of needle nose pliers, and bent the contact spring out a bit.
When I replaced the metal plate to the back of the pier, I did not bend the metal tabs back that hold the plate. The plate fits tightly and doesn’t really need the tabs bent to hold it. This way I will be able to easily remove the plate to service the ramp without removing the ramp from the layout. This will also keep the tabs from breaking off from repeated bending.
I can now push the hopper cars up the ramp with an engine and have them couple without any problem. It now couples as well as my postwar ramp! I am now quite pleased with my ramp. It will handle both the postwar hoppers and the modern era hoppers. I am running it at about 18 volts. The ramp looks very good and the new railings look much better then on my old ramp. Also, the bumper light is on whenever a car is coupled and is more useful then the light on the postwar version.
Finally, those hoppers really zoom down the ramp when they are released! To slow them down I mounted a 027-uncoupling track at the bottom of the ramp. I activate the uncoupler when the car passes over it. This slows the car down, however, I think I am going to purchase a second uncoupler and wire the two uncoulpers to one button to get more breaking! I have to say I am having an enjoyable time with my ramp now.
Finally, a note on why I think the ramp was produced the way it was. I believe the switch that controls the light was originally supposed to be mounted sideways so the slide bumper activated it as it passed by. Then the manufacturer changed the switch location for some reason when they started actual production, which caused the problem.
I hope this repost will help.