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Petermac
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I didn't really know where to put this so thought maybe "materials" might fit the bill.

I currently have a melange of couplings depending on stock manufacture - TL from Hornby, Dapol and Bachmann plus quite a few that I've changed to Kadees.

I have read good reports on some of the other "lesser known" couplings such as Dingham etc. and wondered if Kadee was in fact, the right route to go down.  I can imagine with the likes of Dingham, there could be problems reversing.

Whilst I really like the Kadees, there are a few problems associated with them - uncoupling on bends, difficulty in getting the right height on all stock sometimes resulting in unexpected uncoupling and, unless one pre-plans (I never do !!), the siting of under track magnets isn't possible.  I've read and re-read the treads on using neodymium magnets but none seem to be ideal so I'm left with the "between the rails" magnets which is expensive and often unsightly.

Which couplers do you use and why plus, are they as near fool-proof as one can expect or, is it the case that Kadees are tops ?

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well I for one use Kadee's but they are expensive and fiddley to get the right height, but asthetically I prefer them to anything else. 

That being said I do like the slimline Bachmann hook type connectors for practicality. They clip inside the Kadee box nicely and fix the problem of detaching whilst on tight radius curves. They don't look too invasive or "toy like" as the typical "D" Hornby/Mainline/Palitoy/Dapol type.


I suppose it all comes down to practicality, cost, and asthetics, in other words personal choice!

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Think you're going to get lots of different replies on lots of different coupling types Peter.

I'm not currently modelling in oo gauge, but I always though Kadees looked very odd on four wheeled wagons, but looked great on modern image (whatever that is) diesel and electric locos and modern coaches. If you can get the coupling height right though, they do work well as I'm sure Sol will tell you.

Small Backmann tension locks were my final choice for oo and are my choice for O-16.5. Look ok on four wheeled stock and you can automate them with the Kirby/paper clip and magnets uncoupling system, or even some sort of uncoupling ramp (not necessarily the Peco ones).


Ed

PS Currently having a similar dilemma with standard 009 couplings or Greenwich couplings  :lol:


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Back in the day when I could see without glasses, I fitted 3-link and etched screw-link units to my stock.  They were supplied by a range of manufacturers but were universal.  The hook obviously sat at the height of the buffer beam so, generally, alignment wasn't as issue.  The screw-coupling couplings were a lot worse to couple than the 3-link and some of the links from some manufacturers were enormous.

Both at home and in the public view, I used a number of bent wire contraptions to couple and uncouple - all relying on the "hand from the sky" approach.  Total PITA.

Nowadays, I use the slimline TL couplings although height remains an issue as not all buffers on stock are level (???).
I use a home-made uncoupling device rather than relying on ramps so I can uncouple anything anywhere.  That still means the "hand from the sky" but as its only a private layout, thats OK for me.

I have never used Kadees as they have a reputation for being fiddly - whether this is fair or not I'm not sure.

Barry

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Peter, there will be so many views on this subject.
We all have our personal preference which are mainly dictated by price, practicability and whether we can be bothered to actually change from the stock coupling supplied with the rolling stock.
For my 3 penneth worth, like you, I have a mixture.
My couplings are either the ones supplied with the rolling stock/loco's or Spratt and Winkle.
The Spratt and Winkle are a joy to put together if you like the solder gun and are less obtrusive than the normal ones supplied.
Your choice of coupling will also be governed by the lengths that you may wish to go to, to un-couple.
My lay out doesn't have magnets but strategically placed servos under the base board that operate a suitably disguised 'plate' between the rails to lift up the 'hook'. It also works with the Spratt and Winkle coupling with a bit of extra solder to a tag that hangs down from the coupling plate to meet the servo plate in the rails.
It is easier than it sounds. The servos are operated through an Arduino circuit board and I have the programme if any one wishes to have a bash.

Long winded but I hope of some help.

Sol
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I am keeping out of this as my preference is Kadee as most of you know & fitted them to 4 wheelers as the local mob here in Aust fitted knuckles to their 4 wheelers in real life. They may look weird on UK stock but I use them for operational purposes, not looks.

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I am happy to stay with Hornby-style tension lock couplings for normal use, but I do use some close couplings or Kadees, mostly within sets. Modelling BR Southern Region and its predecessors means that many (but not all) of my coaches are in fixed sets, so using the above-mentioned types makes some sense. With the Kadees, I actually cut off the dropper arms within the sets because I don't want these sets to be divided during normal uncoupling operations; the whole set gets shunted. The outer ends of each set retain tension lock couplings.

