Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Deep Coupler Knuckes

6144 views
51 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2016
  • 28 posts
Deep Coupler Knuckes
Posted by Scouser on Saturday, January 6, 2018 2:37 PM

I have a couple of 89' auto carrier cars which have a tendancy to de-couple when the cars transitions from a 2% grade incline to the level section of track.

The answer to my problem would be coupler knuckles that are slightly deeper than the standard to allow for the change in height, I've searched but can't seem to find any.

Anyone know where I can get such HO Scale couplers?

Thanks for any help

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,225 posts
Posted by tstage on Saturday, January 6, 2018 2:45 PM

Scouser,

If you mean longer shanks then Kadee sells them.  However, I'm thinking that will only exacerbate the issue.

Is your transition from grade to level perhaps the real problem because the transition isn't gradual enough?  Also, what couplers are you currently using with your auto carriers?

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 10,221 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, January 6, 2018 2:53 PM

Scouser
Anyone know where I can get such HO Scale couplers?

Hi,

You could try the Kadee shelf couplers.

https://kadee.com/htmbord/page118.htm

You might have to run the cars as a group since the couplers work best when paired with each-other, meaning, you would need one on the last car before the auto racks and another at the opposite end but it should cure your separation problem. Essentially, you would make two "transition cars" that would have the tightlock coupler on one end and a regular Kadee on the other. Of course, these would have to run at the head and tail of your cut of autoracks.

The 118s are similar to the Tightlock type "F" coupler found on passenger cars.

The #119 shelf coupler is geared more toward the tank car style to prevent overriding but they will "lock" together in a similar fashion.

https://kadee.com/htmbord/page119.htm

I use a pair of #118s on my long-based Baldwin Centipedes and they definitely stay coupled under any kind of vertical transition.

Of course, the best cure is to make the transition from flat to grade a little easier.

Hope that helps, Ed 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,098 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Saturday, January 6, 2018 2:54 PM

I've got access to most of the KDs and there are none that I know of.  But their might be other brands that have a deeper (taller) base.

Your problem is likely more the result of too little a transition from flat to 2 percent grade.  If you could lengthen the transition, it would eliminate the problem.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    December 2016
  • 28 posts
Posted by Scouser on Saturday, January 6, 2018 3:05 PM

Thanks Ed,

I'll take a look at those, the issue is definately to sharp a transition but I don't really want to tear down all the lanscaping on that section to correct it. I know I probably should Big Smile

 

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • 4,960 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, January 6, 2018 3:30 PM

Ed’s right on the money!  I’ve been using the SE version Shelf Couplers for several years and they never uncouple.  I went with the SE #119 because they’re closer to scale.  I started out with the Standard SF #118 which is slightly larger, they work very good between locomotives and close coupled the size isn’t noticeable . . .  A-B-B type.  The SE & SF are compatible with all Kadees.
 
Warning the shelf couplers are a buggar to uncouple manually, the Kadee magnet between the rails works very good.
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
  
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,175 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, January 6, 2018 5:02 PM

 However if the transition is too abrupt, the only thing a shelf coupler is going to do is lift one of the cars off the track inbstead of the knuckles slipping past one another.

                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    December 2016
  • 28 posts
Posted by Scouser on Saturday, January 6, 2018 5:16 PM

Good point, I never thought of that Stick out tongue

I think I may get away with it though as the difference is very slight, probably 1mm at most. The cars de-couple approx 2 out 5 times they cross the transition so the lift 'may' be ok.

I'll give it a try and let you know, 

thanks everyone. 

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • 4,960 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, January 6, 2018 5:23 PM

One thing I didn’t mention is that the shelf couplers must be mounted at the same level or they won’t work together.
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
  
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 7,958 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, January 6, 2018 7:08 PM

I never considered shelf couplers as a solution to this problem.

.

Great tip. If I have this problem in the future I might give this a try.

.

-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.

  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 8,023 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Saturday, January 6, 2018 7:17 PM

I don't know if this will work for you.  But couplers in S are deeper and might work for you - of course they will look too big.  I don't know how well they will couple/uncouple from HO couplers.

You could also try mounting the trucks closer to the end.

Good luck

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    April 2012
  • From: Huron, SD
  • 837 posts
Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Saturday, January 6, 2018 9:26 PM

Your vertical curve is too sharp.

Bite the bullet and correct it.  It will never be right otherwise.

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

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 7,090 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, January 6, 2018 9:35 PM

Scouser
I'll take a look at those, the issue is definately to sharp a transition but I don't really want to tear down all the lanscaping on that section to correct it. I know I probably should Big Smile

Yes,  You should.  Fix the transition first. 

Mike.

