e-z mate knuckle couplers

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I'm very new to model railroading (just an egg compared to some folks on here). Just purchased a Bachmann Chattanooga and don't know what type of (e-z mate) couplers it has. Online I see several kinds: center shank, under shank and over shank. Don't know what this means really. I'm hoping to adapt some used cars I was given to work with the e-z mate system.  I appreciate any education I can get.

most couplers that come on new locomotives and cars are centerset shank.

on a knuckle type coupler, you have 3 basic parts:

the knuckle is the moveable part. it usually has a trip pin for use with magnetic uncouplers.

the head is the thick part the knuckle pivots off of.

the shank is the part that extends back into the coupler box, under the floor of the car.

on a normal coupler the shank is positioned in the center of the head. overset means the shank is positioned at the top of the head, lowering the coupler. underset means the shank is at the bottom of the head raising the coupler. these variations in shank are intended to help in converting older cars to knuckle couplers, which may not have their coupler mountings at what is now a standard height.

Jerrys HO:

To add to jwards post you mentioned  some used cars given to you. Depending how old they may have the horn hook style coupler mounted on the trucks (wheels). Most of these had plastic wheels which are ok for some but most prefer metal wheel sets.

I replaced most of my older cars with new wheel sets and purchased the Kadee #5 coupler. It comes with coupler boxes and knuckle couplers that I built and mounted under the car. Some cars I was able to drill and screw the box on and others I had glued on.


Jward, thanks for the basic ed on couplers. Also, thanks Jerry for giving me some things to consider when adapting older cars.


You will also see couplers with different shank lengths. This is to provide enough clearance between cars, but not too much, when there re different shapes to the ends of the cars or different equipment on the ends of the cars or some problem with where the couplers attach. They can also be used to provide sufficient clearance between cars which are longer than average. There are also different ends on the part of the couplers inside the draft gear (coupler box) because of manufacturers' quirks. There are also scale size couplers and some which are just a little larger. And some are made of plastic but others of metal. This may sound pretty complicated but it really isn't. I only mention all of these variables so when you encounter one or more you don't feel overwhelmed. Too, this information should reassure you that you can get a knuckle coupler on virtually anything. Some installations can be a bit of a challenge but, overall, knuckle couplers are easy to install and use.

In recent years, more and more manufacturers have been using a relatively standard coupler pocket (yet another name for the coupler box) configuration and knuckle couplers. There are several brands of knuckle couplers but they are compatible with one another in pretty much every respect except for coupling on a curve. (This can even be a sticky issue when you have couplers from the same company.)

I suggest that you use only knuckle couplers, not the so-called X2f or horn-hook couplers. I feel confident in saying that a very large majority of model railroaders would agree with that statement, for both appearance and operational reasons. I believe that most MRs would also agree that Kadee makes the best quality couplers, but not to quite the same degree as they would concur on the knuckle versus X2f question. Kadee is by far the company which has made model knuckle couplers the longest and in the greatest variety of shapes so you can fit virtually any rolling stock or locomotive. I believe, and here the number of MRs who would agree with me is fewer yet again, but probably still a majority, that you'll experience the best performance with Kadees. Many modelers convert all of their trains to one coupler brand, usually Kadee, but that's not a requirement. I believe it's a good idea, and I do it, but many skilled modelers would say it's not critical.

In any event, welcome to model railroading. I'm sure you'll find it to be an intriguing and rewarding hobby.
                                                                                                                                                                 -- D


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