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Coupler Tinkering - Rapido pocket knuckle coupler bible-ish


disturbman

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disturbman

After an unsatisfying try at equipping my Tomix KoKis and TaKis with more realistic couplers, I ordered a range of Rapido pocket mounted knuckle couplers from Greenmax, Kato, and Kato Roundhouse to tinker with.

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I compared Tomix TN 'S coupling' couplers with Greenmax knuckle couplers (8055/8056 & 8053/8054) and Kato knuckle couplers (11-702/11-707). I'm still waiting for a bag of Kato Roundhouse 'Kamome' couplers to have a clear overview but so far, Greenmax's are my favourite.

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Greenmax (8055/8056 & 8053/8054)

Their heads are particularly small and unnoticeable. The short shanks make the head perfectly flush with the body of Tomix wagons (TaKi & KoKi). The only limitation is that the couplers need to be coupled manually and do not couple automatically. They will be better for relatively permanent formations.

The medium shank couplers are compatible with Micro Ace WaMus and do not require any cutting and modification. As often reported with Kato Roundhouse 'Kamome' couplers, Greenmax short shank coupler is too short and the head hit some details on the WaMu body.

I would love to find a shank length sitting between the short and medium, as the medium can be longer than some Rapido shank length. Notably on MA 10 series passenger cars.


Tomix TN 'S coupling'
The worst of the three I tried so far. In my experience, those Rapido pocket mounted couplers are almost impossible to couple together as they move away from one another when coupling and one need to force the coupling.

As much as I love body mounted TN couplers, I am going to stay away from those Rapido pocket couplers. They also only marginally reduce the space between cars as demonstrated in the bellow picture. They also do not fit some MA Rapido pockets.
 

1838517761_knucklecoupler_02.thumb.png.bce993a297f9ffb5f9cef7d28d283ac8.png

Kato(11-702/11-707)
A sturdy and bulky classic. Their shanks are the longest of the three and do not bring the size of the gap between cars down from normal Rapidos. Like the TNs and unlike the Greenmax couplers, their bases are relatively bulky and it's not always possible to keep the spring inside the pocket without cutting the spring.

Obviously, none of these couplers are compatible together. I believe there is a fifth type of knuckle couplers by another manufacturer that might be inter-compatible but I would need to remember their name and source some.

I will do another report once I receive the 'Kamome' couplers.

Edited by disturbman
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Thanks so much vincent, I’ve wanted to do this myself and have been collecting various couplers to compare like this! 
 

jeff

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disturbman

De nada. I got tired of picking up Tomix couplers and having issues installing them and/or coupling. The Greenmax are definitely the most versatile, followed by Kato, but having to removed or cut the spring is not ideal. I'm really curious about the 'Kamome' couplers, I know Japanese modelers used them a lot.

Edited by disturbman
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disturbman

Micro Ace WaMu 80000/280000/380000

For me, the best WaMu 80000 model on the market. Unfortunately, equipping these with smaller and more realistic couplers comes with a set of specific challenges.

The mouth of the coupler pocket is too wide for Tomix TN couplers and requires small pieces of cardboard or plastic to be inserted inside the coupler's pocket, between the coupler base and the pocket mouth; short shank couplers like Greenmax 8055/8055 or Kato Roundouse 'Kamome' couplers cannot be installed as the coupler head bumps against some details on the WaMu shell; to use Kato (11-702/11-707), the springs needs to be removed and the coupler has almost no movement.

1052770506_ma_wamucoupler_01.thumb.png.ab117e71355bbe0ee80ad76d0d144ce5.png

However, Greenmax (8053/8054) can be used without any issue and reduce the distance between wagons, providing the second shortest between the four options: Rapido, Kato (11-702/11-707), Greenmax (8053/8054), Tomix TN. The TNs are shorter due to the addition of the carboard/plastic bits inside the coupler pocket. The difference between Kato, Greenmax and Tomix must be a about a millimeter between each. That difference is not readily visible in the picture above.

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Dinosbacsi
11 minutes ago, disturbman said:

to use Kato (11-702/11-707), the springs needs to be removed and the coupler has almost no movement.

