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Am I the only one frustrated by the status of knuckle couplers in the hobby today? In HO scale, there has been a defacto standard coupler for half a century. Same goes for N and even Z, though they haven't been around quite as long.

In G, though, there are two different (but thankfully compatible) Kadees, Aristocraft, USA Trains, Bachmann, Accucraft, and I'm sure there are others that I am not aware of. As far as I can tell, they're not compatible with each other. I don't even know for sure if there's a standard height for the various couplers.


Now, I don't intend to worry too much about the situation, because I plan on using link and pin couplers, standardized at 26" (32.5mm) above the rail head. However, I would like to make some adapters which would allow my locomotives to pull other folks' cars and vice-versa. The concept is simple enough - make a knuckle couple which has a shank that fits the coupler pockets on my rolling stock and holds the coupler at the correct height. The devil is in the details, as usual. Which coupler should I use? What should the height be? Am I going to need an entire set of adapters? I'd thought it would be nice if I could have a single adapter, which I would keep in the toolbox on the tender.
 

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I would use the "Universal Coupler"... I get one large tear-off sheet of them with each box of trashbags and every loaf of bread I buy.
 

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I love that idea! Of course, it might not be very practical in an operating session.

Does this problem crop up much when modelers get together to run trains? Or do people more or less just haul their own cars with their own locomotives, and confine switching operations to a single owner's equipment?
 

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Ken,
OML No.1 was coupled with a Kadee 830 with the slotted part of the shank cut off, the rear of the shortened shank rounded slightly with a file, a hole drilled in the shank and held in place with a long pin just dropped in the hole. The four slotted coupler pocket came from Ozark. The Kadee can be set to one of four different heights and can be removed easily by removing the pin and replaced with a link.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Richard,

That's the arrangement I was talking about, but will it couple with anything other than a Kadee?
 

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Ken,

If there's a problem just cut and fit the shanks of other makes of couplers. The big blob couplers like Aristo and Bachmann will be a bit ugly and stick out too far but they should work. You'll have to sometimes line up the couplers by hand just as a real brakeman does but using link and pin as you do shouldn't be a problem either.
 

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I think we're getting closer to a workable situation than we've ever been before. Most manufacturers now either use a draft gear nearly identical to one of a few "standard" Kadee mounts, or build in pads for you to mount your own. Given the range of scales inherent in large scale, that's probably about as close to what the small scalers enjoy as we're going to come. It's not ideal, but it's far, far better than what has been.

As for "compatible," that depends on how you define the concept. A Kadee "G" scale coupler will stay connected to an AMS coupler or Bachmann coupler, but may or may not couple automatically. From an operating standpoint, they're not fully compatible, but then I don't think any mis-matched combination of coupler brands is. They are compatible in that they will stay connected as the train moves down the line.

Heights will vary, because (a) the scales vary, and (b) the prototypic height may also vary. What's prototypic for 1:29 will be high for 1:32. What's "standard" for the Denver & Rio Grande Western (narrow gauge) will be high for the East Broad Top and low for the ET&WNC, because all three railroads used different coupler heights on their narrow gauge equipment. So, it's hard to pinpoint a single "average" height that the manufacturers can follow.

My advice--pick a coupler and a height that works for you. If others can connect to it, all the better, but do what works for you first.

Later,

K
 

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Kevin has hit the nail on the head. Various couplers can be made to stay together but they are not compatible for operations.

The OVGRS solved that problem for all its members. To operate during our saturday operations, a model must have Kadees mounted to the height of the Kadee gauge. While most of the 200 narrow gauge cars are owned by Fred Mills and he converted them years ago, the vast majority of a similar number of sg cars are owned by members. All have been converted ... it is taken as a gven by all members that installing Kadees is the first step when any new model is acquired.

Personally, on the Northland, I use mostly Accucraft but I also use some of the G scale Kadees which mate with them. The G scale Kadees are necessary so that I can use locos during OVGRS ops sessions as well as on the Northland. I have not found the slight incompatibility to be problematic even doing switching. The #1 Kadees are however incompatible with Accucraft couplers.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Ken,

You probably missed the details on my Porter conversion while you were here, but an answer to your question was right in front of your eyes.

Here is a closeup of the rear coupler mods to my Porter.



The parts consist of an Ozark Miniatures 2 slot link & pin coupler pocket and the knuckle from either a Kadee 835 or 789 set. You have to do a little work, which includes cutting off the spring tabs and, I think, thinning down the piece that goes into the pocket to get the knuckle to fit into the pocket. I also inserted an appropriately sized piece of styrene tubing into the knuckle hole to get the diameter small enough to get a snug fit to the Ozark pin.

There's no room for springs to center the coupler but I haven't found any problem running it. You only have to be very careful when hook up to a car. A little manual allignment is required.

Here's a photo of the completed mod.




Hope this helps.

BTW, I convert everything to Kadee couplers and set them at the standard Kadee height using their gyage.

Doc
 

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You kindof have to settle on one and change everything to match.
 

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Posted By Dougald on 10/07/2008 5:37 AM
Kevin has hit the nail on the head. Various couplers can be made to stay together but they are not compatible for operations.


Ummmm, what?????? I have seen Bachmann, USA, Aristo, Accucraft, LGB, and Kadee Knuckles stay together with only very little work. And, they work very well in operations. The reason there is not a standard is that G-Scale is not, thankfully, part of the NMRA. So, there is no standard.
 

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When couplers are spoken of, each of us applies a set of criteria to them and then assumes everyone else has the same criteria in mind. Let me be very clear on what (I think) a coupler should do (and by implication, different brands should do together to be compatible)

1. couple automatically by pushing the cars gently together
2. stay coupled no matter the loading applied to them (the coupler should break or pull out before uncoupling under load) from a normal locomotive pull
3. uncouple readily in the event of a derailment to prevent the catastrophe of an entire train being dumped because a single car was problematic
4. uncouple reliably in a manual mode (screwdriver inserted, lift bar etc)
5. be easily installed in a wide range of equipment plus be readily available


I believe track should be laid smoothly so staying coupled over excessively rough trackage is not a concern. In fact, being able to do this will probably violate my 3rd requirement.

While several brands of large scale couplers will couple and stay coupled, the generality of the situation is that different brands do not perform well in switching operations. They violate one or more of the above set of criteria.

The OVGRS meets every saturday to operate and we do extensive switching. In almost 20 years of operating, the group has found that Kadees meet the criteria above (and nothing else does). Accordingly, members are welcome to add their equipment to the operating roster but only if they are Kadee equipped.

While I can accept that Fn3 models may have a different coupler height than their 1:29 or 1:32 or 1:13.7 etc counterparts, I find the manufacturers' insistence on proprietary solutions unfathomable. It took time to beat sense into the HO manufacturers 50 years ago when Kadees replaced the so called NMRA X2F couplers and other proprietary makes ... large scalers like to operate in the dark ages when it comes to standards.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Dan Pierce has a small car with a different type of coupler on each end.
This helps with hook and loop say Kadee's
Sean
 
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