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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone-
I'm new to G scale, and new to the forum. I picked up an engine and some rolling stock to get started, and am converting over to Kadee G scale (Type E) couplers. I bought a couple of the USAT woodside PFE reefers, and am wondering the best method for body mounting couplers. They have a sort of draft box molded into the car body and no mounting points on the underside of the car. Before I hack an 830 draft box in there, I thought I'd check and see if there is a better solution.

Thanks-
Eric
 

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For the USAT economy line, if you want to do body-mounted couplers, get out your cutoff wheel.

Note that using the stock height for USAT (or equivalent replacement) trucks, the moulded-on draft box is too high. I ended up cutting right to the "slot" and mounting my draft gear boxes against it. This means trimming the "spine" of the undercarriage a little to get a good fit.
 

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Im building a collection of the USA trains Billboard reefers..Im planning to make a train of about 10 of them..im going to convert them all to Kadee #1 gauge couplers (the smaller of the two Large Scale sizes)

But here is the thing..I am going to totally *not care* about the "correct" height! ;)
instead, I am going to mount them in the existing pocket, (im not sure exactly how yet, haven't started looking at it yet) then whatever height that ends up being, will be the height. (I will cut off the trip pins)

they are going to be run in one "unit train"..so they only need to be compatible with themselves..one car might need a different height on one end to match a locomotive, but that's not a big deal..
but "official" height is irrelevant.

Im going to do the same with my 1/29 scale boxcars..one unit train, body-mount, whatever height best fits the cars.."official" height is irrelevant and will be ignored.

Also, while we are on the topic of coupler height, I absolutely can not stand the "offset" kadees:

https://images1.sw-cdn.net/product/picture/710x528_2669237_1743521_1459311702.jpg

sooo ugly! ;)

There are three main reasons everyone uses Kadee couplers, in all scales:

1. Reliability
2. conformity across the whole personal collection of locos and rolling stock.
3. Nice aesthetic looks.

Number 3 might be the least important for many...but its important to me! ;)
I would rather stick with the hook and loops than use offset kadees.
your mileage may vary..

Scot
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for the replies.

Rexcadral: How do you attach the draft box to the bottom of the car? I assume you need some standoffs between the box and the underside of the floor for the two screws at the coupler end?

Scottychaos: I agree about the offset Kadees. I bought a set for my USAT GP9, and really didn't like them. I wanted to add remote coupler control anyway, so I cut a Kadee 11220 (remote coupler with built-in servo) into the front of the loco's frame. Very happy with the result. I plan to do the other end as well and tie them together.
 

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After digging away at the undercarriage with a crappy Dremel knock off, I bent up some brass sheet, screwed it to the floor of the car, then marked the correct location for the Kadee mounting holes on the brass, and just drilled them right there. It'd be much easier today because I have much better tools.

If I were to do it over, I wouldn't use the brass brackets. I would probably crop the whole end of the "spine" of the car and just build up either a plastic or wooden platform to mount the draft gear box on, gluing the platform to the bottom of the boxcar. I've seen this trick done with quite a few pieces of rolling stock I acquired secondhand, and it is robust.

The issue with the brass is that there's too many variables. Unless you have a press brake, your angles to make the correct "u with wings" shape are going to be off. This will affect your ability to center the coupler both horizontally and vertically, as well as keep it dead level front to back. I got pretty good at it after 3 box cars, but one of them still only likes to mate with cars it prefers, and I haven't figured out what traits it considers "sexy".
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the description. Also thanks for pointing out that these are part of the economy line. I hadn't realized that there were various lines. I stopped by Charles Ro this morning, and paid better attention to the undersides of the cars on the display. I see that most of the other cars have the three mounting holes for the 830 draft gear box. I'll try to select those in the future.
 

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The ones that support Kadee off the shelf typically retail for > $150.

In theory the "economy" line is also scaled at 1:24 rather than 1:29 or 1:32 (the debate is out on whether their "ultimate" series is actually Gauge 1 or not)

However, a 30' boxcar at 1/24 is roughly the same length as a 40' boxcar at 1/32. I personally prefer the economy line because they have a lot of rolling stock for New Haven and older lines, and they come with "older" style trucks installed, as opposed to their universal application of roller-bearing Bettendorf trucks in their Ultimate series. (I model live steam, so Bettendorf is not prototypical).

For $55/car, I then end up spending ~$8.00 for the Kadees, and another $40.00 for Kadee metal trucks, which are just awesome in appearance, performance, and price. At ~$100/per car total it's still cheaper than the Ultimate series, which would still require Kadees at a minimum.
 

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Why not set the Kadee's to their correct height, and get it over with. You have to cut the end of the car anyhow, and if you do it properly, you or someone you sell it to, later won't have to redo the mounting later....in other words; if you are going to body mount; DO IT CORRECTLY, or don't do it at all.
Owning a Kadee height gauge is a great help in mounting their couplers. If the couplers are properly mounted, the "Tails" do resemble brake hoses, and will NOT cause any operating problems.
Fred Mills
 

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Why not set the Kadee's to their correct height, and get it over with. You have to cut the end of the car anyhow, and if you do it properly, you or someone you sell it to, later won't have to redo the mounting later....in other words; if you are going to body mount; DO IT CORRECTLY, or don't do it at all.
Owning a Kadee height gauge is a great help in mounting their couplers. If the couplers are properly mounted, the "Tails" do resemble brake hoses, and will NOT cause any operating problems.
Fred Mills
Couldn't agree more. Working Kadees have better value than non-working Kadees, and it's really no more work to do it right, either way you have to standardize the height requriements. The Kadee gauge is worth the $10, and also gives you a handy wheel and track gauge.
 

