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Discussion Boards => HO => Topic started by: TrainMan2001 on July 11, 2016, 02:35:17 PM



Title: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: TrainMan2001 on July 11, 2016, 02:35:17 PM
Does anyone know how to convert the rolling stock with horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers used on rolling stock today? ???


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: Flare on July 11, 2016, 03:11:32 PM
In most cases it's as simple as unscrewing the coupler pocket and swapping the horn hooks for knuckles.

Bachmann sells knuckle couplers, but the company Kadee specializes in them and has an extensive listing of what couplers fit which brands of locomotives and rolling stock: http://www.kadee.com/conv/hocc.htm


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: brokenrail on July 11, 2016, 04:44:38 PM
Kadee has a coupler for everything. They have a catalog that lists what you need for what yo have.Built to last Made in U S A .Bachmann sells decent Mark2 sprung couplers ,but not the kits to go with them to convert. Kadee all the way.
Johnny


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 11, 2016, 06:45:27 PM
Do a Search here TM2001; the subject has been written about MANY times :).  Also search the net, it's been conversed about innumerable times and in many places aside from here.  Further questions?  Ask away ;)


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jward on July 11, 2016, 06:56:55 PM
In most cases it's as simple as unscrewing the coupler pocket and swapping the horn hooks for knuckles.



while thagt may be the case with the better made older cars like athearn, roundhouse, etc. it is fare from true for most of the train set type cars available dirt cheap on ebay or at train shows.

if your cars have couplers mounted directly to the car floor they are usually a fairly simple swap out. you may have to adjust the coupler height a little to get them to work right.

if your cars have couplers mounted on the trucks, you will have a tougher time of it. even if you were to use the existing coupler mounts on the trucks, the height would most likely be way off which will cause uncoupling problems,
what you do with them depends on how much time and effort you want to expend on the conversion. you will want to cut the coupler mounts off the trucks and find a way to mount new coupler boxes on the car floors. to do this I recommend you have the following tools on hand:
small screwdriver
pin vise
2-56 drill and tap set
small strips of styrene or other plastic to use as shims.
kadee coupler height quage
coupler trip pin pliers

as a temporary alternative, it is possible to make conversion cars by swapping out just one coupler, so that the car has a horn hook on one end, and a knuckle coupler on the other.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: Len on July 11, 2016, 11:42:39 PM
Another short term option for replacing truck mounted horn-hooks are the knuckle couplers by Life-Like. They have the small mounting hole, like most truck mounted horn-hooks, so are a direct replacement. They come in packs of 2-pair, P/N 433-1436 https://www.walthers.com/magnetic-knuckle-coupler-2-pair (https://www.walthers.com/magnetic-knuckle-coupler-2-pair) , and 10-pair, P/N 433-1427. They let you switch a lot of truck mounted couplers quickly, and cheaply. So you can take your time learning the skills to convert to body mounts.

Kadee also makes the #212 Talgo Adapter, http://www.kadee.com/htmbord/page212.htm (http://www.kadee.com/htmbord/page212.htm) , for installing their couplers in truck mounted coupler pockets.

While it does simplify switching operations, even after converting them to knuckle couplers, staying with the truck mounted couplers will still leave you with issues when running a train in reverse. So long term, you'll want to switch to body mounts.

Len


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 12, 2016, 06:59:12 AM
Often overlooked and not included in the many prior postings here and on the Net that I alluded to earlier, is adding weight to the kind of rolling stock that are having their horn hook couplers, talgo (truck) mounted and otherwise, converted to knuckle couples.  It is with almost 100% certainly that such cars with horn hook couplers are also underweight and would benefit from added weighting, with many of the talgo (truck) mounted horn hook type cars likely needing more weight added to them to bring them closer to NMRA guidelines than say older Athearn rolling stock with body mounted couplers already, which still benefit from a little added weight. 

If I am going to spend time with such conversions, I am going to be complete in my updating and include adding weight.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: wiley209 on July 12, 2016, 08:26:34 PM
Another short term option for replacing truck mounted horn-hooks are the knuckle couplers by Life-Like. They have the small mounting hole, like most truck mounted horn-hooks, so are a direct replacement. They come in packs of 2-pair, P/N 433-1436 https://www.walthers.com/magnetic-knuckle-coupler-2-pair (https://www.walthers.com/magnetic-knuckle-coupler-2-pair) , and 10-pair, P/N 433-1427. They let you switch a lot of truck mounted couplers quickly, and cheaply. So you can take your time learning the skills to convert to body mounts.

Kadee also makes the #212 Talgo Adapter, http://www.kadee.com/htmbord/page212.htm (http://www.kadee.com/htmbord/page212.htm) , for installing their couplers in truck mounted coupler pockets.

