McHenry Couplers- A Modelers Plea.

Inkaneer Sep 1, 2008

  1. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Its not the best plan for building customer loyalty. It only causes the consumer to have a bad taste in their mouth for MTL and they will jump ship at the first opportunity.
     
  2. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    But is the customer happy with it? Or is it that the customer is left with it, be they happy or not? And please tell me what is so wrong with complying with a NMRA specs when it comes to flanges? I really think the McHenry coupler could be the most serious challenge to MTL ever and if the coupler lives up to its preliminary reviews [unlike the Accumate] and the McHenry people come out with a line of truck mounted couplers then MTL has some serious problems. The time to act is not when something else proves to be better but before. Being one step ahead of the competition is far better than being one step behind.
     
  3. Leo Bicknell

    Leo Bicknell TrainBoard Member

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    I can't believe I'm repeating this, but once again people are using a term (lo-pro) to refer to two different things and it's derailing the discussion.

    MT ships "pizza cutters", which you could call "high profile". They do not meet the NMRA specifications.

    Most other manufacturers ship NMRA compliant wheels, which if you wanted to put a term on would be "medium profile". Most are nearly as large as they can be and still meet the NMRA specification.

    MT tried to do what they called "low profile", which in NMRA speak meet the fine scale standard. They are significantly smaller flanges than everyone else on the market and would meet the spec for "Proto160", or "FineScale N".

    The discussion always seems to assume there are two sizes of wheels on the market, pizza cutters and lo-pros; that is not the case. There are three sizes, pizza cutters, everyone else, and extremely fine scale.

    The public has rejected MT low pros as being too small. N is not ready to have all cars shipped to a fine scale standard. The public has embraced the "medium profile" wheels from everyone else, which by meeting the spec work fine on Atlas Code 55 and have no derailment issues.

    So please, please remember; there are THREE (major) sizes of wheel on the market.

    MT recently made some encouraging statements that they were looking at developing a medium profile wheel. Please encourage them to do so, and to make it the standard offering.
     
  4. NikkiB

    NikkiB TrainBoard Member

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    I always replace my MT wheels with metal ones. As a matter of fact, I always replace ALL my wheels with metal ones.
     
  5. NikkiB

    NikkiB TrainBoard Member

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    The majority of the cars sold go to casual model railroaders. The majority of model railroaders would not notice the difference between any of the three wheel types that Leo mentioned. The NMRA spec'ed wheels are not as reliable on "slap together" rail layouts. The pizza-cutter wheels increase the reliability of their cars tracking correctly. I believe that they made the correct marketing choice here.

    For us "serious hobby" model railroaders, just change out the wheels. Let the train set kids have what they need to make their layouts work correctly.
     
  6. Leo Bicknell

    Leo Bicknell TrainBoard Member

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    I must respectfully disagree.

    No one complains that Atlas box cars derail more often than Micro-Trains with pizza cutters. The Atlas box cars ship with NMRA compliant wheels. NMRA compliant wheels are fully reliable, even on "slap together" layouts.

    It is the fine scale wheels (what Micro-Trains calls low profile, or if you buy metal some of the NWSL wheels) that do not track as well as either on "slap together" layouts.

    All Atlas and Kato equipment made in the last 10 years has been NMRA compliant. If it didn't work, we would be hearing a lot more about it. Pizza cutters are not needed, even for the casual modeler.
     
  7. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Well let's be truthful here. I don't know what you consider a "slap together layout" but I run Ntrak and that is about as "slap together" as it gets. That being said I have converted many of my cars to the MT Lo Profile or Fine Scale flanges to include several unit trains of Atlas hoppers and Walthers intermodal cars. I'm talking trains of 80 + cars here. The idea that a larger flange makes the car track better is nothing more than an old wives tale. The primary issue in the ability of a car to track, assuming it has free rolling wheelsets, is car weight.
     
  8. Robbman

    Robbman TrainBoard Member

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    Please provide a picture of the two MT wheel sets, along with wheelsets you consider medium-profile, along with some measurements...
     
  9. Will Ayerst

    Will Ayerst TrainBoard Member

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    While we're on the topic, what are some good vendors for bulk purchases of low-profile metal wheelsets?

    EDIT: For clarification - as someone who has no experience either way but wants better wheels!
     
  10. NikkiB

    NikkiB TrainBoard Member

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    There was a time in the past when two sets of wheels were packed in each box.

    If you look at the picture in this posting, you can see the lower profile wheels.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/N-MicroTrains-7...ryZ19126QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    I know that I can find some lying around if you would like me to use a digital micrometer and get a measurement.