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Why not set the Kadee's to their correct height, and get it over with.
Because I dont care about the official correct height. ;)

You have to cut the end of the car anyhow,
actually, I dont..the point of doing it the way im suggesting is that there is much less modification to the car needed..the coupler will simply stick out of the existing coupler pocket, and the car end wont need to be carved up to get the coupler to the "official" correct height..my method will result in less modification to the car, while setting the "correct" height will probably require heavier modification to the car.

and if you do it properly, you or someone you sell it to, later won't have to redo the mounting later...
I am doing it properly. ;) properly is defined as: "the way i want to do it, the way that works best for me" I dont care in the slightest what someone else might need to do with the cars 40 years from now...and my method will probably result in the cars keeping their original pocket intact, which is actually better if one cares about future owners or future value..which i dont, but some might.

in other words; if you are going to body mount; DO IT CORRECTLY, or don't do it at all. .
I am doing it correctly, correctly is defined as: "the way i want to do it, the way that works best for me"


Owning a Kadee height gauge is a great help in mounting their couplers. If the couplers are properly mounted, the "Tails" do resemble brake hoses, and will NOT cause any operating problems.
Fred Mills
I dont care that the tails resemble brake hoses..that means nothing to me, I want to cut them off.

thanks for the suggestions though! :) those might all be valid concerns for some..but not for me.

Scot
 

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So this is very amusing! :) (funny in an ironic sense)
So just now I thought it would be a good time to go and actually measure a USA Trains reefer, to see what that dreaded difference in height will actually end up being.



Measure the center line of the coupler pocket from the rail head: 1 and 1/8 inch.
Go to google to look up the official height according to the Kadee coupler gauge:... 1 and 1/8 inch.

heh! duh..of course *now* it makes sense that would be the height! ;)
USA Trains obviously did that on purpose.
but it never occurred to me that would actually be the case.

So, now Fred and I both get to be right! :)
and our righteous indignation, on both sides, can be totally upheld..excellent.

Scot
 

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USA Trains has always considered coupler height and Kadees for retrofit.

Can't figure why the stock couplers are at such an odd height... maybe their philosophy was to put truck mounted couplers lower so as not to interfere with the proper height coupler pad and "draft gear"?

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So then is a there a Kadee option that actually protrudes through the draft gear box molded into the car body?
 

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No, not really, you could try putting the coupler box behind that "draft gear plate", but I suspect the coupler would not protrude enough, and for sure the coupler swing would be too limited
 

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"Can't figure why the stock couplers are at such an odd height... maybe their philosophy was to put truck mounted couplers lower so as not to interfere with the proper height coupler pad and "draft gear"?"

Way back when non-Kadee knuckle couplers were first developed (around 1985 or 1986), the only uncoupler on the market was the LGB offering. Most manufacturers set their then-new mechanical knuckle couplers to a height that would work with one or more LGB uncouplers. Unfortunately, the cars also were uncoupled by objects between the rails such as: pebbles, sticks, acorns, or any other small object the hapless garden railroader forgot to remove from between the rails. I used a lot of Delton, Bachmann, and Lionel knuckles back during the early 1990s, and it sometimes seemed like they would uncouple if somebody looked at them the wrong way.

Later on some Bachmann stock had the couplers raised. I have the Davenport "critter," and it plays very nicely with Kadees without any modification. Oh, and my uncoupler of choice at present is a medium flat-bladed screwdriver. Got my first LGB starter set in 1985, so I got to see the "why" behind the early mechanical knuckle couplers.

Regards,
David Meashey
 

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So are you saying that the very low stock height of USAT knuckles matches the height of LGB knuckles? I don't have any LGB stock that has knuckles, all came with h&l and I changed to Kadee... so I cannot compare.

Greg
 

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Actually the low height was to match the LGB hook and loop uncoupler.. The LGB knuckles were raised higher than the hook and loop, but their underside uncoupling tab hung low to reach that same uncoupler. The period I referenced is now almost thirty years ago. I am also using Kadees because they tend to stay coupled.

Yours,
David Meashey
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I found some old threads that suggest that the Kadee 906/1906 can be used in the USA trains coupler pocket..im going to order some 1906's and try it out:
I have a couple of 906s here, and took a look. The slot in the car body is not tall enough to shove the back end of the 906 through, and is much narrower than the Kadee slot (first photo). I tried cutting out the bottom portion of the slot on the car body and placing the 906 where it would land in its retracted position (second photo), e.g. when the car is being shoved. There would be very little lateral play.

I think I'll just carve the Kadee box into the end of the car. I could paint it silver, I suppose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
A couple more photos for reference. These show how the Kadee height gauge lines up with the car on its stock trucks. The coupler is centered on the molded slot. The pointy end of the gauge indicates the top of the Kadee draft box, so that's where the horizontal cut would be made to install it.
 

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