Yeah, I just got some Kato 11-703 couplers recently as well, and it's really weird that their T-shaped ends are so big. Even the instructions sheet tells you to remove the spring from the housing, wonder why they tought it's a good idea. And to me the clip onto the coupler housing couldn't even snap back on properly.

 

These Greenmax ones however look much better, they seem to have the same sized ends as the original Rapido ones, so they should have the same free movement. Do they perhaps also sell shibata style EMU coupler as well, or just the knucle couplers? Because if so, they might be a better alternative than the Kato 11-703 ones.

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disturbman

They have free movement. As I said, their only downside is that the cars need to be manually coupled. The couplers don't automatically slot into one another.

Greenmax doesn't sell boggie-mounted Shibata couplers, as far as I know only Kato have these. I have some but the issue you mentioned spoils a bit the fun. I had trouble inserting them in some coupler pockets.

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Dinosbacsi
42 minutes ago, disturbman said:

Greenmax doesn't sell boggie-mounted Shibata couplers, as far as I know only Kato have these. I have some but the issue you mentioned spoils a bit the fun. I had trouble inserting them in some coupler pockets.

Yes, I also had to make quite a bit of cutting to make them work. I installed them on B Train Shorties running on 150mm and 117mm curves, so the lack of free movement on the couplers meant that the train always got stuck in the curve.

 

Had to cut around all sides of the T-shaped coulper ends to the point where they are roughly the same size as the original Rapido ones, so they have free movement in their housing, and I could even install the original spring back. This way only the coupler part needed cutting, and everything else on the chassis could stay as it is, without any irreversable damage/modification.

 

I do wonder why Kato thought it's a good idea to make a coupler that has no free movement at all, though.

 

But the end results are good. This way the couplers move freely and allow the train to even take the 117mm curves.

yO0kGtL.jpgl.

aRhNYWe.jpg

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roadstar_na6

Usually the spring can just be squished in the box as well, it doesn't really serve any purpose in terms of buffering anymore tho but just as something to keep the coupler from moving too much.

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Dinosbacsi
1 hour ago, roadstar_na6 said:

Usually the spring can just be squished in the box as well, it doesn't really serve any purpose in terms of buffering anymore tho but just as something to keep the coupler from moving too much.

It does make the couplers go back into their original position though, to keep the space between the cars consistent, doesn't it? I mean without the spring, a free moving coupler would get pushed into the housing (if the car was being pushed).

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roadstar_na6
15 minutes ago, Dinosbacsi said:

[...]

 

On some cars yes, on some cars the Knuckle itself is already sitting in the box quite tightly and can't move anywhere; hence why Kato says to just remove the spring.

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Guys - just accept, love, and cherish the simple rapido coupler. Nay, worship it for it's near perfect functionality. Happiness and bliss shall be yours!!

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I take the spring outvif it dont fit. No issues. Tomix pockets have a little rib inside the pocket that hold the kato knuckle coupler tight in there.

 

Cannot comment for other types.

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1 hour ago, gavino200 said:

Guys - just accept, love, and cherish the simple rapido coupler. Nay, worship it for it's near perfect functionality. Happiness and bliss shall be yours!!

So sayith brother Gavin from the church of rapido. All bow to the giant hook!

 

jeff

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31 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

So sayith brother Gavin from the church of rapido. All bow to the giant hook!

 

jeff

 

Blessed be thy trucks and bogies, Brother Jeff! May the hook reign eternal! 

 

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I must admit the coupling of good old rapidos warm the cockles of my heart. I took two semesters of anatomy in college and never once did I have to identify a cockle in the heart, probably 75 other things, but never a cockle…

 

jeff

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15 hours ago, cteno4 said:

So sayith brother Gavin from the church of rapido. All bow to the giant hook!

 

15 hours ago, gavino200 said:

Blessed be thy trucks and bogies, Brother Jeff! May the hook reign eternal! 

 

That's not the English I have learned at school. You have to teach me 😀

Edited by Madsing
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disturbman
18 hours ago, gavino200 said:

Guys - just accept, love, and cherish the simple rapido coupler. Nay, worship it for it's near perfect functionality. Happiness and bliss shall be yours!!


Says our dear Brother-in-Trains that only collects Kato Godly Products that come without Rapido.

