Replacing horn hook couplers?

TwinDad Jan 19, 2012

  1. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    Fogive me if this is too-oft-asked, especially if by me...


    I've got a small pile of old, mostly cheap HO cars - TYCO and the like - that have horn-hook couplers. I'd like to swap them out for Kadees.

    Is there a single standard "drop-in" Kadee coupler that I can use, or am I going to have to look up the make/model of each car and find the right one?

    I'm not terribly concerned about getting these cars super-prototypical or anything, I just want them to function and have knuckles.

    Thanks!
     
  2. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    I believe KD No.5s are the ticket for this. Also I believe KD has a list of what coupler replaces what car make.. But, and no offense , the amount of money and time to do this may not be worth it. 25-30 years ago there were hardly any RTR cars with knuckle couplers that it was worth making the conversion..But since 99% of today's rolling stock is fitted with operating knuckle couplers you might just be better off moth-balling these oldies and buy new cars. There are tons of deals now on ,say, ebay that you can get entire cars RTR with Knucks for $5-15..each ..2 KDs will run you near $5.. If you're talking 50 cars that's near $250.00 for couplers alone. If you're talking 12 cars, why bother...Finally , you could park these oldies in a back-ground siding and just fugeddaboudit !!
     
  3. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    You bring up a good point about the cost and "worth it" part...

    However, the cars in question... there's 8 of them... they're my old cars from when I was a kid... and now they're my daughter's...

    Replacing them isn't really an option. Adding new cars is an inevitability, which is why I want to go ahead and upgrade at least some of them.

    A certain online retailer I frequent has the Kadee #5s 2pr/$2.99, or $1.50 per car... so the whole fleet upgrade would be ~$12.00. Plus her one loco.

    I did find the info on the Kadee site, but was having trouble deciphering it, since I'm not really familiar with the HO stuff.
     
  4. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

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    I agree with MarkinLA. Besides, TYCO and similiar cars from that era had mostly truck mounted couplers. To really make the cars work right you'd need to drill and tap and then screw the coupler boxes to the cars' underframe. I did it back in the "dark ages" (1960-70's) when there weren't that many makers of HO cars and TYCO (then called Mantua) had some road names and schemes that weren't available from Athearn, MDC, etc.

    You can also get new RTR cars or kits; Accurail, Bachmann, Bowser and probably some I'm overlooking that have both types in the $10-$15 range.
     
  5. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    When I was an HO scaler, I think Kadee made #26/27/28 couplers that had adaptors to make them fit into truck-mounts.
     
  6. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    I did the kadee swap on IHC cars. It's worth it, but a little expensive in time cost. Another cheat I've used in the past is to just swap out one coupler on two cars and leave the rest of the cars as-is then put the 2 cars with Kadees on the ends with the unchanged cars in the middle. I don't know how intensive Tyco conversions are, but my IHC ones took about 30 min a car and some interesting nicks and cuts. Even after the cost of the cars (8) and the conversions, I was only out around $90. My Walthers Empire Builder cars (11) where around $200 so in my opinion, if you want to put the time into it, it's a decent way to save money.
     
  7. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Someone else mentioned it, but I'll say it outright. In HO scale we don't replace the coupler in the truck. You cut the truck mounted coupler off and mount a Kadee on the body.

    The ONLY exception is some passenger cars.

    Also, the KD #5 is ALWAYS the right coupler. With certain limited exceptions where the coupler mount itself is too big or adjusting height is hard, the #5 is always always always right.
    Truck mounted couplers is for N scale. ;)
     
  8. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

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    I have been known to cut the horn and the hook off these couplers to approximate a more normal looking knuckle. If you do it right they will hold well with a KD but do have problems staying coupled to each other. Good for making a cheap transition car between KD cars and horn hook cars.
     
  9. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    As TwinDad mentioned, it's not a question of cost-vs-effort. It's a question of nostalgia and giving a kid some working trains. I bought a load of old rolling stock - the same cheap Tyco and Model Power stuff I had as a kid, simply for nostalgia. There's nothing like a reefer with "Doggie Dinner" plastered on the side, and despite its cheap construction, lack of super-detailing, wrong number of rivets, and all the other faults people could find in it, I like it! Why? Because it gave me a good laugh as a kid. Good, clean, unsophisticated fun. Isn't that the point of our hobby? Having fun?

    I cut off the truck-mounted couplers, and mounted a set of KD #5s on the frame.
     
