Topics

Coupler droop


hvyweight41
 

Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL


Tim O'Connor
 

Keith

I have been building blue box kits lately -- (Maybe I should create
a blog?)

Step 1 -- Paint the floor boards a wood color and lightly weather. Also
paint the kit underframe an appropriate color (some railroads painted
them black, others painted them brown). Weather to suit. (I do about
20 floors and underframes in a batch.)

Step 2 -- Turn one Athearn underframe into a jig for drilling 2-56 holes
for Kadee coupler pockets. Attach to the floor (boards under the frame)
and drill and tap the holes. Remove the jig. Make sure you carefully
choose where to drill the holes -- they do NOT go exactly where the
old Athearn post is located, but a little further towards the ends.

Step 3 -- Trim off the pocket on your kit Athearn underframe.

Step 4 -- Assemble the floor and underframe with the truck screws and
make sure the floor boards are under the frame (i.e. this is the
REVERSE of Athearn instructions!!!)

Step 5 -- Attach Kadee's new coupler pockets (#242 or #262 if you want
to use Whisker couplers) so they extend the correct distance from the
end of the floor. Attach them with Kadee PLASTIC 2-56 screws.

Step 6 -- Trim off the Kadee screws on the other side, flush with the
plastic deck. You could use metal 2-56 screws, but trimming them flush
will be much harder. :-)

Step 7 -- Add the weight. This will be INSIDE the car!

Step 8 -- Sand the "wings" off the side of the floor. The entire floor
assembly will now drop snugly, and perfectly, into the body. Glue it
in place. (I trim the claws off the doors first, and glue the doors
in place, before I add the floor.)

Step 9 -- Detail, paint, weather, etc -- The floor should be at exactly
the correct height, and the couplers should also be exactly correct.
(I assume you are using Athearn's blue box trucks which have a certain
bolster height. Other brands may have a different bolster height.)
No shims etc. are needed.

The couplers will not droop, and they will not come out, ever, unless
you unscrew the 2-56 screws holding the pockets in place.

Caution, Athearn blue box cars assembled this way might look so much
better to you that you'll want to toss all your older Athearn cars.

Note many older Athearn cars are NOT glued together -- so you can rebuild
them properly and easily!

Tim O'Connor

Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL


John Degnan
 

Question 1 : Which Kadee couplers are you installing?  If you're using some of the modern "whisker" type Kadee couplers, t he 'droop' could be caused by the lack of the older style centering spring which helped to eliminate vertical clearance inside the gear boxes... assuming, of course, that the shank on the whisker couplers is the same thickness as the older couplers.  I haven't  thought to check this before, so I can't say for sure if there is a difference or not.



Question 2 : Do the problem cars have the old, metal clip-on lid for the gear box?  If so, one POSSIBLE solution might be to ever-so-slightly bend the end of this metal lid upward to help raise the coupler head to the correct height, being very careful not to bend it too much as to  pinch the shank .





John Degnan
@Scaler164
Scaler187@...

----- Original Message -----
From: "hvyweight41" <hvyweight41@...>
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 10:30:49 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Coupler droop

Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL



------------------------------------

Yahoo! Groups Links





[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


hvyweight41
 

John-
Question 1: I am planning to use the appropriate whisker coupler, most use the #148. I have some #158 scale couplers but I'm not sure I want to use these on these basic kit.
Question 2: yes, so far all are the metall clip.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL
PS This may all be mote if I use Tim O'Connor's more "radical" approach, above.

--- In STMFC@..., Scaler164@... wrote:



Question 1 : Which Kadee couplers are you installing?  If you're using some of the modern "whisker" type Kadee couplers, t he 'droop' could be caused by the lack of the older style centering spring which helped to eliminate vertical clearance inside the gear boxes... assuming, of course, that the shank on the whisker couplers is the same thickness as the older couplers.  I haven't  thought to check this before, so I can't say for sure if there is a difference or not.



Question 2 : Do the problem cars have the old, metal clip-on lid for the gear box?  If so, one POSSIBLE solution might be to ever-so-slightly bend the end of this metal lid upward to help raise the coupler head to the correct height, being very careful not to bend it too much as to  pinch the shank .





John Degnan
Scaler164@...
Scaler187@...

----- Original Message -----
From: "hvyweight41" <hvyweight41@...>
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 10:30:49 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Coupler droop

Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL



------------------------------------

Yahoo! Groups Links





[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


hvyweight41
 

Tim-
This method really appeals to the modeler in me.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL

--- In STMFC@..., Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> wrote:

Keith

I have been building blue box kits lately -- (Maybe I should create
a blog?)

Step 1 -- Paint the floor boards a wood color and lightly weather. Also
paint the kit underframe an appropriate color (some railroads painted
them black, others painted them brown). Weather to suit. (I do about
20 floors and underframes in a batch.)