Edited by disturbman
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14 hours ago, cteno4 said:

I must admit the coupling of good old rapidos warm the cockles of my heart. I took two semesters of anatomy in college and never once did I have to identify a cockle in the heart, probably 75 other things, but never a cockle…

 

jeff

A cockle is an edible, marine bivalve mollusc. Jeff, if you have cockles in your heart it may be time to see medical attention. 🤣

 

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50 minutes ago, disturbman said:


Says our dear Brother-in-Trains that only collects only Kato Godly Products

 

 Train-wise I'm non-denominational. Come one, come all! 😜 (Though historically I've had a predilection for Kato).

 

50 minutes ago, disturbman said:

that only come without Rapido.

 

What you talkin'bout Willis?? Apart from special trains, most of my Kato stock come with the Holy Hook!

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14 minutes ago, tossedman said:

A cockle is an edible, marine bivalve mollusc. Jeff, if you have cockles in your heart it may be time to see medical attention. 🤣


then why do things warm the cockles of your heart? Curious minds wait with baited breath! (Maybe from eating raw cockles)

 

jeff

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S

29 minutes ago, cteno4 said:


then why do things warm the cockles of your heart? Curious minds wait with baited breath! (Maybe from eating raw cockles)

 

jeff

Sorry, I was referring to the wrong cockles. Apparently "to warm the cockles of one's heart is to gratify; to make someone feel good. This term comes from the Latin for the heart’s ventricles, cochleas cordis, and has been used figuratively since the late seventeenth century. “This contrivance of his did inwardly rejoice the cockles of his heart,” wrote John Eachard (Observations upon the Answer to Contempt of Clergy,1671)."

 

OK, now back to couplers.

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Doh! Should have figured the Latin in anatomy, my dyslexic brain rarely makes the translation, but makes sense ventricles do look like cockles!

 

So you made me go look up bated breath. It’s bated (not a word) not baited. Abbreviation of abated for shorting of breath in anticipation. Than olde will…

 

What should I say to you? Should I not say
'Hath a dog money? is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?' Or
Shall I bend low and in a bondman's key,
With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this;
'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn'd me such a day; another time
You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much moneys'?


Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, 1596

 

now I know where it earwormed me in jr high.

jeff

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Welshbloke

One thing I've noticed is that the Kato shank is thicker than the Tomix one. Noticed this when I bought a used Tomix Hokutosei pack (probably the first they did) which someone had fitted Kato knuckles to. They'd had to carve the slots in the coupler pockets wider, so when I tried to retrofit Tomix ones (in the interests of compatibility as my loco hauled passenger fleet is all Tomix)...

 

I didn't know about the Greenmax shorties, they might be useful for another project I have (assembling a scale length Farish HST set and doing something about the huge gaps between coaches).

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Tony Galiani

Count me as someone who thinks the Rapido style coupler is a good design (if somewhat too large).  I remember when they first came out (am I getting old or what) and was pretty impressed back then.  They functioned better than what was then standard on HO scale stock in the US - the NMRA or X2f coupler and - and seemed better than the traditional UK style hook and loop coupler.

 

On modern European N rolling stock with close coupler mounts, the seem to work okay and the buffers make them less conspicuous.  But, for better or worse, my planned German themed N scale layout never gets going due to the absurd number of Japanese projects I have in my queue ....

 

Though, for appearance sake, I do plan to convert my Japanese stock to a better looking coupler.  But I am in no rush at this point.

 

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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Dinosbacsi
5 hours ago, Tony Galiani said:

Count me as someone who thinks the Rapido style coupler is a good design (if somewhat too large).

They are a great design for being a standard and easy to use model train coupler, that's for sure.

 

But since I switched to Kato 11-703 couplers, I noticed that it not only looks better and more realistic (I mean that part is obvious), but the tighter lock also makes my Shorty train derail much less. Previously it often jumped off the rails on my 150mm turnouts, or even at simple turns when more than 1 car was being pushed, or the Rapido couplers just decoupled themselves on tight curves. But since I have the Kato couplers on, they don't decouple that easily and seem to keep the train on track better.

 

Of course they're a bit harder to use, as decoupling is more difficult with them. But coupling is just as easy, simply push the two cars together.

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