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McHenry Scale Knuckle Couplers

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McHenry Scale Knuckle Couplers
Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, June 23, 2019 5:29 AM

A few months back, I bought 16 Athearn Roundhouse tank cars. Absolutely beautiful, great tracking, couldn't be happier. Except for one thing. The couplers suck.

I have been pulling the 16 tank cars behind pair of Life Like GP9s. Whenever, I stop the train for whatever reason and then start it up again, the tank cars uncouple, never the same car, never the same location.

When I first eyeballed the couplers, they appeared to have a plastic hinge controlling the knuckle. But, last evening, I put on the Optivisor for a closer look. At a glance, it appears that the knuckle opens and closes by a small blackened spring. But it doesn't matter. The couplers seem to have no holding power.

 I can literally uncouple the cars right now by simply pulling them in opposite directions. So, I have decided to replace the couplers, all 16 of them (ugh) with Kadee couplers.

Anyone else have this sort of problem?

Rich

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Posted by "JaBear" on Sunday, June 23, 2019 5:56 AM

Something to read with your morning coffee, Rich.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/121636.aspx

As an aside, sad to see that some of those names are presumably no longer present.Sad

Cheers, the Bear.Smile

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Posted by hminky on Sunday, June 23, 2019 6:10 AM

I like the McHenry/EZ-Mates, used them for years in On30 with no problems. Found they coupled better than KD's.

Using them also in HO. Use McHenrys in N because they don't "bobblehead".

As far as uncoupling under load. While testing the Bachmann On30 2-6-6-2 for a review article rather than add more cars used weights.

That is five pounds.

Of course I won't get to heaven unless I use KD's.

Just sayin'

Harold

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, June 23, 2019 8:36 AM

Something to read with your morning coffee, Rich.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/121636.aspx

Yikes, aside from that Mrs. Lincoln...

Thanks for the link, Bear.

Rich

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Posted by CNR378 on Sunday, June 23, 2019 9:11 AM

Due to continual issues with Kadee knock-offs, a lot of individuals and clubs insist on Kadees only. Properly perpared and installed Kadees operate for years or decades without issue.

Peter

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Posted by CGW121 on Sunday, June 23, 2019 9:17 AM
  • If I notice McHenry couplers I replace them with Kadees. Same with all other knock off couplers.
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, June 23, 2019 9:59 AM

All engines get Kadees immediately.  The cheap plastic things only last a few weeks, anyway.  Mostly I build kits for rolling stock, so they get Kadees during construction.

Other cars will get Kadees on both ends as they fail.

The Walthers Proto ones seem pretty good.

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

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Posted by wp8thsub on Sunday, June 23, 2019 10:18 AM

richhotrain
Anyone else have this sort of problem?

Yup.  The McHenrys will eventually wedge open or closed, a problem that seems especially acute on shelf coupler versions.  Whenever possible, I replace them with Kadees before a car or loco enters service.

Don't just discard them.  Save the metal knuckle springs for spares, since they work on Kadees.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by bearman on Sunday, June 23, 2019 10:35 AM

Not I, I change out couplers to Kadees whenever I get something new and check the weight at the same time.  For the life of me, I don't understand why some of the higher end rolling stock don't come with Kadees to begin with.  I would pay a little extra as a result.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by dstarr on Sunday, June 23, 2019 2:30 PM

Is coupler height is correct?  Check it with a gauge. 

 Assuming that's OK, replacement with real Kadee's is a the way to go.  When I acquire new rolling stock with clone couplers, I run them until they break.  Then I replace the clone couplers with the real thing from Kadee.   Last time I looked, my local hobby shop (Charles Ro in Malden) wanted as much money for a pack of clone couplers as they did for a pack of Kadees.  Since the best doesn't cost any more, I always buy the Kadees. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, June 23, 2019 2:46 PM

dstarr

Is coupler height is correct?  Check it with a gauge. 

Coupler height is correct and all 16 cars match the height of the couplers. In fact, all 16 tank cars are identical but for the car number.

Rich

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, June 23, 2019 2:53 PM

This is what the PRR does with their EZ Mate and MakHenry couplers:

 PRR_Scrap by Edmund, on Flickr

I do the same. My layout is 95% Kadee, 4% Protomax and 1% Rapido Macdonald-Cartier couplers. The imitation ones do make nice details around the car shop, though.

