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Any drawbacks to Kadee Whisker Scale vs. #5?

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Any drawbacks to Kadee Whisker Scale vs. #5?
Posted by trainsBuddy on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 2:08 PM

Hi all,

I'm building my first complete train consist - Empire Builder from Walthers. The ProtoMax couplers are pretty good, but I was recommened an upgrade to Kadee #5, which I installed on one of the coach cars, and like how it looks, performs.

Now I've read about scale whisker couplers from Kadee #158. I really like how scale coupler looks, but was wondering whether I will greatly sacrifice the usability of #5 when going with scale version. I know that track work can never be perfect and #5 in theory, provides more surface area.

Same goes for the wisker type. I see that a lot of people don't like the "old" #5 brass spring setup, but I don't see the problem with installing one more part, since it's essentially a direct replacement of the Walther's spring in their Proto Max draft box. So any other benefits to the wisker coupler, beyond having to install one less part?

Like I mentioned, I'm just starting in this hobby, so cost of #158 vs #5 coupler is not an issue, just trying to figure out what's the best option.

p.s. I will keep the short ProtoMax couplers between F7 locomotives, as Kadee #5 is longer and doesn't alow for loco close coupling.

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 2:19 PM

trainsBuddy
So any other benefits to the wisker coupler, beyond having to install one less part?

I encountered one of the new Athearn SD40-2s that came with one of the crappy plastic imitation knuckle couplers.  This coupler was a whisker type.  When I tried to replace the coupler with a number 5, I found that the height of the engines coupler box was less than normal and the box would not assemble properly with the spring.  I replaced the #5 with a (non-scale) Kadee whisker coupler and that worked okay.  So the whisker coupler has its uses.

Additionally, a member of our club uses whisker type couplers for the specific reason that he doesn't need to fool around with the flat spring.  That's his preference.

Regarding the track work issue, undulations in your trackwork will get magnified as the cars get longer.  So two 40 foot boxcars may stayed coupled together with the scale couplers, but two 89 foot flatcars may not.

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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 2:25 PM

 The scale coupler has a smaller head, therefore less contact area. With short cars and locos that may not be a problem. With longer cars just a little ripple in the track can cause the couplers to separate. The only whisker coupler I use is the Kadee #148. I've tried the scale couplers and didn't like them.

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 3:30 PM

TB,

Never had a problem with 'em.  And I really like the look of the more prototypical size coupler on my rolling stock.

maxman & Jeffrey,

If track work causes the coupler to separate or disengage, it's possible the mating couplers are not at the same height to one another.  I could see this happening if there's some overlap between the two couplers in height.  However, if the two couplers mate properly, it seems to me that it would have to be a pretty significant fluctuation or drop in the track (3/32") to disengage either type.

Tom

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Posted by loathar on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 3:58 PM

Can't comment on the scale size. I really like the whiskers for the tight draft gear boxes as mentioned. They are a lot easier to install. My only beef with them is the whisker centering spring seems to be a little weaker than the old #5 bronze spring. I haven't played around with the uncoupling magnets to see if this causes a problem or not.
I bend the whiskers out a little bit when I install them.

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Posted by pastorbob on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 5:39 PM

Started using Kadee's in the early 1960's, whn the trip pin was just that, a pin that hung straight down  Have used nothing since Kadee since then.  I started trying the whisker type when they first came out and basically any new car gets sthe whisker.  My supply of 5's with the bronze springs is just about exhausted, and that will probably been the end of them.

As for whatever is in second place, not on my railroad.  Strictly Kadee.

Bob

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Posted by dinwitty on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 5:59 PM

 

I imagine try them out and see what. I find regardless of any automatic coupler out there, you find yourself fiddling with the cars to couple/uncouple this or that no matter what at times.

Kadee makes short shank couplers and upper/lower heads to fit unusual mounting situations, so you can get kadees on your F units. I think now Kadee also makes a Tall knuckle coupler, that is its knuckle has a longer clasp range, this is absolutely prototypical, used on streetcar/interurban lines, and I bet some long freight/passenger cars get them too. The de-coupling issue is also a problem on the prototype, thats why they have those styles of couplers.

