Sam The Answer Man (2015-2016)
Trainfest & Bachmann dove tailed coupler arm (December 2016)
Well, did you have a great Thanksgiving? If you did that's great and if not then why not? Most of us free Americans had four days off to be with our families and spend quality time with them which is the most important thing we can do. Hopefully, you were able to help some of your family enjoy model railroading and get them interested in this hobby, which can be enjoyed by the entire family.
Now if Thanksgiving worked out well you should be planning a fabulous Christmas Holiday with your family which, of course, includes some family model railroading. Don't just hide in your basement, garage, attic, or spare room playing with your trains alone. If your family is not interested in your model railroading do something uniquely special to show them that they'd want to come and see. But if they are still not interested, set your trains aside and spend the time with them because your trains will still be there later but your family may not be.
In November we attended two train shows, Trainfest in Milwaukee, WI and our local train show here in Medford, OR. I took note of how many families came to these shows just for the entertainment. When you see kids crying when they have to leave you know they loved the trains.
While at Trainfest I did take a close look at the new all metal Bachmann Spectrum G scale 2-6-0 Mogul. I've had a number of calls asking what Kadee® coupler to use on this loco. After taking a close look at their coupler mounting on the tender I could see it has their "dove tail" connection so you can change the coupler head, because they offer an option of using two coupler heights with a center set coupler or their lower coupler head to match the passenger cars that goes along with this loco. This mounting will use our "G" scale #916 coupler or our #1 scale #1916 coupler. We designed these two couplers to fit on their dove tailed connection which is found on many of their models in their Spectrum Series, however, it does not fit all of their models. So where you see the #916/#1916 listed for Bachmann models it's only meant to connect to their dove tailed coupler arm.
The #916/#1916 will also work on the Bachmann Spectrum 2-4-4 Froney, 2-6-6-2 Baldwin Articulated, and the 1:20.3 Spectrum rolling stock.
I clarified a few rumors and issues that were brought to me at Trainfest and some we have addressed before.
We are"NOT" discontinuing the #5 coupler, it is still the backbone of our coupler line and although the #148 whisker is catching up in sales.
We will keep the #5 in production for as long as there's a market for it.
The Twin Rail Spiker is not available and has not been for a very long time. We still have a limited supply of parts and we still make the spikes for it.
We do not make nor will we be making cabooses in the future.
We do not make passenger car trucks but only freight car and caboose trucks.
We do not make N or Z scale products since Micro-Trains and Kadee split in the early 1990s.
Presently our RC Remote coupler system is for G and #1 scale only and an HO version will eventually be coming but it's not a priority.
We do not announce new products until they are ready to release to the market.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, enjoy model railroading.
“#13 Test Kit & #1030 Starter Pack (November 2016)
When a novice modeler contacts me with a question that's usually a coupler or a truck question they also ask about tools and if certain uncouplers will work with the type of track they are using. Sometimes they ask what tools they should acquire and what couplers they should buy. We do offer coupler conversion information on our web site and in printed form. However, at times modelers may need to figure out what coupler to use on their own and it's really a good idea to learn how to select the correct coupler without outside help. To help with coupler selection I'd like to mention two versatile products we offer to help beginners as well as experienced modelers determine and select the correct coupler and get a good basic start in this hobby. Our #13 "Coupler Sample Test Kit" and #1030 "Starter Pack (Kit)" are packages of selected couplers, uncouplers, and tools that in most cases will really help both novice and experienced modelers.
The #13 Coupler Sample Test Kit has an assortment of couplers and tools made more so to help modelers choose the correct coupler for a particular model. This is meant to use the kit's couplers only to select the correct coupler to purchase later and not necessarily to permanently install the couplers from the kit. The kit includes a one pair (2 each) sample of each type (configuration) of our HO couplers to be able to test fit and determine the best coupler to use on most any car or locomotive. There is a coupler height gauge, uncouplers, and a few tools to help make sure the couplers are installed correctly, function properly, and have enough clearance for most operational situations.
The #1030 Starter Pack (Kit) is a package made more to help beginning modelers get started with couplers, uncouplers, and tools, plus helpful printed material. The package contains an assortment of couplers in normal retail 2 pair packages (4 each), coupler height gauge, uncouplers, screws, and some basic tools for coupler installation. The assorted coupler types is enough to be able to find the correct coupler for most mounting situations along with a coupler height gauge which is the most essential tool for coupler mounting. There are different uncouplers to help decide which might be best for the modelers needs and layout, a #241 dual tool which is a spring pick and manual uncoupling tool combo, and there a few basic tools for coupler installation and maintenance.
Both of these kits will give any modeler a good start with coupler selection, installation, service, and operation which will help with the enjoyment of this hobby. Once you understand the importance of properly installed quality couplers It is great to be able to enjoy such trouble free operations.
Now you can enjoy a great Thanksgiving Holiday while you run your trains, overeat, watch football, and chase the grand kids to try and get them involved with your model railroading hobby.
The Costs of Doing Business as a Manufacturer (October 2016)
The following is an article I wrote for the September issue of "Hobby Merchandiser" magazine that I thought would be of interest for this month.
Few people actually know the "complete" process and costs involved in a manufacturing business. This year is Kadee Quality Products 70th Anniversary and being in business since 1946 we've seen and experienced many changes in the industry, the manufacturing processes, world economy, and constant rising costs of everything.
We make all of our products in our own plant here in White City, Oregon USA. This means we do everything in house ourselves including R&D, designing, tool making (machining our own molds), forming the parts with injected die cast metal or plastic injection, assemble and package the products, and we even have our own print shop. Our Quality Control is no farther away than our back room, not China. We produce hundreds of diversified model railroad products so we are not dependent on just freight cars and locomotives like other model railroad manufacturers. However, this certainly doesn't mean staying in business is easier than any other manufacture it just means we do and see things from a different perspective and it is still a matter of the bottom line at the end of the month and it's the same bottom line for everyone.