Good Luck, Ed

 

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, June 23, 2019 4:31 PM

I use 100% Kadee, and I do not, will not use the semi scale couplers.

Tests showed that however slight, the semi scale coupler actually has more slack action.

And it has a smaller gathering range for coupling.

Before any new equipment goes into service, it gets Kadee couplers and in many cases my "special" trucks - Kadee sprung/equalized metal trucks refitted with Intermountain wheel sets. And to that end I only use code 110 wheels as well. 

In the case of these items, performance trumps looks, or perceived looks.

Because in my view, the semi scale coupler, while smaller, has an odd shape.

And code 88 wheel sets leave an unprototypical gap between the wheel and the side frame.

In both cases I feel we are just trading one incorrect feature for another.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Sunday, June 23, 2019 5:41 PM

I go all KD standard size, so both saperate springs and whisker (thats #5 and #148), when ever I built something or replace somethings couplers.

Things I replace as soon as possible:

  • Accumate (comes on Accurail and Atlas cars), I HATE these, they never mate easily with KDs and don't work with magnetic uncoupling ramps!
  • Anything without springs, I think this includes whatever comes with the cheaper bachmann stuff.
  • Then anything plastic, including McHenry. I am a bit less rushed to take out McHenrys, they do mate okay with Kadees. However they are plastic and will break quicker, I just mostly run on level track.

Things I may not replace

  • ProtoMax (comes with Walthers stuff), these are almost identical to KD #5s, I think the difference is somewhere were the knuckle rests against the rest of the coupler. That said I would never put these in a car in place of KDs
  • KD scale head stuff, I like the look of them, but if you are an operator, you will notice that cars that don't handle wellare usually those with scale head as opposed to regular heads.

I also think whatever comes with BLI stuff seems to work fine, though I think it's plastic... I personnally have never changed one. Rapido's couplers also look okay, but I lack evperience with them.

I'd say to anyone that there is a reason KDs are almost standard in the hobby, at least in HO. It's because they work the best! I see little reason to not use them, changing out coupler is very easy, usually you can just use the existing coupler box without modification.

That is what I use in HO, as a side note, in N I use Micro Trains, they are quite oversized, but close to everything I have bought so far uses them, so why both to change them!

Regards, Isaac

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, June 23, 2019 5:59 PM

I've used Kadees since I started in HO in the mid-'50s. 

The McHenrys with the plastic leaf-type knuckle spring were useless almost right from the beginning, but the later version, with a coil spring for the knuckle, worked well-enough, and I've not had one fail.  I've been replacing a lot of the latter with Kadee's "scale" couplers, though, and they seem to perform fine for me.

Wayne

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, June 24, 2019 8:33 AM

richhotrain

A few months back, I bought 16 Athearn Roundhouse tank cars. Absolutely beautiful, great tracking, couldn't be happier. Except for one thing. The couplers suck.

I have been pulling the 16 tank cars behind pair of Life Like GP9s. Whenever, I stop the train for whatever reason and then start it up again, the tank cars uncouple, never the same car, never the same location.

When I first eyeballed the couplers, they appeared to have a plastic hinge controlling the knuckle. But, last evening, I put on the Optivisor for a closer look. At a glance, it appears that the knuckle opens and closes by a small blackened spring. But it doesn't matter. The couplers seem to have no holding power.

 I can literally uncouple the cars right now by simply pulling them in opposite directions. So, I have decided to replace the couplers, all 16 of them (ugh) with Kadee couplers.

Anyone else have this sort of problem?

Rich

Ug?

Well, maybe people havne't repeated the model RR mantra enough?  Kadee, kadee, kadee.

Yes, I have a set of Athearn RTR Thrall gondolas and pulled them out of the box and ran them stock at a modular meet.  The train, when stopped, would randomly uncouple.  The couplers are McHenry with the plastic "finger" spring and from sitting in the box, the finger spring had become fatigued and would not reliably keep the nuckle closed.