I also use Kadees for inter-unit couplings for EMU stock. Many of these have conductive couplings within the sets, but work better with fairly rigid couplings between the units when in multiple - all of my Bachmann MLVs, 4 CEPs and 2 EPBs have Kadee #20 couplings at the outer ends, as do the Hornby 4 VEPs, 2 BILs and 2 HALs. Bachmann's 2H DEMUs are similarly treated.

Intermodal and bogie container wagons also get Kadees fitted.

It may seem a little counter-intuitive that I use the Kadees for fixed sets rather than for convenient magnetic uncoupling, which is their most touted feature, but they do provide a more rigid coupling between vehicles allowing the close-coupling mechanisms to adjust in and out, where the tension locks don't really work well for this.

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Kadees. Length of choice for close coupling, remove magnetic actuator pins for fixed rakes, easy to install. Downside for UK stock are those steel axles, plus fixed position decoupler magnets. And none uniformity to NEM standards. 

That said, next layout will have 3 link chains, sprung buffers and shunters poles from the sky. Decoupling where I want, and no magnets to fix between or under the rails.


All couplers are a compromise. Even Kadees on NA stock. Kadees on 4 wheel UK wagons when short coupled look no worse than tension locks. If you have fixed rakes there is a large range of 3D printed UK prototype couplers available on Shapeways.


Nigel


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Kadees
I live with the unsightly magnets that I have scattered all round the layout.

The height gauge and adding plastic shims help with the height variance. Although I continue to get irritated with the droopy dapol version

I agree with Nigel......they look no more out of place than tension locks, particularly the old ones, on 4 wheelers.

Best wishes

John

The Q
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EM gauge Dingham,  I think the best looking auto coupler.  Many years ago I used spratt and winkle, Appropriate since the MSWJR had running powers on the spratt and winkle line. 
 N gauge    dingham don't go that small so probably spratt and winkles once the layout is ready to run. 

Petermac
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An interesting mix of couplings - thanks everyone for your  input.

Regarding Kadees, I think their look is perfectly acceptable from normal viewing distance - this isn't a layout for rivet counters - but I do get frustrated by several of their "quirks" in addition to the difficulties getting the height perfect.

I use the height gauge and, on some stock, that requires quite a bit of butchery and effort.  As I said earlier, I do occasionally suffer from an unexpected, and unexplained, uncoupling.  As John said, the visible magnets don't really bother me, in fact, I prefer the between the rails magnets to those under the tracks - I can easily adjust tracks, and building placement, without having to worry about moving magnets.  I think my main concern is that one has to decide exactly where one wants to uncouple - that, I find, requires forward planning - not good news for me ...............

I hate the old massive "D" TL's but aggree with others in that the modern small TL's don't look at all bad and, with a scratchbuilt "tool" are easy to uncouple - but then so are the Kadees ........................................if I can conquer the aforementioned snags !!


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The Q wrote: EM gauge Dingham,  I think the best looking auto coupler.  Many years ago I used spratt and winkle, Appropriate since the MSWJR had running powers on the spratt and winkle line. 
 N gauge    dingham don't go that small so probably spratt and winkles once the layout is ready to run. 

Only issues I found with Dingham couplers are they are fiddly (6 or 7 bends) and need some very fine soldering work to make, and they are handed. Which can pose problems. Still basically a hook and loop coupler that needs to be accurately positioned both vertically and horizontally. And works best with sprung buffers. 

For those in N scale Micro-Trains do Magna-Matic knuckle couplers.


Nigel


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I did look at the Dingham coupler but thought reversing would be a problem.  Maybe, with sprung buffers, they'd be better but buffer lock must still be a potential problem ..................... :roll: :roll: :roll:

The Q
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With my em gauge layout the minimum radius will be  6ft,  so buffer lock should not be a problem,  I've also taught soldering..  Both N gauge and EM layouts mostly will run trains in either direction any shunting will be done for trains in those directions. Coach sets may well be permanently three linked. 

Petermac
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Ahhhh - the luxury of a minimum 6ft radius curve - you must have a huge space at your disposal Q .....

Also, how will you cope with any points or crossovers - surely they'll be less than 6ft radius............. :roll: :roll:

Sol
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Peter, if Q has 6ft radius in EM gauge, then I guess he is handbuilding turnouts...

