(F) Hands On Operation - couplings?

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MilesB
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(F) Hands On Operation - couplings?

Postby MilesB » Mon Mar 22, 2004 1:01 pm

Just a few thoughts on hands-On operation, following the launch of my new layout on Saturday (see posting elsewhere).

The layout was designed to be 'Hands-On' operating, for a number of good reasons:

1) I have previously operated Chris Krupa's "Chirbrook Minerals" layout (OO9) and found that I enjoyed that method of operating - it is a lot more involving on very simple layouts - and I have a simple layout.

2) Speed and ease of construction. Hey it's the first layout I've ever got to a reasonably comple state - by sticking firmly to the KISS principle.

3) The 'real' line would have operated the points using point levers by the track, and used simple link and pin couplings - so it is being proyotypical.

4) Combining the comments above, the more involving operation makes up for the simplicity of the layout.

The result was that points are operated by Caboose Industries 'ground throws' - which look great, and are very satisfying to use. Couplings are those supplied with Steve Bennet's wagons.

The point levers are great, but the couplings.... Well this is a shunting layout, and, er, difficulties were had by both operators :oops: .

Now I like the look, concept and simplicity of the simple Link and Pin couplings, but operationally they are not 'user friendly' for a shunting layout. I've given this a good deal of thought, and have come to the conclusion that the buffer/couplers are just too small.

There are a number of problems:
a) Wagon spacing. My feeling is that the couplings are actually too short, as the wagon bodies are too close together. Using the Sidelines Mine Tubs (I have a rake of 5 for coal traffic) when buffered up the bodies look too close together - certainly a scale 6 inches or less appart (in 1:24) - which would make coupling by scale hand difficult.
b) The closeness of the wagon couplings makes operation by 'overscale' equipment even more difficult.
c) The links supplied are over long in order to help get around sharp curves - but I have a minimum radius of 24 inches (Peco Y points) and still occasionally had trouble when PROPELLING wagons. The problem appears to be that it is the links and not the buffer faces that carry the load of the train being propelled.

I want to stick with Link and Pin and not go down the automatic route.

What I intend to do is experiment with larger couplings. Dave Cox used link and pin couplings to great success on his 7mm scale Pentre Tramway, but the photo's that I have of the layout show that he was using much larger buffers than I am in the larger scale, thus overcomming the problems I outlined above.

Has anyone else come to the same conclusions? and or achieved a solution?

If I come up with a working alternative, is there any interest in 'mass production'

I am aware that Steve does supply a 'semi-circular' coupling (for locomotive use). Is there any feedback on the use of these?

Awaiting your responses

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Postby AndyTee » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:18 pm

Hey Miles!

I have sung the praises of KD' couplings elsewhere in these pages.

It's a statement of the bleeding obvious to point out that they are designed as 'automatic' couplings, but I have in the past had several discussions with folks of the 'hands-on' persuasion who use KD couplings as manual couplings - or at least as manual UNcouplings. One of the drawbacks of these couplings is the 'KD Shuffle', that back-forward-back movement needed to allow the couplings to part over a magnet if one wishes to propell uncoupled cars - often necessary unless there are a plethora of magnets located everywhere they may be necessary.

However if one cuts the 'trip pin' off more or less flush with the bottom of the knuckle, a rather nice semi-automatic coupling results. Visually things are improved since the prominent trip pin is gone, and the impression of 'air braked' stock given by the pin is also done away with. Coupling is still fully automatic, but uncoupling is accomplished by simply inserting a fine screwdriver between the knuckles and giving the wrist a slight twist. Uncoupling is no longer dependant on magnet location but can be performed anywhere. The only significant drawback is that it is no longer possible to propell uncoupled cars, they must be uncoupled at the point where the wagon is to be left.

I operated my 1/4 inch scale Irish stock in this manner and I have to agree that it was quite satisfying and although I have a real 'thing' about the great big hand in the sky, I am giving serious thought to operating my up-coming (in more than sixteen days!) operated-from-the-front 'G' layout this way.

:lol: Congratulations by the way on getting it done on time!
Cheers, Andy...

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link and pins and shunting

Postby MOG » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:36 pm

Playing around with exactly this problem last night.. I've been busy building 'Tuther End' for the SLR and really shunting is what it's about..as Miles said, I find that when propelling in particular I have problems. My locos actually have short two or three link chain couplings and I tend to decouple prior to 'shoving' but came to the conclusion that I need bigger buffers! (I found that 'Sooty's driver was actually using his substantial rear end to shunt wagons rather than the loco! :D )
It doesn't help that I'm using old jerky bashed locos really either, so I have decided to have a go at using the model power hustler or perhaps the BEC unit for my next loco (cost always in mind)..
Having recently got some US HO stuff from ebay and tried out the Kadees, I have to admit they are great and I will definitely not want to use orrible tension lock OO stuff BUT I also like the 'hands on' in this scale.. no matter how fiddly! I was thinking about trying the simpler American knuckle couplings too, as I've got a few from the stock that I've fitted Kadees on.
OR...I did mackle up some 'pole' couplings and I haven't tried them for shunting yet..
Seeing as everything else on SLR is entirely freelance, I suppose I needn't worry about authenticity too much :wink:
I was going to model some cosmetic levers for my points but I'm intrigued by the idea of these Caboose Industries Ground Throws.. not sure about the economies of ordering just two from across the big pond though.
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me again!

