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Kadee Couplers vs. Aristocraft

13705 Views 75 Replies 35 Participants Last post by  mgilger
If I don't care that much about remote switching (and I don't), is there any good reason why I can't stay with Aristocraft couplers on my locomotive and cars? I really like to just watch the train go around and around. Will the gods of G scale visit me with a plague of mutant moles for taking the esay way out?

RB Whale
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If you are just starting out, spend the money on the Kadee's. Someday when you build your empire you'll have a great start on the right couplers. I use Kadee's, but not for remote uncoupling, they work better and give a scale appearance.
Just my thoughts,
I thought that as well. I spent eight years building a railway using Aristo. I even bought a bunch of Aristo couplers from members here just to put on cars and locomotives from other makers.

Eventually I had 40+ cars that I really used and 6 or 8 engines that spent a lot of time on the track (and not on a shelf somewhere) and I really hated the Aristocraft couplers. Not only did I find they looked bad, they didn't really work that well. USAT couplers worked better and I actually had a lot more USAT cars.

So I broke down and invested $1000.00 in Kadee couplers. I used 930's everywhere and bought the correct conversions for every engine I owned. Yes, I could have used a smaller variety but these are excellent and well worth the two weeks it took to make the fleet change.

Buy Kadee while your still getting started.

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Kadee's work well but for just running trains without switching activity, MOST of the Aristo couplers will work well enough.

SOME couplers are bad actors. The last time I did a check was in the mid 90's and Aristo may have fixed their molds, but at that time, about 25% of the couplers were, IMHO, defective in that they would not couple well and tended to lock together so tightly that they tended to cause derailments.

If they are still that way, you can sort the bad actors out.

See http://www.girr.org/girr/tips/tips3/coupler_tips.html for the gory details
I use Aristos. They work well for me and I can uncouple cars easily with my big mitts. My biggest complaint with them is the distance between cars being a bit big. Other than that I like them just fine.

The only reason I went o Kadee was because of body mounts. now if you like AC couplers and want to body mount them I can show you how. once you do a few cars you will have figured it out and they sit closer togther.
I stayed with Aristo couplers for these reasons:
75% of my rolling stock and locos is Aristo. Therefore, I only have to buy couplers for 25% of my purchases.
75% of my purchases can be put on the track added to a train and ran, right out of the box. No mods needed before running.
Enough people switch to KDs that with a little searching you can find Aristo couplers at $2/coupler. Pretty cheap.

If I decided to start out with or switch to KD couplers:
I would be buying couplers for every piece of equipment I own.
Nothing would run out of the box. Would need to modify every piece of equipment.
Then you need to decide whether to truck mount, body mount, are your track curves broad enough to body mount? A lot of choices need to be made.
KDs run $6 to $8/pr.

Operationaly, Aristo couplers do have a couple of problems. Some are made weak and pull apart without opening up. When you find a coupler that does this, either move it to a car that will never have alot of cars behind it or trash it. I put my weak couplers on Eggliners, cabooses, etc.
The other issue with Aristo couplers is they stay coupled during derailments. If one car goes on it's side, all the cars will be pulled over. I understand that KDs do not do this.

What is the worst case scenario if you stay with AC couplers? You change your mind down the road and have to pony up $400 bucks to switch 50 pieces of equipment.
What is the worst case scenario if you go with KDs? You will forever be modifying your equipment before using it.
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I fought the Aristo's for years, now VERY happy with Kadees. NO banging them together to get them to couple.
I started off with Aristo, trains kept pulling apart. Everything is Kadee now.
Everything is a trade. There is no doubt that Kadee couplers work much better than Aristo and there lots of options in mounting them but Ward is correct. If you go to Kadee, you will have to do it whole hog. If Aristo couplers work for you, then they are the most cost effective solution and if you buy mostly Aristo stuff, then you won't have to mess with them either, except maybe to sort out some bad actors.
Hi RB,

In reading through the reply's, everyone listed the problems with Aristo couplers that they were willing to
live with. The only downside that I saw listed for KD's was the cost per car. The question you have to answer
is. What can you live with?

I have used KD's through 40 plus years and 3 scales. They work!
Rick Marty
I just got done running trains on a friends layout today. We had a good time but i must say that the aristo couplers failed miserably. We were running a large consist (over 30). The cars couldn't make it around the layout once without an aristo coupler coming undone. The ones that didn't were permanently fixed closed or coupled together with zip ties.. My kadees worked flawlessly. The average kadee set is $5.88 from Ridge Road station. To me, to have rolling stock work and not have coupler failure, thats a small price to pay. Truck mount conversion takes about five minutes and that includes a two minute break. Body mount can be more in depth, but i have rarely had one take more than twenty minutes. You also don't have to do them all at once. If you already have the cars buy a few when you have some money. Convert one end of a car so it will have your aristo coupler on one end and a kadee on the other that way you can use both couplers. If you got into switching that would be a problem but if you just want to run trains it works fine.

