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Colin W
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Hi,

This subject has undoubtedly been covered to exhaustion but just for the record here are my experiments on magnet placement.

Magnet size
Smaller is clearly preferable, there are Youtube videos with larger (20 * 10* 2) magnets sitting under rails or bigger blocky ones outside rails but both these variants have their negatives.

I had some 10 * 5 * 2 Neodymium 52 grade (strongest) to hand so thought I'd try my luck with those first.

Location
One very useful tip from elsewhere was to offset magnets by 6mm - the forward distance between the trip pin ends.

Trials

As a test bed I used my favourite PVC substrate (surplus Venetian Blind Slats) 3mm thick, mineral filled and hence easily sculpted. I was able to cut rebates to adjust the height setting of the magnets, holding them in place with a temporary glue (note 1) to test.


I found a position with the magnet top 1.5mm below rail top worked very well, as in the photo

At 3mm the PVC is too thick for final end use but should not be a problem to find a suitable holder.

Colin

Note: Don't try superglue for the temporary gluing, it will rip the Nickel plating off the Neo magnet which is not something you want to happen.







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Hi Colin,Nigel

Not sure about small magnets being preferable. From a cosmetic viewpoint yes, from an operational viewpoint I think it could be questionable. 

The actual operating distance you have looks to be less than 5mm. One  of the reasons Kadee couplers are long is to allow delayed uncoupling, as well as a decent +/- leeway of where decoupling takes place. 

The field of a Kadee magnet is designed to maximize lateral as opposed to vertical deflection. There are tight specifications regarding the distance between the decoupling arm and the magnet. I have so far been unable to find any reliable data of what the field is in these small magnets.

Steel versus brass axles makes a difference. 

Rapido Trains do a nice small electromagnet if the concerns are purely cosmetic.

Nigel



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BCDR wrote:  One  of the reasons Kadee couplers are long is to allow delayed uncoupling, as well as a decent +/- leeway of where decoupling takes place. 

and that is why I use 3 rows of cube magnets on the D&S - a leeway to allow for uncoupling & delayed working.

Though looking at the photo by Colin, they are not Kadee but small tension lock couplings.

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Thanks Ron, didn't catch that. The opposite spacing doesn't make any sense for tension lock mods which are usually central and where the magnets would need to be a lot further apart.. Makes sense if Kadee's though.

Colin, so you see any drag from the axles? I experienced this a lot with UK stock, where the axles are usually steel. Especially with 8 wheel carriages. 

Nigel






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Sol,


Well spotted error, I had the wagon the wrong way around in the photo. Testing etc. was done with the Kadees.



Nigel,


I'll check for drag as you suggest.

I've some thoughts on the field shape but a bit more work required before addressing that point of yours. I need some iron filings, now where's my file?


Colin

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It appealed to my scientist background to explore these magnet issues a little more deeply, to understand what sort of Neodymium magnet would be best suited to those who want to DYI uncoupling points.


Firstly, Neodymium magnets are unlike your stereotypical bar magnet, they have their NS poles compressed together as I've done in this image, the bottom one has it's vertical axis compressed 10 fold. In reality it might be nearer 100 fold given the Neo is only 2mm thick. The alignment with magnet axis upright is as installed between tracks in my earlier post.



I imagined that the field would be splayed out almost flat as in the lower image, is this really the case?

These are above and side on views of the field for my two magnets with the old iron filings method. The twin fields tie in with my mental picture of a flattened field shape. The magnet offset creates two zones on opposite sides that help direct the trip pins to their respective sides, there being a clear zone of repulsion in between the two like poles.





The viewing window is just larger than track width and the magnet poles (same polarity) can be clearly seen.

One consequence of this highly compressed field is that there is very little attractive force if magnets are set just 1mm lower, uncoupling doesn't work! Hence I think axle attraction is not likely to be an issue.

The uncoupling range is just over the length of the magnet, 11-12mm, this may be ok for me in my confined goods yard. Will certainly call for fine shunting skills. Otherwise I'll need to move to 20mm long magnets and install beneath the track.


Colin




 

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Hi Colin,

That takes me back. 

If you are using Kadee couplers (yes/no?) they are designed so that the curves at the bottom of the pins are symmetrical and overlap (if they do not they need adjusting), the intent being to look like a brake air line between stock. Having a magnet with a symmetrical fields with a null zone in the middle as opposed to two asymmetrical fields and a diagonal null zone would seem to be counterintuitive to the design. The trip pins need to move in opposite directions at the same time.

Again, if using Kadee couplers, the distance between the between the top of the between-tracks magnet and the bottom of the pins should be 1/64" /0.4mm. Anything over 0.75mm and they do not uncouple.

