Needing more realistic couplers for N scale

JoeW Dec 16, 2009

  1. Charlie Vlk

    Charlie Vlk TrainBoard Member

    Prototype couplers / draft gear are specified to be 2'-10 1/2" above the rail.
    This is 0.216" or 5.48mm. M-T specifies a coupler knuckle centerline of 0.216" or 5.5mm which is correct.
    Where you get compromises is in the relatively oversized size and thickness of the N Scale parts. Because the shanks and draft gear parts are larger than the prototype (somewhat necessarily so because of the strength of materials) the mounting area for the coupler loses some material as compared to the prototype above and below the draft gear box. Also, because of our sharp curves, the boxes have to be wider than prototype to allow the couplers to swing more which wipes out even more stuff. And don't even talk about truck mounted couplers which not only have to have the same but add room for vertical movement of the coupler arm due to changes in the track level.

    While it is difficult to judge how oversized a M-T coupler is, the coupler head is approximately 24" deep vs. the prototype being around 13". The McHenry N Scale coupler tends to be a little heavier looking as it attempts to retain the knuckle interior size of the M-T but adds some prototype detail to the head which bulks it up in areas where the M-T has thin functional members.
    The M-T Z couplers are in the range of 70-80 percent of the size of the N Scale coupler and of a very similar proportion. They can work with each other because of the amount of slop built into the general design.
    When I was at Kato the factory developed new semi-automatic coupler designs. The first, applied to the rear only of the Business Car, would couple automatically with the Micro-Trains couplers. It had good scale appearance. The second design applied to the second run smoothside, first run Budd corrugated, and covered hoppers was not successful. It had a serious flaw in that the press-fit knuckle did not stay assembled into the guard arm shank and tended to explode with any use. Those that did stay together, because of their smaller size, had insufficient grab to stay coupled over irregular track. The same problem exists with the use of Z Scale M-Ts. The current Kato magnetic knuckle coupler is about the same height as a M-T but tightens up the knuckle interior to a more prototypical shape.
    I don't believe a full-scale, or nearly so, coupler would be sucessfull in N Scale. Years ago Key Imports provided T-Shank scale dummy couplers with their brass F Units and, while they were good looking couplers, I don't recall any hue and cry for them to be made available as they did not couple with M-Ts and were too small to be practical.
    Charlie Vlk
  2. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    I am not trying to start WWIII here but,want to voice my opinions.

    At what cost are we willing to pay for body mounted couplers? I wager most of us will be willing to pay $2-3.00 more per car.

    At what cost body mounts giving up 9 3/4" radius for 11 or 12" radius? I'll wager many of us would.

    At what cost are we willing to pay for that fine detail? $30-40.00 per car? I'll wager not many of us is willing to pay that much for details you can't see..That's was the cost in HO for tiny details you can't see and easly broken..

    About HO.

    Guys,HO is overrated by many.Its large and eats a lot of space and even a small 2' by 8' ISL amounts to a extended "time saver" and will require #4 switches for the best track design...
  3. N&W

    N&W TrainBoard Member


    Thanks Charlie!

  4. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    I liked that coupler, it's a pity they decided to tinker with it.
  5. bigford

    bigford TrainBoard Member

    i wish somebody would tinker with this.. 3 trix cars with this mutant

    and for the price i paid for the cars i will not cut them up to fit a M/T
  6. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    See my PM. For the information of everyone else, it's an NEM (which is sort of like a European NMRA) standard mount, you just unclip it and clip the new coupler in. Dapol makes a dummy knuckle coupler and Bachmann are working on a coupler similar to the McHenry.

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