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Author Topic: couplers (again)  (Read 1521 times)

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« on: February 10, 2017, 01:50:59 PM »

Things seem to get more complicated as I wander deeper into the hobby.  Re couplers: Does anyone  care to weigh in on which brand of couplers are most universal in terms of working with different train makers?  I like the idea of using magnetic couplers but noted several manufacturers now supply their magnetic couplers on their products e.g., Bachmann, Atlas etc. and of course Grin MTI.  I currently have dummy knucklers on my Bachmann cars and rapidos on older rolling stock.  Would like to standardize my couplers, though not every car needs magnetics.  Any thoughts on how to simplify replacements? I have seen a You Tube video comparing couplers but don't think he talked about compatibility. 

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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2017, 06:18:52 PM »

As early as 1973-74, I began buying Kadee n-scale boxcars. As you know these are now Micro-trains line.
I have changed couplers for two reasons:
1. to have the coupler compatible with the MTL coupler
2. to use smaller couplers such as the MTL Z-scale couplers
I have also used knuckle couplers that are compatible, but not magnetic.
I do not do much automatic uncoupling and coupling so those work fine for me.
James in FL

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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2017, 08:34:54 PM »

There are many players in the couplers game.
Many of us use MT magnetic couplers but donít employ uncoupling magnets, instead using ďpicksĒ.
MTís work well with most every magnetic knuckle couplers out there.
They donít play well with some dummy knuckles such as Bachmann.
I do not know how they work with Bachmann magnetic couplers as I donít own any of the Bachmann magnetics.
Reason for that is, I had standardized on MTís long before Bachmann got wise, and into the knuckle type coupler game.
They were the last ones in, everybody else (manufacturers) had already been in the game for some time while Bachmann was content to continuing with Rapido.
I have too much time and investment in MT to even consider another player at this point, hence no Bachmann knuckles.
I have experimented with McHenry, on a few cars, years ago, have had zero problems with them and they are still on those same cars without incident.
Kato seem to play best with Kato, IMO excessive force to couple with others including themselves.
Unimates are excellent and probably the most reliable of them all, but you have to lift car ends to couple and uncouple (nonmagnetic)
About 80 % of my fleet has MT, followed by about 10% Accumates.
The remaining 10% are MT clones, Unimates, Kato, Mc Henry and Rapido.
Will they all ever be MT?
Probably not as I have no need to change perfectly good working Accumates until they fail, those conversions are very low on the priority list.
The Unimates I use are on mostly unit trains that never uncouple.
The Katoís on mostly their Bethgons, eventually will be converted.
Rapido, I keep a very few conversion cars as I have 2 or 3 lokies that still have them.
Eventually those lokies will be converted to MT and the Rapido will become extinct.
If it is your desire to standardize on MT, know that to use MT trucks on Bachmann cars will require reaming of the bolster holes.
All of this is just what I do, and what I have, and my personal experiences.


I would experiment with as many different brands as you can afford, and then form your own opinions, and then decide on which ones you want to use.
Choose the ones that best suit you and your requirements.

Have a look here, a good read; (dated but still relevant)

Good luck
« Last Edit: February 10, 2017, 08:56:44 PM by James in FL » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2017, 10:04:56 PM »


For years, all operating N and HO knuckle couplers were made by Kadee (and later Microtrains in N scale).  This was because Kadee and Microtrains (originally two divisions of the same company) held the patents for this design.

Then, in 2000 (IIRC), these patents expired and a flood of similar designs hit the market.  In 1998, I purcheased 300 pairs of MT couplers to re-equip all my N-scale equipment.  For smooth, reliable operation, I think these are still the best. I was very pleased to see the clones become available, but if I run into problems with a clone, I will replace it with an MT.

Not all the clones are compatible with each other.  Some are too ,large or too small.

James in FL

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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2017, 10:45:39 PM »

Iíve been in ďNĒ scale a long time Les.
I know all about Kadee history.

All the Clones I have come in contact with are on par with MTís.
Which clones, have you found, are not compatible with each other?
Whose clones donít work with whose clones?

Whose are to large? Whoís too small?

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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2017, 12:30:56 AM »


I have been in N-scale since 1978.  My big changeover to knuckle couplers was 17 years ago.

After my big MT purchase, I tried most knuckle coupler types and brands on the market.  I didn't pay much attention at the time as to what brands performed well with each other, and what didn't work at all.

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