DG Coupling guide

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Steve Bennett
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DG Coupling guide

Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Nov 07, 2007 12:14 pm

As some will be aware, over the last 4 years or more, I have been trying to put a document together to help with the construction of these couplings, which in my view, are probably the most efficient that there are available. They wont suit everyones needs and they are certainly not a straight out of the box item, but I hope to show that they are not as difficult to use as they might first appear. Once you grasp how to construct them, they are in fact very easy to put together and once done, will reward you with hands free coupling and uncoupling which surpasses many of the market leaders in this field.

What follows in the next post is the document I prepared, which I hope will act as a good reference and maybe it will encourage others to give these couplers a try. I will be happy to supply anyone who wants it, a copy of the document in MS Word format, just drop me an email by hitting the email button below.

For the moment, this is the final version, but I have said that to myself before and there is always something new to add. Short of writing a booklet on the subject though, I think I have taken this as far as I'm going to for the now. I'm quite expecting the formatting of the text to look a mess on here, but lets give it a go :) .
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Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Nov 07, 2007 12:30 pm

AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO ASSEMBLING D.G. COUPLINGS
By Steve Bennett

Image

One of the problems facing every narrow gauge modeller at some time is in choosing which coupling to use, as there is no standard to work from and a multitude of choices. This piece is intended to assist others who may wish to follow a similar route to my own and hopefully pass on some constructional tips that I have learned along the way.

D.G. Couplings are now produced by Model Signal Engineering and at long last are available online from : http://www.wizardmodels.co.uk/FrameSetS ... M=wizabout

I have been using these couplings for over ten years in various sizes and in several scales and gauges, so when it came to choosing an automatic coupling for use in Gn15, they were the obvious choice for me. The sizes I have chosen are designed for O gauge and are described as the Type C coupling. In addition to the couplings, they are also able to supply a jig for bending the loops, which I would recommend as a worthwhile purchase as it aids construction considerably, this you will see further on. The beauty of this system is that it gives completely hands free coupling and uncoupling and also features a delayed action facility. Unlike many magnetic systems, there is no necessity to stop over a magnet in order to uncouple, this can be done, while pushing a wagon, with a slow speed pass over the magnet.

Although well designed there are a couple of things that you ought to be made aware of. The first is that they are a fiddly to put together. This is not to say they are difficult, it is just that the parts are quite small in size, which makes them difficult to handle. The other problem is with the instruction sheets that come with them, which are very thorough, but overcomplicated and the drawings are a little confusing. In addition, unless you intend to turn your wagons or locomotives on your layout, a loop is only needed on one end, not on both as described in the instructions, cutting down on the work involved and improving reliability. Another plus with my methods, is that you don’t need a soldering iron at all, just basic hand tools, that most modellers will already have on the bench. I do apologise for the quality of the photographs used here, I’m afraid my camera has real difficulty focusing on items this small.

Well enough of my rambling lets get started.

Image

In the picture above you will see the etch of sixteen couplings as they come from the pack. In the centre are the main body of the couplers and along the edges are the latches for the delayed action facility. I find it best to remove one coupling from the etch at a time to avoid loosing any parts. Using a sharp craft knife (don’t use a brand new blade) on a firm surface such as a cutting mat, cut through the nibs that hold the coupling in the fret, as close to the part as possible. Then take a fine file and clean up the remainder of these nibs. Now take the main part of the coupler and bend the buffing plate at a right angle along the fold line, using either a pair of tweezers or a pair of smooth jawed pliers, as in the picture below. The instructions that come with the couplings say to add a fillet of solder to the inside of the bend, this is totally unnecessary and prevents any fine tuning if needed later.

Image

Bending down the buffing plate will automatically raise the coupling hook, bend this back at a slight angle, about 20 degrees from the vertical, this allows the loop from the adjoining coupling to rise up over the hook. Next bend down the loop brackets, on the sides, so they are at right angles to the main body of the coupler. Your coupler should now look like the photo below.

