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Discussion Starter #1
I want to model US narrow gauge railroading in the 1870s-1880s.  To me, that means I need link and pin couplers if I want to be accurate.  Fair enough, and they're not that hard to make or use.  But...

I also like operations.  Knuckle couplers are great for their ease of use when you do a lot of switching.  Yes, I know that there were knuckle couplers in the 1870s, but they weren't very popular.  I could of course accept a knuckle coupler on an older piece of equipment, and that may be exactly what I wind up doing, but I'm exploring my options here.

Has anyone tried operating a garden railroad with link and pin couplers? I would be curious to hear from folks that have tried it, whether the expereince was good or bad.

Also, is there a source for said couplers? I would imagine that they are pretty easy to fabricate, but if they can be purchased I could devote my modeling activities to other projects.

I've been thinking about developing some sort of semi-automatic link and pin coupler, possibly based on one of a number of designs tossed abouit in that era.  If such a thing is possible and reasonably practical, would there be a market for it?
 

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This is what I'm doing, and the target date of my line in 1937, all my big mainline trains are knuckle couplered, but my tram engines and stock are all link and pin (L&P) couplered.

Best single source for L&Ps is Ozark Miniatures, they offer body mount, under frame mount, and if yor a scale freak, they offer a spring loaded frame mounted L&P thats prototypically correct for narrow gauge riolling stock. The also offer 3 or 4 multipocket L&P couplers that are perfect for engines.

If your layout has really wide curves you can use the standard links that come with the Ozark couplers, on my layout since the curves are R1 I use a homemade dogbone link thats about 3/4" long, this gives the cars adequate range of motion thru curves but can make backing up a tad tricky if the cars are too light.

For L&P operations, I follow a few protocalls on my line for my sanities sake, namely ALL pins are connected to their cars by either a scale chain, or a stout thread, this is so the pins dont disappear into the ether whenever you uncouple a car. Also to couple/uncouple in between tightly spaced cars, you'll need an uncoupling tool, in my case its a very oversized tweezer thats 12" long, with it i can reach it, lift the pin and either seperate the cars by hand or use the handheld Train Engineer R/C controller to move the train away, or shove the uncoupled car onto a spur.

So far its been no better or worse than with knuckles which have their own issues (uncoupling, coupler droop, range of motion, etc) besides on my small engines and cars, nothing really looks better.
 

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First of all; WELCOME ABOARD!
I like link and pin also. I think it depends on how you do your "operations," such as do you walk along side your train at all times? If so, is your layout raised (or are you limber enough) to comfortably be able to reach the pins? It was not "easy" in the days of link & pins; I have a link that I use as a doorstop, and while it looks big, I cannot imagine guiding it into a coupler pocket and then dropping a pin into it. No wonder so many RR men were injured coupling cars. Also no wonder that they were replaced by automatic couplers. But that "mystique" is also what attracts me to them.
All that said, I basically only use them for trains that remain coupled. A small mine train for now, but I plan to put together a consist of logging flats, too. Those will probably be L&P.
For a source, try Ozark miniatures: http://www.ozarkminiatures.com
Let us know what you come up with.
 
G

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Has anyone tried operating a garden railroad with link and pin couplers?
not exactly. but the three homemade uglies below i have fitted with simple drawbars, nailed to the base from below. guarded and helt up by a bent copperwire, also to evade them to shear too much to the side. the drawbars were bolted together.
if i remember correctly, i had to re-nail only one drawbar in far over 1000 hours they were running. (indoors)
what i love, is to see the train lengthen, as it starts, and - bump, bump, bump - shorten, when braking. 

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Posted By vsmith on 03/27/2008 9:23 AM

Best single source for L&Ps is Ozark Miniatures, they offer body mount, under frame mount, and if yor a scale freak, they offer a spring loaded frame mounted L&P thats prototypically correct for narrow gauge riolling stock. The also offer 3 or 4 multipocket L&P couplers that are perfect for engines.

For L&P operations, I follow a few protocalls on my line for my sanities sake, namely ALL pins are connected to their cars by either a scale chain, or a stout thread, this is so the pins dont disappear into the ether whenever you uncouple a car. Also to couple/uncouple in between tightly spaced cars, you'll need an uncoupling tool, in my case its a very oversized tweezer thats 12" long, with it i can reach it, lift the pin and either seperate the cars by hand or use the handheld Train Engineer R/C controller to move the train away, or shove the uncoupled car onto a spur.

So far its been no better or worse than with knuckles which have their own issues (uncoupling, coupler droop, range of motion, etc) besides on my small engines and cars, nothing really looks better.


Thanks for the info!  How do you deal with the links?  I can imagine the utility of the tweezers for the pins, but how difficult is it to insert the links into the pockets?
 

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I too, use link and pin couplers, from Ozark Miniatures. They're in use on my homemade 4-wheel industrial cars. I like them outside because they never accidentally uncouple. But 'operating' with them is just too finicky for me. I did polarize the couplings on my cars, since they are never turned. To do that, I simply CA glued the pin in place on one end of the car, capturing the link with it. Bottom line: they look great, never uncouple in some out of the way place that I can't reach, but they're too much trouble to fuss with when switching. Just my two cents' worth.
SandyR
 

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One other thing to think about, when l&p cars derail they tend to take the whole train with them. Knuckles are more forgiving.
I switched to KDs when I moved from waist to near ground level, my live steamers were getting steam up before I could get all the cars coupled up.