Step 2 -- Turn one Athearn underframe into a jig for drilling 2-56 holes
for Kadee coupler pockets. Attach to the floor (boards under the frame)
and drill and tap the holes. Remove the jig. Make sure you carefully
choose where to drill the holes -- they do NOT go exactly where the
old Athearn post is located, but a little further towards the ends.

Step 3 -- Trim off the pocket on your kit Athearn underframe.

Step 4 -- Assemble the floor and underframe with the truck screws and
make sure the floor boards are under the frame (i.e. this is the
REVERSE of Athearn instructions!!!)

Step 5 -- Attach Kadee's new coupler pockets (#242 or #262 if you want
to use Whisker couplers) so they extend the correct distance from the
end of the floor. Attach them with Kadee PLASTIC 2-56 screws.

Step 6 -- Trim off the Kadee screws on the other side, flush with the
plastic deck. You could use metal 2-56 screws, but trimming them flush
will be much harder. :-)

Step 7 -- Add the weight. This will be INSIDE the car!

Step 8 -- Sand the "wings" off the side of the floor. The entire floor
assembly will now drop snugly, and perfectly, into the body. Glue it
in place. (I trim the claws off the doors first, and glue the doors
in place, before I add the floor.)

Step 9 -- Detail, paint, weather, etc -- The floor should be at exactly
the correct height, and the couplers should also be exactly correct.
(I assume you are using Athearn's blue box trucks which have a certain
bolster height. Other brands may have a different bolster height.)
No shims etc. are needed.

The couplers will not droop, and they will not come out, ever, unless
you unscrew the 2-56 screws holding the pockets in place.

Caution, Athearn blue box cars assembled this way might look so much
better to you that you'll want to toss all your older Athearn cars.

Note many older Athearn cars are NOT glued together -- so you can rebuild
them properly and easily!

Tim O'Connor




Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL


Tony Thompson
 

Keith Kempster wrote:
Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Keith, there is really no permissible droop. The Kadee height gage shows you the required position of the knuckles and the trip pin. Do not accept droop beyond that. Kadees are legendary for reliability and consistency, but that only happens if you install them to the Kadee standard height.

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, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history


hvyweight41
 

Tony-
Maybe I should clarify. The Kadee couplers have thinner shafts than the hook and horn they replace. As a result, they sit canted down from the pivot point. I checked them with the gauge and they are at the right height. However, I noted some vertical play when uncoupling. The coupler moves up with a slight bit of pressure and returns to the original height when the pressure is released. I call this droop.
As I understand it, the prototype coupler connection is essentially rigid. The couplers move up and down relative to each other as the cars move over irregular track and the only pivot is at the coupler to coupler interface. Our model couplers pivot to accommodate small radius curves. I'm thinking I should assemble some couplers in Kadee draft boxes and see how big the opening is.
In a related matter, Kadee states that scale couplers are drop ins for the standard couplers. Does anyone have experience with the scale couplers and were any changes required to insure reliable operation?
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL

--- In STMFC@..., Tony Thompson <tony@...> wrote:

Keith Kempster wrote:
Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Keith, there is really no permissible droop. The Kadee height gage shows you the required position of the knuckles and the trip pin. Do not accept droop beyond that. Kadees are legendary for reliability and consistency, but that only happens if you install them to the Kadee standard height.

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, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history






[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


John
 

Keith:

Just the other day I wrote to Kadee telling them that I had found a solution to just such a problem. What I did was insert Kadee fiber washers under the coupler. I used 0.010" washers for most, but if the couplers were not free to move laterally (side to side) after modifying, I switched to a 0.005" Kadee steel washer. I guess you could use the 0.015" fiber washers if the couplers are really sloppy. My experience is that after this mod they fit perfectly and I didn't have to glue them.

I asked if the whisker couplers were thinner or the same as #5s and Kadee responded that they the later runs were actually 0.005" thicker to compensate for the square spring that no longer needed.

-- John

--- In STMFC@..., "hvyweight41" <hvyweight41@...> wrote:

Background:I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. They all have hook and horn couplers. I want to replace them with Kadee couplers. I tried a set and there seems to be bit of vertical play, aka droop, in the draft box. What is the standard for droop, if any? What are the best methods for correcting out of tolerance couplers? I do have the Kadee coupler gauge and an NMRA gauge.
I've done some research and the options seems to range from replacing the draft boxes to shimming the opening with strip styrene.
Thanks,
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL


John Degnan
 

This is what I sort-of expected to be the case... but it's not a good thing in all cases.  One such case is the rear coupler box on Athearn Genesis F-Units.  After all this time, I have yet to find ANY aftermarket coupler that will work WELL, as it should , in these... yes, including the Kadee whisker couplers.  The shank on ALL of the ones I've tried are simply too thick, and end up getting 'pinched' by the lid of the gear box when it is secured as it should be.  I have tried nearly ALL possible applications and methods ... including trying to file the shank of the whisker couplers thinner, but every single one I've tried that on ends up defective... missing one or boyj  whisker(s).  And I am no rookie modeler by any means.