Image

Now for the fiddly bit, the delayed action latch, which is lot more difficult to describe, than it is to do. This part is only needed if you want to make use of the delayed action facility. If you are going to just uncouple over a magnet this is not required. Cut away the delayed action latch from the fret, again as close as possible to the part. As the latch is so small, it is best placed in a pin vice to hold it to clean up the nibs. Still using a pin vice, insert the latch with the fork uppermost as in the photo below.

Image

Now place the main body of the coupler over the fork on the latch as per the photo.

Image

Then insert the blade of a knife between the two forks on the latch, which will spread them slightly. This is all that is required to hold it in place. It should now look like this and pivot easily back and forth.

Image

Using a pair of tweezers gently bend the latch into a curve as shown in the photos below. When the coupling is held level the latch should rest on top of the coupling hook under its own weight, if not adjust the bend.

Image

That is the main part of the coupling complete, now we move onto making and fitting the loops. You can follow the instructions that come with the couplings and using the wire supplied but there are, in my opinion, better and simpler ways of doing this.

If you follow the instructions supplied, you will need at least three hands to hold the bits while you solder a steel dropper onto a phosphor bronze loop to create the coupling loop. A far better way which is both easier to do and more reliable in operation, is to bend the loop and dropper, in one go from a single piece of soft steel wire. The wire I use is intended for flower arranging and very easily worked. If you cannot find a source locally, then scenic modelling specialists, Greenscenes, sell the same thing for use in making armatures for model trees. You will find that a jig is pretty essential for getting a uniform loop and it does aid greatly in bending the wire to shape. The jig sold with the couplings is a worthwhile purchase (it is also useful for grab handles) but it is fairly simple to make your own, all you need is a block with dimensions of 7.5mm by 5mm to wind the wire around. In effect, using the soft wire, you form the loop by bending it around the jig, then doing a final tidy up with either pliers or tweezers. This is a lot easier to show than to describe, hopefully this photo will illustrate how it is done.

Image

The dropper on the loop is left over length at this stage, only trimming it back so that it just clears the rails, once installed on the wagon. To fit the loop onto the coupling, the soft wire makes it easy to open it out to allow the pivot to be threaded onto the coupling body, squeezing back to the correct shape again afterwards. Minor alterations to the shape are easily done with a pair of tweezers.

Image

Finally, for finishing off, a chemical blackening is recommended, but an alternative is to spray very lightly with matt black aerosol paint. This works fine if lightly applied, but you may need to clear a little of the paint once dry, from around the pivot of the little delayed action latch on top of the coupler, in order to let it move freely.

That really is about all there is to it. Although at first glance these couplings look really difficult to put together, after you have done a couple, you will see how simple they are. I wouldn’t recommend doing a whole load of them in one sitting, better a few at a time, but once you get a feel for them, you will wonder why you hesitated in the first place and will be rewarded with one of the best automated couplers available.


NOTES
A short piece on fitment from another thread. More to come :
http://forum.gn15.info/viewtopic.php?p=44088#44088
Last edited by Steve Bennett on Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:24 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby KeithB » Wed Nov 07, 2007 1:50 pm

Nah - I prefer Hornby horn-hook couplers!! :twisted: :twisted:

Seriously, though - great tutorial, Steve! Thanks for posting this.
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Postby Les » Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:09 pm

Thanks Steve! Very timely as I've just invested in some DG Couplers (Gerry to thank for that) and a jig . I also bought a very reasonably priced fret of couplers from Paul Windle at ExpoNG, which I think may be compatible, although Paul did say that his pivot positon might give issues when coupling to DGs. Yet to find out :D
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Postby Gerry Bullock » Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:37 pm

Great tutorial Steve, I've just finished some more Gneiss Farm rolling stock which now have DGs both ends. Previously I was using combination of Bemos and DGs. I don't have the DG Jig however I made one using wood which seems to work well.
The best thing about them has to be NO Solder when using soft steel wire. :D
The only criticism I have of them (DGs) is that they will uncouple when pulling over the magnet if load on wagon is low, upping speed solves problem BUT might not be what's wanted.
Steve will explain the other solution to the problem :wink:
Last edited by Gerry Bullock on Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Rockley Bottom » Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:40 pm

Hi Steve

Thanks for the in-depth information on the DG coupler
May give them a try for some stock.