Even with DCC it can be fiddly getting couplers correctly positioned over a ~1 cm section of track. Ron's comment about having multiple magnets either side to able to use delayed decoupling is spot on - that's why Kadee magnets are around 5cm long.

Under track magnets solve the cosmetic issue.
Nigel










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Where do you chaps get your brass axle wheelsets from, a chap on another forum is doing the kadee thing but has put brakes on his wagons to stop the magnets grabbing the axles i note some of you use these wheelsets i assume for the reason not so much grabbing with them?

Brian



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Hi Brian,

Brass rod 2mm diameter, straight pieces. Cut to size (HO, OO or EM) using originals as templates, slightly over long, grind pinpoints to length as required on the lathe, the wheel or the Dremel. "Model Engineering Brass Round Bar 2mm diameter x 500mm" ,£4.90, eBay UK. Mine came in 50mm lengths over here from eBay US. K&S here also have it.

Except on locomotives, where the mass minimizes magnet grabbing, all freight and passenger car stock here use brass or plastic axles, usually blackened. 

I have said this several times before, the Kadee system is designed for HO standards, not OO. 

Nigel

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Thankyou Nigel i will pass that information on seems a lot better idea than putting brakes on wagons.

Brian

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Hi Brian,Nigel

You can of course just add a full load of lead sheet or 4 steel 1/2" nuts.  That will add some mass and inertia. 

 Nigel


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BCDR wrote: Hi Brian,Nigel

You can of course just add a full load of lead sheet or 4 steel 1/2" nuts.  That will add some mass and inertia. 

 Nigel



I weighted my wagons up using the NMRA standards using sheet lead and while one van may move by itself once uncoupled, with a couple or three together, they don't move. And I found the brass wheels from Bachmann still have steel axles - go figure that out !
I could use these    http://www.steameramodels.com/wheels.htm
which have brass axles suitable for Bachmann & Hornby

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There are quite a few threads on conversion to Kadees and magnets - the moderators have tried to keep them all together, but I fear it is a thankless task.  Maybe there really ought be a whole separate section because it comes up quite regularly.

For what it is worth, I carried out similar experiments - including using iron filings on a test track!  I got my physics teachers involved - they understood the physics, not the couplers!  In the end I went for 20mm x 10mm neo magnets, under the track.  Parallel, but opposite poles against each other.  I use a piece of sponge as a "brake" which negates the metal wheels and axels and have added a weight, which greatly assists the uncoupling.  You can run all sorts of tests, but if there isn't weight in the wagons, the tests are pretty worthless.  

So far they have worked fine.  Yes, it takes a bit of practice to uncouple consistently, but I think I will build that into my operating sessions and have it as some sort of scoring system.  It didn't take long to get better at it and definitely added something to the freight operations.  Will have to think of  something similar for the passengers.  If I am going prototypical (which isn't really my way) I will have a passenger timetable to run with no locos - it is 60s Southern region after all!

There is loads of great advice here specifically about Kadee conversions and magnets, so be sure to check it out.  It saved me hours of pointless experiments!

Regards

Michael

 

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Thanks Nigel,

All your, Sol's and now Headmaster's feedback has been most helpful and informative. I've been trying to address a specific problem in two locations where I'm not going to rip up fully installed work to install under track decoupling, so was looking for a track insert solution. So what is optimal seems like it won't be possible.

Yes, I'm using Kadees, and as far as I can see straight out of packet they're close to specification WRT height above the top of rail. What is interesting is the alignment of the trip pins as shown in this photo, pulling on top, pushing below. Both angled, the latter by nearly 45 degrees to track line. Wagons are weighted up to near NMRA specs





The Neo must have a more powerful field as my magnet is 1.4mm below rail and the tip 0.8mm above.

The Bachmann wagons have steel axles but no drag is evident, the field shape I have may at least fix this issue.

Finally I agree with your comment about the magnet offset being counter-intuitive, I'll go back and check with no offset and compare operations.

Thanks again,

Colin





Last edited on Mon Jun 17th, 2019 11:02 pm by Colin W

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Headmaster wrote: .....  In the end I went for 20mm x 10mm neo magnets, under the track.  Parallel, but opposite poles against each other.  .......

Regards

Michael

 

Hi Michael,

I can't picture the magnet positioning you describe as the Neos have their poles on the large flat surfaces which in most cases I've seen are then installed flat (as I have done). In my case same poles are facing up for both magnets,

Colin






Last edited on Mon Jun 17th, 2019 11:20 pm by Colin W

Colin W
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Offsetting -Counter-intuitive but correct!  Decoupling on my test bed is inferior when magnets are not offset.