As they have done for other models, Kadee should develop a coupler (or couplers) specifically for these locos that have a thin enough shank to fit and operate freely in the extremely tight, rear gear box on the Genesis F-3s.

However, since you say Kadee said something about a "later run" of the whisker couplers... am I safe in assuming the earlier ones had thinner shanks?  If so, then if anyone has any of these early whisker couplers, I'd like to buy a few from you for testing in my F-3s...


John Degnan
@Scaler164
Scaler187@...

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Sykes" <John.Sykes@...>
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2013 8:20:26 AM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Coupler droop

I asked  if the whisker couplers were thinner or the same as #5s and Kadee responded that  the later runs were actually 0.005" thicker to compensate for the square spring that no longer needed.

-- John

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Tim O'Connor
 

Kadee coupler shanks can be filed thinner quite easily. I have
done this many times, and they still work perfectly. They can also
be shortened at the rear end for incredibly tight applications,
such as the rear of F units, or steam loco pilots.

Tim O'Connor

The shank on ALL of the ones I've tried are simply too thick,
> and end up getting 'pinched' by the lid of the gear box when it
> is secured as it should be.


Dan L. Merkel <danmerkel@...>
 

I've taken the Kadee washers and trimmed a wee bit off of each side then put them right in the coupler box to help with this. Don't see it too often though. I wonder if you could put an ever so slight bend in the front lip of the little metal clip that holds the couplers in place. Haven't tried that but it might work...

dlm
---------------------------------
Dan L. Merkel
http://thecourier.typepad.com/alongtherightofway/


John Degnan
 

I have also had luck filing the shanks of the earlier Kadee couplers thinner, but not with the whisker couplers.  But I have to admit I've not tried filing them with the coupler in a vise... only by holding them in hand... so that could be the source of my grief.

As for the length of the shank... that is not the issue I have with Kadee couplers on the Genesis F units... it is the thickness of the shank that causes the problem.


John Degnan
@Scaler164
Scaler187@...

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tim O'Connor" <@timboconnor>
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2013 10:49:56 AM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Coupler droop


Kadee coupler shanks can be filed thinner quite easily. I have
done this many times, and they still work perfectly. They can also
be shortened at the rear end for incredibly tight applications,
such as the rear of F units, or steam loco pilots.

Tim O'Connor


  > The shank on ALL of the ones I've tried are simply too thick,
  > and end up getting 'pinched' by the lid of the gear box when it
  > is secured as it should be.



------------------------------------

Yahoo! Groups Links


John Degnan
 

This is what I suggested earlier and have had a good degree of success with in the past.


John Degnan
@Scaler164
Scaler187@...

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan L. Merkel" <danmerkel@...>
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2013 11:01:24 AM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Coupler droop

I wonder if you could put an ever so slight bend in the front lip of the little metal clip that holds the couplers in place.  Haven't tried that but it might work...

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


midrly
 

Most coupler box lids, including Kadee, are atyrene. I've glued a strip of styrene onto the bottom of the box as a "carry iron" to level the coupler. Lube this and the inside of the box with some P-B-L Neolube, and you won't notice its presence.

Steve Lucas.

--- In STMFC@..., "Dan L. Merkel" <danmerkel@...> wrote:

I've taken the Kadee washers and trimmed a wee bit off of each side then put them right in the coupler box to help with this. Don't see it too often though. I wonder if you could put an ever so slight bend in the front lip of the little metal clip that holds the couplers in place. Haven't tried that but it might work...

dlm
---------------------------------
Dan L. Merkel
http://thecourier.typepad.com/alongtherightofway/

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Michael Watnoski
 

Greetings,

The problem I have had with #5 Kadee couplers in blue box freight cars is often due to the spring plate. I typically trim the tabs on the vertical portions so they do not interfere with the metal coupler box cover. If they touch the cover they bend the plate such that the coupler will bind and cover may not seat properly. This takes just a moment with sharp scissors. I usually trim the short tab at the front of spring as it often has a rough edge that drags on the coupler shank.

The metal plate should have its inner surface of the front edge filed smooth. When installing the metal cover, I will squeeze the sides slightly to insure that it grabs the locking barbs on the sides of the coupler box. These are seldom perpendicular when formed.

I usually prep a bunch of couplers and springs ahead of time so they are ready to use. Also burnish the shanks as described in the instructions. I use a pair of needle nose pliers rather that the drill bit called for as it is easier to handle.