Any chance of naming a supplier who can provide a postal service :?:

Regards

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Postby Gerry Bullock » Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:59 pm

Rockley Bottom wrote:Hi Steve

Thanks for the in-depth information on the DG coupler
May give them a try for some stock.

Any chance of naming a supplier who can provide a postal service :?:

Regards

Ralph

Steve did Ralph BUT website is rather :?
If you call it up and click on the letters that can JUST be seen below "Home" you'll find out how to order. I had no problem and items arrived promptly.
Don't forget to switch the brass wire for for soft steel otherwise you'll be soldering :wink:
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DG Coupling Guide

Postby Coo » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:12 pm

Rather than the URL that Steve gave
You may find this website better for ordering

http://www.wizardmodels.co.uk/

Same person but it covers all the products that he now handles
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Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:13 pm

Ordering info can be found here
http://www.modelsignals.com/how_to_order_frame.htm

or if you want to order online, here
http://www.wizardmodels.co.uk/
click on "Manufacturers" and then scroll down the alphabetical list to "DG Couplings", from there on follow the on screen instructions. It is very straightforward.
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Postby Rockley Bottom » Wed Nov 07, 2007 7:39 pm

Thanks folks
New eye test ordered :oops: :oops:
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DG Couplings

Postby Catweasel » Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:09 pm

Rather than faff around with colouring these things,I substituted florists wire This is dark green,but looks black.Great write up Steve.
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Postby Glen A » Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:07 pm

Thanks for the write-up Steve.
Is that small circle between the tracks in the first photo the magnet? Looks small.
How long does the coupling tail under the wagon need to be?

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Re: DG Couplings

Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:10 pm

Catweasel wrote:Rather than faff around with colouring these things,I substituted florists wire This is dark green,but looks black.Great write up Steve.


Not sure I have brought this up before. A good way to blacken steel wire, is the activator from some of the two part rust treatments (if you can find them). It is almost instant, well about 5 seconds on the pieces shown below.

Image

Three lengths of straight florist wire from Greenscenes. Closest left natural, middle dipped in Modern Options activator and the rear dipped in the activator from Metalcoat. The activator from these two part kits has a much longer shelf life that the paint part, so even if the paint is all used up, or has dried out, dont throw this away :wink: . Here is a closer view, photographed much better than I expected.

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Postby MOG » Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:23 pm

Great tutorial thanks Steve.
I've just spent a couple of evenings making up some Greenwich couplings (for 009). These DGs don't look too hard. They seem to be well recommended in all scales (including 3mm).
One bonus is that they actually look like 'real' NG couplings too.
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Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:29 pm

Glen A wrote:Thanks for the write-up Steve.
Is that small circle between the tracks in the first photo the magnet? Looks small.
How long does the coupling tail under the wagon need to be?


Well, almost a magnet Glen, it is a simple nail which goes through the baseboard and the magnet is fixed to it under the board. I didnt raise the subject of magnets (part 2 awaits :) ), but unlike Kadee's you dont require any special magnets with these couplings, almost any magnet will do.

The tail length will depend on your coupling height and are best trimmed to length after fitting to a wagon. The tail should finish just clear of the top of the rail, upto about a millimetre clear of the rail will give the best performance. I'm sure somewhere on the forum I have pics of the uncoupling sequence, will see if I can find them.
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Postby clive_t » Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:59 am

Very useful and informative article, Steve. I have been sufficiently motivated to actually purchasing some of these things from the website, so I will be referring back to this thread when they finally arrive.

Cheers,
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Postby michael » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:05 am

Thanks Steve I thing that I will give these a go in the not too distant Future.
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Postby Rockley Bottom » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:52 am

Steve

Thanks for the article on the couplers.

