Topics

Couplers, Coupler Pockets, etc.


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Charlie Vlk wrote:
Understand that I am all for thinking "outside of the box:" and promoting
improved standards.
But manufacturers have to field product that meets the greater marketplace.
STMFC is an important, significant viewpoint and a factor to be considered,
but Kadee cars are
outsold by Athearn MDC by a signficant order or magnitude or more.... so
scale draft gear and
couplers have a lot of installed base . . .
The trouble with Charlie's argument is that accepting it means there would never be any significant new products, couplers or anything else. Of course there are commercial viability issues for new products, but let's not simply conclude that nothing new can work because of Athearn/MDC. If that were true in the larger world, there would be nothing to drink but Budweiser.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


Charlie Vlk
 

Tony-
I am not arguing against anything..... just trying to provide some balance
here.
Some of you think that anything that isn't a resin kit-level model is a
crime to
produce. ..... forgetting that the investments in mass-production models
have to
be recouped in a marketplace much larger than that which the STMFC supports.
If it was just a matter of prototype accuracy InterMountain (heck,
Westerfield!!!)
cars should outsell Athearn.... but I'm guessing that they don't and that
Bachmann
cranks out more trainset cars than the rest of the market combined sells.
Pushing the envelope is a balancing act..... even guys like Branchline have
to think carefully
about advancing fine scale standards on their products....even though their
narrow audience is
much more receptive to such innovations....there are still limits to how far
and how
fast to move.
I recall that MDC brought out a RS3 with special scale Ernst gearing that
was a
total bomb, mostly because the units wouldn't MU with anything else.
The installed base matters if you aren't just making display models.
Charlie Vlk

The trouble with Charlie's argument is that accepting it means
there would never be any significant new products, couplers or anything
else.


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Charlie Vlk wrote:
I am not arguing against anything..... just trying to provide some balance here.
Didn't say you were "arguing against" and I certainly agree with you that there are folks on this (and other) lists who have zero sense of proportion. But even Branchline isn't really attempting to outsell Athearn (much as they might like to), never mind resin and other basement operators with many innovative products. I feel for products like the Sergent coupler: the arguments are sound that one hesitates to convert one's entire fleet if Sergent is going out of business next year; but if insufficient couplers are sold, he IS going out of business. It's a tough call for us all.
Meanwhile, reminding us of who sells the most car kits doesn't seem like a solution to the problem.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


Tim O'Connor
 

Tony,

I think Paul said it best, and you agreed with him -- we need a scale
coupler, with a scale draft gear, that is compatible with Kadee... (This
also is what Denny has been saying all along.)

Accurail -- currently comes closest to meeting all three requirements

Kadee -- #78 box is not a model of a prototype draft gear

Sergent -- only meets the scale coupler requirement, but does it better
than the other two

The above explains why we were so excited about the "Barger" coupler
even though he planned to use Kadee #5 coupler boxes. I hope he will
simultaneously release a scale draft gear box, since it has no effect on
the coupler head design. IMO once these are available, it will be safe to
buy them in large quantities!!! And since the large majority of modelers
will continue to buy Kadees, I don't worry that they will cease production
during my lifetime...

Tim O'Connor


Tony Thompson wrote

one hesitates to convert one's entire fleet if Sergent is going out of
business next year; but if insufficient couplers are sold, he IS going
out of business. It's a tough call for us all.


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

I think Paul said it best, and you agreed with him -- we need a scale
coupler, with a scale draft gear, that is compatible with Kadee... (This
also is what Denny has been saying all along.)

Accurail -- currently comes closest to meeting all three requirements
I agree. I have examined this coupler for both dimensions and proportions, as well as draft gear box, and it is excellent on all those counts. I guess I wish it were a metal coupler, but aside from not being literally a scale coupler, it is an excellent coupler. (How much durability and long-train or heavy-load data do we have for it?) I think I might prefer the Kadee 78 if it had a better box. For now, I'd probably only use Sergent for a contest model.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


Tim O'Connor
 

Tony, that's a great question and it seems to me like a perfect
subject for a magazine article... maybe RPCyc, because none of
the major mags would publish an article that might point out
flaws in an advertiser's products...

Seems like a simple test could be devised, X pounds on the drawbar
with a pulley system. Each brand could be tested for its load failure
and then we'd know exactly how much strain they could take! Also,
they should be tested over 48-72 hours as well to test for durability
when subjected to smaller loads over a period of time. (A problem
especially with plastics.) It might also reveal the weakness of some
coupler boxes as well, since the boxes might fail before the couplers
do.

Tim O'Connor




Tony Thompson wrote

How much durability and long-train or heavy-load data
do we have for [the Accurail scale coupler] ?


