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Replacement couplers...?


Sheffie

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It’s looking like I really need some better couplers for my Farish coaches, and possibly other British rolling stock. 

 

I say this because the coaches are coming uncoupled on curves, and on small changes in elevation /slope. 

 

Meanwhile my old Kato Hankyu 6300 (?) — which also features basic couplers — is negotiating the same track with adroitness, even aplomb. My test train of five assorted Kokis also passed these tests with rolling colors. I know I need to test more rolling stock to be certain but right now it looks like Japanese = good, British = bad. 

 

It looks like the couplers fit into a standard rectangular box (standard = Farish and Dapol use them) which is attached to the bogey and the underside of the carriage in some non-trivial way. The box has a slit on either side which widens to a circular hole that holds a plastic “pin” on the coupler. I’ll try to get a photo of this because the description is far from ideal. 

 

Point is. To what extent are aftermarket couplers going to be interchangeable? Do I need to restrict myself to Farish or Dapol products? 

 

Any info welcome!

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You have not specified how old your coaches are. It is important to know as Bachmann (Graham Farish) redesigned the coupler and moved away from Rapido couplers in 2009.

 

These notes were complied on RMWeb where the question was raised due to the same problems you have.

 

 

There's a whole gambit of coupling options in N gauge.

 

Main N Gauge coupler types

 

Arnold Rapido - a chunky squared-off knuckle style hook coupler usually moulded in strong plastic and offering push together coupling. Uncoupling requires that one of the couplers is raised up either by ramp or by adapting the coupler with a small piece of metal (such as a track pin or the Peco coupler lift arms Ref NR-103) which is then attracted by magnet to make the coupler move/pivot. The stock end of the coupler is usually housed in a largish rectangular box, that also often includes a spring, and which is attached to either a bogie or directly under the chassis.

 

Kadee/MictroTrains - sophisticated working miniature buck-eye style coupler that offers automatic functionality for coupling and un-coupling making it suitable for shunting, and is commonly found/used on American N scale trains. Atlas also produce an MT compatible version known as Accurail.

 

Fleischmann Profi - is designed for reliable auto-coupling and delayed uncoupling, rather than aesthetics, and is consequently almost as ugly and as bulky as the Arnold Rapido.

 

Tomix TN - is a range of well regarded couplers from Tomix that includes a buck-eye style version and a miniature working Scharfenberg/BSI type prototype coupler in a range of mounts more suited for close coupling of fixed rakes rather than for shunting. The Scharfenbergs clip-couple up when pushed together, but require significantly more force to separate. The new Dapol Class 156 Sprinter and Class 153 DMU railcar are fitted with these type of couplers on the outer ends. However, they offer realistic looks and close scale coupling.

 

Generic buck-eyes (see 2.2, 3.1 and 3.2) - are relatively neat and small, but usually limited in functionality, although some provide for a closer to scale coupling gap.

 

Specialist ???home made??™ types (see 4.2 to 4.7) - usually of a swinging hook/latch design that are assembled from etched brass/wire, and need accuracy to install and align, However, when set up they can provide reliable automatic coupling and uncoupling functionality, although uncoupling is usually limited to occur at a line-side located magnets or electro-magnets.

 

1.0 Options for adapting existing fitted Arnold Rapido style couplers

 

1.1 N Brass etched brass hook. Requires Rapido coupling hook head to be trimmed and etched hook to be folded and glued to coupler. Simple, cheap and reduces coupling gap,

1.2 Bespoke adaptation of existing Rapido coupler by making and locating a new spring forward on the part of the shank within the pocket (see article in NGS journal 5/04). This helps reduce the coupling distance without adulterating the coupling hook/head.

 

2.0 Options to fit NEM sockets

 

NEM standard coupling pockets offer simple push in - pull out installation. Most new stock is now fitted with this style of coupler socket.

 

2.1 Shorter shank Rapido couplers are now available from Farish/Bachmann (ref 379-402 NEM short couplings).

2.2 Manufacturers (i.e. Dapol) own buck-eye knuckle style coupler (usually supplied as alternatives to Rapidos with NEM socket fitted stock).

2.3 Profi coupler from Fleischmann. Bulky/large coupler that offers full auto coupling/uncoupling functionality.

2.4 Kadee/MicroTrains buck-eye style knuckle couplers offering magnetically operated full function coupling/uncoupling. Unfortunately despite a promise for development this is still awaiting production.

 

3.0 Options to fit Rapido box pockets

 

Traditionally just abut all stock was fitted with this type of pocket to accept the standard Arnold Rapido coupler. However, there are many subtly different types of pocket and style of coupler operation. They broadly fall in to two camps; those fitted with a spring and those without such as the Peco ELSIE type. Although the alternative style of coupler options to fit the pocket are claimed to be twist and push in, they are generally more fiddly to install than NEM types, may require trimming to fit particular socket boxes and will not fit the ELSIE pocket without significant alteration.