    For a look at the medium flanged wheel that Leo is talking about, you only have to look at any Atlas car. If you don't have a digital micrometer, I would be happy to measure one for you.

    There was a discussion recently that discussed flange size extensively...Leo was involved in this discussion and I can assure you that he is providing accurate information.
     
  11. JustInCase

    JustInCase TrainBoard Member

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    As a long time arm chair modeler I wouldn't mind seeing a pic with measurements side by side of High/Mid/low profile wheelsets.

    Only if its convenient though don't go to a lot of trouble just for me.

    FYI - I have a lot of older equipment from the 70s/80s that I'll need to upgrade so the info/pics would be useful. When I get around to putting my new track down I want a better looking and useful layout when I do.

    Thx
     
  12. mavrick0

    mavrick0 TrainBoard Member

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    This pic has been past around for a while now but started when Fox Valley came out with their nice wheelsets. There aren't any measurements but it's a start to see the difference.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

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    I thought this thread was about McHenry couplers.:tb-biggrin:

    Anyway, I've run MTL low profile (or whatever we want to call them) wheels on Ntrak layouts with various standards of track laying and sectional track just set up on a table, and if anything, they run and track better on any sort of track I put them on than the pizza cutters. This was before I started fitting FVM metal wheels which also run fine on any track I care to run them on. I really wonder what market MTL is aiming the pizza cutters at, and as someone else said, if a section of the hobby does need them why have the other manufacturers discarded them. Is there a group of modellers who buy MTL pizza cutter wheels to put on their Atlas cars?
     
  14. pastoolio

    pastoolio TrainBoard Member

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    Can anyone tell me what is the most popular brand of track bought nowadays? Would it be Unitrack? or is it Atlas Code 55? Do they still make code 80? Sorry guys, but I have to agree with Inkaneer about MT going back to the "pizza cutters". If I were just starting out, and I bought a bunch of Atlas code 55, then paid a high price for some MT cars, only to find out they don't work on my track, I would be frustrated and upset.
    And yes, I believe it is an old wives tale that the high profile wheels help track better. It's all in the trackwork. Crappy track = derailments.

    Wow, we are getting so off topic, it's not even funny.
    Look at all this commotion that has been caused over the announcement of a new coupler.
    Maybe this is a good thing for our scale.:tb-confused:

    -Mike
     
  15. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

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    BarstowRick, It would make me happy if MTL put more effort in to Z. On the other hand we are having coupler issues with them as well. I believe a company called AZL is coming out with competitive coupler in Z. I know I'll be changing. Cheers, Jim CCRR
     
  16. NikkiB

    NikkiB TrainBoard Member

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    My guess would be Atlas Code 80. I would be suprised if Code 55 were anywhere close to the total Code 80 sales volume.

    A guess for second place would be Bachmann E-Z Track (including track in sets).

    Maybe we should ask a retailer the volume of Code 80 track sold both in individual pieces and in sets compared to the sales volume of Code 55.
     
  17. NikkiB

    NikkiB TrainBoard Member

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    I don't believe that a person "just starting out" would or should use Code 55 track. I would suggest any of the snap-track combinations.

    I am unaware of any train sets that have Code 55 track in them. That would be an indicator of a suggested track selection for "just starting out".
     
  18. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Rocking and rolling...model railroad style.

    I would quite agree but I think Tony meant something else.

    This will derail the present discussion... perhaps about the various flanges. I will get back to that in a coupler of paragraphs, chapter or two.

    Perhaps, I can address Socalz44's thoughts as well.

    I think the original application, as described by Tony, was directed toward the "Slack" action of couplers and the spring loaded pocket where train cars basically appear to have a wave type of action moving from one end of the train to the other while in motion. This is where the "Slinky" action or what sounds like "Slack" action... is most noticeable. This action may be caused by problems I identified in an earlier thread. Ie., Dirty track and momentary stalling of the locomotive, a small rise and fall in the track and I've never seen flat track on any modular or club layout.

    I've spent some time reflecting on the issues as I do respect Tony H's input here. It's possible he's right and I'm wrong...or...we are both right and haven't realized it yet. More likely my fault then his. If you know what I mean.