As an actual manufacturer we have to search the market for the raw materials and trying to find the quality, price (including shipping), available quantities, supply longevity, and now environmentally safe material is a constant challenge and the prices of raw material are not going down.
Since we own our property (building and machinery) we fortunately don't have to worry about rent or leases constantly increasing. We know several smaller manufacturers that have to down size or move because of their increasing rent and other overhead costs.
Most companies that have employees have "labor rates" to deal with and labor rates are the actual costs incurred keeping a person employed. This is not just the wages they receive it is all the overhead they generate including but not limited to, taxes, industrial and liability insurance, medical, retirement, and other benefits, along with the accounting and book keeping. This means that each employee has to generate enough revenue, in productivity or direct sales, to cover the cost of their employment and all the other overhead costs. Looking at it this way means that the employer has to find, train, and retain "quality" employees to help keep them in business. In Oregon we have to deal with the mistaken politically correct mandatory minimum wage increases that seem to be the trend with politicians without any foresight looking for support and votes without any regard for the employer as to how they are going to pay a higher wage without an increase in income. Don't get me wrong I certainly believe in paying a person a "living wage", I'm one of them, but that wage has to be in balance with the actual work being performed which includes skill level, experience, motivation, responsibility, and trainability, of the employee. Then you have to consider the local economy (cost of living) and inflation rate, the particular business's current wage scale and fairness to other employees not "entitled" to an increase without merit, other labor costs, overhead, profit margins (if any) and the bottom line.
Taxes are another issue; we have to pay an increasing amount of taxes, fees, bonds, and levies (which are another name for taxes). We're taxed on everything even on our own machinery and property, inventory of raw material, unassembled parts and components, and finished products. It no longer pays to keep a stock pile of anything because it's going to be taxed. This means that we have to spend more time controlling the flow of products and inventory. To me any increase in taxes is simply the failure of our government and politicians to utilize current revenue more efficiently and a way to get their fingers deeper into our pockets. It seems they want us to be a successful business only so they can tax us more.
All of these costs taxes, labor, insurance (another ridiculous story), raw material, shipping, utilities, machinery, and technology are constantly increasing and it has to be passed on to the consumer with the end product in order for a business to stay in business. Manufacturing in the states is becoming more difficult every day.
Freight Car Parts (September 2016)
We receive many requests about "parts" for our freight cars. Many modelers look on our web site searching for individual parts to our freight cars and can't find what they are needing. Unlike other model manufacturers we do not list all the parts to our freight cars on our web site or anywhere else for that matter. Since the release of our 40 foot PS-1 box car in July of 1997 we've received requests for the parts as aftermarket products. As time allowed we have put many of our box car parts on the market like our 40 and 50 foot roof walks, ladders, 6, 7,and 8 foot doors, grab irons, and recently we've made our 9 and 10 foot doors available as retail products. Upon special request we do sell other parts directly but this is dependent on stock on hand. Many of our parts are made in quantities matching the production quantity of the particular car we are producing so some parts may not be available especially in non standard colors. We do sell the hatches, chute covers, and roof walk to our PS-2 cover hoppers but most of the other parts we will not sell because of their complicated designs and particular assembly requirements. If a part gets damaged on one of our cars it's best to let us know so we can determine if the part is available. Also to see if there's a need to send it back to us to do the part replacement, if it's a complicated assembly process. Our PS-2 covered hopper, AAR offset open hopper, tank cars, and cushioned underframe PS-1 box cars have many complicated parts and assembly procedures. We'd prefer you do not disassemble these cars without advanced modeling skills, experience, patience, and bravado.
Our freight cars are designed to be assembled "without glue", The parts can be very complicated, this helps to keep the number of individual parts to a minimum. Some parts are pressed on with small mechanical presses and some are hand assembled.
The add on parts are unpainted Celcon plastic color matched to the painted Styrene plastic bodies. Yes there is a thin coat of paint on the bodies and box car doors. We do spend a great deal of time matching plastic and paint colors.
Our freight cars, as well as the rest of our products, are made here in our own manufacturing plant. When you look at one of our freight cars in it's clear box, except for the screws holding the trucks in place and the paper for the insert, 100% of that package is made here in our plant, White City, OR USA. We cut the insert paper from parent stock and print it ourselves and the screws for the trucks come from a US supplier. We have our own machine shop and tool makers so we make all of our plastic injected and die cast metal molds and we do our own casting and molding. We also do our own assembly, printing, and packaging. We are pretty much a self contained manufacturing operation, it keeps quality control close at hand. We take a certain amount of pride in making our products right here in the USA which keeps American citizen employed.
NMRA Show & Frequent Questions (August 2016)
We attended the NMRA National Train Show July 8-10 in Indianapolis, IN. As far as we are concerned it wasn’t as good as it could have been. We noted the lack of local advertising and other promotional possibilities. For us Friday was the best attended day rather than Saturday. Sunday was even slower than most other Sundays. Even though the building was really nice it was still a downtown venue where parking is either limited or expensive. The host Hotel I’m sure was very nice too but expensive and compared to outlying hotels it just wasn’t worth it. We ship and move in our own booth materials so we don’t have to pay the ridiculous fees they charge for moving material from the dock to our booth. Most vendors we know are getting fed up with the National NMRA for continually having expensive events with too many limitations. Perhaps they have their reasons but they better start listening to the major vendors or soon they won’t have many attending their train shows. Another issue is their opening hours ending at 6 PM on Friday and Saturday and 5 PM on Sunday. All three days it was simply dead from 4 PM onward and worse on Sunday. The National NMRA should send out a questionnaire to the vendors for their direct input. We know scheduling major event centers has to be done years in advance but it’s time to look at changing their way of doing things, at least in my perspective.
Now back to some model railroading issues. We constantly receive questions about what many may consider model railroading common knowledge. The following is some basic modeling information that we are asked about quite often and for some it might be redundant but for others very important and informative.