 

3.1 Two part buck-eye style knuckle coupler from Kato (ref 11-702 JR JNR coupling replacement). Although this provides just a small coupling distance improvement it is a smaller and neater looking coupler with push together coupling but no auto-uncoupling functionality.

3.2 One piece buck-eye style knuckle coupler called Unimate from Red Caboose. Smaller and simpler than the Kato and offered in a range of short, medium and long shank lengths to significantly improve coupling distance although no auto-coupling/un-coupling functionality.

3.3 A limited range of short, medium and long shank length fully functioning buck-eye style knuckle couplers from MicroTrains (ref 1128/1129/1130).

3.4 A limited range of Tomix TN couplings that fit the Rapido pocket box (ref 0381 which is a Sharfenberg style coupler and ref 0391 which is a buck-eye type)

 

4.0 Options not using existing mounts

 

Generally these are the most fiddly and difficult solutions that require a decent level of skill, and often including soldering, to assemble and install. Plus the mounting of them is usually more critical and can require significant butchery to the model including cutting away the Rapido socket box..

 

4.1 Fit yourself Tomix TN Scharfenburg style couplers complete with articulated close coupling swing housing for installation in place of Rapido box. .

4.2 Assemble and fit yourself MT coupling.

4.3 Assemble and fit yourself DG coupling.

4.4 Assemble and fit yourself B&B coupling.

4.5 Assemble and fit yourself MBM coupling.

4.6 Assemble and fit yourself MBD coupling. No soldering required, although fiddly, and works with some of the other types (see article in NGS journal 3/07).

4.7 Assemble and fit yourself Sprat and Winkle coupling.

4.8 Make and fit yourself Alex Jackson style coupling

4.9 Make and fit yourself hook and eye/bar style coupler

4.10 Make and fit yourself three link and hook style coupler

 

 

Two quite updates to that

 

Profi couplers fit the Farish "box" design (as it is based on the continental coupler box). If you want functionality as a priority they are superb couplers, they don't tend to randomly come apart on uneven track like the microtrains ones, they delayed uncouple and they are reliable. They are however no more visually pretty than rapido, but they do autocouple/uncouple etc excellently - great for little shunting planks. There is also a profi "close coupler" unit which is brilliant for sorting out the Farish long wheelbase vans and making them close couple and although intended for a Profi coupler head can of course be abused for other things.

 

Several of the Scharfenberg type designs will fit Farish coupling pockets. They are great for DMUs as you can 'prune' the plumbing each side easily to get a BSI style coupler that works for DMUs and is very realistic looking.

 

The fixed coach rakes I run have unimate buckeyes internally along with TPM retracted buffers so that they really close couple, ditto fixed wagon block trains that don't get uncoupled on the layout and the DMU stock has "pruned" kato scharfenbergs. Farish now sell multiple lengths of rapido which is also progress.

 

It is possible to do uncoupling with rapido couplers - there is a peco thing and a better seep one for magnetic uncoupling of modified couplers while several mainland european vendors sell rapido uncouplers that are mechanical (lift arm) style, or you can knock them up out of bits of plasticard pretty easily if you don't need a fancy long range operating function.

 

FYI - https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/5603-uncoupling-in-n-gauge/

Edited by Doddy
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3 hours ago, Sheffie said:

It looks like the couplers fit into a standard rectangular box (standard = Farish and Dapol use them) which is attached to the bogey and the underside of the carriage in some non-trivial way. The box has a slit on either side which widens to a circular hole that holds a plastic “pin” on the coupler. I’ll try to get a photo of this because the description is far from ideal. 

 

 

2 hours ago, Doddy said:

You have not specified how old your coaches are. It is important to know as Bachmann (Graham Farish) redesigned the coupler and moved away from Rapido couplers in 2009.

 

 

From the description it sounds very much like NEM couplers.

 

3 hours ago, Sheffie said:

It’s looking like I really need some better couplers for my Farish coaches, and possibly other British rolling stock. 

 

I say this because the coaches are coming uncoupled on curves, and on small changes in elevation /slope. 

 

Meanwhile my old Kato Hankyu 6300 (?) — which also features basic couplers — is negotiating the same track with adroitness, even aplomb. My test train of five assorted Kokis also passed these tests with rolling colors. I know I need to test more rolling stock to be certain but right now it looks like Japanese = good, British = bad.

 

Sadly this is a known issue with Farish/Dapol coaches. It annoyed me so at one point that I threw together a random rake of rapido coupler equipped stock from multiple other manufacturers spanning a production period of 3 or 4 decades - it did many laps of the layout without uncoupling (until a GDR-era Piko coach more-or-less fell apart, but those are notoriously unstable anyway).

 

In theory the NEM pockets make it possible to use other coupling types which may be more stable. I have a vague plan to try Fleischmann Profi-Kupplungen (mentioned above), which came in handy with a German-outline coach with a slightly bent coupling attachment which wouldn't stay coupled with a normal rapido - the Profi-Kuppling seem to allow more vertical play. The Dapol buck-eye knuckle style couplers mentioned might also be worth a try.

