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Can I switch the couplers on prewar cars to knuckle couplers? I have green metal passenger cars that I thought were all prewar because they looked the same, but upon inspection, some are "hook" couplers and others are knuckle couplers. I have two steam locomotives, a 224E prewar with a tender (not sure if it's correct tender) with a rear "hook" coupler. I have a 1666 from 45 or 46 with a tender (again, not sure if it's the correct tender) with a rear knuckle coupler. I have quite a few prewar freight cars with two different types of "hook" couplers. If possible, I would like to convert all the "hook" couplers to knuckle couplers. If it's possible, what knuckle couplers should I look for? Do I have to also change out the wheel trucks?

I thought I posted a similar query earlier, but I cannot find it now.

I've attached a photo of the prewar green metal passenger car with "hook" couplers. I also have 3 passenger cars that look pretty much the same as this one, but they have knuckle couplers.LionelPreWrPsngr


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  • LionelPreWrPsngr
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@joe krasko

Thank you so much. I'll search for coil coupler trucks. Because I have only recently decided to put up a fairly large (one section 8x8, at 90 degrees from the far right of the 8x8 a 4x8, and at the far right of that 4x8, another 4x8 to make a sort of upside down U if these were all vertical instead of horizontal) year round layout to run my 3 Williams engines (Erie Lackawanna ALCO Passenger ABA, B&O Royal Blue steam, and brown Pennsy ALCO AA), the Lionel 224E, a Lionel Amtrak passenger train set (027), a 246X (Scout steam & tender from 2010), and a Lionel ALCO A Liberty Special, and a Lionel Trolley plus a small loop for an American Flyer freight set, I haven't even thought of attending train shows. I guess I could have considered going to York this year, but this coupler conversion wasn't on my mind at the time. I already have quite a bit of rolling stock accumulated over the years and many Plasticville structures with the idea that some day I'd be able to build a layout so I didn't want to be tempted to buy any more engines or cars if I attended the show in York.

Last edited by Jayman68

@john in western pa

I was on the concrete floor of our unheated basement when I tried out the recently serviced 224E and the prewar cars that I had just to see how the the locomotive & tender looked actually pulling cars. I found out that I had to lie down on the floor to work with those darn "latch" couplers on my freight cars...and raise the latches on the two couplers that I was bringing together. By the time I was done, this 75-year old man was cold, had a stiff neck, and my arms were sore from how long it took me to hook up each latch coupler. I envision my year-round layout being about 32 or 33 inches high so I won't by lying on the basement concrete floor, but I still don't want to fool around with those latch couplers. However, that doesn't mean that I won't take your advice and create a conversion car except I really wanted to run all the green, metal passenger cars with the 224E. I guess the first passenger car could be the conversion car to hook up with the other 3 green, metal passenger cars with knuckle couplers. I have a second green, metal passenger car--an observation car--that has a leading box or latch coupler and no coupler off the trailing end. It needs to have some work done on it because every time I put it on the track hooked up to the Pullman car in the attached pic above and the 224E and tender, the train would short out. Because there's a roller with the lead wheel truck and a light bulb inside, I think it's fairly obvious that there's something wrong with the wiring to the light or the light fixture itself. So I've got to inspect that observation car to see if: A. it can be disassembled without destroying it, B. if I can figure out what the problem is, and C. whether I am capable of fixing that problem.


Thanks for the explanation! Pretty cool adapter. I love the ingenuity of work-arounds. I'm not a stickler for original vs. modified, and I'm not sure I'd like the visual of the increased distance between the two cars as a result of using the adapters. If I decide to go the route of changing trucks and couplers, I would keep the originals so if I ever decide in the future to sell the pieces, I could put them back in their original configuration.

Before there are any additional comments/replies/suggestions, I would like to thank all those who have offered suggestions and/or advice. I really appreciate it. And while I thought I had a lot to learn about maintaining, cleaning, and lubricating my engines and rolling stock (if necessary), I now realize that I have a whole heckuva lot more to learn.

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