Coupler Height Alignment

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  • Member since
    October, 2010
  • 20 posts
Coupler Height Alignment
Posted by Handy Andy on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 2:05 PM

  All my rolling stock is Aristocraft, both used and new.
  I did this with the hopes of avoiding coupling alignment
  problems. But my efforts were apparently in vain.

  When I put a string of four boxcars on a section of track,
  none of the couplers match up closely on height. Some barely
  connect at all. These are truck mounted couplers.

  I have found no mechanism to adjust them and am considering
  replacing all trucks and couplers with a Kadee design that
  would be the same model number for all cars.

  It would cost a small fortune so I'm open to suggestions.

  Thanks in advance.

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
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Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 2:59 PM

Sounds like your used cars have had wheel replacements of different wheel diameters. Dismount the trucks, place them back to back on a track section to see if the tops line up. You might consider getting standard Aristo wheel sets for all the used cars, still a chunk of $$$ but cheaper than total truck replacement.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    October, 2010
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Posted by Handy Andy on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 4:30 PM

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give it a try. Sounds like a good candidate.

 

  • Member since
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  • From: North Coastal San Diego
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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:37 PM

If you decide to go Kadee, convert to body mounts, better operation and easier to "adjust" and no drooping of couplers as the forces of the train pull your truck mounted couplers up and down.

 

Now, realize that Aristo couplers, with the "shelf" on the bottom of the knuckle will withstand really rough track, and if you convert to Kadees, you may have to overcome some track issues and also if  you stay truck mount, work on "weak" trucks.

 

I went Kadee body mounts and never regretted it. Do them a bit by bit, it won't hurt as much.

 

Greg

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

  • Member since
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  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
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Posted by ttrigg on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 5:03 AM

Andy

I'm ammending my recommendation to echo Greg's comments. A quick price check tells me that using Kadee body mount couplers will run $12~$18 per car. Wheel replacement with Aristo wheel sets run $9 per truck ($18+ per car) for plastic or $40~$50 for top of line metal wheels per car.

Sequence I would do this replacement to spread cost over time. Line up your cars in the following order. New cars behind your encine, then the used cars lined up with tallest (highest?) coupler to shortest (lowest?) coupler. First body mount pair of Kadee's rear of last new car to front of tallest used car. Then the next week convert the rear of used car #1 to front of used car #2 and so on. After all the used cars are converted move to the new cars converting front to rear as they line up. This schedule will spread the $$$ and modification time over any suitable time you need without interfering with run time.

Tom Trigg

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    December, 2008
  • From: Florida, USA
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Posted by Narrowgauge on Thursday, June 14, 2018 10:08 PM

Andy,

 

Let me weigh in on this as well. My first comment is to check the attachment of the trucks to the cars, make sure they are not too sloppy as to allow excessive rocking motion. Also check the tounge that the coupler mounts on and make sure they are not damaged, allowing droop. That said, truck mounted couplers are simple for the manufacturer, but can be a nightmare for hobbyists, especially if they are trying to do operations. Truck mounted couplers, no matter the brand, do not work well in a pushing situation.

 

I agree with Greg/Trigg, the trucks or wheel sets may have been changed. I have purchased several Aristo cars on eBay that showed up with either USAT or Bachman trucks under them. So long as the wheels are the same diameter this has not been an issue. I have measured the top of rail to the top of bolster on several brands of trucks and they are all withing .030 of being the same, not sufficient to cause the issues you describe. As for replacing wheels, Aristo ANYTHING  is getting difficult to find and therefore pricey when you do. I have replaced all my plastic wheels with Bachmann 31mm wheels. They fit the Aristo trucks fine. I recently purchased case quantity (6 cards per case - enough to do 6 cars) for a bit over 60 bucks per case, much less expensive than what Trigg quoted. I get my wheels from Star Hobbies in Annapolis, MD. https://www.shopstarhobby.com

 

Both Greg and Trigg eluded to Kadee couplers being superior, I totally agree. However, there are two sizes of Kadee couplers, not to mention a miriad of configurations. I am personally in the process of changing all my rolling stock over to Kadee body mount. I echo Greg's commentary on going to body mount. You will spend more time getting them installed, but that time will be rewarded with far less operational issues. I am going with the 'G' couplers because they are a little bigger and more robust. I am using the 830 coupler, it is pretty simple to mount and very reliable. As for cost, I am getting my 830 couplers for about 8-9 bucks per pair (one car). I also highly recommend investing in the Kadee coupler height gauge. Nothing will make your trains track more reliabley that haveing the couplers at a consistent height. I have been getting my Kadees from RLD Hobbies in Albion, IL.  http://rldhobbies.com

 

In an effort to reduce the conversion process I took one car and made it a converson car with the old coupler on one end and the new body mount on the other end, allowing me to continue to run all my stock.

 

Best of luck and Happy Railroading.

 

Bob C.

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    October, 2010
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Posted by Handy Andy on Friday, June 15, 2018 1:05 PM


 @ttrigg and all:

 Silly (and stupid) me. The reason the couplers don't align  is
 that some are truck mounted and others are body mounted. At the
 time I bought some of this equipment, I had a diminutive knowledge
 base.

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: North Coastal San Diego
  • 879 posts
Posted by Greg Elmassian on Saturday, June 16, 2018 11:45 PM

Not your fault at all, it took some time for manufacturers to somewhat standardize, and USAT always had ones way low, Bachmann was all over the place some high some low, and Aristo was somewhat consistent, but sometimes their QA people must have had hangovers from the previous day.

 

Greg

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

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