Kadee couplers and the various clones (Intermountain, McHenry,
Bachmann, Accumate) are magnetic for uncoupling only. Coupling is
strictly mechanical. The magnet (between the rails, or a more
powerful one below the ties) pushes the trip pins apart when you
create slack over the magnet and opens the coupler jaws.
A lot of people use the Kadee couplers, but not the magnetic
uncoupling. Count me in that group. I manually uncouple, and remove
the trip pins.
The magnets are an unending source of trouble, maintenance and headaches, You
have enough until you suddenly have too many. The trip pins are ugly and are a
nuisance to adjust and calibrate. No real railroad uses magnetic uncoupling and
trains are not switched, or shunted as the case may be, in the manner required
use of the magnetic uncoupling feature.
( it's not a bug, it's a feature- according to Kadee) I regard it as a bug,
on the order of a cockroach or similar social standing.
Magnets are not free. This is an expense you don't need. Under table
are quite expensive, sometimes costing more than an HO scale locomotive. THey are
very restrictive and limit your operating potential to always having to uncouple
the same spot every time. In real life this almost never happens.
No one in my operating group uses magnets. We all dislike them. Instead, cut the
pins off (called a glad-hand-ectomy) and get a couple of packs of four inch
skewers from a nearby supermarket to use as a manual uncoupling tool. It takes
ten - fifteen seconds to learn to use the skewer. Stick it between the knuckles
twist. Voila...! Uncoupled. Any place you want to uncouple without regard to
placement of "the magnet"
If you can't fnd the four or six inch skewers come back here and PING FROGGY
I have plenty and can sell you a pack of 100 at cost + postage.
Jan & Garry,
I use the Kadee couplers with under the track magnets. They take a bit
of planning to install, but it's well worth the extra effort.
Many prefer to uncouple by hand, but in my opinion, that is courting
I like to keep my hands away from the layout. Much less chance of
damaging a model structure or piece of rolling stock.
Switching frieght cars is a facet of the hobby I really enjoy.
Watching all the moves take place without a big set of hands reaching
out to uncouple a car keeps things much more realistic, in my opinion.
I'm with you on that Doug. Even though magnetic uncoupling is not
prototypical in the sense that you can't just uncouple anywhere the illusion
is spoiled for me when hands intrude upon the scene. For this same reason
all my turnouts are operated by switch machines even those that are right at
the front edge of the layout. For the most part I've had no problem with
magnets except when I installed some EZ Mate couplers (the kind with the
plastic spring) and had cars that would uncouple while moving. I've done
some things like install a magnet to close to a curve or turnout, try to
operate overly light cars or cars with couplers not set exactly right that
did cause some problems but those are lessons learned and problems no
True, dat. They also work well with (gasp!) "horn-hook" couplers. The
these can be rather improved by snipping off the uncoupling pin from the bottom,
amount of the "horn". All of it for best appearance, but then it loses the
couple on a curve.
But lately I've gone to dummies. They work well in reverse.
While I tend to agree with Froggy on this, there is one situation
where a magnetic decoupler is the only way to go. That's when you have
to spot a car inside a building or covered area. T
he only way it can be achieved (that I know of) is to have a electric
magnet inside or to use the time-honored method of decoupling over a
magnet, pulling away slightly, then pushing the car in.
There is one other way Mike.
I stop somewhere convenient and manually uncouple the car, then offset the
and push it to a spot. I sometimes did this with actual cars when I was a
and had to spot a car someplace that I could not, or did not want to, ride.
Spotting hoppers on a trestle is one example. another is spotting a boxcar under
shed, or in a building with zero clearance for a man on the car.
You tie up a handbrake, jam, or pass the knuckles then shove to the spot.
Although this is almost the same in principle as Kadee's "delayed uncoupling" it
not require a magnet and it does not require dancing the Kadee Tango over the
I'm with you on the switch machines as well. Mine are the PFM power
routing and motorized type.
On the subject of magnetic uncouplers, I have taken the trouble to
remove all steel weights and axels from my rolling stock.
The uncoupling tasks handle much better over the magnets when all the
steel is removed from the cars to avoid doing the herky jerky over
It's a bit of a challenge to weight some cars, but well worth the
I use a gram scale and stick on automotive wheel weights in box cars
and reefers. For other cars I use buckshot in white glue and find
places to hide it.
One way or another I get all the cars up to NMRA suggested weights,
and I use all non-magnetic Kadee wheel sets.
A nice side benifit seems to be derailment free operation.
I assume you mean magnetic uncoulpler ramps. I didn't like them. Park cars over
them or slow down and they uncouple. I switched to Kadee electromagnetic
uncouplers (#307 in HO). I wrote an article for MR describing how to mount
these lower in the roadbed underthe ties to hide them. They are strong enough
to uncoulbe if you run them on filtered DC. AC doesn't work in this arrangement
because the magnetic pull is cycling.
Art Adkins Modeling the Colorado Midland circa 1905