    Looking for a cause of this action I've taken apart a number of MTL prefab coupler pockets and went back to revisit Kadee's HO couplers as well. What I found is there is a centering spring that basically keeps the coupler in line or centered...dah. Why didn't I think of this before? I also found (although I already knew this) the coupler fits into a plastic post... that isn't going anywhere. Prompting the question: Where does the slinky or slack action come from? Tony indicated he felt it was from the gaps (may I use the descriptive railroad slang "Slop"?) or space in the couplers. I believe this to be true but not the total source of the problem. On the real 1:1 foot scale part of the slack comes from the slop in the coupler and the movable coupler pocket. A built in cushion with a truck like suspension spring. Simply, our MTL's don't have a movable coupler pocket unless you are dealing with the T shanked replacements. Focus is back on the coupler and can only come from the slop in the coupler. So, Tony is right.

    Now the action he described seems to be exaggerated. As though the coupler pocket was spring loaded and the coupler itself moves in a forward and backward motion. That simply isn't the case. When we body mount these coupler pockets most of us use a screw placed right through the hole in the post, to anchor the coupler pocket. A truck mounted coupler has the same post. No difference.

    Out to the train shed to do some experiments. I made up a train of MTL couplers and ran it around the layout. I have 2% grades so any action should show-up (disclaimer unless I'm blind...grin). Yes, there is slack or slop in the couplers. Here is the clincher. I did not see anything - nothing that resembles the action Tony described. Nothing that comes close to "Slinky". As we discovered in the previous paragraph. You need a spring, to get the said action and there isn't one.

    Now time to bring in some big guns. I called my fellow model rail enthusiasts to discuss this with them. Zip...nothing. In other words nothing that to their best estimations is action they would call slink or slinky. Ok, in case they missed my point, I put out a invitation to stop by and check out my equipment....again nothing. Slack yes, as stated by a retired railroad employee.

    Then I ran a train made up of some early Rapido couplers (Boy, will I be glad when this isn't the case). Now, now, now I have SLINKY, all over the place. As agreed upon by my guest. This begets the question: Are you operating trains where you replaced the couplers, with the T shank MTL's? In such a case you should be seeing what I would agree with and call stinky "Slinky".

    See, I said it would be chapter and verse.

    I return you back to your regularly scheduled discussion on wheel profiles. My comments to follow:

    With regard to wheels and the NMRA and various profiles available. To include couplers and anything else on your layout. It's up to "YOU" to set the STANDARD and the rules of your railroad. That is not NMRA's job. They set standards for themselves and their private club members. If you want them to change those standards or work toward setting other standards... then by all means join them. For now it's up to you and you only. You the customer makes a difference. If the majority of model rails is buying one kind of __________ (you fill in the blank) model rail providers will take note. As goes the majority of customers demands...so go the providers. Convincing NMRA is only a small fraction of the resolution.

    May I quit now? I heard that...grumble, grumble..."He could of quit before he started". Me thinks so too. I could of spent all this precious time on my layout...grin!

    Have fun all.
     
  19. Robbman

    Robbman TrainBoard Member

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    Judging from the above picture, that would not appear to be the case... which was my point, as I never recalled the MT lo-pro being radically different from other lo-pros on the market. In no way does the MT lo-pro equate to a proto:160 (where all the wheel measurements are to scale i.e, wheel width would be .0325", flange width and depth would be .0087") wheel...
     
  20. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Rick,
    Sorry to "derail" your explanation but because you have grades, you won't see the slinky. I would take a video for you but I don't think I can replicate it on my test loop. The slinky is most prevelant in long "FLAT" layouts where the cars do not have a strain on the couplers.

    Here is why MT couplers "slinky".

    [​IMG]


    The centering spring is behind the attachment point, allowing the coupler to extend under load. When the load is relaxed, the coupler relaxes and recoils back into the pocket. This pulls the car forward and causes the car behind to have extra load. Now this cars coupler is extended. It wants to relax so it pulls the car forward, the coupler relaxes and transfers the stress to the car behind. This continues down the train causing the wave effect. Everytime a car drags on a crossing or just hits a tight spot, it starts this process over again.

    The easy way to see how it works, couple up a dozzen or so MT cars to a loco. Now pull the caboose against the loco and see how far the trains stretches. The release the caboose and watch it spring back. A 12 car train should probably relax about 1/4" - 1/2" shorter.

    Do the same thing with a similar train of Accumates. The only stretch is taking the slack out of the couplers. When you release the caboose, it should just stay there if anything it may roll forward slightly not a half inch.

    ***The drawing is accurate for the truck mounted couplers and the 1023-1027 couplers.
    The 1015-16 couplers are the opposite, they have the spring on the front side of the pin which solves the extension problem but cause a compression problem when switching.
     

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