While it does simplify switching operations, even after converting them to knuckle couplers, staying with the truck mounted couplers will still leave you with issues when running a train in reverse. So long term, you'll want to switch to body mounts.

Len

Yep, I've used both the Life-Like knuckle couplers, and the Kadee talgo truck adapters (though with E-Z Mate couplers). They're pretty good for replacing couplers on Life-Like rolling stock and certain locomotives, and they work pretty well with old AHM and TYCO rolling stock as well. Sure, I have a lot of "older" stuff on my layout (like a lot of older Life-Like, AHM and TYCO rolling stock), but I prefer knuckle couplers over the old funny-looking horn-hooks. If I get a locomotive or piece of rolling stock I plan to run on the layout and it has horn-hook couplers, I always replace them with knuckle couplers before using them on the layout.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 12, 2016, 09:12:38 PM
Wiley do you posses a Kadee Coupler Height Gauge?  Ever add weight to any of those rolling stock?  Try your hand at weathering yet?


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: rogertra on July 13, 2016, 01:57:21 AM
Putting Kadees on any loco or item of rolling stock is a piece of cake.  Anyone can and should be able to do it.  Basic first step in model railroading.

So give it a try.  It ain't rocket science.


Cheers


Roger T.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: Len on July 13, 2016, 03:57:53 AM
Putting Kadees on any loco or item of rolling stock is a piece of cake.  Anyone can and should be able to do it.  Basic first step in model railroading.

If you don't have the tools, which many starting out don't, then adding body mount Kadees to locos and cars with truck mounted couplers isn't such a 'piece of cake'. Which is what makes the Life-Like knuckle coupler, or Kadee 212 adaptors, a good interim step for beginners.

They get rid of the worst problem with horn-hooks, the side pressure on the trucks when backing, while allowing more realistic switching option. And they don't break the bank to switch over an old starter set, so money can be set aside to get the tools to eventually switch to body mounts.

Len


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 13, 2016, 06:44:56 AM
Putting Kadees on any loco or item of rolling stock is a piece of cake.  Anyone can and should be able to do it.  Basic first step in model railroading.  It ain't rocket science.

Cheers

Roger T.

Agree.  But to me, it goes beyond slapping a knuckle coupler in place of a horn hook.  There is a proper way to do it, period.  If I am going to bother to take the time and expense to upgrade my couplers to knuckle ones, I am going to go the whole 9 yards and upgrade a freight car (which as I pointed out, these types of cars will most likely need more than just their couplers replaced) which includes weight and height. 

If you don't have the tools, which many starting out don't, then adding body mount Kadees to locos and cars with truck mounted couplers isn't such a 'piece of cake'. Which is what makes the Life-Like knuckle coupler, or Kadee 212 adaptors, a good interim step for beginners.

Len
 

I don't agree.  If you don't have the tools, then get them if you are going to be in this hobby for any length of time.  In my book you cannot properly upgrade a car from horn hooks to knuckle couplers w/o a Kadee Coupler Height Gauge.  Sure, you can use the NMRA Track Gauge if that is your fancy, but for the few dollars, someone should do themselves a favor and buy the Kadee Height Gauge. 

I also don't agree with spending the dough on the adapters for converting freight cars' trucks.  IMO, put the money instead to the right tools and supplies to do the job right, such as the Height Gauge and couplers and coupler boxes, styrene, screws, glue, etc.  We are not talking a fortune of investment here ::).


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: rogertra on July 14, 2016, 10:04:20 PM
Putting Kadees on any loco or item of rolling stock is a piece of cake.  Anyone can and should be able to do it.  Basic first step in model railroading.

If you don't have the tools, which many starting out don't, then adding body mount Kadees to locos and cars with truck mounted couplers isn't such a 'piece of cake'. Which is what makes the Life-Like knuckle coupler, or Kadee 212 adaptors, a good interim step for beginners.

They get rid of the worst problem with horn-hooks, the side pressure on the trucks when backing, while allowing more realistic switching option. And they don't break the bank to switch over an old starter set, so money can be set aside to get the tools to eventually switch to body mounts.

Len

We have to disagree about body mounting couplers not being a piece of cake.  I agree with getting the tools together but disagree with using Kadee adaptors, that's just a waste of money.  Get the tools, get the height gauge, read up on how to add body mounted couplers and and jump in feet first.

Cheers

Roger T.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: Len on July 15, 2016, 05:37:02 AM
Maybe when my shop was open I dealt with too many beginners. They found, or were given, Dad/Grandad's old Tycho set from the attic, and want to be able to switch cars like in the YouTube videos. Start talking tools, coupler box mounting screws, shims, etc., and their eyes glaze over and they start looking for the exit. Show them the Life-Like 'pop-in' couplers, or the 212 adapters and how to use them, and they're, "I can do that!", with a big smile.