Those older McHenrey couplers were eventually replaced with a newer verson that has a metal spring, but they are still plastic an much inferior to genuine Kadee's.

Oviously the need is to replace them with Kadee's is the answer.  I have quite a few pieces of rolling stock that I will be upgrading with Kadee's once I begin to have some hobby time after getting the basement finnished and layout built to run them.  I have several bulk packs on hand for that and will need to get more.

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Posted by dti406 on Monday, June 24, 2019 12:38 PM

They were called "McJunkies" and "Accubreaks" for a reason!

Rick Jesionowski

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Posted by rrebell on Monday, June 24, 2019 12:45 PM

Funny, never had a problem with most of the nockoffs, occasionally one my break, maybe this is because I don't run long trains.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, June 24, 2019 1:06 PM

rrebell

Funny, never had a problem with most of the nockoffs, occasionally one my break, maybe this is because I don't run long trains.

 

Train length has everything to do with it. 30 to 50 cars is typical for me, no generic couplers here.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, June 24, 2019 4:45 PM

Thanks, everyone for your replies. 

As I said at the outset, these couplers failed right out of the box. So, I just ordered enough Kadee #148 whisker couplers to replace the factory equipped couplers on all 16 tank cars.

Rich

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Posted by csxns on Monday, June 24, 2019 5:02 PM

richhotrain
tank cars.

On mine tank cars they get Kadee#119 couplers.

Russell

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Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, June 24, 2019 5:22 PM

Hello All,

It's Kadee for me!

Depending on the application, 90% of my rolling stock and motive power use the reliable #5 coupler.

Some use the #148- -the "whisker" version of the venerable #5.

Buying in bulk the value for money of the #5 can't be beat!!!

Any other specialized application- -Kadee has a coupler solution for that too.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by Medina1128 on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 7:14 AM

bearman

Not I, I change out couplers to Kadees whenever I get something new and check the weight at the same time.  For the life of me, I don't understand why some of the higher end rolling stock don't come with Kadees to begin with.  I would pay a little extra as a result.

 

I  follow the same regimen. ANY and ALL new equipment, motive power or rolling stock get weighed and the couplers replaced with Kadees before going into service. At that time, I also consider whether or not to weather, and to what degree.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 12:16 PM

Peter,The Walthers all metal Protomax II couper works as well as the KD after all its a exact duplicate of KD's #5 including the brass centering spring..

As far as the plastic junk clones they are promptly filed in file 13.

Larry

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 2:03 PM

[quote user="BRAKIE"]The Walthers all metal Protomax II couper works as well as the KD after all its a exact duplicate of KD's #5 including the brass centering spring.[/quote

It might be my imagination, but I seem to think that the Protomax is slightly larger.  But maybe the water around here is bad.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 3:18 PM

Several of the freight car kits I have built came with plastic clone knuckle couplers. I built one car using them and set it on a track with an Athearn car with Kadee couplers, then pulled them apart.

.

I was shocked at how easily the plastic coupler failed.

.

Do this easy test, and you will probably quickly decide to throw them all in the dumpster.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 3:21 PM

SeeYou190

Several of the freight car kits I have built came with plastic clone knuckle couplers. I built one car using them and set it on a track with an Athearn car with Kadee couplers, then pulled them apart. I was shocked at how easily the plastic coupler failed. Do this easy test, and you will probably quickly decide to throw them all in the dumpster. 

Kevin, I did that very test and I was as shocked as you were by how easily the couplers separated. The Kadee couplers are in the mail!

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, June 28, 2019 2:35 PM

I got the Kadee #148 couplers in the mail yesterday and I replaced all 32 McHenry's with the Kadees. Ran those cars around the layout several times, starting and stopping, and not a single uncoupling. Life is good again!

Rich

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Posted by Brammy on Sunday, June 30, 2019 12:53 PM
I bought some of the McHenry Rivarossi replacement couplers for my passenger train. This was not a smart decision. Even a small, 3-car train halfway around the layout they refused to stay coupled, and then refused to recouple.
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, June 30, 2019 1:06 PM

richhotrain
Ran those cars around the layout several times, starting and stopping, and not a single uncoupling. Life is good again!

.

It ias always good news when everything works out.

.

Thank you for the update.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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