Scale Coupler Boxes: was Couplers, Coupler Pockets, The NMRA, and Scale Size

Denny Anspach <danspach@...>

To an extent, those turning up their noses to all plastic couplers in some kind of blanket fashion remind me of the "standing in the trench" pronouncements of those who in the '60s announced in print and in word loudly that they would *never* ever buy (or sell) anything made of plastic, and urged others to do the same. Plastics were "the death of model railroad hobby" (this was at the time when the then-new Athearn molded cars were de facto taking over the model railroad market). Now, just how much egg would you like on your face? :-[

"All metal" can mean anything from bismuth, lead, brass, aluminum, steel, zinc, and zamac and other alloys (some pure, but many others made of of leavings and sweepings), steel, etc. I do have some pretty terrible couplers" that are "All Metal".

"All plastic" can mean anything from soft new styrene (or similar) or other unstable plastics to various kinds of very tough aged engineering plastics . I also have some pretty fine couplers that are "All Plastic".

The scale Reboxx couplers designed by JP Barger have the potential to revolutionize the coupler market, especially if developed and engineered as a part of a true *system* with a scale box, and- if they are ever produced. What are they made of? *Plastic* but of course a very sophisticated engineering plastic like the better current plastic couplers of other manufacturers (including Kadee itself).

With these thoughts in mind, an awful lot of circumstances can exist where a given "plastic" coupler could beat out a given "metal" coupler hands down on multiple fronts, so within bounds, materials should not be a deciding factor.

A lot of the plastic Kadee-type coupler clones *are* cheaply made of cheap materials with poor engineering (if any), and because of this, I retire these couplers while still in their bags; or if already installed, they are replaced. If feasible, their replacement commonly will be Accumate Protos, or any version of #40-x Kadees. I have not used #78s as yet, but have several to try. If the thickness of the box wall forces the coupler shank to be mounted too low, or the box needs to be cut short- and i cannot do it, I probably (and perhaps reluctantly) will set them aside.

I have #58s on the ends of several cabooses and observation cars, but as Ben Hom has accurately pointed out, the scale effect loses out to the distractingly-obvious gross oversized appearance of the "standard" boxes from which the couplers project. All of these are scheduled for Accumate Proto or #78 replacement (minus glad hands).

Prices (MSRP): Pr. Kadee #58 @ $1.43 .
Pr. Kadee #78 (w. boxes) @ $2.88
Pr. Accumate Proto (w. boxes ) @ $1.49
Pr. Accumate Proto (w. boxes) bulk @12 $1.33, @50 $1.20).

I have not yet addressed the appearance of any of these "scale" couplers as they appear with a full sized metal gland hand hanging below, the diameter of which is some huge percentage of the overall coupler width. One could make a persuasive argument that this travesty alone might well negate any overall good effect that one might otherwise be attempting to make.


Rather than waste further bandwidth on this dead end "materials" issue, I would propose that we instead concentrate the strength and moral suasion of this list to the eventual promotion of a common scale draft gear box that can if necessary be readily adapted to the established base of the current industry-standard boxes . The AP box is a good place to begin (as has been proposed), not only because of size and scale appearance, but because it is already adaptable in some important respects.

The goal should be to radically change conventional thinking from the endless attempts to adapt differing couplers (scale or not) to the current industry-standard oversize boxes to instead adapting new scale boxes that, in turn, can perhaps hold one or more types of couplers that are *engineered to fit*.


Denny S. Anspach, MD

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