Were often asked what size of screws are used to mount HO scale couplers and trucks? Most HO scale draft gear boxes have a center hole designed for a #2 screw and the most common screw is a 2-56 machine screw (2-56 means a #2 screw with 56 threads per inch) and most often a 1/4” length is just fine and a 3/8” length if needed. The #5 coupler box (sold separately as #232) has two side holes along with the center hole. These side holes are designed for a #0 size of screw like the common 0-80 machine screw or 0-48 self tapping screw. Please note we do not recommend using glue to attach coupler boxes, glue is only used if there is no other way to mount the box.
To attach trucks is much the same in using 1/4” or 3/8” #2 screws. Screw selection is dependent on how the original trucks were attached and the requirement of the aftermarket trucks you are attaching. Most aftermarket trucks are designed to use a #2 size of screw. Our trucks require a flat surface which may require you to remove any post or raised boss the original trucks fit over. Large holes made for press in pins or split pins will have to be filled in and made to accept a smaller screw. There are many different ways to fill in the larger holes and the size limits of this article won’t allow me to cover them this month.
Most often when you are using machine screws you will need to drill and tap the hole with an appropriate thread size tap. In some plastics you can sometimes carefully use the machine as a self tapping screw but it’s best to tap the hole. Do not try and use a self tapping screw in metal unless it’s a sheet metal screw going through thin sheet metal. Self tapping screws have a wider thread pattern with a different thread pitch. I hope all of this helps somebody, enjoy yourself and happy modeling.
Independence Day (July 2016)
If you don’t care about history, patriotism, liberty, our heritage, the Constitution, our rights and freedoms, and being accountable and responsible for your own actions, you do have the freedom to choose not to continue reading this.
This month we celebrate “Independence Day” on the “4th of July” to remember our “Founding Fathers” declaring our Independence from Great Britain.
This is a good time to read this document and study the history surrounding it (especially before you vote in the upcoming elections). I’m sure many were more concerned with the activities they planned for the 4th of July “Holiday” rather than the importance of the actual Declaration of Independence back in 1776.
The 4th of July, 1776 is the National Birthday of the United States of America, it is when our Fore Fathers signed the actual document to declare our independence.
I can’t go into the complete time line history of this important document but there are a few points I’m going to make. The Declaration of Independence was signed almost a year after the American Revolutionary War began. The war officially began on April 19, 1775 and ended on September 3, 1783 more than eight years of war. Although there were many conflicts beforehand the war started with the battles of Lexington and Concord when the British went out from Boston with a secret agenda to confiscate, capture, and destroy the guns and ammunition of the local militias thus taking away the citizens ability to defend themselves and rebel against the British overlords. Of course this would then allow the British to take away more of the citizens rights and impose more rules, laws, and taxes without a way for the citizens to do much about it (sounds familiar). A small group of militia men gathered in Lexington that resulted in the confusing “Shot Heard Around the World” that really started the conflict that escalated into total war. The actual document does not use the term “Declaration of Independence” it states it’s a Declaration of the Representatives of the United States of America. When you read the the document you’ll find in the indictment portion a long list of the King’s “repeated injuries and usurpations against Americans’ rights and liberties” (many of them actually apply to our current government). Now as a declared Independent Sovereign Nation we could openly trade with other countries and request their help to fight the war, something we couldn’t do without being an independent country. We all knew that France help us during the war but did you know that Spain and the Dutch also helped us?
The Declaration of Independence was printed and distributed to every state and then the rest of the world. It influenced many other documents most importantly the Constitution of the United States. There were 56 signatories from the Continental Congress representing all 13 original colonies, now states. Can you name the 13 original states? Who are some of the prominent signers, who was the youngest, who was the oldest? Where was it signed and first read in public? Why is the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States still important for each of us to read, study, and understand? What do these documents really mean to you?
So for your next 4th of July celebration plan on doing more than partying and when you’re watching the fireworks remember they represent the battles our true patriots fought to gain and retain our freedom and liberty.
HGC Trucks & rumors (June 2016)
This year is Kadee’s 70th Anniversary celebrating the twin brothers Keith and Dale Edwards founding this business in 1946. Last month we released a box car #6920 decorated with our 70th Anniversary paint scheme to help in the celebration.
Over these many years Kadee has developed, introduced, marketed, and discontinued many products. Beginning with a simple functional knuckle coupler developed by Keith and Dale in the 1940s that transitioned into our Magne-Matic® Delayed Uncoupling System in the late 1950s and farther into our newer RC #1 and G scale remote uncoupling. Our magnetic uncoupling is still one of the most popular uncoupling systems in use despite manual, electronics, RC, DCC or other systems used in model railroading.
A few years ago we introduced a new two piece truck design using a Heavy Gravity Compound (HGC), which is a high tech plastic mix with metal. The two piece design allows the side frames to flex which gives the trucks an equalizing ride similar to our fully sprung trucks. The HGC material gives the trucks better rolling qualities without any fine tuning. One of the reasons for using HGC material and the two piece design is to reduce the assembly labor time compared to our fully sprung metal trucks that are rather labor intensive. The weight of the HGC material is almost the same as zinc that we use for our sprung trucks.
As time and opportunity allows we are increasing our truck line with more HGC two piece designs and any new trucks we produce will be the two piece design.
Last year we introduced our “G” scale trucks in 1:29 scale made from die cast zinc with insulated metal wheelsets and slowly we are increasing this large scale truck line.
When we introduce the two piece designed, at first, there were modelers that liked them right off and others that didn’t because they were used to our traditional sprung trucks. Then we began to install them on our freight cars and the same thing happened some liked them and some did not but there were also some that never noticed.
For those of you that still like and use our sprung trucks please note that we have no intentions of discontinuing our sprung trucks.
Now this brings me to another subject and that’s “rumors”. Recently I received an e-mail from a guy that heard from his hobby shop that a certain coupler was discontinued. He was worried because he used the coupler quite a lot. I assured him that the coupler in question was not and will not be discontinued then I asked him to make sure his hobby shop was informed and if they had questions to contact me.