Some folks need to take those "baby steps" between crawling and jogging.

Len


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 15, 2016, 06:53:13 AM
"baby steps" are what TYCO cars are made for :D. 

"Beginner" means beginning something.  Better to begin in the wisest, most sensible way possible.  I'm with Roger about jumping right in.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: Jhanecker2 on July 15, 2016, 09:51:25 AM
Having changed over a number      of couplers  to both   Kadee  & Bachmann Knuckle couplers   and having  used  adapters and  Coupler height gauges and all the other tools , I have come to the conclusion there is no  RIGHT way  to make changes .  Some people  love to do  manual labor  and others  don't . Some either can't and others don't want  to .    I enjoy the process  of building  virtually anything and was a model builder for decades before  I got into model railroading . Model railroading offers so many different levels of participation , and  unless you are manufacturere or a dealer  is still just a hobby.  John2.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 15, 2016, 12:32:42 PM
I have come to the conclusion there is no  RIGHT way  to make changes .  John2.

Would you disagree that it is a smart (right) and sensible idea to add weight to a piece of rolling stock that is also having its couplers converted from horn hook to knuckle style? (Assuming as more than likely as I pointed out earlier, that such a car is VERY likely grossly underweighted).

Would you disagree that it is a smart (right) and sensible idea to, when updating such a car, to also implement some ability through modification of how the trucks are secured or employing the use of a coupler box (if the car does not already have a coupler box) in order to be able to achieve correct height for the couplers? (Assuming one bothers to purchase a height gauge).



Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jward on July 16, 2016, 06:57:35 AM


If you don't have the tools, which many starting out don't, then adding body mount Kadees to locos and cars with truck mounted couplers isn't such a 'piece of cake'. Which is what makes the Life-Like knuckle coupler, or Kadee 212 adaptors, a good interim step for beginners.

They get rid of the worst problem with horn-hooks, the side pressure on the trucks when backing, while allowing more realistic switching option.


these adapters do not, I repeat, do NOT get rid of the sideways pressure on the trucks. how could they? even if the use of knuckle couplers lessens the sideways pressure at the coupler itself, you are STILL pushing on a lever (the talgo arm) directly attatched to the truck. and ANY sideways pressure on this lever whatsoever is going turn the truck frame. it is basic physics. it also follows that the more cars you are trying to push against, the greater this sideways pressure will be. this is why body mounted couplers are so much better for backing cars. by transmitting this sideways pressure to the car body itself, the trucks stay more in line with the rails, thus are less likely to derail.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: Len on July 16, 2016, 07:40:17 AM
I was speaking of the sideways pressure from the horn-hook's spring that pushes it to one side. That creates even more side pressure on the talgo arm you mention, making the likelyhood of a derailment even higher. Since their springs center, and not push to the side, I've found switching to knuckles in the talgo arm, whether Life-Like or Kadees with the 212 adaptor, greatly reduces derailments when backing.

With horn-hooks almost any backing move, even on straight track, can result in a derailment. With knuckles in the trucks, it mostly happens in an S-curve situation, e.g., backing through a switch with an opposite curve to create a parallel track.

Len
 


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: Jhanecker2 on July 16, 2016, 12:59:37 PM
To Jbrock27 :    To  do whatever is necessary  to fix  any problem  with your rolling stock is always sensible and during coupler transition  is an excellent time. Unfortunately manufacturers  do not always pick the  best design  principals  to create their products  long term reliability  , but  ease of  manufacture and
profits are usually the  overriding factors . It is a business after  all .    Regarding  coupler boxes being body mounted  I am a fan .  I also believe that  Screw mounted trucks are much superior to snap in  connectors , since they allow for tuning in the trucks. John2.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 16, 2016, 01:31:26 PM
To  do whatever is necessary  to fix  any problem  with your rolling stock is always sensible and during coupler transition  is an excellent time...Screw mounted trucks are much superior to snap in  connectors , since they allow for tuning in the trucks. John2.

So you would agree then with my point/s?   ;)  There will be an inherent problem if the knuckle couplers cannot be adjusted to be at the proper (and uniform) height.  Installing or modifyng and adapting trucks in that manner not only provides for "tuning" (tension) but also provides for one additional height adjustment option vs no such option with keeping the stock talgo trucks in place.   I am considering ALL of these things (including weight) when I first consider replacing horn hook couplers with knuckle ones.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jward on July 17, 2016, 10:31:01 AM
I think jbrock is right on the money on this.


Title: Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers.
Post by: jbrock27 on July 17, 2016, 10:46:13 AM
I thank you Mr. Ward. :)