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Thread: Questions about coupler operations

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    Default Questions about coupler operations

    I must be missing something. I just cannot get my MTL couplers to uncouple consistently (if at all). They work as they should, the "hoses" are at the proper height above the track, and engage one another as they should. I guess I can't seem to find the right magnet to make them work. I'm used to HO Kadee couplers which worked great nearly all the time. I'm getting so frustrated with trying to make them work that I'm about ready to pull all the pins off and just go with manual uncoupling.

    Any tips? What are you using as a magnet? Do you have it buried under the ties? Should I just move on with manual operation? I could use some advice from the experienced users. Thanks.

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    it is good to be familiar with HO versions....
    I want to state they are the same... however...

    what I have found it that the n-scale version is a lot tighter for correct operations.

    welcome to size and magnetics. the HO unit has more travel distance and a longer crank yada yada

    I tried to hit the MT specifications as best I could and that was most of the problem improved.

    reliable centering of the car and of the coupler over the ramp is one tough point.
    the other is that you may want to shorten the hanging end of the trip pin a bit.... and just a bit.
    this is to get more 'open' when the coupler trips

    the next part the the aim of the trip pin you have to move then a bit more toward center
    and we are back to careful centering.

    these are all related....

    the biggest headache for me was to get the coupler loose enough to operate.
    I want to say greasum does not really help?
    If the coupler is good to go greasum does not hurt a bit.
    I have never seen a shot of greasum make a problem coupler better...

    trip pin height does make a difference...
    and given the tight tolerances I make sure the hanging end of the trip pin is either curved up
    or has a ramp ground to help get the pin over any cross rails.

    The grinding pointed out to me that the shortened pin was helping somewhat.
    buut this could be the shape of the trip pin having an influence.

    last thing because the caboose is involved...
    I think electro-magnetic ramps are required if you want the last car in the train to stay attached.

    once you get a ramp reliable.... that last car will unhook. :-D

    victor
    Last edited by victor miranda; 14th Jun 2018 at 02:57 PM. Reason: forgot my name

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    Quote Originally Posted by IndyNScale View Post
    Should I just move on with manual operation? I could use some advice from the experienced users.
    Frankly, @IndyNScale, I've almost always used skewers, regardless of the brand of N scale couplers. Magnets have a way of occasionally causing false uncouplings -- not chronically, but enough to make me annoyed. You also have to do some funny maneuvers to shove a car.

    With a skewer, yes, it's the Big Hand From the Sky, but at least you can accurately spot a car or cut
    Paul Schmidt

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    Proud member of the Milwaukee Road Historical Association and the Southern Railway Historical Association

    Check out Appalachian Railroad Modeling!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post

    With a skewer, yes, it's the Big Hand From the Sky, but at least you can accurately spot a car or cut

    Its also (sort of) prototypical... the 1:1 guys don’t have automatic uncouplers...
    Never mistake a guy who talks a lot for a guy who has something to say...

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    Push the car to get some slack in the couplers, then pull. Eventually I came to accept that they don't all work all the time, skewer required. I can offer some pointers which may help.

    First of all, no other manufacturer's couplers that I've tried work better than MTL's. Most of them are far worse.

    For permanent installs MTL sells a section of code 80 straight track with the magnet installed. This magnet is precisely centered. IMO this track combined with MTL's truck mounted couplers and proper pin height are the standard against which to judge everything else. Various places sell little mini neodymium magnets that go on a plate under the ties. This is superior to the MTL track. They seem stronger, work better, and can be hidden from view. The HO Kadee under-track magnets are very strong too. I use these in situations where I need to toggle the magnet on and off. I install them on a hinge and push the hinge up with a dowel from the fascia when I want to uncouple. It is a challenge to get these centered - I found that typical hardware store hinges have too much slop for this. And while they can be installed under the road bed, they work better installed right under the ties. I never tried the electromagnet (I think from Peco).

    Failure modes:
    Coupler won't swing. You know about the trip pin height, that's the most important. Kadee makes a tube of graphite powder called Greas-em specifically to make sure the coupler swings. I use canned air first to clean any dust (coal in my case) out the coupler pocket first. Finally, if you put together your own couplers, they talk about burnishing the coupler pocket to avoid problems; its important. They suggest using the butt end of a drill bit but many of the bits nowadays are not chamfered and unchamfered bits can scratch. I use MTL's truck mounted couplers to avoid all that whenever possible.

    Bad centering causes both couplers to swing in the same direction instead of opposite direction. Lots of causes in addition to pin height.
    The track has to be straight. For truck-mounted couplers you need it to be straight an inch before the magnet to an inch after. For body mounts such as locomotives the straight section has to be as long as the two spotted cars plus the length of the magnet.
    The magnet has to be perfectly centered at both ends.
    The standards for N Scale allow slop between the rails and the wheel rims, allowing the axles to go off center which means the coupler goes off center. Usually if you push then pull back over the magnet a few times it will uncouple.

    Car is drawn to the magnet which keeps the coupler from opening, and looks pretty silly to boot. Say no to metal wheels and cars that are factory weighted with steel.
    Unwanted uncoupling. Solved by MTL 15 or 20 years ago by adding "reverse draft angle"s to the couplers.
    Truck mounted couplers derail on reverse moves. I read about this here but have not experienced it. All my cars have MTL truck-mounts and I regularly back long trains up thru turnouts.
    Slinky effect. I live with this; others add friction to a caboose axle.

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    Thanks guys. I have some powdered graphite that I've used sparingly. Seems from the collective that HO reliability is just not an option in N scale. That's okay. I think I'll experiment with removing the trip pins and just using a manual stick. Unfortunately, all my cars have metal wheel sets and I'm not going back to plastic. That was a problem when I experimented with some small rare-earth magnets. I think I may have used ones that are too strong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IndyNScale View Post
    Unfortunately, all my cars have metal wheel sets and I'm not going back to plastic.
    Not unfortunate, really. Plastic wheels pick up gunk and are more difficult to clean than metal. Metal wheesl add weight low down where it's needed, sound nicer, and look nicer.

    The only disadvantage to metal wheels occurs as you point out: with magnets between the rails.
    Paul Schmidt

    Southern Railway's Slate Fork Branch


    Proud member of the Milwaukee Road Historical Association and the Southern Railway Historical Association

    Check out Appalachian Railroad Modeling!

    Did l mention that I still like the SP&S?

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