I am in design phase of an N scale layout for myself and grandson.

Until design is complete, I have set up a bit of Bachmann EZ Track track on a flat surface so he can play and laearn how to work with trains. I have several brands of locos and rolling stock. LifeLike, Atlas, and Bachmann locos and many brands of rolling stock.

Lately, we have been having many problems with involuntary un-coupling of cars on curves (11.5"R), over turnouts, and nuch difficulty trying to couple two cars togetjer. I first thought that the boy was being a little rough, but I did some observing over the weekendhe while he was operating them and he is very good with them. On closer inspection, it seems to me that the arms have too much vertical play. Horizontal movement is necessary, but vertical ?

I'm beginning to thimk that third party or at least some uniform coupler would be less of a problem in the long run.

I would appreciate hearing from some of you who have experienced the same. Those of you who have done coupler change-outs, what did you use ?


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Jungle Jim
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Jungle Jim wrote in news:Xns98F0DFA253A73jungle22jimyahoocom@


I usually use Microtrains 10-packs of trucks and couplers. Not only do the cars tend to run a little smoother, but the couplers are knuckle style so they look and work better. I'll be switching over to metal wheels sometime in the near future, also.

When I'm running on my Ntrak club's layout, I like to put a heavier car near the end of the train to keep all the slack out. If they're not constantly banging together, the couplers stay together better.


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There are two types of couplers used on N rolling stock. Both were originally patented, but now are freely copied/cloned by other manufacturers.

Both types require that the couplers

1) are mounted at the same height above the rails 2) are centered when uncoupled; and 3) come within each other's gathering range when pushing the cars together to couple.

Different manufacturers' coupler heights will vary a bit, and that can be enough to cause trouble. Also check the track: At joints, you may get just enough change in flatness that the couplers disengage. Turnouts may not be truly flat throughout their length, either. N scale couplers are rather small... :-)

Another problem may be mixing body mounted and truck mounted couplers. They will not couple well on curves, if at all, and differences in sideways thrust on curves may be enough to cause uncoupling, too.

Finally, the wheels may have enough gunk built up worsen the mismatch of coupler heights that makes coupling difficult and uncoupling common. Clean the wheels (and track) regularly. Switching to metal wheels will reduce this problem.

BTW, real railroads often have trouble coupling cars on curves, so don't be upset if you can't couple cars on curves.

The two types are:

a) Rapido: this one looks like an open rectangle from above. Its front edge is wedge shaped, so one coupler slides up over the other to couple. Reliable coupling requires that the coupler head can move up (or down) easily, and then drop down (or spring back up) just as easily. A stiff spring or flash on the coupler head or on the coupler box can impede coupling, or cause uncoupling when cars move up and down relative to each other.

b) Knuckle coupler: This looks somewhat like a real coupler. It couples when the jaw (knuckle) moves sideways and opens, and then closes. Reliable coupling requires a soft springing action in the knuckle, and easy side to side movement of the whole coupler. Flash on the coupler shank or on the coupler box can impede coupling. Mismatch of coupler height can cause unwanted uncoupling.

From your description, you appear to have the Rapido type. This is not as reliable as the knuckle coupler type. The knuckle coupler is becoming the standard N scale coupler by default. Most manufacturers now offer their rolling stock with it already mounted, and may or may not include the Rapido type for you to switch if you desire.


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To be fair to Rapido, they work a lot better than horn-hooks do in HO, especially truck-mounted horn-hooks.

Cordially yours: Gerard P. President, a box of track and some plans

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Yes indeed!

And horn-hooks are pretty well gone. Available only on a few >entry level" train sets - the junk that's sold at Christmastime to unsuspecting gift givers.

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