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I've stayed with Aristos and don't regret it at all. Granted I run shorter trains for the most part, but I even put Aristo couplers on my USA streamliner set. There is a negative to Kadees, if your trackwork has any horizontal kinks (quick changes in grade) the kadees have a tendency to bypass each other when one rises while the other stays at the same level or drops. This is just what I've noticed on my own layout.
There is a cheap option that no one seems to have thought of or are simply not mentioning. Please forgive my bringing up the past like some ol' fart! ;)

Many moons ago in HO before Kadee couplers attained their modern design, and even before the NMRA grappling hooks, there was a multitude of couplers. Most didn't work well at all. The ones that looked good were either dummy couplers or required 10 lbs of force to couple and the ones that worked fairly well looked....well awful!

The idea below is for the roundy round runners that just like to run trains and aren't interested in switching very much. I would assume that many if not most of those using Aristo couplers fall into this category.

A trick used in those days was to install fiber drawbars between passenger cars in a train. One end would be screwed beneath a car and the other with a hole drilled in it secured to a lug, or screw beneath the next car. Since the drawbars were homemade they could be of whatever length desired that was compatible with looks and the track curves encountered. It was necessary to have operating couplers only on the ends of each string of cars. Thus a passenger, or freight if you run that way, train of 12 cars for example would need only one pair of couplers to provide automatic coupling on each end. The middle cars could be added to or removed by hand which is what most using the production couplers do anyway. As to looks, the closer coupled cars with drawbars (painted black) would look a lot better than the same string with the humongous blobs of plastic called couplers between them and will stay coupled. Cost for couplers becomes a non-issue since only a few pairs of your favorites would be needed for the engines and individual strings of cars.

Personally I use Kadees on everything and have for years back to when the uncoupling pin on them was just a straight steel pin hanging down. I like switching ops so the investment in good operating and good looking couplers is well worth it to me.
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I use nothing but Kadee's and usually bodymounts.
You can play "real" trains with Kadee bodymounts by pulling out the slack to get a long freight train rolling and when stopping a long passenger train, trying to keep the train from bunching up so as not to upset the passengers...
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All good comments, and Chuck brought out a unique advantage with the prototypical slack, although this is only in the 830/820. Stick with the G scale versions if you have more abrupt vertical transitions. And, no, the Aristo coupler has not improved, recently virtually all GP-40's have been shown to have defective couplers, i.e. pull apart under load, 24-30 cars. With Aristo's change to a new factory, it seems there are more problems than before. (Funny though, USAT stuff has not suffered the same way, even though both are made in the same factory AFAIK by Sanda Kan).

If you want to run long trains, get Kadees now. At under $6 a car, and cars about $60, you are only adding 10% cost to your rolling stock. If you do it as you go, it won't hurt much.

Regards, Greg
While I and others consider Kadee's to be the best, they do have one small issue.

If not body mounted, they will come apart on uneven track due to the trucks making the coupler flex up and down.

If body mounted, this just can not happen.

Unfortunately on some engines this will require hacking of the body to get the coupler mounted properly.
I use all Aristo couplers. There are pros and cons to both style of couplers. Being that I have minimal grades and 8 and 10 ft curves I can run 40 car trains without problems. By using Kadees' then one can run steeper grades and sharper curves with out problems's also.

AC did make a slite changes several years ago and put a shelf under the knucle to help elemininate the uncoupleing problem. Seems to work. I have started a project of shorting up the distance between the crs and works quite well even leaving them truck mounted. Takes about 15 min per car. sure makes a difference. I like being able to switch in the yard and use a LGB uncoupler which works great.

I like most did the HO trains and converted every car to Kadees but when I got into G scale I said not this time. I will run with AC and save the money for other things I need for the RR. I have plenty of other projects to do without having to keep modifing cars also. So I prefere AC over Kadees. bottom line for consideration for Kaddes if you like long trains then that is most likey the way to go. Later RJD
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Aristo couplers work extremely well for me. They never come uncoupled in normal use, and they are very easy to work. They aren't too expensive. I've put them on everything. But then I'm not running a finescale operation--I have a motley collection of stuff running and some of it is more "cute" than prototypical. I usually don't run really long trains either, because I have a nasty grade I can't get rid of. I can see the attraction of kadees though
I switched to Kadees sometime in the mid 50s and never regretted it, so when I came
to LS in the early 90s and found a hodge-podge of oversized, non-compatible, an
unreliable junk being used for couplers, I knew right where to go to solve that
problem... Besides all the above good reasons to switch to Kadees, let me offer
another... U've all no doubt noticed that the 2 major 1/29 mfgrs R putting mounting
pads compatible with 830 Kadees on their rolling stock these days, do U really think
that their only intention is to accomodate Kadee ?? Could it be that Kadee's patents
R expiring on their LS couplers, and we'll soon see a flood of Kadee compatible
look-a-likes from the mfgrs and the aftermarket ??? Just like we did in HO 10-15 years
ago!!! The sooner
the better as far as I'm concerned...
Paul R...
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