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Author Topic: Help with coupler tuning, please.  (Read 3496 times)

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« on: January 13, 2014, 11:58:48 PM »

I bought a pair of Bachmann freight cars with McHenry couplers and a pair of Atlas cars with Accumate couplers to get a feel for whether I can successfully use them to remotely couple and uncouple trains.  NONE of them worked in any combination on a between-the-rails Kato permanent magnet uncoupler.  So, I bought a "Totally Hidden Uncoupler System" from S&L Industries and tried positioning their magnetic buttons under a piece of flexitrack for optimum effect on the various couples.  Of the 8, only 1 would actually move properly on the S&L uncoupler, and it would not move on the Kato uncoupler.  Also, I discovered that the magnetic pin on one of the Atlas cars had come out.  I found it on the layout track with a magnet and tried to reinsert it, which I seemed to get right, only to have it come out immediately the next time it went over the uncoupling magnet.  I did discover that only one end is magnetized, so I inserted the other end.  But, until I know how to keep it there, it won't help.  I measured the height of the pins above the rails on all 8 couplers, and found all but the one that works to be too high.  But, one of the non-working 7 was only about 0.003" too high, and the one that worked was actually 0.001" lower than standard (at 0.009" instead of 0.010").

What I would like is some advice on how to get all 8 couplers working.  First, I am thinking that I need to adjust coupler pin heights above the rails, but am afraid that I will dislodge more pins.  There is a pliers-like device for bending HO scale coupler pins - is that the best thing to use for N scale couplers?  Second, can I expect to successfully insert the pin into the Atlas Accumate and somehow keep it there, or should I replace the coupler?  If I need to glue it, what is the best glue.  Third, is there some sort of smoothing or lubrication procedure for couplers that will make them move more easily?

Any help will be much appreciated.


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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 11:37:45 AM »

The only allegedly-magnetic uncouplers that I have seen work with any consistency is the Microtrains.  Even the MTs do not work one-hundred per cent of the time; not even ninety.

I have tried some of the others that are alleged to be magnetic and have found that they work with a somewhat less than fifty per cent reliability, particullarly when used with couplers of another manufacturer.  Because even the MTs are not as reliable as I would like, I generally leave whatever knuckle coupler is on the piece, with the exception of Kato locomotives, the old MDC or the first version of the knuckle coupler that Con-Cor put onto its Budd fluted cars.  I will replace any coupler that fails, usually with MTs.  While I would prefer magnetic uncoupling, I do most of mine with a tool.  I simply can not get the desired reliability from the  magnetics.

The first issue Accumates, on the Atlas products, had a nasty habit of discombobulating.  Funny though, if you do buy a piece of Atlas rolling stock from that time, save the coupler pieces.  If MT has any weakness, it is the shank, especially if the item falls, even if it falls on carpet.  The shank will break.  If it is a truck-mounted coupler, you can slide off the top of the coupler box, remove the broken pieces of the MT, put the Accumate pieces in, slide the MT cover back an d you have a once more serviceable piece of equipment.  The guy who invented 'Micromates' as he calls them, goes by a screen name of 'Kisatchie' (I think that he is the guy who invented these).  The early issues of Atlas with Accumates were not deigned to uncouple magnetically; Atlas stated this on more than one occasion.  I am not sure about the later issues.

The MDCs and C-Cs were never designed to uncouple magnetically; they do not even have the pins.  MDC, at least in the case of their couplers, stands for Mostly Don't Couple, as they will not stay coupled to anything.  The C-Cs will not stay coupled to themselves, but will stay coupled to other brands.  The best use for them that I have found is nose couplers for the E-R RF-16, the Baldwin shark noses.  While MT designates 1133/1134 for these, for some reason, the MT box does not always want to fit the slots on the tongue that is affixed to the trucks to accommodate the coupler.  For that reason, I use short shank Unimates on both ends of the B and the aft of the A.  The long shank Unimate is a bit short for the nose of the A.

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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 11:58:21 AM »

Thanks for the information, but it really isn't that helpful, except perhaps to tell me that I should give-up on magnetic uncoupling in N-scale.

My problem is that I want to uncouple on a very compact "layout" that is under a Christmas tree with sidings running under a tea cart.  NOT a place to use a hand tool for uncoupling.  There is not room to get a reversing loop or even a wye that can turn a whole train around, so what I want to do is use a wye that is just long enough to get an engine, and perhaps a caboose, around from one end of a train to the other, with an magnetc uncoupler at each end of one leg of the wye because those are behind the tree and under the tea cart.

So, again, I am asking for help in making couplers work as well as they can magnetically, before I just give-up on the idea of being able to get the trains turned around on this "layout."
Albert in N
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 11:06:23 PM »

My layout uses Kato Unitrack with the magnetic uncoupler track sections.  The Kato magnets seem identical to the Micro-Trains magnetic uncouplers.  I assume that the S&L uncouplers are electro-magnetic, and stronger than the permanent magnets in the Kato uncoupler track sections.  My Atlas locomotives and cars with Accumates usually work well, as do the Micro-Train couplers.  Those who do not can usually be corrected by bending the trip pins using two pair of needle nosed pliers.  Earlier Accumates did have problems with trip pins coming loose.  I sparingly used super glue to reattach the trip pin into the coupler trip pin hole.  I have used my fingers to work with the stiff couplers, as well as graphite dry lube (used for pad locks and available in the hardware section).  Using trial and error, I push the cars over the uncoupler and try to get them to work.  I do not own any of the newer Bachmann magnetic coupler items, but understand that it is over-sized for N scale.  Also, you could Google "N Scale Forums" and see other Forums, like Railwire, TrainBoard, etc.  Good luck!
James in FL

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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2014, 03:53:22 PM »

What I think I know about auto-uncoupling,

Couplers must be smooth in the box, Graphite is a given.
Trip pin height above the railhead is critical.
I would imagine the angle of the pin in relation to the coupler face is also important.
Instead of bending trip pins, I find it better to push the pin back up into the coupler.
If the pin sticks up too far I nip or file.
Although most of my stock has the ability to auto-uncouple, I don?t yet employ it.

Reliable un-coupling requires some precision.
A lot of things have to come together for it to work right.
I?m not yet ready to tackle it, I enjoy reading and following those that do.
One day it will come but for now it?s a Rix-pix.


Good luck
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