You remind me of something that happenned on the Little RIver Railroad years ago, I was helping out, and the 4-6-2 was switching around some passenger cars, the little yard area has a kinda steep vertical bend in it, the train hit it, and a couple of passenger cars got loose separated by the coupler difference noted, going downhill in the yard at slow speed heading right towards some hand cars at the end of the track. I was talking to someone and saw this and ran to the cars looking for anything to stop the cars, I found a piece of lumber and stuck it into the wheels of one of the cars, kerrunch, it stopped. wow. I saved a problem...whew!!!

 

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Posted by trainsBuddy on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 6:50 PM

 Thanks for advise guys. I was ready to give up on scale couplers based on first two post when you got me doubting again :) I'm only planning on running scale passenger cars, so you saying that scale couplers might be unreliable in that application kinda worried me. I guess I might just buy couple of scale couplers and see how they look/perform. The problem is I don't have big layout at the moment so can't test extensively. Hence wanted to get people's opinion, as it seems a popular topic from my search here.

As far as whisker types.... draft boxes on Walther's car are designed with the same exact spring type as #5. In fact, I left the stock spring and just replaced the coupler with Kadee. I still don't see why installing a brass spring is such a big deal to people - you just drop spring it into the box, and put a coupler on top of it, close the cover. I was just thinking there might be some performance benefit to the whisker design.

 

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Posted by gmcrail on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 6:58 PM

 The principal operating difference between the "Ol' Reliable" #5 and the "scale" #58 is that the #58 has a smaller head, and thus has a smaller "gathering range" - the distance the couplers can be out of alignment and still engage.  With passenger cars, since the couplers themselves are usually pretty well hidden by the diaphragms, I'd go with the #5.  

The "whisker" couplers of either type have the same head and shank length (for the #148 and the #158) as the #5 & #58 respectively, and are useful with shallow draft gear boxes.  They're also good if you really hate fooling with the phosphor bronze Kadee centering spring. 

Beyond the above points, the principal difference is appearance - the #58 just plain looks better. 

Kadee makes a number of couplers with varying shank lengths.  You might want to investigate an alternate to the #5 with a shorter shank length for the F7s.  Try their web site (http://www.kadee.com/index.shtm) and click on "Coupler Conversions" in the left-hand column.

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Posted by WSOR 3801 on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 3:04 AM

 Could get some of these, modified as shown, for your passenger cars.  They won't come apart unless you want them to.  I would just use #5 on passenger cars. 

Some guys are less than dexterous, and the darn assembly keeps flying apart as one tries to get the screw put in.  I feel the whisker also has a better centering action.

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Posted by aloco on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 3:24 AM

 I have no idea what happens to a Kadee whisker type coupler if it fails, but the one advantage to the no. 5 and other Kadee couplers that use a copper centering spring is that if a centering spring wears out it can easily be replaced.  I keep a bunch of spare centering springs on hand in case one breaks or gets badly bent out of shape. 

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Posted by Wazzzy on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 5:55 AM

i prefer the look of the scale couplers. i prefer the whiskers because the force to offset the coupler to the side is mush less compared to the brass insert and it centers itself everytime.

most cars i have converted to the Kadees accept the whiskers just fine. there are a few that don't like the whiskers because the inside of the draft box was molded with 'unsmooth' edges and the whisker catches the edge and locks to one side. using the brass insert for this mold 'idea' solves the problem.

although the scale whisker doens't have as many options in length/height as the original #5, it forces me to have a higher standard with my track work.

if the coupler is plastic, i change it to KADEE.

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Posted by Sperandeo on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 9:49 AM

I've come to prefer the whisker couplers just because of their simplicity in installation, and I'm using scale couplers on all the freight cars I've built or put "in service" since the scale Kadee were intorduced.

I don't think scale couplers make as much difference on passenger cars that will spend most of their time in train consists, because the couplers are pretty much hidden under the diaphragms. For that reason I generally use no. 5s (or the whisker equivalent, I don't recall the number offhand) except at the rear of a car that will always be on the rear of a train, like the rider combine for my mail train.