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • 345 posts
Posted by PC101 on Sunday, January 7, 2018 12:03 AM

I like the kadee #119 on my open bi (loaded) and tri (mostly empty) Auto racks, Trail van, Flexi van mark III, piggy back flats, if the car gives me trouble. Running blocks of 10 cars and yes as stated above, hard to uncouple with the (fingers & thumb overhead crane) but I use a wooden dowl with a brass rod to stick in the coupler faces and it's so simple to uncouple. If the cars derail, the cars with shelf couplers will derail but stay together.Surprise I have not needed to use a transtion car, being that the freight car more then likely is a shorter car with the coupler being closer to the truck kingpin, and not having alot of up and down motion. You did say a "couple of Auto Carriers", thats only two. 

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 10,576 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, January 7, 2018 2:14 AM

mbinsewi

Scouser

I'll take a look at those, the issue is definately to sharp a transition but I don't really want to tear down all the lanscaping on that section to correct it. I know I probably should Big Smile

Yes,  You should.  Fix the transition first. 

Mike.

 
Depending on your layout's construction and how you originally did the grade, it may not require too much tearing-out of the landscape. 
 
If the track is ballasted, soak the area with "wet" water so that the ballast can be removed, or at least not contribute to holding the track down.  If your track is nailed in place, pull all of the nails within, and somewhat beyond both ends of the area of the transition.
What I'm suggesting is that you free the track enough so that it can be lifted and allowed to make its own transition.  Once it looks appropriate, you can either slip blocks of wood or foam of suitable thickness under the track at intervals, and then re-ballast, or, you could simply re-ballast, without the blocks and let the ballast support the track as it does on the prototype. 

When you pre-wet the deeper ballast prior to applying the diluted white glue, make sure that the "wet" water penetrates completely through the ballast, and right down to the cork or subroadbed - too much is better than too little, and the same can be said for the glue application.  The greater the ballast depth, the longer the drying time, so be patient - if you run trains on it too soon, you'll end up with the situation which you have now.  I have several areas of deep ballast on my layout, including some which supports track, and drying times may be up to a week or longer.   It's still preferable to re-doing roadbed and/or benchwork in an area which is mostly finished.
 
Wayne
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,098 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, January 7, 2018 5:49 AM

Here is the deal............ (as Richard Petty would say),

The problem is obviously the lack of a gentle vertical transition from "flat to 2 percent".  If you don't fix it, it will be with you the entire life of the layout.  It will continue to be a pain and a reminder that it could be better.  And, it will affect your enthusiam as time goes by.

 

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    December 2016
  • 28 posts
Posted by Scouser on Sunday, January 7, 2018 6:35 AM

I'll definately be fixing the transistion as soon as I've finished the current section of the layout I'm working on. In the meantime it's worth trying the shelf couplers as it's little effort and might provide a temporary solution.

 

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • 4,960 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Sunday, January 7, 2018 10:57 AM

I agree with PC101 on the derail thing.  If you use shelf couplers with powerful locomotives and a derail occurs there could be a lot of damage because the couplers will not release.
 
I over weight all my locomotives, most have 5+ ounce drawbar and will pull the paint off the walls.  A pair of E7s could really tear up a train if it derailed using shelf couplers.
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
  
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
    August 2004
  • 2,844 posts
Posted by dinwitty on Sunday, January 7, 2018 7:47 PM
I put the shelfs on for even regular trackage if you hit some lumpy spot. I put them on one side of long passenger cars if they show a problem. I would add a little more weight to the container cars and any other such cars like that. Yep I put them on my Centipede, some steam if double heading. There are various uncouplers you can use, one uses a thin metal stip you insert between the knuckles, spin it it opens the knuckles, the other is a magnetic wand with 2 magnets, insert between the cars should pull the pins over.
  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 7,604 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 8:05 AM

rrinker

 However if the transition is too abrupt, the only thing a shelf coupler is going to do is lift one of the cars off the track inbstead of the knuckles slipping past one another.

                     --Randy

I doubt it.  All of my Kadee couplers aren't so tight that the scenerio you suggest would likely happen unless it was an extreme transition.  There is a little up and down slop on most Kadee's that combined, should allow things to function and not derail.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,175 posts
Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:00 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
rrinker

 However if the transition is too abrupt, the only thing a shelf coupler is going to do is lift one of the cars off the track inbstead of the knuckles slipping past one another.

                     --Randy

 

I doubt it.  All of my Kadee couplers aren't so tight that the scenerio you suggest would likely happen unless it was an extreme transition.  There is a little up and down slop on most Kadee's that combined, should allow things to function and not derail.

 

Regular ones shouldn't move enough vertically to uncouple if the grade transition is smooth enough in the first place. Under tension, it should first take out any vertical 'slop' in the coupler shank, then the knuckle faces will start sliding past one another - so it sure sounds like there is a rather abrupt transition.

                        --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 7,604 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:15 AM

rrinker

Regular ones shouldn't move enough vertically to uncouple if the grade transition is smooth enough in the first place. Under tension, it should first take out any vertical 'slop' in the coupler shank, then the knuckle faces will start sliding past one another - so it sure sounds like there is a rather abrupt transition.