Petermac
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Yes indeed Sol. It may be that I misunderstood when he said he was building to a minimum radius of 6ft - I read that as for curves, not points................... :oops:

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I'm very slowly  building an EM gauge model of Ludgershall Wiltshire,  it will be true scale with points as per the dimensions of the original.  The shed I've built for it is 63ft by up to 16ft wide,  53ft length for the railway,  the station itself is 35ft long.  It's something I particularly want to do, the track has to be right,   my grandfather was ganger there.. The 6ft radius is the width of the shed at the narrow end ( the shed is on a wedge shaped piece of land. 
The N gauge layout  has priority at the moment, as I'm occupying a section of the MRC, the EM layout of a lifetime will really start advancing when I retire in 3 years time.. 

Petermac
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Good heavens Q - you've got a hanger there, not a shed !!!

What a fantastic space to work in - I'm so green.  I had about 30ft x 15ft for the old Maxmill and, in places, even that was a bit tight.

Hurry up and retire so we can see this masterpiece evolve. :thumbs

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The Q wrote: I'm very slowly  building an EM gauge model of Ludgershall Wiltshire,  it will be true scale with points as per the dimensions of the original.  The shed I've built for it is 63ft by up to 16ft wide,  53ft length for the railway,  the station itself is 35ft long.  It's something I particularly want to do, the track has to be right,   my grandfather was ganger there.. The 6ft radius is the width of the shed at the narrow end ( the shed is on a wedge shaped piece of land. 
The N gauge layout  has priority at the moment, as I'm occupying a section of the MRC, the EM layout of a lifetime will really start advancing when I retire in 3 years time.. 
Off topic slightly, but 35 feet is only around 0.5 miles in 4mm scale. Six feet radius is about 430 feet. Still tight for mainlines compared to prototypes. But ideal for model couplers that can work with sprung buffers.

Nigel



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Ludgershall station was originally built with just 300 ft platforms,  around 1905, they were lengthened for the military.  So the civilian side of the station  had nearly 900ft of platforms plus an additional bay platform.  Then there was a bridge,  a junction for the Tidworth branch with the space between branch and mainline filled with goods yard and nearly another 1000ft of platforms purely for the military.  Hence the long length of the station. 
Permission was granted for the shed as one end was built semi circular as an art studio for SWMBO.  Below the layout for half the shed is her art storage,  above the windows are her art books.

The other end is the model railway workshop area. Each board will be built to be removed back to the workshop. So the boards sit on a vast table of a shape matching Ludgershall station.  On its return down the other side,  will be Collingbourne station only 2ft wide but 18ft long with sidings. Convienently Collingbourne platforms are just 300ft long,  which fitted neatly on a 4ft board,  which has been completed in white,  IE Landscaped only. 

At that point I inherited the N gauge layout here... https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=38780.0 
So Since then work has concentrated on that layout, I've only exhibited that at our club open day as a work in progress.  
As for this week thoughts are with our show,  on Thursday I drive from Scotland to Norfolk,  on Friday by lunch time I'll be at the MRC loading up,  then we drive to Aylsham,  move 100+chairs and a stage, set up for our show. By 18:00 some layouts and traders will  arrive. At 07:00 well be back at the hall saturday morning. Getting the majority of layouts in.  Opening at 10:00 after stewarding for the day,  then we get all the traders and layouts out clean the floors. Relay the chairs and stage ready for the church service in the morning.  Then drive back to catfield unload everything back into the club house.  And head for home... 

http://broadlandmodelrailwayclub.co.uk/2019-exhibition/

BCDR
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Quiet relaxing weekend then. 

Nigel

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Late to this as usual...Small tension locks for me on OO, a small strip of stiff clear acrylic sheet which can be 'sprung' between two appropriately spaced sleepers serves as an unobtrusive uncoupling ramp. This has the advantage of being able to be moved about until the most effective place to site it is found. It doesn't get round the uncoupled push facility of some systems, but two or even three 5/16" wide by 1-1/2" long strips of acrylic are easilt overlooked on a longish siding. On Bear's End I found they lost their springiness after about 6 months but are simply replaced.

Douglas

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Well our show went well,  however I got persuaded to run a layout while the owner was lunch... It was a three link coupled 4 mm scale  shunting layout...arrgghhhIt looks good but a nightmare to operate at a show... And I think the hand of God going over the top destroys any illusion. 

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I couldn't agree more Q.