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

TIm O'C wrote:
Seems like a simple test could be devised, X pounds on the drawbar
with a pulley system. Each brand could be tested for its load failure
and then we'd know exactly how much strain they could take! Also,
they should be tested over 48-72 hours as well to test for durability
when subjected to smaller loads over a period of time. (A problem
especially with plastics.) It might also reveal the weakness of some
coupler boxes as well, since the boxes might fail before the couplers
do.
Tim, I don't think a destructive or "limit-load" test is the most important. I have heard tales from club usage of plastic couplers of slack running out and elastically bending the couplers so that they would uncouple. They didn't (permanently) fail or break, but did fail to perform their task. Some of this, of course, may be J.P. Barger's famous "inside face slope" problem, but some it may be coupler compliance.
I do agree that the tendency to take a "set" after being under modest load for hours, e.g. on a grade in a staging track, is important and necessary information for any plastic coupler.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


Tim O'Connor
 

Tony, that's a tough one. I wouldn't know how to systematically
test that. My own experience with the scale Accumates is good
(no reported problems) but that was only half a dozen cars on
a very large layout. I have personally seen the other plastic
couplers fail (except for the coil-spring McHenry), and I've seen
the "lock open" of the original Accumates that Andy Miller has
described.


Tony Thompson wrote

Tim, I don't think a destructive or "limit-load" test is the most
important. I have heard tales from club usage of plastic couplers of
slack running out and elastically bending the couplers so that they
would uncouple.


Brian J Carlson <brian@...>
 

A few years back we tried a sampling of the IM, McHenry (and clones), and
Accumates on our relatively large 60' x 30' HO scale club layout. While not
scientific the test cars which ran for a few years in some cases provided
valuable insight. During the testing time we had club members that ranged
from beginning modelers to railroad engineers. Our standard mainline
freight was 20-25 cars, cars were weighted to NMRA specs, and grades
approached 2.5%. Some things we noted included (in no particular order):

The IM and McHenry couplers with the little plastic knuckle spring finger
were the worst. A hard coupling was enough to cause a permanent set in the
knuckle spring which rendered the coupler useless since the knuckle stayed
open.

The plastic shanks on the IM, and clone type couplers tended to flex up and
down, resulting in train separation on more than one occasion. On one long
train we pulled the knuckle off the shank. Since it only happened once I
tend to think there was a defect in the coupler.

Accumates: We often run with pusher engines on one of the grades. They
aren't really needed but add to the operation. When the pushers were shoving
and the slack was run in accumates would uncouple if the head end
accelerated quicker than the tail due to the scissors action of the
couplers. I also had a 3 unit set of Atlas U23B's due this from time to
time if the second or third locomotives were shoving the first. We also had
accumates uncouple after shoving a long string of cars then changing
direction in the yard.

What we decided after the tests was to stick with the kadee #5's as they
operated the best on the club layout. At this time #5 and #58's are our
standard. Although Sergent's seem neat they would work on the club layout
due to some deep scenes and the need to convert approximately 1500 pieces of
rolling stock.

Brian J Carlson P.E.
Cheektowaga NY


Douglas Harding <d.harding@...>
 

Tim, if I recall correctly MR actually did the test you suggest. It was
right after the McHenry and InterMountain plastic couplers came out. A check
of the Mag Index maintained by Kalmback should pop this up, look for coupler
reviews. It may have been the Feb 1996 issue. I recall they did a weight
test to determine if the couplers would part or break.

Doug Harding
Iowa Central Railroad
http://d.harding.home.mchsi.com


Tim O'Connor wrote: Tony, that's a great question and it seems to me like a
perfect subject for a magazine article... maybe RPCyc, because none of the
major mags would publish an article that might point out flaws in an
advertiser's products...
Seems like a simple test could be devised, X pounds on the drawbar with a
pulley system. Each brand could be tested for its load failure and then we'd
know exactly how much strain they could take! Also, they should be tested
over 48-72 hours as well to test for durability when subjected to smaller
loads over a period of time. (A problem especially with plastics.) It might
also reveal the weakness of some coupler boxes as well, since the boxes
might fail before the couplers do.


Andy Sperandeo <asperandeo@...>
 

Doug Harding wrote: "Tim, if I recall correctly MR actually did the test you suggest. "

That's right, Doug. See "HO scale magnetic knuckle couplers," by Jim Hediger, in the July 2000 "Model Railroader," page 58.
So long,

Andy

Andy Sperandeo
Executive Editor
Model Railroader magazine
asperandeo@mrmag.com
Phone: 262-796-8776, ex. 461
Fax: 262-796-1142
www.modelrailroader.com