When we introduced our #148 Whisker® coupler many modelers were worried that we were going to stop making our NO.5® coupler and the rumors were flying all over. Now why would we stop making the NO.5® coupler that’s been and still is, the back bone of our coupler line since the end of the 1950s? Unfortunately, many just guess what’s going on or want to make themselves appear to know more than others and in there conversations they knowingly or unknowingly start rumors. I could go on and on with this continuing issue but I won’t until another time. So for now if you hear something about Kadee or our products that doesn’t seem right, just ask us directly.
Newer Model Coupler Conversion (May 2016)
In our online HO coupler conversion listing and on our printed conversion list we have not listed many of the newer models for a number of reasons. First, most, if not all, newer models come with some make of “knuckle couplers” and hopefully no new models come with “horn hook” couplers. Most new models that have knuckle couplers will more than likely use our #148 whisker coupler as a simple coupler change out. In some cases our common popular #5 coupler will fit too. So listing models that require no modification that only require simply removing the original coupler and dropping ours in then checking the coupler height is really unnecessary and would make our conversion list far too large with redundant information.
However, many newer coupler pockets or draft gear boxes are now a bit too shallow for the side walls of the #5 centering spring. There are even some boxes made a bit too shallow even for our whisker couplers. To solve this problem the easiest way is to carefully file the shank of our whisker coupler a bit thinner just enough to fit the shallow box. Unfortunately, the manufacturers that make these shallow boxes are solving one problem by creating another. By using the all plastic knuckle couplers with a thin shank means the coupler droops far too much in a “standard” coupler box so they simply make the coupler box (pocket) shallower to fit the thin shank better. Now if the modeler wants to use a Kadee coupler they have to alter the box or the coupler. Understandably, the manufacturer hopes that the modeler will retain the original coupler since it’s supposedly Kadee compatible. However, most modelers will eventually want to install Kadee couplers. It seams that some manufacturers are going in reverse concerning standardizing coupler boxes. For a while, after some of our coupler patents expired, model makers were finally ridding the market of the horn hook couplers and standardizing their coupler mountings for knuckle couplers. This was making it easier for modelers to install Kadee or other makes of knuckle couplers. But now some model makers, in a sort of reverse mentality, are making a proprietary coupler pocket either too shallow or too narrow for a Kadee coupler thus making the modeler having to modify the model or coupler like they did when horn hooks were standard.
I do have to mention that there are several manufacturers that have consistently kept their coupler pockets to a certain standard to accept Kadee couplers and be at the correct coupler height. These are the model makers that actually care about what most modelers want and need and they should be commended and we certainly thank them.
So when you purchase a newer model and it comes with a knuckle coupler already installed and you want to (eventually will need to) install a Kadee coupler first try a #148 (or scale head #158) coupler and check the coupler height and clearance. This is becoming more or less the standard procedure with newer models. If this doesn’t work for you or there’s a problem contact us and we’ll see if we can help.
Shows, Shelf Couplers & NEM Couplers (April 2016)
For the first time we attended the Rocky Mountain Train Show in Denver, CO and it turned out to be a very nice show, well organized and very well attended also the location is really great too. We’d recommend attending and they have two shows a year.
We are also attending the NMRA National Train Show this year July 8-10 in Indianapolis, IN.
We continually receive inquiries about the difference between our #118 and #119 shelf couplers. The #118 is a Type SF coupler which is a Type F coupler with a top and bottom shelf. The #119 is a Type SE coupler which is a common Type E coupler with a top and bottom shelf. Type F and Type E couplers are quite different from each other. The Type F coupler is a transition or progression of the Type H or tight lock (or triple lock) coupler and are actually larger than the common Type E couplers. So when you look at a #118 and a #119 coupler the #118 will look large and over-scale but in fact it’s very close to actual scale. Both the #118 and #119 are “functional” shelf couplers meaning the couplers will not slip up or down out of each other. Many modelers are using them to help compensate for rough track and grade transitions where some longer models will uncouple. Also prototypically and generally speaking the Type SF #118 was used much earlier and presently found on many different types of rolling stock including locomotives and the Type SE #119 is mostly found on modern tank cars.
Another common issue I need to mention is the use of our NEM #17- #20 couplers. These are designed for the European NEM 362 snap in coupler pockets found on many makes of European models. They have a dove tail shank made to snap into an open end rectangular pocket, however, they have a very large offset upward even more than our common underset couplers (like the #147). There are modelers that think because they have a dove tail shank they can be used in some of the dummy coupler pockets found on many makes of steam locomotives. Because of the large offset our NEM couplers are not suitable for the dummy coupler pockets that are usually at the correct height for a centerset coupler.
As a reminder of what I’ve mentioned before, most models now come with knuckle couplers and most are an easy change out with our #148 whisker coupler. Always check the coupler heights no matter what make of models you are working with.
Coupler & Brass Models (March 2016)
I’ve come across a problem that I’ve commented on before. Recently I had an inquiry about Atlas’s Master Line FMC 5077 50 foot box car coupler conversion. In their package there are two coupler box options, one is the narrow box with a round pivoting post made for the Accumate coupler included with the car. The other box is made for our #78 coupler and has a chevron shaped pivoting post with a spring notch on the back. Our #78 has been discontinued as a retail product and has been replaced with our #178 that uses our #158 whisker coupler.
We still use our #78 coupler in some of our freight cars and in our #2100 coupler package. We will sell the scale head #78 coupler and the standard head version only directly from us upon request for $3.00 per pair retail plus S&H. This coupler uses the common #622 coil knuckle spring (like on the #5 coupler head) as the centering spring.
Atlas has used this #78 pocket on other cars and we’ve told them several times that the #78 is no longer available as a retail product. But we do understand corporate communication problems with getting the information to all parties involved and can only imagine dealing with long distance issues with China as compared to walking into our back room to communicate the information to the involved parties.