When the magnets are directly opposite each other the leading pin being ahead of the other by 6mm is drawn first to its magnet. As the coupling is still linked, this pulls the trailing pin in the wrong direction, away from its magnet.

When the magnets are staggered by the same amount as the linear separation of the pins then the pins separate in their required directions at the same time.

All this would suggest that the best orientation of under track magnets is to offset by the 6mm factor but angled slightly to ensure the fields are aligned with the track axis as per Nigel's point.

Colin

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Colin, you don't know what can of worms you are opening here!!  Check out Sol's work on magnets on fitted track - it seems to be pretty definitive.  Search the forum index and you will find it.

Neo magnets have different power ratings.  You can tell the power by the N rating (I mistakenly thought this was Newtons - a measurement of force - but it isn't.  However it is a measurement of the power of the magnet.)  Comparisons between different systems is pretty meaningless without this measurement.

My magnets are north on one side and south on the other (remember they measure 20x10mm. The magnets attract on their broadest surfaces, not on their edges.) So, on one side of the track, North faces up, and on the other south faces up.  (I didn't realise this was important until I read a number of threads here and then understood why sometimes my test system worked and sometimes it didn't.)

I have not found the need to stagger magnets at all, and maybe this is a pole issue.  Or it is the magnets.  Or it is luck.  I use buildings to indicate where the magnets are (there are a variety of methods for doing this described on this site) and have found the 20mm magnets to be ideal for giving a suitable uncoupling range.  Others swear by rows of 5 x 3mm cubic magnets.  I will admit I had mixed results, but better modellers than me had them working consistently, and I am not going to argue with them!

The weight of the wagon being uncoupled is also crucial  - there is a NMRA standard for this in America which Kadees follow.  British rolling stock is much lighter.  Again, comparisons between systems is meaningless if this is not a standard.

Obviously, at the end of the day, whatever works for each of us is ideal, but there really needs to be some standardisation if we are going to compare different systems. Good luck with yours and I look forward to seeing how it progresses

Regards
Michael


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Colin

Re-reading the thread, I can see our difference is that you have both magnets with the same pole facing up (let us say north) whereas I have one magnet with north facing up, and one with south facing up.  I have to fix them one at a time or the they will jump up and connect.  Maybe this is why we are having different test results?
Regards
Michael

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http://yourmodelrailway.net/view_topic.php?id=8481&forum_id=6
is what I added to Perry's thread

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Thanks Sol,

I was desperately trying to find that here.

Colin

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Michael raises an important point - the orientation of the magnet. Discs seem to be vertical, cubes will be vertical or horizontal depending on which way they are laid, bars can be vertical or horizontal, usually horizontal. Cubes would seem to be the most problematic. 

N = Neo = MGOe. apexmagnets.com has some really useful information that will help in optimizing the force (may it always be with you). 

Metal ramps were common from the advent of AWS, modern era has them everywhere, so an over-the-sleepers magnet looks OK with with a bit of weathering or some yellow. 

Nigel

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It's time to close off on this topic; thanks to Sol I've now tried his PUMS method which uses a stack of magnets between the sleepers.


The big plus for PUMS in a retro fitting situation is that existing ballast can be extracted and replaced by the magnets with far less visual impact than my flat magnet method (that BTW uncouples just as well with no axle attraction).


I've still some 20 * 10 * 2mm Neos on their way from China for under track installation in all the locations in my Goods Sidings which remain un-ballasted / loosely fixed down. No more "Cans of Worms" will be opened, promise!


Thanks to everyone for helpful input,


Colin

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I thought I'd finish by telling how I went with installing Sol's PUMS configuration magnets.

I had on hand 100 small disc Neo magnets, 3mm diameter and ~1mm thick. 12 of these end to end were inserted into a 14mm length of black PVC heat shrink tube (Φ 2.5/1.25) which takes the discs snuggly. A tiny plug of Blutac at each end tamped in to prevent escape, the whole assembly fits between sleepers. Three rows of these as per the prototype work very well. 

Being smaller than the 3mm cubes and I suspect less powerful, I don't get any axle drag of note but 100% success in both push and pull modes thru the uncoupling zone. Pull mode requires a full stop of course but a slow push will uncouple on the fly and the uncoupled rake can be gently pushed forward in delayed uncoupling mode. Most impressive! Thanks again Sol.


Colin

Last edited on Tue Jun 25th, 2019 11:38 am by Colin W

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Colin, they were installed level with sleepers or a bit higher?
Can you get a photo two please?
I replaced sleepers with the row of magnets & I guess your method could also replace sleepers.
I have never seen Kadees uncouple even pushing without stopping and backing up a small bit to allow the hook parts of the knuckles to separate to allow for the delayed setting.

