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Shelf Type Couplers

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Shelf Type Couplers
Posted by HO-Velo on Thursday, June 15, 2023 11:16 PM

Have a few Athearn HO RTR tank cars with OEM plastic shelf type couplers that not only take extra effort to couple, but are also resistant to uncoupling with a skewer.  The vast majority of my rolling stock is equipped with Kadee #5, #148 universal and #158 scale couplers, they uncouple just fine by skewer.  A good replacement for these plastic couplers appears to be Kadee #119 SE Shelf Whiskers, but wonder how they take to skewer uncoupling?

Thanks and regards, Peter    

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Posted by maxman on Friday, June 16, 2023 12:52 AM

Are the original double shelf couplers?  If so I think you’ll have the same skewer issue.  The shelf will interfere with the skewer.

If it were me, I’d replace the shelf couplers with whatever other flavor of Kadee so long as it weren’t the shelf style.

The shelf style couplers are meant to keep the cars coupled like the prototype.  The downside of this is if you have a derailment it’s difficult to get the cars separated without a lot of twisting.  And if one car hits the floor, it’s likely to drag other cars with it.

Of course derailments and cars hitting the floor only happen on other model railroads.

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Posted by HO-Velo on Friday, June 16, 2023 1:37 PM

maxman
Are the original double shelf couplers?

Yes, the OEM plastic couplers are double shelf.  Looking at the Kadee website, the #119 SE coupler appears to be double shelf too.  Think I'll go with the other Kadee 'flavors' and forgo the prototype fidelity in favor of more reliable uncoupling via skewer. 

Thanks and regards,  Peter 

  

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Posted by wrench567 on Friday, June 16, 2023 5:43 PM

  A little work around that a member of the club had. A little 1/8 inch magnet epoxied to the blunt end of his skewer reached in at an angle grabbed the trip pin but wasn't powerful enough to grab too good. He had shelf couplers on hi long passenger cars because sometimes the modules were not on solid floors. There was sometimes undulation in the track that longer cars were sensitive to.

      Pete.

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Friday, June 16, 2023 6:11 PM

Or, shave the skewer end down to look like KD's uncoupler tool, thin on the end. That allows the skewer to slide in between any knuckle head, including the 118/119 shelf couplers. 

This gives the best of both worlds, the easy uncoupling you are used too, but the correct prototypical look. (And derailment operation. If you allow those on your layout. Mine are not allowed to derail. Big Smile

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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Posted by hornblower on Monday, June 19, 2023 2:27 PM

I was having trouble at an operating session with a couple of cars that refused to uncouple using a skewer when another operator showed me a different uncoupling technique.  Rather than inserting the skewer between the coupler knuckles, he would place the skewer inside one of the magnetic "air hoses" and pull it away from the coupler centerline the same way an uncoupling magnet would.  At the same time, he would push one of the cars toward the other to slacken and open the couplers, then pull the cars apart.  He could do this one handed by placing his pinky finger on the roof of one car while holding the skewer between his thumb and first two fingers.  Now I use this technique whenever I run into a pair of couplers that refuse to uncouple, although with my stubby fingers, I often have to use two hands.

Hornblower

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Posted by PC101 on Monday, June 19, 2023 8:09 PM

I use this to pull the kadee 'air hose' off center to uncouple shelf couplers or passenger cars with diaphrams if no magnet is close by. It will also get used on some troublesome standard and scale head couplers when a Accumate Switchman will not do the job. 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, June 19, 2023 8:13 PM

Turn that over and it would double as an HO scale Bishop's coupling knife! Laugh

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Posted by hbgatsf on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 5:45 AM

PC101

I use this to pull the kadee 'air hose' off center to uncouple shelf couplers or passenger cars with diaphrams if no magnet is close by. It will also get used on some troublesome standard and scale head couplers when a Accumate Switchman will not do the job. 

 

Is that something you made or did you buy it?

Rick

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Posted by PC101 on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 6:19 AM

hbgatsf
 
PC101

I use this to pull the kadee 'air hose' off center to uncouple shelf couplers or passenger cars with diaphrams if no magnet is close by. It will also get used on some troublesome standard and scale head couplers when a Accumate Switchman will not do the job. 

 

 

 

Is that something you made or did you buy it?

 

Made. A wooden dowl rod drilled for a brass wire/rod.  

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Posted by HO-Velo on Thursday, June 22, 2023 3:28 PM

ricktrains4824
KD's uncoupler tool, thin on the end

Popped for a package of Kadee #119 shelf couplers and a #241 manual uncoupling tool.  Happy to report uncoupling with the tool works good.  Tool also works with the Athearn plastic shelf couplers.  

Always on the lookout for easier manual uncoupling I'm curious about a homemade uncoupling tool seen on the web; attached to the business end is an interdental mini brush.  Might have to try making one just for grins.

