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Uncoupling magnets vs skewers

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  • Member since
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Uncoupling magnets vs skewers
Posted by restorator on Sunday, September 10, 2017 8:22 PM

What are you preferences and reasoning on the subject of uncoupling magnets or skewers or other tools? 

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Sunday, September 10, 2017 8:25 PM

I prefer skewers because:

1) I can uncouple where I want and do the work as I want.

2) I have plows on all my diesels, and a coupler with a shank long enough for the magnetic uncoupling pins to clear the plow looks like hell, frankly.

 

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by 7j43k on Sunday, September 10, 2017 8:54 PM

I installed two electromagnets on my mainline, because I surely didn't want to go back and try to install them later.  I have never used them.

I mostly do the lift-the-car-up-and-move-it method.  I know it ain't prototypical like the skewer is.  I really should get some skewers and practice.

I am still vascillating about cutting off the Kadee gladhands.  Ya know, it's awfully hard to glue them back on later, though.  I do notice that Scale Trains shipped their SD40-2's without magnetic gladhands, so I suppose that's a big hint right there.

 

Ed

 

Just to show you I'm not a total coupler rube, I do have some cars with Sergent couplers.  They work perfectly.

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Posted by JoeinPA on Sunday, September 10, 2017 9:07 PM

I use a skewer whenever possible and a Rix magnetic uncoupler when a skewer won't work. I am not a fan of the in track magnets.

Joe

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Posted by peahrens on Sunday, September 10, 2017 9:08 PM

One magnet type is the little cylinders that can be added (vertically) between the ties in several pairs (I used three pair).  I added some in my mainline and some in my yard throat (at a couple spots).

Having said that, it was recent and so I have limited experience.  I will say that non-electromagnet uncouplers in the mainline can cause some undesired uncoupling if the train surges at all at slow speeds.  A caboose at the end with poorly rolling wheels might help.

I tried a couple of the Kadee big, flat under track magnets with a flat plate that goes with it.  I did not like them because they were hard to remove from below the roadbed and track once installed and I wanted something more removeable as I experiment. 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by NP01 on Sunday, September 10, 2017 10:49 PM

Skewers!

I tried the Kadee flat ones. They are either ineffective or coupler hands bump into them. 

I tried the excellent idea on neodymium (?) dual magnets ... you have to be so accurate in spotting the car that with my jumpy locos and dirty track it's not practical.

Both ideas are appealing for uncoupling from afar, but really you do need to be next to the uncoupler for it to work ... well then save the trouble and by a $2.99 package if skewers to last a lifetime of railroading.

If you are like me, skewers will look like trestle bents too ...

 

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, September 10, 2017 11:42 PM

7j43k
I installed two electromagnets on my mainline, because I surely didn't want to go back and try to install them later.  I have never used them.

I have a box with several electromagnet and maybe a dozen or-so of the flat magnets. Like Ed, I have never used them (at least he installed two of his).

7j43k
I am still vascillating about cutting off the Kadee gladhands.

I began cutting all mine off maybe two years ago. I don't miss them. Many of my newer "premium" cars have a scale air hose so why have that piece of bent, 3" pipe hanging out of the bottom of the coupler, too?

Most of the time I use the slight lift method but when I'm having a running session and have the time to spare I'll use a skewer and make my car moves more prototypical, including time for the "crew" to walk the train and time for the locomotives to pump-up the air and make a brake test.

For some odd reason I was saving all the little Kadee trip pins. When the tuna tin I was keeping them in was full, I took it to the scrap yard.

Having Fun,

Ed

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Posted by joe323 on Monday, September 11, 2017 11:11 AM

I prefer skewers since the maximum reach on the SIW is about 24 inches and the layout is entirely open except for a few buildings which I designed so that the car ends stick out a bit.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by maxman on Monday, September 11, 2017 11:32 AM

Depends where one is operating.  I operate a yard on a friends large railroad.  Yard is on an upper level where reaching in is not practical.  However, the A&D tracks are in front of me.  For the A&Ds I use a skewer.  For the yard tracks themselves we use magnets.  Originally the magnets were delayed type, but they caused a disruption in switching activities.  So they got replaced with non-delayed.