Looking at trying it out , one question that comes to mind, is are your couplers fixed rigid, or do you attach them with some side play, to keep them in line on curved track?

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Postby Gerry Bullock » Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:08 am

Rockley Bottom wrote:Steve

Thanks for the article on the couplers.

Looking at trying it out , one question that comes to mind, is are your couplers fixed rigid, or do you attach them with some side play, to keep them in line on curved track?

Ralph


I can answer that Ralph - rigid. If you look at Steve's last picture you'll see two"ears" that project outside the loop. If these are bent back slightly towards the wagon/WHY they provide articulation in curves.
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Postby Rockley Bottom » Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:09 am

Thanks Gerry, must give them a try. I may throw together a small board of track to give them a go :!:

Ralph

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Postby clive_t » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:29 pm

My DG Couplings stuff arrived on Saturday, so I had the chance that evening to make one up according to the instructions on this thread: 5 minutes from beginning to end! Easy-peasy!

Fortunately I had some soft iron wire left over from my experiments with 'sprat-n-winkle' couplings, so I used that to make the loop. Seems to work with a small permanent magnet, but I need to make another one to see how the latching works. Hopefully I'll get to do that tonight. But so far, so good...

Thanks again Steve for a great article.

Cheers
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Postby Steve Bennett » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:39 pm

clive_t wrote:My DG Couplings stuff arrived on Saturday, so I had the chance that evening to make one up according to the instructions on this thread: 5 minutes from beginning to end! Easy-peasy!


That is great to hear Clive, you have now done the difficult part, making the first one :wink: the second is even easier and you wont need to bend up the loop, they really work best if you only have the loop at one end. Have fun :wink: .
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Postby NeilMac » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:07 am

Steve,

Thanks for sharing this. As a user of DG couplers who has managed to have more than a few failures whilst attempting soldering I will certainly be giving this method a try.

One question I have is why soft wire for the loops rather than the steel wire supplied in the kit (of which I have already ordered extra for handrails). Is it that you have tried the supplied wire and found it not to work, or was it just because the soft wire was easier to bend and yet still strong enough to do the job?

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Postby Gerry Bullock » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:47 am

NeilMac wrote:
One question I have is why soft wire for the loops rather than the steel wire supplied in the kit (of which I have already ordered extra for handrails). Is it that you have tried the supplied wire and found it not to work, or was it just because the soft wire was easier to bend and yet still strong enough to do the job?


My kits have both steel and brass wire Neil and without the solder process there certainly isn't enough of the steel to make both loop & dropper. Yes you're right the soft wire, to my opinion, is much easier to bend and subsequently adjust. Both brass and steel in kit seem to have a mind of their own :wink:
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Postby clive_t » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:03 am

Well as promised I made up a second one last night (sans iron wire loop) - it would have been about 3 minutes but for some experimentation with trying to get a better curve on the latch.

In the end I found that having inserted the latch and splayed the 'legs' to keep it in place, I was then able to use the shank of a small screwdriver as a former, bending the latch over it to get the desired smooth curve. Worked a treat guv! 8)

I was then able to try the latching with the two couplings I had. It works fine with a permanent magnet; if anything it works too well. It always uncouples when pushing the wagon over the magnet, even if you don't want it to. When pulling, it will almost always remain coupled (presumably because of the tension on the wire loop holding it against the hook).

At the risk of stealing Steve's thunder :shock: (I would never knowingly do that, honest!), my own answer to Mr NeilMac's question about soft/hard iron for the loops: yes it's easier to form, but from my college days I seem to remember one of the lecturers rambling on about hysteresis characteristics of various materials, meaning how easy was it to magnetise and how easy is it to demagnetise. Soft iron is very easy to magnetise, and does not retain the magnetism. Therefore only a small magnet is needed to attract it, and it will not stay magnetised. Ideal for couplings!

That's my theory anyway, I confidently expect to be shot down by someone more knowledgeable!
Clive



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