Brass models are another item I need to mention a few things about concerning coupler conversions. Because of the cost of Brass models we have to handle coupler conversion information differently. Comparatively, the price of a brass model to a plastic, die cast and plastic combo, wood, or resin model is quite a bit higher. Normally, in the past, we’ve tried to acquire a sample of newer models that come onto the market to be able provide coupler conversion information for that model. In many cases with older models there is a possibility that the coupler mounting needs to be altered in order to fit a Kadee coupler at the correct height and clearance. Most models “except Brass” usually can be altered by the average modeler to mount a Kadee coupler properly. Brass models usually being soldered together are not easily modified. So we simply are not inclined to acquire expensive Brass models just for a coupler conversion on a model that can not or should not be altered. Fortunately, many Brass model makers have provided coupler mountings that easily uses a Kadee coupler and it’s usually our common #5 coupler. However, there are many Brass models, especially locomotives, that can not accept any standard HO coupler. Most of these might require a modified coupler rather than modifying the model. It usually comes down to being able to see the individual model in order to make a suggestion of a coupler to try. So if you have a Brass model and can not figure out what Kadee coupler to use send us a digital photo of the coupler mounting area without the original coupler then we’ll see if we can help you and suggest a coupler to try. Please don’t assume that we have information on every model made especially brass models. We are willing to help when we have enough information on the particular model and the more detailed information you provide the easier it is for us to help you.
Shallow Draft Gear Boxes (February 2016)
We attended the Amherst Train Show in West Springfield, MA at the end of Jan. This is one of the biggest model railroad shows and it’s always a good show for us. We’d highly recommend attending if you can. The next show we’ll be attending is the Rocky Mountain Train Show in Denver, CO March 5th and 6th.
There’s a couple of things I need to cover this month beginning with the shallow draft gear boxes being used by a number of manufacturers to better fit the plastic McHenry and EZ Mate couplers. Unfortunately, we do not have a coupler that easily fits into the shallow boxes. Most however, will use our Whisker couplers without any problems but there are some that require a thinner coupler shank to fit properly. In this case you need to carefully file the shank of our whisker couplers just a bit thinner to fit into these shallow coupler pockets. There are a few molded on shallow pockets that you can add material to the post and side walls to increase the depth of the box so a standard coupler can fit properly. We can understand the manufacturers reasoning behind making the shallow coupler pocket to reduce the droop of the thinner shank and to some how try to reduce the flex of a thin plastic shank with a tighter fitting pocket. However, they still do not understand that when they make a coupler pocket that does not fit a Kadee coupler properly all they do is upset and alienate most of the modelers that buy their products. It’s their business, however, but they seem to be more interested in their bottom line rather than in customer demand and satisfaction. It seems that the industry had finally progressed to a “near standardized” coupler pocket only to then to “regress” to a shallow non-standard pocket to accommodate their proprietary plastic coupler. Regardless of what other manufacturers do we usually find a way to fit our couplers to almost anything and if there’s “justification” we might even produce a product to fill the need.
Another issue that continually comes up is modelers thinking how easy it is to produce a new product or model. They simply have no clue what the tooling time and costs really are let alone what the consumer pricing has to be for cost recovery and possible profit. There are many modelers that have or have had experience in what machining time and costs are and they try to convey that when they can. But still there are many that think the manufacturers can just “whip out” a car or two or a speciality product at anytime. On top of that there are a lot of issues besides the actual tooling time involved. There’s a great deal of research, planning, designing, guess work, cost analysis, praying (when appropriate) long before the tool maker gets the OK to start. Then afterwards there’s assembly, marketing, packaging, new product numbers, inventory, and such. Even what seems to be a simple product still takes a lot more to produce than most modelers can imagine. Now I hope this does not deter modelers from suggesting new ideas and new products but hopefully it helps them understand, at least to a point, what’s really involved in the manufacturing process.
Happy New Year (January 2016)
Here we are in the New Year the holidays are over but the true Christmas spirit should carry on through the entire New Year which is why we say “have a Happy New Year”.
Now we’re making resolutions, setting unachievable goals, worrying about the up coming bills and clearance sales, who’s making it to the Super Bowl, and still writing 2015. Unless we received many wonderful gifts or had some fabulous experiences over the holidays we’ve more than likely lost that Christmas Spirit that we had for only a short time. So consider this a reminder that the true meaning of Christmas and the Christmas Spirit is not a short term holiday transition into the new year. It’s something that we all, I mean the whole world, needs throughout the entire year. When you say “Happy New Year” to someone do you mean the whole year or just New Year’s Day or is it just a meaningless gesture? Lets all have a Happy New (entire) Year and try to keep and share that wonderful Christmas Spirit.
Probably many of you received model railroad gifts, been running your trains, working on projects, and staying as warm as possible. Now it’s back to work and kids back to school, and your best efforts of getting back to some form of normality just isn’t quite there yet.
We brought out a few new products this last year and the three of the biggest are our G scale all metal trucks, new HO insulated tank car, and our HO scale electrical pick up caboose trucks. We are working on other new products and planning on more so keep watching our ads and web site.
We’ll be attending a number of Train Shows this coming year starting with The Amherst Train Show in West Springfield, MA at the end of this month. As time get closer to the others we’ll announce which shows we’ll be attending.
We constantly receive requests for us to make certain products that some modelers think the model railroad industry needs more than anything. Some are actually good ideas and some might fill only a small niche in the market and some are a bit far fetched or off the wall. But regardless, we do appreciate modelers sending in their ideas and suggestions because we don’t always know what’s needed or can come up with new product ideas and such.
However, there are a few things we have to consider that many don’t know about or understand. We are a business and to stay in business any product we make has to eventually pay for itself and hopefully turn a profit. There have been many good product ideas that so far can not be produced in a cost effective way not only making a profit but sold at an affordable consumer price. Many people have no idea what the design and development, tooling (mold making), packaging and marketing, and time costs really are. We have to look at so many things before we even consider producing a new product and this even gets time consuming and complicated.
