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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not sure this is the right forum section to post this question but here goes.

I've been working on a caboose repaint project and while I'm at it the couplers and trucks are getting a cleaning. These all use Kadee couplers (G scale) and have been on for a few years. But in the cleaning/rehabilitation work, I've noticed that many of the coupler heads do not swing freely. When they don't swing freely, they don't always line up straight for easy coupling.

These Kadees (#831) are all truck mounted (talgo) since I like the ability to run my trains on anyone's layout even if they have tight curves.

I opened up the coupler boxes and found some dirt and crud in there. After a thorough cleaning they swing slightly better, but still not as well as brand new Kadees. I think the springs get compressed over time and don't have the force to spring back to center as well as brand new Kadees. So maybe this is why even after cleaning, the couplers some still don't swing well.

Now on to the question.

Do others here experience Kadees not swinging freely? What do you do to keep G scale Kadees working as intended?

I have Greas-em for our HO layout, but doubt this would work with such large couplers. And any form of lubricant, like Vasoline, will increase the crud/dirt build up in the coupler box. So is the only solution to periodically take them off for a cleaning?

What about changing out the old springs with new ones? Kadee sells them (#861), but changing these a lot could get pricey. I've tried pulling/stretching the old springs to get rid of the compression but this doesn't always help the couplers swing like new.
 

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Lube is a good idea, but the lubrication recommended by Kadee is a powdered graphite, like Greas-em. DO NOT ever put any oil or grease in there. They need to stay dry.

I have used kadees for about 10 years outside, I have NEVER found any crud in them. Is there any special reason or explanation of how dirt got in there?

I lube mine with a generous amound of dry graphite/moly powder, then work the coupler back and forth to "burnish" it into the plastic, then shake it vigorously "pocket down" to shake out any excess. A pile of powdered graphite can turn into a lump with the addition of some moisture.

I've not had any springs fatigue.

Regards, Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The only explanation how the dirt got there is the cars with stuck couplers sit outside unprotected during the summer. And during this time we get summer monsoons. The rain splashes dirt all over everything that isn't covered. And that's how the dirt gets in there...or that's my best guess. Could also be because we have no form of ballast other then natural soil. And when it rains this soil splashes onto everything not covered.

It's worse for one caboose because it sits in a cut for our mine dump. Here's a photo where you can sort of see the caboose in the cut:



The soil around the mine is lime. It's probably like this from spoil when the well was dug. But it looks good for a mine and is why the tracks run to it. However when this lime gets wet, it almost turns into concrete. Good for the mine portal, but not so good for the trains. In this photo you can kind of see the grey lime:



At year end I hose down every car and clean them pretty well. But even after this if I open up the coupler boxes there will likely be some dirt, and this includes cars that are not by the mine or lime.

Might just be special environment issues. Such is the life of an outdoor mountain layout.
 

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Super Modulator
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Yeah, having "natural cement" splashed up into the coupler boxes is probably not Kadee's idea of fun!

If you hose down the cars, you might invest in a small portable air compressor to blow out the water, it might help.

How do your axles and journals look? I'd think the stuff would be getting in there too.

I have read from several people that putting ballast down helps keep the dirt splashing down.

Regards, Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Journals and axles look and operate fine. But the hose clean up works well on these. It's the tight tolerances of the Kadee couplers that probably prohibits water getting in there. And when it does it might be rusting the springs. I did find a few that looked to be rusting.

I like the idea of blowing the water out. I'll try that at the end of this season and see if it helps.

Ballast would be nice, but not really an option. I'm not the biggest fan of how crusher fines and pea gravel looks. Great for standard gauge lines, but doesn't look right to me for the D&RGW narrow gauge.

If it's out there, I'd use cinder like (black) ballast. But no one in the area has anything that looks right. The Durango and Silverton let me take a bucket load from their ash pit and it looked really good...but every winter the snow washes everything away. And even with the "cinders" the summer rain still splashed dirt now mixed with cinders /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/pinch.gif
 

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Super Modulator
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They can rust, they are steel... it might be that you need to find stainless steel springs...

They have an anti-rust coating, but prolonged exposure to water will kill them...

Regards, Greg
 

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I always use a knife at the end of the coupler pockets to scrape and leave a bevel at the opening just in case the plastic is bumpy.
Then I am careful as to how tight i make the screws. I then place a dab of glue on the screw thread to keep it from loosening.
Never had to go back and adjust these couplers.
 
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