Postby MOG » Mon Mar 22, 2004 10:39 pm

sorry, just had a play using a short pole coupling..about half inch long I guess.. loads better! I'll probably have to make one for each loco because of the height of the buffers but that's no hardship.
Gave the locos a good clean too but they're just old and cranky I guess :?
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Back to hands-on operation

Postby Alan » Tue Mar 23, 2004 12:54 pm

Mister Bennett advocates D&G couplings and I intend to follow his example, purely because of the old Kadee shuffle!

I use H0 Kadees on my 0n30/0-16.5/0e equipment and it all works fine. I was led this way by the fellow members of my local Area Group. I have no regrets - mainly because we can all play trains together.

However, for the Gn15 stuff (which I'm modelling in ½" scale) I intend to use D&Gs because you don't have that shuffle and they look slightly less obtrusive.

I believe Steve was doing some testing on the radii that these little beauties will suffer but I don't recall seeing the results. As my layout will have somewhere around 9" radius curves, I'm guessing that there won't be a problem - leastways, not from couplings!
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MilesB
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Couplings

Postby MilesB » Tue Mar 23, 2004 1:14 pm

Hi guys,

Good feedback so far...

I am not a fan of Kadees, based on (a) price, (b) complexity, (c) look.
Also these - and many other automatic couplings need magnets installed in the track - and I am NOT going to install magnets retrospectively.

To use them as auto couplers, but manual uncouplers - I'm failing to see the advantages when offset against my comments above.

The use of British OO9 type NG couplings, such as PECO, BEMO, B&B or DG may be feasible - although I would tend to go for either the Greenwich Couplings (on grounds of loyalty 8) ) or Paul Windle's - cos their big.

The main issue with all of the above I suspect is radius of curves, combined with the length of stock and resulting offset of the couplings on curves. Yes I know that Kaydees are sprung pivited to avoid this - but they are affected by cost and complexity of fitting. Other couplings, fixed rigidly to the bufferbeams are likely to have alignment problems when coupling the loco to the wagons, or wagons of differing wheelbase/length.

Ho hum.

Interestingly, Heywood couplings consist of a centre buffer with an over the top latch. I know that Owen Ryder manufactures and uses these in O-9, so maybe it's worth trying something similar.

Keep up with the comments.

Thanx

Miles

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Hands On Operation

Postby Gerry Balding » Tue Mar 23, 2004 7:34 pm

Miles,

Well done on getting the layout ready on time. I'm looking forward to seeing the pics.

I've encountered the same problems with coupling. I found that the smaller Sidelines wagons can derail when being pushed, but I now just slow the loco down. I agree that a slow, smooth running loco is necessary for this type of operation.

My chosen method for coupling is the "big hand from the sky" I use a single link between wagons, but use a three link between the loco and first wagon. The coupling chain used is plug chain bought from my local DIY superstore - about £1.89 for a metre and lasts forever. The links are the same size as those supplied in the Sidelines kits.

To couple / uncouple I use an old paint brush with the bristles removed and a long piece of steel wire with a hook inserted instead. This is then used to hook / unhook the link in a "fishing" type motion. It needs a steady hand but is simple and effective.

Anyway, it works for me, but I do need more practice........

Regards

Gerry
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MOG
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hooks

Postby MOG » Wed Mar 24, 2004 8:25 am

Anyone else use a crochet hook?! :D I find it useful for giving the stubborn locos a little nudge too - just touch the gap between the wheel and the rail to improve connectivity
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Postby Poandneedy » Wed Mar 24, 2004 3:36 pm

Hello All,
The coupler matter is weighing on me now also... My layout will have have to have remote uncoupling, so Kadee's are going to be incorporated some how. Here's the rub, I built a bash of the Guinness diesel tram which has (to an American) very unconventional "hook and loop"?couplers.
I scratch built them out of soft metal from an old VCR case...any how .. they look ok but I will not be able to remote uncouple, so I'm thinking of making a Kadee stand-in for operation and using the "hookers" for photo sesions...does this sound to much like a sin?
As for uncoupling Kadees by hand Micro-Mark in the US sells a little tool that works like a charm, 'course it looks a lot like a "Philips head /cross head" screw driver with the cross filed thin.
If anybody wants some Kadees maybe we could work out a trade, I've got a blue million in the parts bin....
Micro-Mark also makes a drop in magnet that fits between HO scale rails...
John Glenn
Home Email : devetajohn@aol.com

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Postby Steve Bennett » Sat Mar 27, 2004 12:51 am

A touch of deja-vu here, I think couplings must be one of the most talked about subjects in narrow gauge modelling.

As a couple have already mentioned, my favoured auto-coupling is the DG type. I have been using these in O scale for more than 10 years, so when moving up in scale it was natural for me to switch over to a bigger version of what I was used to.

There are differences between most of the Bemo derived couplers and I have tried most of them. Some are easier to assemble, others gain on operation, some have delayed action, others don't. A lot depends on what you want them to do. The DG for me has the best operational features, but does come at a price as they are a fiddle to put together. I noticed Miles comment about retro-fitting magnets, this need not be a problem as I always fit the magnets to the underside of the board (no good with foam baseboards) so that they can be repostioned if required, a different sized wagon can throw all your uncoupling positions into disarray :( Also Miles, the OO and O scale DG's are the same size as the Paul Windle couplers and they operate fine together, this was well tested on Richard Andrews new layout a couple of weeks ago. I think you may find the Greenwich a bit small in this scale, but I admire your loyalty :)

Finally regarding Heywood couplings, I have some of these cast in white metal, true to scale (1:22.5), they look great and work pretty well, but they are no good with tight radii curves which the originals were not designed for either. Not sure yet if these will be released to the unsuspecting public or not.
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