Harvey C.
 

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Ken,


I use L&P's on the oar train..  What Vic says is true, you need to watch coupler swing on the curves & go longer not shorter on the link..  Long time ago in Garden Railway there was a article about cane cars & the person was having problems with pulling the cars off the track..  He was using links about 3/4 inch long..  Follow up letter in the mag said he needed to lengthin the link to about 1.5 inches..  This worked for me so the guy must have known what he was talking about.. 

BulletBob
 

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Posted By DKRickman on 03/27/2008 11:38 AM
Posted By vsmith on 03/27/2008 9:23 AM

Best single source for L&Ps is Ozark Miniatures, they offer body mount, under frame mount, and if yor a scale freak, they offer a spring loaded frame mounted L&P thats prototypically correct for narrow gauge riolling stock. The also offer 3 or 4 multipocket L&P couplers that are perfect for engines.

For L&P operations, I follow a few protocalls on my line for my sanities sake, namely ALL pins are connected to their cars by either a scale chain, or a stout thread, this is so the pins dont disappear into the ether whenever you uncouple a car. Also to couple/uncouple in between tightly spaced cars, you'll need an uncoupling tool, in my case its a very oversized tweezer thats 12" long, with it i can reach it, lift the pin and either seperate the cars by hand or use the handheld Train Engineer R/C controller to move the train away, or shove the uncoupled car onto a spur.

So far its been no better or worse than with knuckles which have their own issues (uncoupling, coupler droop, range of motion, etc) besides on my small engines and cars, nothing really looks better.


Thanks for the info!  How do you deal with the links?  I can imagine the utility of the tweezers for the pins, but how difficult is it to insert the links into the pockets?


I just use my finger to support the link and guide it into the pocket, the tweezers I use are big, 12" long...so reaching the pin is not an issue. Also with L&Ps you need to avoid reverse S curves like the plague, I had to modify my layout to eliminate them by adding straight sections as transitions, on a tight layout like mine with R1 curves it was a necessary adjustment.
 

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I have also used the L&P couplers from Ozark Miniatures on my DSP&P cars. This was my first attempt at L&P couplers and really did not know how to mount them. I did not use the spring loaded ones, I used the standard draw bar and pin models. I mounted them in a Kadee draft gear box with a small washer on top & bottom of the draw bar and a small bolt thru the box and a nut. This gives me the ability to change back to a knuckle coupler if I want. It has worked really well . I mounted the pin on a small chain on the end of the car railing.
 

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I use link and pin couplers, both sprung and sill mounted, from Hartford Products. I use paper clips (re-formed) for 3/4 to 1 inch links since my curves are sharp and use tweezers to uncouple. Since I model indoors on an elevated baseboard, uncoupling isn't that bothersome. These couplers are easy to install and very forgiving on sharp curves (with longer links) and different coupler heights.
 

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i used lgb l and p's for awhile on my grizzly flats locos and cars-they are fun and work well-they look great

i am a DSP AND P fan as well -which also used l and p's

one thought-and why i did not expand thier use-when there is a derailment and a car overturns-it is rather tough on the couplers and the links can break-and the lgbs versions-while really nice-were quite pricely

and as mentioned- remote operations are more restricted

personally i think these are better suited to indoor -or very welllaid outdoor track (mine tends to be rahter rough and tumble)
 

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I long ago standardized on Kadees, but also use link and pin couplers in a 'unit train' fashion. As an example, my several strings of 3 to 5 side dump cars (used in ballast and gravel service) are equipped with L&P between the like cars, then with Kadees on each end of the 'unit'. This allows for automatic coupling between the locomotives (Shay and Climax) and the cars they pull. The industrial cabooses that normally operate with these trains also have Kadees, making the easy to couple / uncouple.

My cars that are in general service are all equipped with Kadees.

Happy RRing,

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I really like the idea of using pop rivets as the pins! That's an impressive model you've got going - can't wait to see it finished.


Thanks for all the responses, guys. I may try my hand at making my own link & pin couplers, and I'll be sure to keep the track elevated when I build my railroad.
 

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One additional thing to keep in mind... it's entirely possible - as well as prototypical - to mix knuckles and link and pin. Logging lines did it all the time by slotting and drilling the knuckles to accept a link and pin.



Sometimes they'd remove the knuckle altogether as is shown here at left...



However, doing this compromises the ability to use both coupler types. Here's a #1 Kadee I slotted and drilled to accept Hartford link and pin couplers.



Because the Kadee knuckle is so thin, I had to use a small drill and correspondingly small pin made from brass wire. In practice, it works well enough.

Eric M has similarly drilled Accucraft knuckles, and because these are fatter, was able to do so more prototypically. :)
 

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I tried that Dwight, on a Bmann, lets just say it was less that successful, same reasons, not enough room for the pin, of course I was trying to drill for Ozark pins.../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif
 

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Thanks, Ken. The links can be found in the drawers in the aisle where screws and bolts and assorted nuts are sold at HD. Lowe's might carry as well. There are really so many varieties of L&P; but the great part of L&P is that they won't come undone as easily as knucklers (increased reliability). The added benefit is you get more real-life hands on with coupling and uncoupling just as they did in the good old days, and even in many places today. And, you don't lose a finger doing it.
 
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