Fortunately, we have a very large diversified product line and we’ve been in business since 1946 so we have a pretty good idea of what we’re doing, at least we think so.
Speaking of 1946 this year is our 70th Anniversary since the twin brothers Keith and Dale Edwards started this business.
Have a Happy New Year and keep the Christmas Spirit with you the entire year.
Trainfest (December 2015)
Well, did we all have a great Thanksgiving? The food was great, spending the time off with family is always great, having a spirit of Thanksgiving with gratitude in your heart for all that you enjoy, yea....even model railroading. For you sports fans we hope you got in enough football, basketball, or whatever (soccer?) and enjoyed the actual game rather than the fluffy hype of over paid primadonnas with egos bigger than their IQs.
Now we are slipping into the Christmas spirit where we transition into kind and gracious beings with “good will towards all men”. Something we all need to retain through the entire year. Wouldn’t the world be so much better if “all of us” could truly understand the real meaning of Christmas and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean changing your religion, cultural background, or moral standards. It’s just a matter of understanding and sharing kindness and love regardless of our differences.
We just recently returned from another Trainfest Train Show in Milwaukee, WI and for us it’s one of the best shows we attend. It’s always well attended, in the same great location, and put on by a great organization. They have a big program for the kids that hopefully will inspire them to be involved in model railroading. All the major manufacturers were there and many smaller ones too along with retail dealers and many clubs brought their operating layouts. While watching the local news in my hotel they had a report on Trainfest that was quite well done that really promoted the involvement of the kids. This Trainfest group also puts out a great deal of local advertisements and promotional material. They certainly know how to put on a good show.
We had some of our new tank cars there both the first TWOX and November’s new SHPX #1040 a Texas Natural Gasoline Corp. tank car with the full dome platform. We also had some of our new “electrical pick up caboose trucks” that sold out very quickly. Many large scalers like our newer all metal “G scale” trucks.
Saturday’s attendance was pretty huge but Sunday’s was mostly families looking for something the kids would enjoy. The Packers and Lions game slowed things a bit on Sunday too. But all and all it was a great show.
We answered many questions and quelled a few rumors. One in particular I must address over and over again, “we are NOT discontinuing the #5 coupler”, and we’re getting tired of hearing this so whomever is out there keeping this “rumor” going please just stop. Another issue I had was people telling me that their dealers told them that they couldn’t get certain Kadee products was because they were “back ordered” and this is not true. We rarely, if ever, back order anything, we just don’t run our business like that. So when you hear this from a dealer it’s not a problem at Kadee it’s usually a problem with the dealer.
We certainly appreciate those who help promote this hobby and those that find out the facts before they spread news and information.
Spend some extra time this year feeling and spreading the Christmas spirit, kindness and love, and good will towards “all” men. Enjoy this Christmas Holiday and help other to enjoy it too. Merry Christmas!!
Holiday Season (November 2015)
November is here and we’re getting deeper into the “Holiday Season” with Thanksgiving coming soon, then Christmas and New Years Day. Are those of you out there that actually celebrate Thanksgiving with the big dinner and football truly considering the meaning of Thanksgiving? Or are you looking forward to eating far too much, lying around, and screaming at your TV because some guy just dropped the ball for no reason? Or are you going to take a few moments and consider all the things you should be “thankful” for and then express deep gratitude to your God, spouse, family, friends, or whomever you owe it to?
After Thanksgiving, and dealing with Black Friday weekend, we start looking toward Christmas. Regardless of your religious beliefs or affiliations Christmas Holidays happen. If you have a basic Christian background you should understand that this Holiday is meant to celebrate the birth of Christ and remember what He has done for the world. It’s a time of humbleness, gratitude, forgiveness, giving, service, kindness, sharing, and other Christ like attributes. Unfortunately we get caught up in the commercialism of the season and easily forget the true meaning of Christmas. I would hope the world could just get past their hardened hearts and greedy selfish issues and consider settling their differences with the above attributes and then follow through with lasting examples of this that will help and teach others.
While your basking in the aroma of your Thanksgiving dinner take some time to thank somebody with deep sincerity that will uplift and touch them enough to feel your true gratitude. This will make a lasting difference that could change a persons outlook on life that, given a chance, will spread throughout the world.
Also, this season when you’re buried in your basement, garage, or attic operating your model railroad, think about who you can share this with, how can you help another person enjoy this hobby or at least spark their interest in it?
Many say that this hobby is dying and to a certain extent they are right. Model railroading is a rather old hobby. Trying to find an actual beginning may be impossible but if you think about it, you can imagine that when a young boy seen his first train and there just wasn’t any toys or models of trains available he would, with determination, start building his own train models. So looking at the history of trains it would seem that the kids at the beginning of the train era would have been building models of those early locomotives and rail cars. This would eventually be expanded by a talented model builder helping others build models then to building and selling models on the side that would eventually transition in to a full time commercial business. Most model railroad manufacturing companies started this way, just an individual scratch building their own models, then building for his buddies, then for others, then expanding more and more until they’ve built an actual model railroad business.
Back then there just wasn’t much competition for kid’s time and hobby dollars but now we have so many other hobbies like RC cars and airplanes, then the computer world that wants everyone to stop using their brain and replace it with an iPad or a “not so” Smart Phone.
So lets help our kids get back to the basics of using their own talents and brains so they can experience doing something hands on and real.
Fall Train Season (October 2015)
We are now in the month of October, the fall season is taking hold with cooler weather, the brilliant colors, kids settling back into school, and thoughts of the up coming holidays. To me October is the beginning of the holiday season with Columbus Day, Halloween, into November and Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then the New Year. If you think about it it’s kind of ending a year with holidays, parties, celebrations, religious reflections and activities, remembering the past year and planning the new year.
