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uncoupling cars (HO scale)

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uncoupling cars (HO scale)
Posted by 1trakmind on Friday, May 08, 2009 9:06 AM

Hi! What method do you all use to uncouple cars? I have tried serval methods and nothing seems to work good. I'm not opposed to using a (magic) wand. I have used Kadee magnets, got disgusted with them, currently i am picking up one end of the car just enough to uncouple it. Any comments will be welcome.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, May 08, 2009 9:10 AM

On my switching layout I tried Kadee magnets, they worked OK but it was a little difficult to get everything to work right...plus it greatly limited where I could uncouple. For now I've gone back to manually uncoupling like I did on past layouts. You can still use the delayed uncoupling features of the couplers, so I can uncouple a car on the main and push it into a siding and then back out leaving the car there without needing to do anything more. I've gotten good enough at lifting the car up slightly, sliding it over a little, engaging the couplers in the delayed position, and putting the car back down, that sometimes when I'm showing someone the layout they don't even notice me doing it and can't figure out how I got the car to stay in the siding when the engine backed away.

Stix
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Posted by dstarr on Friday, May 08, 2009 9:27 AM

The Kadee megnetic ramps do work, but you need to have all the couplers mounted at the proper height.  Check with the NMRA gauge or the Kadee guage.  Make sure none of the couplers are sticky.  Lube sticky ones with powdered graphite.  

If you decide the magnetic ramps are too much trouble (many do) you can uncouple Kadees with a pointed wooden rod, like a sharpened pencil.  Food stores sell wooden skewers that are just the right size.  Work the point into the closed pair of knuckles with a slight twisting motion and the cars will uncouple.

 

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Posted by tinman1 on Friday, May 08, 2009 10:07 AM

With all the advances in motors, details, dcc and painting, couplers still remain old school. Someday someone will come up with a revolutionary coupler that doesn't have the ghastly brakeline hanging and will electronically uncouple through dcc or some type of light gun. Until then I'm stuck picking up an end or stabbing it with a stickSigh

Tom "dust is not weathering"
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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Friday, May 08, 2009 10:12 AM

1trakmind
currently i am picking up one end of the car just enough to uncouple it

That's the method I use about 95% of the time.

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Posted by cacole on Friday, May 08, 2009 10:17 AM

 We use shish-ka-bob skewers with some graphite from a pencil tip rubbed on the end.  I've tried Kadee's, Accurail's, and a couple of other coupler picks and have found the skewers the easiest to use.

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Posted by Scarpia on Friday, May 08, 2009 10:23 AM

You could try Sergent Engineering Couplers. No light gun, but I've found them to work pretty well. Other's mileage may vary.

I'm trying to model 1956, not live in it.

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Posted by wedudler on Friday, May 08, 2009 10:33 AM

 I use Kadee magnets, but now more the bamboo stick:

Wolfgang

 

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Posted by grizlump9 on Friday, May 08, 2009 11:22 AM

 kadee magnets work best for me if i remove the ties and build a platform from strip styrene to mount the magnet on.  that places the magnet at rail height instead of just above like kadee recommends.  i started this method when my atlas locomotives began snagging the magnet with the close clearance of their gear box covers. 

all my layout is operated with FM walk around remote control and all the switches are hand thrown so a coupler pick is the most common method of uncoupling used.  i find the rix magnet uncoupling tools work pretty well also.

magnets are used only on some of my industrial sidings and spurs and at strategic locations in the main yard.

the main yard has 11 double ended tracks.  4 a/d, 6 classification and 1 running or by-pass track that remains clear.   only the classification tracks have magnets for uncoupling and only on the drill track end.

of course, the delayed action sometimes results in having to couple up the track or "make the joints" just like we did in the real world but that is a common everyday occurance in switching anyway.

cars from the class tracks often get set over to the a/d side of the yard by a "trimmer" engine that works off the lead at the other end of the yard.  in that operation, just like when shoving cars into industry and interchange tracks, i use the pick or rix tool to cut the engine off and sometimes uncouple it from a convenient location with a pick, use the pick to offset the couplers and then shove the cars to the desired location.

this next statement will open a can of worms with some guys but here goes.  KADEE-KADEE-KADEE !!!!   you are asking for trouble if you mix the different kadee clones with the original thing.  acumate, mchenry, etc. are truly miracle products.  when they work as well as the original kadee's, it is a miracle.