Thanks and regards, Peter  

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Posted by dbduck on Thursday, June 22, 2023 4:21 PM

to uncouple  the shelf couplers on my so equipped cars (Kadee #119), I use a skewer or  any other long  thin device (screwdiver etc).... but instead of inserting into the top of the couplers,  I use it on one side to pull the coupler open using the  Trip pin "air hose",  similar to what a between the rail magnet would do

in the case of needing to uncouple two cars with shelf couplers not on the track.... pick them up and give slight twist... left hand away /right hand toward you... should do the trick

same holds true when lifting a shelf coupler car off the track...if its on the right: slight tilt towards you as you pick up..on the left: tilt away

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, June 23, 2023 11:49 AM

Shelf couplers are another thing us steam and transition era modelers don't have to worry about.

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

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Posted by dbduck on Saturday, June 24, 2023 6:50 PM

MisterBeasley

Shelf couplers are another thing us steam and transition era modelers don't have to worry about.

 

Not Prototypical but I use shelf couplers on my auto racks or other cars that have a longer than normal distance between bolster and coupler, helps keep them coupled on uneven track

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Posted by PC101 on Saturday, June 24, 2023 11:17 PM

dbduck
 
MisterBeasley

Shelf couplers are another thing us steam and transition era modelers don't have to worry about.

 

 

 

Not Prototypical but I use shelf couplers on my auto racks or other cars that have a longer than normal distance between bolster and coupler, helps keep them coupled on uneven track

 

Same here, 89' Tri and Bi level open auto racks fully loaded with 10+ on a Bi to 15+ on a Tri of Classic Mini Metal and Model Power vehicles and those Walthers 89' Mark IV Flexi van 'flat cars' that have the bolsters farther away from the couplers then the Mark III Flexi van cars. I thought my track was leveled fairly good till I ran a bunch of those Mark IVs. It did not take much to 'slip' a pair of #158 couplers. 

 

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Posted by leewal on Monday, June 26, 2023 11:59 AM

I have found that the RIX magnetic uncoupler works better, for me, than skewers. BUT, I do not have any shelf couplers so I can't address how the RIX uncoupler would work with them. Maybe other modelers will know.

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Posted by Graham Line on Monday, June 26, 2023 5:05 PM

Knuckle-dragger in a local club has been using side cutters to remove the locking protrusions from all of their shelf couplers "because it's hard to get them apart."

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Posted by PC101 on Monday, June 26, 2023 8:43 PM

leewal

I have found that the RIX magnetic uncoupler works better, for me, than skewers. BUT, I do not have any shelf couplers so I can't address how the RIX uncoupler would work with them. Maybe other modelers will know.

 

The RIX magnetic uncoupler, if there is room between the cars, works great with Kadee shelf couplers. I paint the handles different colors so I can keep track of them. If all my handles are white then I do not know if I am using the same one and miss placed the others but with different colors I can keep track of which one I have not seen for a while. Come to think of it, I have not seen the orange handled one for a while.

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Posted by HO-Velo on Thursday, June 29, 2023 12:00 PM

HO-Velo
a homemade uncoupling tool seen on the web; attached to the business end is an interdental mini brush

Got my hands on some Sunstar G.U.M Proxabrush go-between cleaners last night.  Man, was I in uncoupling heaven, even those cheesy plastic shelf couplers popped right apart, slick!  Jeff Johnston wasn't kidding when he said; "this uncoupling tool might be the best one ever."  He suggested the 'tight' size (green), but I think the 'ultra-tight' (orange) works better.  Now to get one mounted to a dowel as Jeff demonstrated in his video.

Happy manual uncoupling,  Peter 

 

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Posted by Tophias on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 8:10 AM

Peter, I'm playing a little forum reading catch-up (as usual). I looked on line at your suggested Sunstar Ultatight cleaning tool.  My simple question is did you modify it by adding wire to the handle like PC101 did (eliminating the brush end) or do you the cleaner as is out of the package? And if so, do the brushes  just go between the knuckles and do the brushes wear out?

Regards, Chris 

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Posted by HO-Velo on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 2:26 PM

Hi Chris,

With a sharp hobby knife I trimmed away the Proxabrush plastic handle exposing the wire (as seen in Jeff Johnston's Uncoupling tool Vimeo vid), then cut the wire about 3/8" past the bottom of the bristles.  Wire dia. is .016, drilled the end of a bamboo skewer approx. 1/4" deep with a #75 drill bit.  Liberally coated the wire with super glue gel & shoved it home.  As noted I prefer the 'Ultra Tight' size.

Yep, just push the brush between the knuckles with some spin action (slack at the couplers helps).  I've made maybe a hundred or so uncouples so far, no bristle wear I can see, guessing they'll last a long time.  Lovin' it.

Happy uncoupling,  Peter

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Posted by Tophias on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 3:16 PM

Thnx Peter, looks like my next summer rainy day project!

Regards, Chris

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