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Author Topic: Uncoupler  (Read 2897 times)
1ephesians2

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« on: October 26, 2009, 03:02:47 PM »

What is the best kind uncoupler?
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SteamGene

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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2009, 03:53:12 PM »

I use an 0-5-0, but the bamboo skewer works real well. 
Gene
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Chief Brass Hat
Virginia Tidewater and Piedmont Railroad
"Only coal fired steam locomotives"
CNE Runner


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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2009, 05:23:24 PM »

Like Steamgene, I have used a bamboo skewer for years. Another good uncoupler (if you want to use the magnetic part of your couplers) is the RIX uncoupling tool (Walthers # 628-14 on pg. 250 of the 2010 catalog...sells for $3.99). The RIX tool works very well if you 'nudge' a little slack between the cars and place the tool all the way down to the rails.

Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2009, 06:52:06 PM »

What is the best kind uncoupler?

It depends in large part on what kind of couplers you have.  Both SteamGene and CNE Runner have assumed Kadee or similar magnetic couplers.  But if you have the older "horn-hook" or X2f couplers, or are in a scale other than H0, the answers will be different.  If, for example, you are in large scale and happen to like hook-and-loop couplers, the answer would be to use a strip of thin plastic or an old credit card ironed flat to remove all the bumps.

Jim
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Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
Johnson Bar Jeff

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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2009, 11:21:13 AM »

I use an 0-5-0, but the bamboo skewer works real well. 
Gene

That's funny. I use an 0-5-0 for most of my switching and staging. ...

A small screwdriver works well for uncoupling old horn-hook couplers.
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ebtbob


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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2009, 11:28:33 AM »

Good Morning,

       A bit of advice if you go with the Rix uncoupler.   Remember it works with magnets,  so if you have any cabooses with metal handrails,  or any cars with metal details on the ends, you may end up lifting the car/s of the tracks.
       I use the aforementioned bamboo skewers.   If you have not used these in the past then here is info.  The slack between the cars needs to be bunched.  That means pushed back so that the knuckles start to spread.   Then insert the skewer between the knuckles and turn clockwise,  NOT counter clockwise or you will start to bring the knuckles back to orginal position.  Once the couplers are disconnected,  either pull your train away or offset the knuckles so that you can push back and leave the intended car/s wherever you intend them to be.

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Bob Rule, Jr.
Hatboro, Pa
In God We Trust
Not so much in Congress
GATSME MRRC - www.gatsme.org
CNE Runner


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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2009, 05:23:34 PM »

Bob...that was a good piece of advice. I was switching on the Monks' Island Railway this evening (got the offending Peco crossing changed out and just had to run the little Plymouth) - parting an Atlas tank car from another. Atlas tank cars have metal handrails...guess where my RIX uncoupler 'stuck'?

Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2009, 07:08:46 PM »

Bob and Ray (why does that sound familiar?),

If you otherwise like the Rix uncoupler, it is not too hard to replace the hand rails with brass ones, particularly when you have originals in front of you as patterns, and if you  have a pair of Kadee pliers.

Manual uncoupling with skewers, screwdrivers, and Rix all are good options if uncoupling within easy reach.  But sometimes the reach is too far or is obstructed by scenery, buildings, or worst of all, telephone/telegraph/power lines.  For those occasions, there are uncoupling magnets take fit either between the rails or under the tracks. 

For those new to uncoupling magnets, it helps if your cars have non-ferrous axles, especially your cabooses, and especially if you have any uncoupling magnets on the main line.  This helps keep the cabooses from being pulled forward by the magnet and uncoupling unexpectedly.  In fact, removing all iron from cabooses is not overkill.  The weights can be replaced with lead or pennies and handrails can be replaced as above.  If you still have problems with unexpected uncoupling a car or two ahead of the cabooses when crossing magnets, consider applying a bit of stretch braking.  All that is required is a bit of cork or leather or a piece of a coupler spring in caboose axle journals.  Usually one journal per caboose is enough.  This makes the rear of the train a little harder to pull and helps counteract the attraction of the magnet.  Doing a dozen cabooses is a lot easier (and cheaper) than replacing steel axles on a couple of hundred cars.