and now for a final word on achieving dependable operation.  lube the draft gear boxes and knuckles with some form of graphite.  i like to use a liquid product called neolube.  i apply it with a small paint brush.  the alcohol evaporates right away leaving a coating of graphite and teflon on the parts.

good luck and never give up. with a bit of practice and some more experience, things will work out well for you.

grizlump

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Posted by Mr. SP on Friday, May 08, 2009 2:32 PM

tinman1

With all the advances in motors, details, dcc and painting, couplers still remain old school. Someday someone will come up with a revolutionary coupler that doesn't have the ghastly brakeline hanging and will electronically uncouple through dcc or some type of light gun. Until then I'm stuck picking up an end or stabbing it with a stickSigh

Have you ever seen a real train without the "Ghastly" brake line. Without the brake line the train brakes wouldn't stop the train. Check the couplers on a real train next time you see one. I use ONLY Kadee couplers and if installed properly work extremely well. The Kadee wantabe couplers are junk si go in hte trash upon arrival.

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Posted by pastorbob on Friday, May 08, 2009 4:20 PM

Well, you can knock Kadee magnets, but, I have used them more years than most of you have been alive and they do work if properly installed.  I use them in particular on industrial sidings that are hard to reach any other way.  I have them on the throat of my main classification yard, and they work great.  I use the skewers out on the mainline and they work pretty well.  I seldom have to or want to grab them and lift them to uncouple, especially the shelf couplers.

Bob

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Posted by cnwfan2 on Saturday, May 09, 2009 3:14 PM

I use a metal pick.I bought 4 of them from "The Toolman", located in Texas.A quick description of these is simple.Picture an X-Acto knife blade handle,with a 3 sided pointed tip on the end of the handle.These picks are used by clay making artists.These picks are awesome at uncoupling Kadee coupler equipped cars.Insert the pick between the couplers and gently move them apart, or push aside the "trip pin" on the bottom of the coupler.

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Posted by larak on Saturday, May 09, 2009 10:17 PM

1trakmind
Hi! What method do you all use to uncouple cars?

 

Rare earth magnets flush with the bottoms of the ties or a Rix uncoupling tool with a rare earth magnet glued to each side to increase the pull (sorry no photo yet but this is what the raw tool looks like): 

Karl

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Saturday, May 09, 2009 10:43 PM

I'm also a Kadee supporter, and have been since I started using K couplers long before anyone ever heard of magnetic uncoupling.

Two items:

  1. If you don't like the 'brake hose' trip pins, just turn them 180 degrees and hide them under the car.  I can even do it with steam, since there are no pilots on Japanese coalburners.
  2. The biggest problem with magnetic uncoupling is unwanted break-in-twos over fixed magnets.  Possibilities for avoiding same range from electromagnets to putting clear nylon bristles in the way of truck axles to keep the slack stretched out.

 

I have had good success with 'snap-down' magnets - standard Kadee magnets, put down when needed and removed when coupling isn't desired at that point.  They snap down to chunks of steel imbedded in the roadbed under the ties.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by Midnight Railroader on Sunday, May 10, 2009 12:53 PM

1trakmind
currently i am picking up one end of the car just enough to uncouple it.

 

 Aw, don't do that. If you have Kadees, the skewer method works well. There are also some official handheld uncoupling tools (Rix makes one), but routinely picking up your cars to uncouple them is something no modeler should be doing--the constant handing and skin oils aren't good for them.

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Posted by Midnight Railroader on Sunday, May 10, 2009 12:55 PM

Mr. SP
Have you ever seen a real train without the "Ghastly" brake line. Without the brake line the train brakes wouldn't stop the train. Check the couplers on a real train next time you see one. 

 

I dunno. The ones I see on the prototype look nothing like the Kadee trip-pin.

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Sunday, May 10, 2009 3:29 PM

MTH's new SD70Ace will have automatic couplers controlled by DCC  They have video a link on their site. http://www.mthhotrains.com/models/SD70ACe.asp

 

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Posted by tinman1 on Monday, May 11, 2009 7:51 PM

I came across this on youtube and it seems fitting for this topic. Having an automatic uncoupler in the engine is ok, but in each car.........Thumbs Up.

