N scale McHenry couplers work ?

micheleslot Oct 24, 2009

  1. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    I might slip a pack of springs into my next train order to have on hand just in case, and a higher powered microscope for installing them.:tb-wink:
    Maybe just the bottom part of the pin under the knuckle could be cut off, no magnets on my layout either.
  2. micheleslot

    micheleslot New Member

    If You do it the McHnry will "explode": trip pin is it part of the whole mech and the only way not to see it is to cut it off below the coupler jaw with a good cutter.
  3. sandro schaer

    sandro schaer TrainBoard Member


    let's get back to the original topic. it is not about mt couplers.


    are your couplers mounted using screws ?
    - if yes, what if you loosen them half a turn ? could be the couplers boxes are squeezed a bit too much.
    - if yes, could it be the screws are a tad too large in diameter causing the couplers internals to bind ?
    - if no, well, then i'm not of a big help.

    uncoupling on straight track makes me assume they somehow stay open/misaligned after going thru a curve. except if your track causes a lot of up and down motion on the couplers.
  4. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I have to wonder out loud here.

    With so many indicators here on the board showing negative experiences with McHenry. Well...read on.

    If so many of you are having this much trouble with McHenry's knuckle coupler, it begs the question, why? Why are you fooling around with them? Not that I want to to pick a fight here, be mean and disagreeable but think it through for a minute. When it's all said and done...YES, it is about Micro-Trains knuckle couplers.

    I have to ask, Why in the...well...are you messing with Mc'ee's couplers? Get back to the best, the tried and true and there's only one brand that is acceptable as per this TB participant...Micro-Trains. You can mickey mouse or rink a dink around with Mc'ee's couplers all you want OR you can put all that behind you and install the BEST! MTL is your answer and yes this is all about MTL's.

    When you finally see the light you'll know precisely what I mean. I seldom if ever have troubles with my MTL's and when I do it's an easy fix.

    Got to get back to my layout and no Mc'ee's allowed. :we2-policeman: Grin!
  5. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    So far, from what I have read, only the original poster is having problems. I have run them at the head end of 50 car trains on N-Trak layouts which is about as bad as it gets for track work and they ran fine.

    It sounds like Sandro may be on to something with the coupler screw. The only other thing I can think of is poorly laid track with too many verticle curves. You should be able to lay a 12" rule along the top of the track and not see more than 1/32" or 1mm depending on your choice of measurement variance along the whole thing. Any more than that and you can have problems. I rarely see couplers uncouple in a radius, it is usually because of uneven track joints or vertical curves.

    I spent half my weekend ironing out a couple verticle curves in a module in our N-trak setup this past weekend. They were enough that a Kato SD70 would lift the front truck off the track when it went over before we repaired it. Cars could still make it through pretty well though even being that bad.
  6. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

    Where did you get this conclusion? I don't remember many other threads where people have talked about problems with McHenrys, and in this thread there was one poster with problems followed by several with no problems, and one private post about problems going over one electromagnet. With a thread titled "N scale McHenry couplers work ?" I would think if there were a lot of people with problems with them, they would be posting in this thread. My experience, and the conclusion I would get from reading this thread is "Yes, they do work."

    I have yet to have a problem with McHenrys. Do you have an easy fix for the "slinky effect"?
  7. inobu

    inobu Permanently dispatched

    Problem and "work" is relative to the user. There are so many different means in which the modeler uses the couplers. In the sense of just coupling and pulling the line up or using a magnetic un-coupling to manage his yard. The slinky effect could be deem unacceptable to one and tolerable to another. It all depends on how or what you use them for.

    I for one need a coupler that can allow me to operate my yard hands free (no manual intervention). MC's did not work very well for me but that does not mean it won't work on another guys layout.

    Each coupler has its strengths and weakness, you just have to find the one that best suits your needs.

    Hook and go Kadee, Magnetic uncoupling and pushing MTL, Non Slinky effect Not MTL.
    Both Kato.

    It all depends on what your needs are.

  8. sandro schaer

    sandro schaer TrainBoard Member


    i agree. all my 400 locos and 3000+ cars are mt equipped.

    but still, there's a mchenry user who asked for help. he wants his problem solved. changing to mt could be of out financial bounds.

    so let's try to give him some hints.
  9. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I love a good discussion.

    CSX Robert, I got a laugh at one of your earlier responses regarding 9 3/4" radius curves. Good response. LOL

    Sandro, No personal offense intended here.

    Read back through all the threads and you will find, there is a underlying theme with regard to poor performance and problems with a number of different types of couplers identified here. There also appears to be problems with the McHenry couplers. We do have a question on the table regarding how to fix... the problems identified by the originator of this thread.