If you have an uncoupling magnet on a downhill run, you will find it difficult to prevent false uncoupling and harder still to uncouple when you want to.  That is, unless you install retarders.  A simple form of retarder is pieces of fine monofilament fishing line glued into tiny, vertical holes in the ties uphill of the uncoupling magnet.  Once the glue is thoroughly set, take a wheel set and trim the pieces of line even with the top of the axle when the wheels are properly seated on the rails.  Experiment a bit to find out how many pieces of your particular monofilament line are needed to stop your cars from rolling on your grades.  From that you can figure out how many pieces you need to hold back all the cars that could be upgrade of the magnet.  Then install about double that number of pieces of monofilament, spread out over the length of all those cars if used.  The idea is to hold the train back lightly, even to the point that the locomotives have to pull their trains down hill.  Then, when you purposely stop to uncouple, the train will not run downhill by gravity.  And when you want to run over the magnet without uncoupling, gravity won't be able to bunch up the cars and set up the right conditions for false uncoupling.

Kadee makes electromagnetic uncouplers to solve the problem of false uncoupling on mainlines but I for one do not find them overly reliable.  And they are no help when trying to uncouple on grades.  Some people have used Kadee under track magnets mounted on hinged blocks that allow them to drop down when not wanted or raise up when uncoupling is desired.  These can work well to prevent false uncoupling on a flat mainline, and depending on relative numbers of mainline uncouplers compared to the number of cabooses, may be easier than modifying cabooses.  You will, however, still require retarders to uncouple on grades.

Or to avoid all that trouble, you can either avoid grades or use the 0-5-0 switcher and a good sized wad of bubble gum.

Jim

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CNE Runner


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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 11:05:45 AM »

Jim, I read (with interest) your suggestions on using Kadee under roadbed magnets. As always you come up with very clever ideas (seriously: you are one of the most talented individuals on the forum). After I read the entire post (a couple of times because I can be somewhat obtuse when it comes to mechanical engineering), it dawn on me that there were at least two major rules to [relatively] trouble-free operation: 1) never design a layout that is wider than 30" so the operator can reach all segments of track, and 2) dispense with Kadee mounted uncouplers in favor of the RIX tool or skewers...or the tried and true 0-5-0 method if warranted.

When I was a young sapling, I had a model railroad that measured 4'x 8'. The track was a spaghetti bowl so popular in the late 1950s - early 60s [actually was The HO That Grows by Linn H. Westcott...I still have the book]. Trying to maintain that brass Atlas track in the middle of the layout was a nightmare. I remember one time when I almost fell off the step ladder (don't ask) onto the layout! Every layout, since that first one, have all had maintenance as priority 1.

Having spent over 50 years 'working with' X2F and magnetic couplers, I can honestly say I have yet to see a permanently installed magnetic uncoupler work satisfactorily. Last year I visited a stupendous model railroad layout and was assured I would see magnetic couplers work in the fashion they were designed. I guess I wasn't disappointed: there were lots of false uncouplings and numerous attempts to uncouple recalcitrant cars. My host's face was definitely crimson by the end of the evening (he probably was an Alabama fan: Roll Tide!).

So 1ephus...my advice is to post (in large letters) over your workbench the KISS principle. The more complicated a process or procedure becomes, the quicker Murphy's Law will act.

Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 12:08:40 PM »

...my advice is to post (in large letters) over your workbench the KISS principle. The more complicated a process or procedure becomes, the quicker Murphy's Law will act.

Ray

Hear! Hear!

Jim
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Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
SteamGene

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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2009, 07:05:28 PM »

Murphy's Law: When the enemy is within range - so are you!  Grin
Gene
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Chief Brass Hat
Virginia Tidewater and Piedmont Railroad
"Only coal fired steam locomotives"
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