DCC uncoupler

Tom "dust is not weathering"
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Posted by grizlump9 on Monday, May 11, 2009 11:48 PM

 MTH's new SD70Ace will have automatic couplers controlled by DCC  They have video a link on their site. http://www.mthhotrains.com/models/SD70ACe.asp

 big deal, i have had accumate couples doing this for years without the electronics.

grizlump

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Monday, May 25, 2009 6:38 AM

1trakmind

Hi! What method do you all use to uncouple cars? I have tried serval methods and nothing seems to work good. I'm not opposed to using a (magic) wand. I have used Kadee magnets, got disgusted with them, currently i am picking up one end of the car just enough to uncouple it. Any comments will be welcome.

 

1Trak,

You've started 2 threads with a friendly "Hi!"  but have yet to respond to them. Confused Have the responses that you've received from fellow forum members been helpful?.

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by BIGLOUMAY on Monday, May 25, 2009 12:21 PM

When I was using Kadee's, I found that a small flat-head screwdriver worked well. Now I am using Sergent couplers on many of my locomotives and rolling stock and have found that uncoupling cars is almost as easy as on the prototype, since the Sergents use a magnetic rod to lift a steel ball inside the coupler to unlock the knuckle- similar to 'lifting the pin' on the real thing. Plus they look just like the real thing. However, if you need to do remote uncoupling, Kadees are still your best bet, as you need to be able to reach ( and see) the couplers with the Sergents. Also, the Sergents will, on occasion, give you prototypical 'balkiness' when coupling or uncoupling!

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Posted by nbrodar on Monday, May 25, 2009 1:23 PM

 Currently, I use the Rix uncoupling tool.   I have also used bamboo skewers with good results.

Nick

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Posted by ef3 yellowjacket on Monday, May 25, 2009 4:28 PM

A "DCC version" of uncoupling has already been hatched, although it could be a rather pricey proposition.  It consists of a solenoid type coil, and a decoder.  Certainly not my cup of tea.  I have used the Kadee magnets successfully for a long time.  KISS; remember?

Rich

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Posted by grizlump9 on Monday, May 25, 2009 5:19 PM

 a lot of guys have reported problems with the kadee magnets.  i find them to be quite reliable if the coupler trip pins are properly adjusted.

i only use the magnets for classification tracks in the yard and on single ended industrial sidings or spur tracks.  otherwise, it is the good old rix tool or a pointed stick.

forget gluing them to the cross ties.   i cut all the ties out between the rails and build up a base using styrene strips so the magnet is just at rail height, not much more.

i recently started using scotch brand mounting tape to stick them down and so far-so good.  time will tell about that method. i am hoping it will hold up as well as it has for sticking weights inside freight cars.

if you have a mixture of coupler makes, you will occasionally have a problem because the centering spring tension is not equal and both couplers will pull to one side.  that is why i use kadee couplers only.  the bulk of my equipment was already so equipped and i just stay with the originals.

grizlump

 

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 8:50 AM

pastorbob

Well, you can knock Kadee magnets, but, I have used them more years than most of you have been alive and they do work if properly installed.  I use them in particular on industrial sidings that are hard to reach any other way.  I have them on the throat of my main classification yard, and they work great.  I use the skewers out on the mainline and they work pretty well.  I seldom have to or want to grab them and lift them to uncouple, especially the shelf couplers.

Bob

I agree Bob..The KD magnet works just fine when properly installed and with properly adjusted/mounted couplers.

On my past HO ISLs I use a small flat tip screw driver and in certain areas a magnet to uncouple cars..

 

 When one wishes not to use a magnet they loose a nice feature of the KD coupler....

The delayed uncoupling feature.

Larry

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Posted by Scarpia on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 9:35 AM

BRAKIE

 When one wishes not to use a magnet they loose a nice feature of the KD coupler....

The delayed uncoupling feature.

 

 Not true, actually. I can get delayed uncoupling with my Sergents simply by shifting one out of alignment enough that they won't recouple when you push the car back. If you change the alignment on the car that you're not leaving, the one you are will remain in good alignment for when you want to couple.

As the other gentlemen mentioned, a lot of layouts are designed around Kadees and how they operate, so there may be spots that are trickier to deal with than others. As I'm working on a new layout, it's easy to remove these design obsticles.

