About the blog

This rambling blog is about building a simple layout in HO, the available space is rather small but the prototype was not built on the grand scale, most rural stations were merely a curved loop and a siding, which is easy to replicate.

Monday, 30 April 2018

The search for a reliable coupling

For almost thirty years, I have used Kadees in one form or other, they have always been problematic, mostly due to the inconsistencies of the NEM362 KKK system. They are rather temperamental because they are susceptible to variation in both coupling and uncoupler height and I do not think that the 'shuffle dance' when uncoupling is particularly realistic.

Other European couplers require upward mechanical force to lift the couplings in order to release, all uncouplers on offers are simply appalling for one reason or another.

I don't want to butcher delicate plastic locos in order to fit the craftsman couplers favoured by British modellers, so what to do?

Why not go back to basics and rediscover the humble Märklin close coupling, it is compatible with the European standard and comes with most models. 

What is wrong with them? They require upward mechanical force to lift the couplings in order to release but they can be modified and even expensive brass stuff can be fitted with Weinert 8641 (see below) discrete couplings in place of the prototype couplings without major and expensive surgery.
I tried using the standard Piko Type A and removed the loops from the coupling on one end of each wagon except the coupling on each end of the train and all locos use only the hook. 

A neo micro-magnet is used to lift the loop from the hoop from above, the magnet is shown in the first photo. 


Cut-down Märklin coupling + Standard Piko Type A

Cut-down Märklin coupling + Märklin close coupling

Cut-down Märklin close with coupling loop and side pieces removed.

A further refinement is to use a Märklin close-coupling head for locos but to cut it down to just the hook and rudimentary loop, this has been done on the V36 above. The side pieces and loop lifter on the wagon's coupler have been removed as they are not needed, it makes the coupler much neater.

 This might sound a retrograde step but the Märklin is effective and the loco hooks are more discrete than other automatic systems.The result is close coupled because the NEM 362 KKK system is still used. 

  • Reliable coupling and uncoupling even on curves
  • Universally available
  • No modifications needed to rolling stock
  • Uncouple anywhere on the layout
  • No ugly uncoupling ramps
  • Lo-cost compared to Kadee
  • Discrete loco coupling - modified Märklin close coupling
  • No delayed coupling 
  • Not prototypical 
  • Limited operation but great for changing locos or running around at terminus

This development of the Märklin close coupling is a real game-changer. It combines the simplicity of a magnetic coupling but WITHOUT the ugly ramp (or hi-cost) with the reliability of a mechanically operated coupling. Only minor modifications are needed to the Märklin close coupling and uncoupling can be achieved anywhere on the layout that can be reached by hand.

 No Kadee ramps

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