I'm sure someone will eventually recommend Sargent couplers, but they definitely would not work in the described situation.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, September 11, 2017 12:50 PM

I've tried the magnets but found it very hard to stop right on the right spot to uncouple - especially hard with DCC momentum. Over the years I've gotten in the habit of uncoupling manually. I have relatively long fingers, so just reach around the HO carbody, grab the truck, lift it up and move it to the right, engage the couplers in the 'offset' position, and put it back on the track. Works better if you remove the trip pins from the couplers. I've been uncoupling like that for nearly 30 years, it's really quite easy and quick once you've done it a while.

Stix
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Posted by maxman on Monday, September 11, 2017 12:57 PM

wjstix
Over the years I've gotten in the habit of uncoupling manually. I have relatively long fingers, so just reach around the HO carbody, grab the truck, lift it up and move it to the right, engage the couplers in the 'offset' position, and put it back on the track.

Yes, I've also seen it done that way.  Unfortunately I don't like to handle the cars, especially when they get to be detailed and $50 each.  Plus I've seen too many operators with orange Cheeto fingers running around "weathering" equipment.

Less touching the better.

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Monday, September 11, 2017 1:56 PM

    I use my Kadee magnets to hold my train sequence paper onto the refrigerator door, also to hold stencils to metal objects when I spray paint my name onto them.
    I don’t like skewers because they get teriyaki sauce on my locomotives and cars. Embarrassed
    I make uncoupler tools using Lionel Strang’s design which was published in MR several years ago. I use a pencil sized dowel and insert a stiff piece of floral wire into the end. On the end of the wire is two 90 degree bends which are used to grab one coupler by the hose and pull it away from the other. You just have to make sure there is a little bit of slack between the cars and they work great.

http://www.trainweb.org/lonewolfsantafe/uncplr1.jpg http://www.trainweb.org/lonewolfsantafe/uncplr2.jpg

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by Medina1128 on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 10:05 AM

If your gladhands are bumping into the magnets, then either the couplers are too low, or the magnet is too high. I use Kadee delayed action uncoupler magnets. I make bullseye target signs, painted red, to indicate where they are. I paint them the same tan color that I paint my ties (Krylon camouflage paint).

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Posted by fcwilt on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 10:35 AM

Hi,

I installed electro-magnetic uncouplers at each location where one would be needed. 

I created a Arduino controlled power supply to activate them and have 12 key keypads at various points on the fasica.

I am very happy with the system.

Frederick

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 6:19 PM

I installed lots of magnets when I built my layout.  I've always liked the "hands off" concept.  I put electromagnets on the mains and Kadee magnets on sidings.  However, I've now gone over to the bamboo skewer side.  It is simply easier to be able to uncouple where I want, rather than where the magnet is.

I've replaced all of my plastic wheels with metal.  This makes the rolling stock roll much more easily.  Hence, it's harder to position a car over a magnet and have it stay put.  The slightest grade will set it moving.  I've got a few of the Kadee beneath-the-ties magnets that are so strong they pull cars with metal wheels and axles over them, making them difficult to use.  I've added some tall "field grass" between the rails on some sidings just to hold free-rolling cars in place.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by RobertSchuknecht on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 5:52 PM

I use skewers so I can uncouple cars where I want them.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 8:21 PM

I use a magnetic wand to uncouple, but I use Sergent couplers, so thats not helpful unless you are considering switching to the Sergent (not Kadee compatible).  Before I switched I used the square screwers sharpened to a rounded point.  They worked pretty well.  I clipped the trip pins on some of my couplers, before outright switching over to Sergents.  This seemed to make skewer operation easier.  I have also used the h shaped magnetic uncoupling tool.  It takes some practice initially, but works well enough that I picked it up after a few tries.

 

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 11:11 PM

Would I be correct in believeing that no one here has any complaints about using the skewer for uncoupling?