HTH

Michael


Craig Zeni
 

On Jul 13, 2013, at 11:27 AM, STMFC@... wrote:
3b. Re: Coupler droop
Posted by: "John Sykes" John.Sykes@... john.sykes60
Date: Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:20 am ((PDT))

Keith:

Just the other day I wrote to Kadee telling them that I had found a solution to just such a problem. What I did was insert Kadee fiber washers under the coupler. I used 0.010" washers for most, but if the couplers were not free to move laterally (side to side) after modifying, I switched to a 0.005" Kadee steel washer. I guess you could use the 0.015" fiber washers if the couplers are really sloppy. My experience is that after this mod they fit perfectly and I didn't have to glue them.
If I have excessive Couplerus Limpus I will glue a strip of styrene across the lower part of the draft gear opening to support the coupler. That strip is typical .010" thick. Paint it the color of the draft gear and it disappears.

I asked if the whisker couplers were thinner or the same as #5s and Kadee responded that they the later runs were actually 0.005" thicker to compensate for the square spring that no longer needed.
So I wasn't imagining this.

The way I deal with the B end of Genesis F units is to take the extra set that comes with the model and sand thickness from the inside face of the cover. I'll then put the coupler in the box and glue that lid in place. Let it dry and I'll then countersink the assembly to take a flat head screw nearly flush with the surface...needed to clear the truck as it pivots/gimbals fore and aft. Oh, and by using the short shank scale coupler you get nearly dead perfect scale coupling distances between F units...which which you will pull your freight cars. (See what I did there?)

I do wish Kadee would conjure up a neat retrofit for Genny F units...

Craig Zeni
"Bother..." said Pooh as he chambered another round.


Jim Betz
 

Hi,

My admittedly laissez-faire opinion/practice is ...

"These are blue box kits and not worthy of lots of attention".

So what I do for couplers is to install #5s -with- the copper
centering spring. I love the improvement in the appearance
of the semi-scale coupler heads ... but you gotta admit that
they don't couple/uncouple as well as the "good ole #5s" ...
especially if there are two different coupler types such as
a #5 with a #58. And since, most of the time, my equipment
is running with other people's cars and locos ... there are
lots of times when that #5-to-#58 is in play. Here is what
I do for #5s in Athearn blue box cars.

1) I use a hobby file for a few passes from rear to front of the
centering spring to ensure there isn't any burr on the front
lip that would catch/impede the side to side action.

2) I take enough passes across the end of the #5 (both sides)
that they get "shiny" ... again to remove any burrs in the
area where they swivel. And also to remove any burrs
around the edges of that "5-sided" end.

3) I use the Kadee coupler pliers to put enough of a bend in
the end of the coupler pin that the end is "just higher
than the lowest point of the pin". This prevents the pin
from ever getting caught on the track.

4) I put ever so slight a bend -down- in the business end
of the Athearn metal coupler box cover ... to prevent
it from catching the coupler shank. I also often file this
same area to remove any burrs.

5) I install the couplers and use a Kadee gauge to adjust
the height of the coupler (fibre washers on the bolster
as required - which is "quite often").

6) I adjust the depth of the uncoupling pin to the correct
height using the Kadee gauge - while preserving that
bend up of the end I did in step #3.

7) It is rare that I don't do some level of weathering on
my couplers. I use acrylics (actually Delta Ceramcoat
Craft acrylics) in 'washes' that hit the faces, the
tops, the knuckle spring, and the pin ... and if you
flick the pin a couple of times they free up and
operate without any hesitation.

- end of story ... Jim Betz

P.S. I do not run my blue box cars much these days. Watch
eBay if you are interested in some very nicely weathered -
and running - rolling stock. They just don't meet my
standards of "believability/prototypical accuracy" these
days ... eBay seller id "OldRocky". They should start
showing up "in a few weeks". Or contact me directly -
OFF list ... on list attempts will be ignored.


Tom in Texas
 

I have success with both bending up the lip of the metal cover and also super gluing a narrow piece of .010 thick styrene to the lip of the cover

Tom in Texas


s shaffer
 

"Question 2 : Do the problem cars have the old, metal clip-on lid for the gear box? If so, one POSSIBLE solution might be to ever-so-slightly bend the end of this metal lid upward to help raise the coupler head to the correct height, being very careful not to bend it too much as to pinch the shank ."

Yes John, as my good friend Fred Dabney showed me many years ago. After you bend up the end of the metal cover, then file the inside lip smooth as there is a burr from the stamping process that can a problem after it is bent up.

I do not know why the Athearn bluebox kits were called "shake the box". I always could easy spend two hours putting one together not counting touchup paint and weathering. Guess I was just getting my dollars worth. What were they? About two and a half bucks?

Steve Shaffer