    You need to talk to the guys and gals who have experienced similar problems with Mcee's on the HO board. Seriously, tune in to what they are saying and then give the HO hounds a stab, at suggesting fixes.

    Many of them have used duct tape, goo, shoe laces, soldering irons and torches to fix them. I'm kidding of course and there again maybe not.

    It's the HO guys and gals I've heard cussing the Mcee's and most of them, that I know of, have switched back to Kadee's. Most won't waste their time. So, goes the experience of the HO model rails here on the mountain.

    Actually, the originator of this thread has been given a number of good answers with regard to solving his problem. Just read back through and I think you will see where we've all tried to help. The truth is none of us have any real, actual experience with N Scale, McHenry's and that's been spelled out as well. My suggestion, and I tend to be stubborn about it and insistent, is recommending the MTL solution.

    Like many of you, I didn't want to pay the price to make the conversion to Kadee in HO and MTL's for my N scale equipment. However, in time all the alternatives I tried with HO and N scale have led me right back to face the ultimate question and decision. When, I think of what I could have saved as compared to what it would of cost me to convert over in the first place...I just shake my head in shame. So, why wouldn't I encourage a fellow rail fan to make the right decision from the get go and save him or her some grief.

    There's no need for me to wrongfully enable someone. If you get my drift.

    Now, we should all have a better understanding.

    Mr. CSX Robert, and of course all tuned in here.

    You bring up a good point.

    The slinky thing as you so aptly pointed out. I've been watching this as the result of our previous discussion... Keep in mind I'm still converting over to MTL's. Here's my experience: I have Rapido's, Accumates, even the Unimates that slink around on my layout. What I tend to refer to as "Slack" as does the 1X1 foot scale Rails, is present in all the coupler sets. I can see the cars bunch up on the downhill run, stretch out on the uphill run. When parking a train in my hidden staging yard I will attempt to bunch up the train cars by pulling out onto the main, fouling the switch and then reverse the locomotives, bunching the cars up...so it will fit. The equipment I have left to convert over...they ALL bunch up and stretch out. Actually, the MTL's stretch and bunch up less, less (did I say less?) then the Rapido's and Accumates.

    Just my observation...take what you want from it and leave the rest behind.

    To the author unknown: " I didn’t want to post on the forum cause some Genus," you said. I'm no "Genus", which is spelled genius. Just some old fart with way to much practical experience. You can follow me boys and girls or you can go out and get your own "Genus". :perr: LOL
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2009
  10. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

    Yes, they all have slack, but the slinky effect is different. It's kind of hard to describe, but I can have a train running on flat ground and see some of the cars move closer together and father apart as the train is running along. This is probably happening with other couplers as well(and probably on the prototype as well), but if it is, the spacing is changing slowly so that it is not as noticeable. With Micro-Trains, the spacing changes quickly as the cars oscillate back and forth.
  11. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I've seen the same thing as I pull my trains out of the staging yard. I've noticed the caboose and other cars at end of train, stretch out and then spring back. Some of this is typical of the 1X1 foot scale but the action I see here is over exaggerated. Now...the same action can be seen with all the name sake couplers and again the exaggerated motion is less with MTL's. Since we use springs in most of the coupler pockets, to align the coupler or hold it in place...I'm not sure how we are going to get around this issue. If you get my drift?

    The oscillating back and forth while on the flat may have to do with varying speeds due to environmental build up on the tracks. I was watching a train make it's way around a modular club layout and noticed the locomotive hesitate or stall. A quick jerky motion. Not to a full stop but enough to effect it's speed. I watched as the trailing cars oscillated back and forth. Later someone cleaned the track with a brite boy. As the train rolled by it didn't hesitate and the train cars ran by without any noted oscillation.

    I could talk about my family of rails and the stories they told of the dangers of slack. I'm not sure anyone would appreciate it. Short version: As in our world, it was a real problem in their world.

    Just a thought.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2009
  12. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter


    I think the slinky effect is well-observed as being more prominent with MT couplers, especially downhill. Now, I like MT couplers, just not their wheelsets. I believe there is a little more play in them--which makes them more reliable. As a self-proclaimed professor of inconsequential physics, I could probably analyze forces such as wheel drag, coupler play, car weight, spring tensions, and the effect of the moon's gravity on the phenomenon. And I could probably come up with a plausible explanation, with equations, as I once did with steam loco wheels slipping to get around curves, thereby causing a audible chugging effect on layout materials that were perfect soundboards, aka hollow core doors.

    Alas, I really don't know the results of the real physics here. There has to be a cause, and I suspect it can't be found at a distance. Some of my Stupid Mistakes series of threads pointed out that a cause was often a surprise, discovered by continuous close observations, which sometimes resulted in my gluing my knee to the floor, just to get down and dirty.