It is also a time that the large scale outdoor modelers wind down their season and the smaller scale modelers come back inside for their season. It’s also a time that we attend a few train shows. August we attended the NMRA National Train Show in Portland, OR, I’ll be attending the Naperville RPM in Lisle, IL near the end of October, then we’ll be at Trainfest in Milwaukee, WI in early November, and our local Medford, OR train show Thanksgiving weekend, then on to the Amherst Show in West Springfield, MA at the end of January 2016.
For those of you that are HO modelers we just introduced two of our Caboose trucks with our new “electrical” pickups and they are products #590 Bettendorf and #593 Arch Bar Caboose trucks. Also remember our new ACF 11,000 gallon insulated tank has been out for a couple of months and remember our newer 50 foot PS-1 box car with an 8 foot door opening.
For large scale modelers we recently introduced three all metal trucks that have the same two piece design we use on our HO trucks that allows an equalizing feature for smoother operations over rough track. These are in 1:29 scale with our new 33” all metal wheelsets. The truck package includes a set of adapters to help mount them to almost any large scale freight cars.
I just finished a coupler conversion on a newer production Rivarossi HO passenger car. They are using a swinging coupler pocket like what’s found on the Walthers passenger cars. It is an easy coupler change out to our #148 whisker coupler. On the model that I have the coupler height was just right and I thank Hornby of England for getting this right.
We also appreciate the other model railroad manufacturers that have made their coupler pockets at the correct height and are easily adaptable to Kadee couplers.
NMRA National Train Show (September 2015)
We attended the NMRA National Train Show in Portland, OR the last part of August. We don’t know the attendance figures but it seemed like it was very well attended. We had our new tank car there and a few samples of our HGC electrical pickup caboose trucks, also our new 1:29 scale trucks and wheelsets, and some of our “weathered” HO freight cars. All of them were well received. On Saturday and Sunday there were quite a lot of kids attending which is a good sign for the future of this hobby.
There were many questions that we answered and I’ll mention a few here. One of the most prominent questions or astonishments we noticed was that Kadee is located in White City, Oregon at the opposite end of the state from Portland. We’re next to Medford near the state line. Along with this was the amazement that all of our products are made in the U.S.A. in White City, Oregon, and in our own shop. That’s right “WE MAKE OUR PRODUCTS HERE IN THE U.S.A. IN OUR OWN SHOP”. I believe we are one of the last few model railroad manufacturers that makes all of their products in the U.S.A. “Made in the U.S.A.” means a lot to us. There were many people that commented on this and it means a lot to them too. Another question I remember is why we changed to a solid molded side frame for our trucks rather than continue with fully sprung trucks. There are a number of reasons like they roll better than our sprung trucks, although with some fine tuning our sprung trucks will roll quite well, next is the wire springs are too thin to look as prototypical as molded springs. This and the see through gap the thin springs allowed kept many prototype molders from using our sprung trucks. We did design the two piece HGC trucks to float and flex over the track like the fully sprung trucks to equalize the ride. Although the HGC (heavy gravity compound) is rather expensive the two piece design reduces production time and costs. There are many that still like our fully sprung trucks and they are and will still be available. All of our freight cars now come with the two piece HGC trucks. Any new HO trucks we make will be the newer design.
Another question or questions deals with producing other freight cars and most often we were asked to make some odd car type that no one else makes. Well there’s usually a good reason no one makes these odd cars and it’s mostly the cost of the tooling compared to the quantity of prototype cars compared to the time of the cost recovery and any possible profit. Odd and low quantity cars will have to be left up the the smaller manufacturers and resin kit makers.
I had many questions about what couplers to use on new models and most often the answer is our common #5 or the #148 whisker coupler. Most if not all new models come with some version of a knuckle coupler and in most cases our #148 is a simple change out coupler. Just make sure the coupler height is correct. This leads into the next question of “which whisker coupler is the equivalent to the #5 coupler”? The #148 whisker coupler is the same as the #5 coupler, in fact the #148 uses the same coupler head design as the #5 coupler. The #158 is the “scale head” equivalent to the standard head #148 coupler. If you have any questions about Kadee products just ask us.
Foobie Paint Schemes & Instant Society (August 2015)
It seems that the term “foobie” is different with different modelers. As a manufacturer and modeler a “foobie” to me and the majority of modelers means an incorrect “railroad” paint scheme on a model that represents a real prototype. Specialty paint schemes do not represent a prototype railroad paint schemes. They are meant to be used as collector or commemorative paint schemes that do not try to fool a modeler into to buying an incorrect paint scheme to put on their railroad. Foobie cars with the wrong paint schemes are meant to deceive modelers, however, this is also a marketing concept. A manufacturer builds a box car that represents one or no real prototype at all then puts every paint scheme on it that will possibility fit on the car. This concept worked for quite a number of manufacturers for a very long time and their goal was to sell cars based on the paint scheme alone regardless of the correct prototype model. Now there are certainly modelers that simply do not mind foobie paint schemes and they either do not know about or they do not care about prototypical correctness.
A number of years ago there began a “noticeable trend” for manufacturers to produce better detailed and more prototypical models. There, of course, are many modelers that scratch built or kit bashed finely detailed models. Then there was a trend that seemed to bring more RTR (ready to run) or near RTR models into the market which affected the “kit” market. There certainly is not as many new kits being produced as there was before and the majority of these are from the resin model makers. In a sense this is not all that bad because many newer and up coming modelers do not enjoy building kits and, like many electronic based life styles, these newer modelers want the “instant take it out of the box set it on the tracks RTR models.” Now how this came about is a bit argumentative but in a way the computerized plug in world started about the same time these noticeable trends started. There’s always been stiff competition for hobby dollars then the electronic era came into the competition and now it’s a battle for hobby dollars and hobby time. Also with this came a trend away from “skill” development. The few skills that I notice now are based on pushing buttons, touching a screen, or just talking into an electronic gizmo, skills right? It seems this is a deterrent to developing real skills, dexterity, patience, and using your own brain to think for yourself. I don’t have anything against modern technology and computers. What I have issues with is the lack of any desires to use any sort of manual activity to improve or simply develop a persons skills and talents.