  10. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the great advice, all. I don't know why the body mounting didn't occur to me since I jus did that to a batch of my N-scale cars last week.

    I'll put a pile of Kadee #5s on my shopping list.
     
  11. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Since the problem is now solved, I'll expound on Kadees. There are 2 series of couplers from them. The classics which are all the low numbers like thet #5. Then there are the semi scale couplers like the #58. The 58 is the functional equivalent of a 5 and they work together.beyond the #5/58. Everything else is about specific prototype (shelf couplers) or tweaking draft box size or height, or other tweaks like wisker springs instead of the classic stamped metal , but again, odds are alway that #5 is right.
     
  12. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    That's funny - the first time I went to the Kadee site I thought I was trying to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Underset? Overset? Medium shank??? But it's like most anything else, once you dive in and do a few conversions it all makes perfect sense and no, there isn't any piece of rolling stock or locomotive that can't be converted to knuckles. The #5 couplers are a good starting point and cover "most" applications. There will be instances where you'll appreciate a more specialized Kadee. Be aware that you'll probably have to raise or lower the car body, either with plastic shims where you mount the coupler or shims between the truck and car body. Fun stuff updating those old ancient Tycos :tb-biggrin:
     
  13. pawpawgator

    pawpawgator New Member

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    May I suggest making one or two "transition cars" with an F2 hook and horn coupler on one end and a knuckle coupler on the other. Then just use them/it to "adapt" the manifest if it needs "mixed coupler" connections. That approach has worked well for me. :)
     
  14. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

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    Back in the dark ages, our "transition" cars were made from cut sections of wood boxcar floor...square. One truck, different couplers on each end.
    Me?
    I'm putting Mantuas on all mine.
    Started with the SilverStreak boxcars and just kept going.
    Why?
    Couple of three reasons.
    A) I like "vintage" stuff I grew up with.
    B) It's my railroad.
    C) Drives the local nmra types buggy.
    Dave
     
  15. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    I have a TON of old (vintage?) Tycos, Life Likes, Mantuas, AHM, Bachmann rolling stock. I'm sure the cost of upgrading all of them with Kadees and metal wheels could have been better spent on more current/far better detailed/better running right out of the box stuff - but I get a lot of fun bringing them back to life. A lot of it IS nostalgia. And I can't resist picking up more of this "junk" at train shows!
     
  16. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

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    Yup. We do it because we can, and it ain't RTR by a long shot!
    Reworking cardstock sides on Megow, Comet, prewar Varney.....making the trucks work right......milling out the floor on the end to "pocket" the couplers for height, instead of installing a stack of Kadee washers and making the car taller than it should be.....open frame motors and ozone....brass rails, or, if you're lucky, steel rails on TruScale.
    Dave
     
  17. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    I hear you, brother! :)
     
  18. trainman-ho

    trainman-ho TrainBoard Member

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    I buy a lot of older cars on eBay, with Horn and Hook couplers. I also buy knuckle couplers at the same place......5 packs for from 8 to 12 dollars. I know. Some of you will say the shipping costs a lot too. But, I don't have a LHS that I can duck out to. There IS one 3 1/2 hours away. Just because something is old, and maybe not as prototypical or pretty, or what ever doesn't mean that it has no value. Look at my ID thingy.
    One person's trash is another's treasure. My first HO scale model train had internal batteries and a 3 position switch on it. I wish I still had it. Preserving the past through recycling and reusing is a great idea.

    I hope your daughter enjoys her trains and the hobby.

    Jim
     
  19. Train Builder

    Train Builder TrainBoard Member

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    I converted some of those old Tyco and Mantua cars a few years back, but I agree it's hardly worth it in time or money nowadays with the selection that's available. Plus those truck mounted horn-hooks cause a lot of derailments. However there's a few billboard reefers that I'm fond of that I cannot find new, so I keep those conversions. For the rest, one boxcar with kaydee #5 on one end and horn-hook on the other allows me to run the notworthits should I feel the need. Eventually they will become scenery.
     
  20. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    It's not pretty, it's not prototype, but it's nice - to me. I found some old freight cars at train shows that are the same ones I had as a kid. I converted them to Kadee - most of them converted from truck to body mount. Did I do it for the cash? No! Did I do it for some modeling reason? No! I did it because I like those old things and I want to run them with my new stuff. Because it's FUN.

    Now there's a word - fun. It's the reason I'm in the hobby.
     

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