                        --Randy 

It does seem clear what is going on here and that transition is the cause.

Some years back, I tried running some 89' flat cars on a modular layout and had the same issue as reported by the OP.  Two things are at play that caused the cars to uncouple.  1) the track on the modules was uneven so that coupler height differences would be pronounced at various places were they were uneven.  2) add to that the differences in couple height would be emphasized on longer cars due to the length of the car acting as a lever, forcing coupler height to be even lower or higher than shorter cars.

My solution at the time was to just not run long flat cars (or auto racks) because they were the most prone to false uncouplings.  But it wasn't lost on me how a workable solution would be to mount those cars with shelf couplers.  It wasn't something I ever did because I didn't remain with that modular group, but if I had, I would have bought and installed shelf couplers.  It makes sense it would resolve that issue.

I expect as a "work around"(as we call it in the IT world) would be for the OP to buy a couple sets of shelf couplers and give it a try. 

Long term, yes, transitions from flat to steep grade need easments and that would need to be rebuilt.  Another of those lessons learned after the fact, in some cases.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,098 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:23 AM

The problem with "temporary solutions" is they tend to become permanent.  Fix it right the first time, and you will never regret it or consider it time wasted.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 7,604 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:52 AM

mobilman44

The problem with "temporary solutions" is they tend to become permanent.  Fix it right the first time, and you will never regret it or consider it time wasted.

I am well acquainted with temporary solutions in my line of work.  Some of our workarounds will remain in place until we finally upgrade to Windows 10.  Some temporary solutions have been in place for more than a year or two so far.

As is often the case, it's easier said than done for any number of reasons.  Sometimes there are things out of your control which makes it impossible to "fix it right" at this point in time. 

The OP has both the temporary fix and the long term fix now defined.  I'll step out of this and leave it up to him to decide - I don't know what he has going on down there in the weeds.  Cheers.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    December 2016
  • 28 posts
Posted by Scouser on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:53 AM

Going to the Amherst show on the 27th so I'll pick up some couplers there and try the workaround (I'm from the IT world also).

But there's definately the danger of it becoming permant, in which case, I'll just call it a bug fix Big Smile

 

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 7,604 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:59 AM

Scouser

Going to the Amherst show on the 27th so I'll pick up some couplers there and try the workaround (I'm from the IT world also).

So I see we are on the same page!  Geeked

But there's definately the danger of it becoming permant, in which case, I'll just call it a bug fix Big Smile

I know some say it like it is a bad thing, but hey, if it gets the job done.

One the IT people in my agency used to have a tag in his signature:

"as long as it works"  Big Smile

I know if you go that route it may poke a few bears, but they'll get over it in time.  Pirate

 

BTW, my wife is from England and I"m sure she has told me that a scouser is what they call Brits from Liverpool.  Is that right?  She is a geordie btw!  Stick out tongue

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
  • 1,261 posts
Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:04 PM

Hello all,

I too had the same problem.

The only permanent solution was to fix the transition.

Sorry to break the news to you.

Hope this helps.

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

  • Member since
    April 2012
  • From: Huron, SD
  • 837 posts
Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:35 PM

riogrande5761

 

I am well acquainted with temporary solutions in my line of work.  Some of our workarounds will remain in place until we finally upgrade to Windows 10.  Some temporary solutions have been in place for more than a year or two so far.

As is often the case, it's easier said than done for any number of reasons.  Sometimes there are things out of your control which makes it impossible to "fix it right" at this point in time. 

The OP has both the temporary fix and the long term fix now defined.  I'll step out of this and leave it up to him to decide - I don't know what he has going on down there in the weeds.  Cheers.

 

 

In my experience, the reason "temporary fixes" never get actually made right is that nobody wants the work on their department's budget.

Better to bring out some big splashy system that doesn't actually work right then take the time and money to remove a rats' nest of code that eats up half your maintenance budget.

 

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

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 7,068 posts
Posted by maxman on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 1:02 PM

Scouser
Going to the Amherst show on the 27th so I'll pick up some couplers there and try the workaround

You are wasting your time and money.

As I understand the issue, you are looking for couplers that have more vertical gathering range because with what you have one will slide up over another.  (I presume that you have checked that the centerline of the couplers are in line with each other on a level track.)

The design of the shelf couplers prevents one coupler from sliding up over another.  This was already mentioned by another poster.  So you will be trading unwanted uncouplings for unwanted derailments.

Either fix the transition, or use shorter cars.

  • Member since
    December 2016
  • 28 posts
Posted by Scouser on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 1:47 PM

lol, you are correct, I am originally from Liverpool Big Smile.

'Scouse' is a kind of meat and potatoe stew that was eaten in Liverpool during war times as it was inexpensive and easy to make, hence the name 'scousers'

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!