 

However here is a possible issue with earlier Farish NEM pockets in that they messed up the measurements so it's hard to fit replacement couplings. I ran into this while trying to fit short Rapido couplings made by Farish and they wouldn't fit. Pity because the Mk1s in particular are lovely models.

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The Dapol knuckles do work and are less obtrusive, I fitted them to a Farish DMU (and the Dapol single car dummy it runs with) and it's fine in both directions.

 

What I'm not so impressed by is the lack of NEM couplers which lock into a rigid bar when coupled. Profis do but are expensive and hard to find here, and it doesn't look as if Farish or Dapol understand the problem. Basically, in order for the close coupler mounts to work reliably in both directions the couplers need to lock together rigidly. If they can flex (like Rapidos or the Dapol knuckles) then the mounting arms don't get steered properly and jam against the bogies, especially when propelling. This is the cause of most problems with swinging coupler mounts.

 

There's also the problem of them not understanding that NEM couplers and pockets are a set of standards to follow. Looking at you here Dapol with your two lengths of knuckle, which won't close couple your MK3s without kludges like fitting long and short ones at alternate coach ends. Silly thing is they do make some for their modern DMUs which are very similar to Tomix Shibatas, but they won't just sell a bag of NEM-compliant coupler heads...

 

Fleischmann, Marklin and Roco all manage it in HO (Roco with two different designs, one of which is compatible with Marklin close couplers and standard Euro hook and loop couplers going back to the 50s).

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It seems that the best option for me is to get some Dapol “NEMCOUPL” knuckles, which seem cheap enough. I just need to find somewhere that isn’t charging £40 shipping 😕 

 

Update:

Ordered: 4x https://www.gaugemasterretail.com/magento/dapol-danemcoup.html
So I should have 20 long and 20 short couplers. Hopefully this will be enough.

Edited by Sheffie
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The Dapol NEM couplers are in place. 

 

The newer (era 7: 1970’s) coaches showed the biggest improvement. 

6ADD0F9E-249D-4C1E-81CA-679D8B18D38D.thumb.jpeg.5c955f08c16c7238e93150e99ea88249.jpeg

With the supplied Rapido couplers, the gap is easily 4mm. 

 

DB7A7CFA-72A5-4A13-99FB-6B3E72E35785.thumb.jpeg.93863c175c4d3fdf09ebc39d832ab90a.jpeg

With two short-arm knuckles, it’s more like 1mm. This isn’t a problem on curves because the NEM pockets are mounted on the bogeys, and the ends of the coaches aren’t pulled together on corners. 

 

Bonus pic:

70D6B057-14F0-4800-B7B2-74A3A04441AD.thumb.jpeg.3ed197119cfa69e5ff0344e5cf4c1fcc.jpeg

 

I was very happy with the level of detail on the 1st/buffet coach. The door handles are painted with a metallic brass colour. This makes me very happy. 

 

Results were not as good with the green era 5 (1950’s-60’s) coaches. These models had the NEM pockets mounted on flexible arms that are pushed sideways by the bogeys. The knuckles were not happy with that arrangement. Perhaps if I’d paid the big money for the magnetic version they would have stayed together, but as fitted they would come apart with even a slight vertical movement, e.g. going over points. In the end I used short lengths of rubber sleeve to wrap the knuckles and prevent them coming apart. 

 

None of this is prototypical... but neither are rapidos, and in terms of looks and functionality this was a major win in both cases. 

Edited by Sheffie
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This seems to be the issue with any knuckle couplers. If there is any significant vertical movement, then the consist falls apart. I discovered this with my HO stock and Kadees. The Tomix Kokis needed an underset shank which are not readily available in Japan. I think Kato import Kadee for their own needs and most stockists obtain them through them.

 

I know with my N gauge Dapol rolling stock, Maunsell coaches and terriers, I got a range of coupler options with NEM pocket attachments. 

 

Arnold

Magnetic coupler (these still look very large on a terrier)

Regular knuckle

Short knuckle

 

 

41658D9C-2C92-4D34-9FF5-D55E7E8F2771.jpeg

 

Those Mark 2s and the 37 look very nice. I really don’t need the temptation for British stock at the moment.

Edited by Kamome
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Knuckles are accurate for BR coaching stock. They adopted the Pullman gangway design which has a drophead knuckle. For coupling to anything without a knuckle you pull a pin, hinge the head down to reveal a conventional hook, and pull the buffers out (there are cast saddles which fit over the shafts to keep them extended).

 

For anything with a matching knuckle (LNER gangwayed coaches and Pullman stock used them too) you leave the buffers retracted. The gangway itself is sprung to take buffing/compression loads. This is why locos fitted with them usually have a roughly H shaped plate on the bufferbeam. It's there to give the gangway of the first coach something to lean against, especially when using a DBSO or DVT and the loco propelling.

 

I do wish Tomix would offer their bulk packs with an NEM fitting (their knuckles click together rigidly) but as it isn't a Japanese standard that's unlikely.

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