So long,

Andy 

Andy Sperandeo MODEL RAILROADER Magazine

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Posted by trainsBuddy on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 9:50 AM

Thanks guys for all your help! I've decided to stick with #5 for all passenger cars. I will though, try #158 whisker scale coupler and put them on the front of FA units. The front engine coupler will hardly see any use, although the rear will couple with #5 on the passenger side, so I'll see how it works out. I will keep Proto couplers on the other side of F units, just cause the housing is custom and couplers themselves are not bad.

By the way I looked at the front of the F7A unit and realized that with the whisker scale coupler I will aslo get benefit of brass spring not showing in front, this on top of a scale coupler will look even more realistic. Thumbs Up

I also looked at the Sergent couplers, and those look awesome - no hose, or even a lever spring - but the thing needs magnetic wand applied from the top to uncouple, which just doesn't work with passenger equipment because of the diaphragm.

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 9:50 AM

WSOR 3801
Could get some of these, modified as shown, for your passenger cars.  They won't come apart unless you want them to.

I hate those shelf couplers, especially on a passenger car with diaphragms.  You're partially right, they won't come apart.  But they won't easily come apart when I want them to, either.  Always happens down at the club.  You'll get a derailment at some awkward spot and you can't lift the car up or down and the diaphragm prevents the insertion of any uncoupling tool.  So you end up twisting the two cars to get separation, which just causes a problem with the two cars coupled to the original cars.

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Posted by Fazby on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 3:24 PM

The only issue I have had is with one Athearn car with the old clips. It consistently snagged a whisker and broke it off. So, I put ol' #5 in and all is well.

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Posted by Don Gibson on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 5:22 PM

1. the KD Coupler box may work better than Walthers''. (It may not )- Test to see. I also use a dab of KD's 'Grease-em.'.

2. #5 has more. 'Gathering'' surface (good) - Between cars, one does not see the couplers,. and Whisker trpe' are more expen$ive.than 5's.

3. I prefer closer coupling  (and have 26"r. curves) so put #43s onb ack end annd #46s  on front.(#33//36s also good.alternative - Plastic, but equal swing to both sides going through #6 Xovers)..'

THIS puts more 'swing' on front for engine coupling, and a shorter coupler on the tail car (for looks)...40 SERIES are also simple 'drop-in's

Splitting hairs: Longer coupler swing allows simpler engine hookup's. Most Passenger trains stay assembled. so, I can clip off the metal uncoupling porblems'...I switch in & out freight cars.

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Posted by Don Gibson on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 6:01 PM

OLD ATHEARN (Bue Box) cars had low molded -on couplerr boxes so replacing them with Kadee's brought them up to NMRA height. Only those with ALL Athearn equipment thought.competative brands were off,, so Kadee brought out the # 205 gauge

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Posted by dinwitty on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 6:18 PM

how you use couplers to me is pretty much a case by case basis. I like the idea of a scale coupler on the front of locomotives and yet will still couple.  I find myself doing modding to get close coupling to alleviate the toy look. The realistic Seargent couplers are not compatible with kadee.

The brass flat spring (and the case) is designed to encourage the coupler to move to uncoupling position. Smart design by kadee, the spring has weaker pull to the uncoupling side. I haven't tried the whiskers yet, too many regular couplers here, when I run out I will.

The uncoupling pin simulates the air hose, tho not perfect, is good enough. I recall an article where an HOn3 car coupler was modded so the pin goes underneath the car.

I have bought new equipment and they have the "cheapo" couplers on them, I tend to leave them on, but when they BUST, you know what I am doing. If I decide to go run at a club, forget it, change to Kadee.

BLI/PCM was smart when they made their Y6b, they put KADEES on them.

 

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Posted by markpierce on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 9:49 PM

Don Gibson

 Most Passenger trains stay assembled. so, I can clip off the metal uncoupling porblems'...I switch in & out freight cars.

Too bad people don't take advantage of switching opportunities available to passenger trains: dropping/picking up mail and express cars, passenger cars at junctions, and so on.  It's sorta sad, when you think about it.

Mark

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Posted by markpierce on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 10:00 PM

Don Gibson

 Most Passenger trains stay assembled. so, I can clip off the metal uncoupling porblems'...

I do the opposite.  The metal hoses are handy for uncoupling passenger cars because access from the top is blocked by diaphrams, whereas the hoses are unnecessary on freight cars when uncoupling with a skewer.

Mark

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