Re: Sergent Couplers

Thomas M. Olsen <tmolsen@...>

Hi Pat,

The wand is a piece of tool steel rod that has been magnetized and is
about four inches long. To reach any distance you would have to mount
it on a piece of dowel or other circular material, keeping size and
diameter reasonable, but remaining rigid enough not to sag while you
reach across.

I like the way they operate and how they look, but unfortunately the
inability to reach across more than a foot of benchwork makes them
impracticable if you plan to do anything other than run around without
doing anything. Now if you are into displays and/or contests at train
shows and conventions, RPM meets, etc., then there is nothing that can
beat them.

If someone can find a way to uncouple them remotely or in any other
fashion, then they will become workable in operating sessions.

Tom Olsen
Newark, Delaware, 19711-7479

Patrick Wider wrote:


If I understand you correctly, after application of the magnetic wand held above the
coupler or a surplus super-conducting collider magnet held even higher, one still has to
get access to the Sergent coupler's knuckle with a Howard Hughes' finger nail, dentil pick,
or bent paper clip to open it? Is this how they work? Man Oh Man. What a handy workable
design! At least it would eliminate the need for a "scale clock". Thanks for the engineering

Pat Wider

--- In, "Thomas M. Olsen" <tmolsen@U...> wrote:


In mid-June, I purchased a set of assembled Sargent Couplers
(#EC87A-125) along with the Magnetic Uncoupling Wand. The price for the
two items with shipping was $18.00. You get five assembled Type "E"
couplers. They work very well and are smaller in size than the Kadee
#58s. Even though I have not had the opportunity to mount them in a
piece of rolling stock, I was able to test how they work. These
couplers are all-metal and are a dark reddish-brown in color which at a
distance make the coupler look as if it were covered with rust.

In reality, they operate just like the prototype. They have a spring
located in the shank ahead of the mounting hole like the MKD-4 Kadee to
absorb the shock when the coupling is made. After uncoupling, they,
like the prototype do not return to center as the Kadee and other HO
couplers available do. They do not mate with other knuckle couplers due
to the size difference between a proto-87 coupler and the present
couplers available with the exception of the cast dummy couplers. The
manufacturer advises that with a little filling on the dummy coupler
knuckle, they will couple. To couple, they, like their prototype
cousins require the services of a brakeman to align the coupler and if
necessary to open one of the knuckles if both are closed. They will
couple if only one is open and both are properly aligned. The present
information sheet from Sergent advises that the current offerings are to
retrofit existing equipment. It is possible that they may offer draft
gear boxes in the future as they said "Stay Tuned!'

This coupler position and open/closed knuckle situation could be a
problem for anyone who has a fairly large hump, staging or flat switched
yard or any other location where the benchwork edge is more than an arms
length or the track centers are close at a distance with rolling stock
close on adjacent tracks. The distance benchwork edge to track
situation is going to be the determining factor as to whether anyone
will want to use these for operations, or just buy them for display
purposes in shows and contests. You have to be able to place the
magnetic wand over top of the coupler head to raise the steel ball out
of it's slot in the locking block in the coupler shank. This allows the
knuckle to open. When the knuckle closes, the steel ball drops back
into it's place and locks the knuckle closed. The prototype couplers
are designed the same way, except there is no steel ball to raise, just
the locking block which is actuated by the raising (or lowering,
depending on whether they are over or under-slung) of the cutting lever
on the car end. In an earlier discussion regarding the operation of
couplers, it was Larry Jackman who addressed the operation as to how
couplers lock and what has to occur to allow them to open. Many thanks
Larry, for making this clear to many who have not had the on the ground
experience in this area.

The ability to open them when they are mounted on passenger equipment
with diaphragms is a valid point. As Tim O'Connor mentioned, the
possible use of anisotropic magnets mounted on a wand designed for this
use and also mounted on an extended wand for distances would solve the
problems in both the passenger and freight situations. In regard to the
comment that the couplers have to be filed down to fit present draft
gear boxes: there was no mention of this in the paperwork that
accompanied the set that I received.

I'm sure that we all will be interested in what Jared Harper's results
as he begins to test these couplers in actual service. The big bugaboo
will be the ability to reach the cars and accurately get the wand into
position to uncouple the cars, or to be able to align couplers with the
cars buried in a yard more than two feet from the benchwork end. This
will really be a test of skill when humping cars, as you will only have
seconds to lift ball to uncouple the cars as they go over the hump or to
uncouple rear-end helpers on the fly. Most fellows that I know will not
use these couplers as they require the operator to get more involved in
the actual work of making and breaking up of trains and in switching
operations. The magnetic couplers in use today allow us to move along
quickly in an operating session, while use of the Sergent couplers will
bring us back to reality as nothing moves fast in actual railroad
switching and in train make-up and break-up operations. Just like the
Army - "Hurry Up and Wait!

But, for display and contest purposes, they cannot be beat! Hopefully,
Sergent will offer a scale draft gear box to make this superbly scaled
coupler. Do not get me wrong, the Quad 58/78 is a tremendous
improvement over the earlier #5 and I will use them until the Sargent is
proved to be good in operation and the problems are solved. Whether
they are depends on what others find when they use them. Jared, please
keep us up on what you find as it will be greatly appreciated!

Tom Olsen
7 Boundary Road, West Branch
Newark, Delaware, 19711-7479
(302) 738-4292

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