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Hi Colin,

I think the only way it can uncouple on the fly is with axle drag from the magnet. Doesn't do that with brass axles.Then again I use Kadee magnets that seem to have lateral rather than vertical magnetic fields. Although if you stacked the circular magnets that is what you probably have.

Hope you didn't heat shrink the heat shrink.

Nigel


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Sol, Nigel,


good points and questions,
  • The tubes are about 1mm below rail height so about 1.7mm above tops of sleepers. That was the best height I found by trial and error.

  • Disc magnets are stacked then laid sideways so magnetic field is tangential to the track as per PUMS



  • great idea to replace the sleepers now I've got it working, should have thought about that.
  • Heat Shrink was not shrunk, that's going to kill magnets if overdone. Could even be fire risk with Neos. Hence Blutak plugs on ends to hold in place. Laid with fields aligned (all Norths same end), the little magnets had a habit of being repelled out of their tubes by the adjacent field.

  • I'll try video of the uncoupling, so far it's been careful "handomatic" operations as they were tested on loose track in my study. Now they're installed I'll hook up a loco and report back.

  • As mentioned I can't see any obvious drag pulling axles over the uncoupling zone. I had seen it before with other larger magnets but not these small ones


Colin

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That's very nice ballasting, Colin!

Michael

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Thanks, some of my recent work :cool:

Credit must go in part to excellent tips I picked up here about using a paint brush with shortened bristles to spread, level and settle ballast. I extended that to using a tiny paint brush, given the same shortening, to do the fine distribution. Pity my earlier work isn't of quite the same standard!

Colin

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Hi Colin,

That looks good. You can always paint the covers with grey, black and off white dots to look like ballast, or even give it a thin coat of ballast.

Nigel

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An early trial with the Magnet tubes, these small magnets operation is sensitive to height, too low and they don't work, too high and they can snag the trip pin by pulling it into direct contact. Get that right and they do work very well as this shows:


Note scenic work in this area is at a very early stage, only ballasting done with any level of completeness




I'm going to have one more try with my larger magnets in line with track (where all this started) but with opposing poles up on the opposite sides of the track as per Headmaster's advice.


Colin






Last edited on Fri Jun 28th, 2019 12:21 pm by Colin W

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Very nice little video, and well done on the magnets.  Is consistency good?  

I like the glowing firebox - very neat!

Michael

Last edited on Fri Jun 28th, 2019 01:21 pm by Headmaster

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In its final form this shows the magnet insert on my test track:






To sumarise the key features:

  • A solution for Kadee uncoupling if track and ballast have already been laid
  • Three rows of 3mm * 1mm disc magnets assembled in heat shrink tubes, magnets all aligned in same direction. Tube OD 3.5mm - (do not heat shrink, plug the ends with blutak)
  • A support base of 24 * 14 * 0.5mm PS sheet to place the magnets' top edges 0.8mm below rail tops
  • Tube spacing - to mimic removed sleepers
In my testing this works as well as under rail slab magnets and there's no evidence of axle grab.

Assembly tips:

  • Tape the cut PS base to the underside of a piece of track, locate in line and between rails
  • Beneath this, tape two slab magnets 1 under each rail opposite poles up. This will help keep the tube magnets in situ while gluing. Otherwise they have a nasty habit of jumping out onto the adjacent tube, superglue and all!
  • dab tiny specks of CA superglue onto the PS sheet between sleepers and insert magnets one at a time ensuring poles are all in the same direction #. They are drawn to the magnets beneath so fix quickly
# getting the correct alignment is helped by the under-side magnets that set the polarity for the tubes being inserted

To remove existing ballast


I first softened it by applying a concentrated solution from those "bubble blowing" packs. This contains glycerol, detergent and water, I let mine concentrate for a while by evaporation ( not essential) before applying with a dropper. This viscous mix doesn't spread too far beyond the treated area and hangs around for long enough to soften the hard PVA glue. Leave 1 day. The end result is easy to scoop out as a gritty paste.


Colin

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Very neat, Colin. I think there are a number of different solutions, and each have their fans.  My magnets under the track caused a bit of axle drag, which I could solve with a bit of weight in the wagon and a small sponge "brake".  But once it was all ballasted on my test track, the drag was greatly reduced and only the weight was needed.  I basically followed the NMRA standards and that seems to work.  I will see when I do the actual track....

Will you be adding sleepers to extend outside the rails?  

Regards

Michael

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Thx Michael,


since I'm cutting out existing sleepers after removing the ballast, the outer sections will be left as they are.


I'll use under track magnets for new installations.


Colin





Last edited on Thu Jul 4th, 2019 12:24 am by Colin W


                 

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