 

I'm trying to model 1956, not live in it.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 10:07 AM

Scarpia

BRAKIE

 When one wishes not to use a magnet they loose a nice feature of the KD coupler....

The delayed uncoupling feature.

 

 Not true, actually. I can get delayed uncoupling with my Sergents simply by shifting one out of alignment enough that they won't recouple when you push the car back. If you change the alignment on the car that you're not leaving, the one you are will remain in good alignment for when you want to couple.

As the other gentlemen mentioned, a lot of layouts are designed around Kadees and how they operate, so there may be spots that are trickier to deal with than others. As I'm working on a new layout, it's easy to remove these design obsticles.

 

 

Those Sergents are super nice couplers and idea for ISLs where everything is in easy reach..Had I not change primary scales from HO to N I had plans to use Sergents and my trusty MRC CM20 (for easy walk around) on my next ISL..Thumbs Up

 

 

Larry

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Posted by R. T. POTEET on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 11:37 AM

I don't know why you addressed this posting specifically to Horribly Oversize-Scale; perhaps you think that we in Noble-Scale do not experience the same--or perhaps even worse--frustrations. We may be smaller than ya'all but uncoupling is a problem in every scale.

Unfortunately that 0-5-0 switcher probably gets the most work no matter what scale you are modeling--and for me it is the one used most often. But, as MidnightRailroader says, it is detrimental to the equipment and, sooner-or-later I am sure, a frequently handled car will begin to show deterioration of its paint quality.

These DCC controlled systems do look ideal but, unfortunately, they are going to add to the expense of a car. They could be ideal for locomotives but when you are talking about a freight car fleet of umpteen hundred and seventy seven cars that expense could--and at least for me would--become prohibitive.

They work but I'm a little bit of a clumsy oaf and I have troubles using these disengage sticks inserted down between cars. Ed Ravenscroft had pins that came up and secured the trucks allowing him to park a train on a grade; I have often wondered if there might not be some way to build one of these sticks into the roadbed that could be designed to lift up and disengage the couplers from underneath.

It looks like magnetic uncoupling is going to continue to be the most effective way to go in regards to the time-honored Kadee--or in my case Micro-Trains--coupler system. Rix's magnetic wand looks good but, then again, it requires something be inserted between the cars. Again, there might be a way that this uncoupling system could be made to work from underneath. One of the most aggrevating things about permanently mounted uncoupling magnets is that--in the event of a breakaway--you have to back your whole g.d. train across that magnet leaving not one but many uncoupled points . . . . . either that or send out that time honored 0-5-0 switcher to latch onto the uncoupled section and lug it forward for a connection. A few years ago I experimented with placing an uncoupling magnet on the end of a stick and I pivoted it into place so it was only effective when I wanted it to be effective. It worked but I am considering using a slightly modified system on my next layout. 

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Posted by cp7400 on Thursday, May 28, 2009 5:39 PM

Model Railroader ran a new products item in their December 7, 2006 edition called the Geek stick.

I ordered four and have used them very successfully on my N scale layouts. Not sure if they are still in business.

Link is: http://www.trains.com/mrr/default.aspx?c=a&id=949

Scroll down for the picture.

 

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Posted by trainwomen on Friday, May 29, 2009 8:07 AM

Hi from Downunder,

                           I have also used Kadee magnets quite successfully on my switching layouts although the setup of both the magnets and the couplers is critical to good operation. Once the heights are suitably adjusted I have found they work very well.

I also use some rolling stock with DCC uncouplers which are very useful. They are built in the US by Glenn Loucks and featured in Model Railroader about a year ago. I have two boxcars, one with operating couplers both ends and the other with a single operating coupler. I also have a modified B unit which allows me to drop off rakes of passenger cars. I use the double coupler boxcar as a buffer car between the loco and the other freight cars and this allows me to switch any number of freight cars around my switching layout and then finally disconnect the loco. As they are operated by decoders the cars can be uncoupled anywhere on the layout simply by using the DCC controller. I have the car address the same as my sounded NW switcher so the car uncouples in conjunction with coupler release sound. I have used these cars many times at exhibitions over the last 2 years and they have worked faultlessly. They are reasonably priced and add flexibility to your switching scenarios. I have included a link to his website - it's worth a look.

www.dccUncoupling.com

Not the cheapest solution but pretty interesting.

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