Re: Sharon Couplers

Jeff Coleman

I too have head many ex-railroad men refer to couplers as the drawbar or drawhead. I currently work with a ex-Southern switchman that uses drawhead when talking about couplers here in the shop.

As for the discussion about Sharon couplers this info is posted on the San Juan Car Company website. They manufacture O, On3 and On3 rolling stock, trucks, and couplers including Sharon.
The “modern” coupler is really not that modern. The Master Car Builders (MCB) established the contour in the 1890’s as the #5. MCB later became the American Association of Railroads (AAR). Then, as now, their function was to set standards and practices for railroads and the knuckle couple was a major achievement.

This is often referred to as the “Janney” coupler but really, Janney was just one brand name of couplers manufactured to those contours at that time. The knuckle was 9″ and the body was approx. 12″ deep and about that tall.

A bit later the contour was revised as the MCB “D” which still had the 9″ knuckle, but the body contour was slightly beefier. The later “E” has an 11″ knuckle and a correspondingly larger body, BUT ALL the couplers are compatible and able to coupler to each other. In computer terms, they were backwards and forward compatible.

Most narrow gauge cars sported the “D” due to their build date. Common brands included Janney, Simplex, Climax, Tower and Sharon, with Sharon being the most common.

So, we can stop referring to couplers as “standard” gauge couplers or “narrow” gauge couplers. There is no such thing and never was. The slight visual differences in size simply reflects differences in coupler brands and the evolution of the contour as time progressed
- Excerpted from 2010 issue of the On30 Annual.

1. What is the size of the coupler?

Before the turn of the century the AAR standardized automatic coupler designs, and began the process of eliminating the link and pin coupler.

The Sharon Coupler was one of the many designs to come from this design standard. Some of the more commonly found brands were the Tower and Janey.

The interface (knuckle & body) were common , but the mechanisms were all different.

During the conversion from link and pin couplers, the D&RGW made the switch. The most common was the Sharon. Wandering through the yards here in Durango and in Chama you will find all of these types including ones not listed here. You will even find narrow gauge cars with E type couplers.

As trains got longer and cars became heavier, a larger coupler size was needs. The E type was that coupler. Larger than the Sharon type but still interchangeable. The E type is still in use today along with more modern couplers.

Jeff Coleman

-----Original Message-----
From: 'Eric Neubauer' eaneubauer@... [STMFC]
Sent: Mon, Jul 28, 2014 11:05 am
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: Sharon Couplers


At least in today's world, that would be confusing. "Drawbar connected" is used to denote individual cars connected with a solid bar rather than couplers. Hence a drawbar is very different from a coupler. I can't think of any pre-1960 examples of this except for a locomotive and tender, but perhaps there were some.
Eric N.
Speaking of ‘terms’ my railroad friend always call the couple a “Drawbar”.
Clark Propst
Mason City Iowa

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