In days of yore, I always thought 3 link couplings at shows were terrible.  They obviously look fantastic - thoroughly authentic but that great hand from above, with a rod (often with a light on the end) and bent pin totally destroys the illusion. 

Additionally, one of my pet hates is that back and forth shuffling of wagons within a train - it's terrible with 3 link couplings.  It highlights the fact that a) they're very light,  b), they're empty and c) the loco has a somewhat jerky pull.  Maybe many only have lumpy 2 pole motors installed, dirty wheels or less than smooth power output.    Some kind of resistance on one axle on every wagon/coach would, I think, easily stop it.  It's less noticable with TL couplings but it's still there and it still annoys me.

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Horses for courses. 

A totally realistic scale model will have 3 link, instanter or screw link couplers. and shunters with working arms and legs. Or if modern some variation of a knuckle coupler. Working models that involve shunting will have a representative coupler. Or over-scale hand's and poles.That's in HO or OO. Gets worse in N, better in O.


As for loose coupled wagons banging around? That's what they did on the prototype when shunting, starting or stopping. Another compromise related to the sharp point radius we use in our usually far from scale layouts. Q is just about there with a six-foot radius. Anything else is an issue as spring buffers will lock once opposing heads slide off each other.


Ease of use and minimal or no work for UK stock? TL's. Magnetic uncoupling? KD's.  They also give a representation of vacuum or air pipes (hands up, who models working pipes? They are available). Anything else is fiddly and still a compromise.


Best couplers I saw in operation were on a rake of LMS passenger coaches that John (Brossard) had running a few years ago. Hard brass wire parallel bar "loop" on one coach end, small right angle down hook in the middle of the end of it's opposite. Close coupled, gangways in place (hands up, who has working gangways? Passengers - please mind the 10 foot gap!), they were not noticeable unless you were told. 


While I am on a roll here, for the GWR folks, how many of us model that rigid bar connector along with the buffer beams between those close coupled B-sets? Or that Cardan shaft between an autocar and the engine that provided the regulator linkage? 


Where I live decoupling from the sky is taken as normal. Compromise is normal in this hobby. And especially so in under-gauge OO. I compromise with EM as it means most RTR stock is easily modified. Or as it turns out sometimess, not. Or maybe, we don't know (recent response from a UK model locomotive supplier currently at the CAD stage of a forthcoming release. I recon for £150 plus sound decoder they should. I digress).


YMR. Rule 1. Use what works for you. Model: a three dimensional representation, usually on a smaller scale. 


Nigel




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Late to the party Peter....but here is my two pennies worth.
I really wanted hands off shunting, coupling and uncoupling.  So I have gone with Kadees for freight stock.  I don't have a lot yet, but will convert what I do have and all new stock.  I did plan where under track magnets would go..... but then  when actually running a practice session or 5, discovered I wanted a couple more options.  The much documented 5 square magnets worked perfectly (once I had worked out polarity issues) and are pretty much unnoticeable (as opposed to invisible).

My passenger stock will be pretty much set up as fixed rakes, I won't be changing them around.  For now I will keep TLs for them..... although I have seen magnetic couplings that look quite interesting.

To me it seems sensible to choose the coupling for what you want to achieve - be that function, aesthetics or reliability.

Regards

Michael

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Thanks for your input Michael.  :thumbs

Interesting that the "5 square magnets" worked well for you.  I presume you're talking about the neodymium magnets placed between the rails ............ :roll: :roll:

My initial thoughts were to adopt that system but then I read all sorts of conflicting reports about problems associated with the metal axles on UK rolling stock, some even suggesting changing the wheelsets for non-magnetic US versions.

I assume you run "normal" UK outline stock and if so,  have you experienced any such problems - particularly where you have the rare-earth magnets installed ?

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Hi Peter - you are right in your assumptions.  
I only  really experienced a problem if wagons were light in weight.  However, a small piece of sponge between the axle and the bottom of the wagon, acting as a sort of brake solved it simply and it isn't visible so it isn't a problem.  Heavier wagons haven't, so far, been a problem.

Regards

Michael

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Thanks Michael - I'll continue swapping my TL's for Kadees in that case. :thumbs

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Hi all
Having used 3-link when I could see things without glasses and now TLs, I have to admit that the hands-on shunting pole brings me closer to the operation - I become the shunter as it were

I do understand the hands-off approach and the better looks of KDs but the hands-on allows me to accept the "hand from the sky" compromise

As has been said, Rule 1 applies

Barry


                 

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