 

Ed

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, September 14, 2017 7:55 AM

7j43k

Would I be correct in believeing that no one here has any complaints about using the skewer for uncoupling?

 Ed

 

 
Doesn't work well if it happens to be a passenger car with diaphragms.
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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, September 14, 2017 9:11 AM

OK.  I'll bite.  

 

What does?

 

 

Ed

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, September 14, 2017 10:00 AM

I think those Rix uncouplers will work, as well as the Lionel Strang hooky things.  Or a magnet, or anything else that doesn't require a stright down approach to the coupler.  But in all cases it would probably require some handling of the car to release tension on the couplers if the diaphragms happen to be the prototypical style that actually compress when the cars are coupled.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, September 14, 2017 10:05 AM

maxman

7j43k

Would I be correct in believeing that no one here has any complaints about using the skewer for uncoupling?

 Ed

 

 
7j43k

OK.  I'll bite.  

What does?

Ed

 
Track magnets...I use them in all of my staging yards and will be installing them on all the industrial sidings that are now difficult to access since I added a partial second level to the layout.  

Because the tracks are in place and ballasted, they'll be the visible ones - not very prototypical, but operations trump esthetics in this situation.
 
Wayne
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Posted by AltoonaRailroader on Thursday, September 14, 2017 10:21 AM
When I first started I used the Kadee magnets but found they're a bit of a PIA and usually uncoupled something when you didn't want to. I like the skewers, it's like my lil buddy. I have a 9x9 around the walls so about the farthest reach I have is about 30". ARR
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Posted by E-L man tom on Friday, September 15, 2017 12:38 PM

Its skewers for me - - ah, the clean ones, without the teriyaki sauce on them!

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
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Posted by Old Fat Robert on Friday, September 15, 2017 5:28 PM

Pt down my vote for magnets. For one they don't fall off the layout and end up in hyper spacem and since the operators that usually end up operating here (including myself) are either ham handed galoots or they suffer from some nerve disfunction that causes the shakes so bad that the skewers derail the cars. Just kidding. But seriously, I prefer not to handle the cars and I, for whatever reason, don't seem to have incidents of false uncouplings. (probably luck).

Old Fat Robert

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Posted by snjroy on Sunday, September 17, 2017 7:08 AM

I have magnets on the sidings. I installed the bachmann ones that fit under the rails and they work very well. I installed a kadee electromagnet for the mainline, which works well with cars equiped with kadees. Couplers need to meet standards AND must work without friction (the coupler lubricant sold by kadee works well). When things fail, God's hand comes into play, but that somewhat wrecks the realism... I also see it as part of the challenge.

Simon

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Posted by kasskaboose on Sunday, September 17, 2017 9:14 PM

Magnets work well for me on my layout.  I have one at the entrance of the yard.  Where else to place them? 

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, September 17, 2017 9:44 PM

maxman
I've seen too many operators with orange Cheeto fingers running around "weathering" equipment.

LaughLaughLaughLaugh I'll remember to ban Cheetos from my layout!

Dave

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, September 17, 2017 11:38 PM

hon30critter

 maxman

I've seen too many operators with orange Cheeto fingers running around "weathering" equipment.

Dave

 
No food of any type in my layout room, and nobody touches anything that isn't theirs.  
However, beverages are allowed and there's no enforcement of Rule G. Smile, Wink & Grin

Wayne
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Posted by BMMECNYC on Monday, September 18, 2017 8:23 PM

7j43k

Would I be correct in believeing that no one here has any complaints about using the skewer for uncoupling?

 

Ed

 

Heavy handed operators can cause deformation of the coupler box and derailing by pressing down too far/hard with a skewer.  Ive operated on a couple of layouts (Kadee couplers) where skewers were banned, and they used some sort of side to side magnet (on a h shaped stick).

Edit: It might have been the Rix uncoupler or something similar.

Sergent has an uncoupling device to slide under diaphragms.  I had some issues with it due to coupler shanks being too short (diaphragms fully compressed).  Need to get the tailor made coupler for my walthers cars.

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.

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