    Except for Rapidos, I've had misbehaving couplers of all brands, even Unimates. The problem was never the coupler itself--oops, nearly forgot the exploding Accumates! Except for that, the problem was always elsewhere.
  13. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    This afternoon, I watched a CSX freight accelerate past the gym where I am working out to try and counteract some balance problems. A four-engine consist with about 100 cars, accelerating through town. Man, if that derails by the gym while I'm there, I'm dead, as it would demolish the gym, and there have been derailments in Oxford, Ohio, near my gym in the middle of the town.

    Yes, the prototype has some slack and slinky effect, even when accelerating. I'm not sure the track by the gym is very good--the audio of the passage would indicate this: problems with alignments and dealing with weight. And I think this is contributing to the slinky effect. Darn, some wheels really hammered rail joints right in front of me, while others glided through.

    Now, try to reduce this to N scale. Scaling factors probably don't work.

    I think I'll leave the gym whenever a freight train heads by.
  14. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    Ok, we've drifted a ways off topic, but I think there's too much valuable info here to cut short and pick up in a new thread. And it seems the original question has been given a good amount of possible causes/solutions.

    So on the topic of the "slinky effect" has anyone observed this with using Z scale couplers on N scale stock? Perhaps the smaller coupler, reducing the distance between cars, will also reduce the amplitude of the slinky effect.
  15. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    I agree with Rick, the amount of time and effort that I have put in trying the cheaper way to replace the Rapido couplers and not just replace the complete truck and coupler when I started with N Scale actually cost me more in time then and now as well as dollars. I still have cars to make the final conversion on that I did the first on in 1984. With the ten packs now available, batch conversion is cheaper, but not as much as buying single packs 25 years ago would have been. Live and learn.

    The longer you run your trains (as in years) the less you will notice the "Slinky Effect." It does not go away but you no longer notice it as much, at least I don’t. Maybe it is because you quit staring at the last couple cars in the train and start to enjoy the whole train.

    If the "Slinky Effect" is too much for you, you can install Restraining Springs (Micro-Trains part number 001 12 002) and remove it totally. This of course will increase the rolling resistance of the car and decrease the number of cars any given loco will be able to pull. The choice is yours.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2009
  16. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I wonder?


    Point well made.


    No, I haven't but I do like the idea. Hummm, that didn't sound right. Trying again. No I haven't tried the Z scale couplers...yet. Something, about that idea appeals to me.


    You are on to something there. I think on a scaled down look we can't be as prototypical as the 1x1 foot scale rails. We'd have to build our train cars as per the adult spec's. Our couplers come close but aren't precise. It would be easy to over exaggerate every motion made by the big guys.

    On another note: Your sense of humor comes through when you write. I do enjoy it. I wish you were writing the jokes for Jay Leno, at the least, they would be new and fresh.

    Now back to, slinking around the layout.
  17. Powersteamguy1790

    Powersteamguy1790 Permanently dispatched

    I haven't noticed a "slinky" effect" with MT Z scale # 905 couplersand I have have more than a few cars outfitted with the 905's. One note to consider the MT Z scale #905's aren't cheap by any means and converting a large number of cars get to be quite expensive.
  18. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

    Maybe your experience is different, but my experience is the exaggerated motion is MUCH more with Micro-Trains than either McHenrys or Accumates.

    That's just it right there. The centering "springs" in the Accumate and McHenry couplers only push on the sides of the pocket. The centering spring in a Micro-Trains coupler, depending on which particular coupler, push either forward or backward on the coupler and I think this really exaggerates the slinky effect.
  19. jacksibold

    jacksibold TrainBoard Member

    I can say that as a summer fireman on the Nickel Plate in the mid sixties, I experienced some of these effects. This took place in runs from Bellevue to Lima and Lima to Frankfort, IN. One of the most frequent places was between Findlay and Lima on westbounds along I-75. Pete, it is not terribly far from Oxford. Even though that part of Ohio is very flat there are subtle dips and with the right length of train and weight distributions the slack would run in and give you a boost in the engines, followed by the slack running out and you would feel the engines seem to pull back, basically a quick slow down. This was more common if you had sufficient power to be running 50 to 60 mph. I am trying to build some of these 1-3 mile dips into my layout.

  20. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    Slinky is a bit different than slack action. It is slack action times 10 that doesn't stop. Actually on a grade, the slinky is not a problem. The added drag of the grade is enough to keep the couplers stretched out. The other couplers out there recreate slack action just fine without having a wave of motion move through the train randomly.

    When running on N-trak, I tend to keep the MT cars toward the front of the train, leaving the Accumate and McHenry equipped cars to the end. Slinky is usually worse at the end of the train and keeping the MT cars up front helps hide it.

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