So get that cell phone out of the side of your head, stop texting, get your face off the computer screen, and find a real enjoyable hobby that actually helps you develop skills and talents, and even challenges your ability to think on your own.
Independence Day & Coupler Heights (July 2015)
Well what did you do over the 4th of July weekend? I believe the 4th of July, also known as “Independence Day”, is one of the greatest American holidays that needs to be brought back into perspective. Unfortunately, this holiday comes at the beginning of summer when the weather is usually too good to miss out on the opportunities to party and play in the sun. So briefly I wanted to add a few thoughts about this holiday. I know that I can’t change the world but at least, for now, I still can express my opinions freely (not long though if our present government continues this sad trend of subverting and ignoring our Constitution).
How many of you know the names of the patriots that signed the Declaration of Independence? Do you know what happened to them and the price they paid? I would suggest that all of us spend a great deal more time researching these Patriots and our other Founding Fathers to see what they gave for us to enjoy this great country and the few freedoms we still have left. Yes, this even means the freedom we have to go out and party on these holidays regardless of knowing or not knowing (or caring) who gave us this freedom and what it cost them. We also need to remember those that have sacrificed everything defending and retaining this freedom.
Patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July means more than beer, picnics, and baseball games. Think about your freedoms and what you’d do if they were in jeopardy. Would you just ignore it until it’s too late, would you give up thinking that you really can’t do anything about it? Be a patriot and pay attention to what’s going on in the world and especially in this country!
Did you use this holiday to work on your model railroading projects? The weather in some places, especially in the west, may have been too hot to go outside with 100+ degrees. This may have been too hot for the garage or attic layouts but great for the basement or spare room layouts (with your AC cranked up).
I had one modeler asked about the importance of coupler heights. The main issue with coupler heights for knuckle couplers is keeping the couplers hooked together during operations and the best thing to do is having all of the couplers at the same height. This ensures that the entire pulling face of the inside of the knuckle is available to hold the pulling face of the opposing coupler. If one coupler is higher or lower than the other the couplers will have a tendency to slide up or down under pulling pressure. This means the coupler may slip out of the other and disconnect the train. This would be multiplied if there was any bumps, dips, or sharp grade transitions in the track. There are standard coupler heights that we try to follow and our couplers are designed with trip pins for magnetic uncoupllng and these trip pins are set based on the correct coupler heights. There are modelers that do not use our magnetic uncoupling that will cut the trip pins off and use a tool to manually uncouple. This does not change the importance of having all the couplers at the same standard height and this applies to all scales and all makes of couplers. We make coupler height gauges for HOn3 up to “G” scale and we highly recommend every modeler have at least one.
Remember our Patriotic Holidays and what they really mean and then go and enjoy model railroading maybe with a more patriotic theme to help you remember.
Beginning Modelers (June 2015)
All too often I’m contacted by beginning modelers, who want to skip most of the learning and developing it takes to get to the level of modeling they think they should be at right now. So I’m not going to talk about these guys. But I’m going to talk about those who are willing to take the time to enjoy every aspect of this hobby. I also will offer some helpful hints and ideas too.
When a novice modeler contacts me with a question that’s usually a coupler conversion or a truck conversion question, they also ask about tools and if certain uncouplers will work with the type of track they are using. Coupler questions, unless it’s specific, I will usually refer them to our conversion info on our website. Also printed conversion lists in HO and Large Scale are available. The S and O scale coupler conversions are handled a bit differently since we don’t have as large of a selection of couplers in those scales.
HO truck questions are usually, “what passenger car trucks do I use?” and unfortunately, we don’t make passenger car trucks. Then there is, “what Kadee trucks do I put on my freight cars?” Now this question can get complicated or it can be very simple. First I find out how much of a true prototypical modeler they are or want to be. Also what time era they model, what makes are their models and their basic skill level. Do they run on their own layout, a friends, or at a club? Once I know what they are looking for and their level of modeling, then I can decide whether to explain the importance of prototypical correct trucks or just getting some general popular style of truck. The modeler then can install these trucks on most of their cars just for better operational running. But I do try to explain why there are so many different choices in the styles and types of trucks, because many novice modelers want to get things running right away. Then as they learn and develop deeper into the hobby they might decide to get into the more prototypical side of modeling.
Tools are another issue, where some modelers want to acquire every modeling tool available before they even get started. I try to get them started with the basics. Then tell them to acquire other tools only as they learn that they really need them and are going to use them constantly. We always highly recommend acquiring one of our coupler height gauges in whatever scale they are modeling. Each of our gauges are used for multiple purposes besides checking the coupler heights. Small screw drivers, files, hobby knife (band aids) are the usual basics. Then hopefully they will learn to drill and tap screw holes and that requires plenty of practice. Also a good quality pin vise and tap and drill sets for the following common screw sizes HO 2-56, 1-72, and HO and N 0-80, N scale 00-90 and G scale 4-40 are recommended.
We do offer two product packages with an assortment of tools, couplers, and uncouplers. These in many case will really help both novice and experienced modelers. The #13 Test Kit has a larger assortment of couplers and tools made more so to help modelers choose the correct coupler for a particular model.
The #1030 Starter Kit is a package made more to help beginning modelers get started with couplers, uncouplers, and tools, plus helpful printed material.
We really appreciate beginning modelers that are willing to test and develop their skills and have the desire to enjoy learning more of this hobby. We hope they have a supportive family an extra room, garage, basement, or a vacant house next door to use for their layout.
New 50 PS-1 & Rumors (May 2015)
This month we are releasing another style of the Pullman Standard PS-1 50 foot box car. This particular version is different than the current more common 50 foot PS-1 that we are producing. These cars have an 8 foot door opening rather than a 9, 10, or 15 foot opening, Much of the car is like our 40 foot PS-1 with a tab side sill. Although some C&NW and all the ATSF cars have a straight sill. Also the underframe’s center beam, cross beams, and cross bearers are like the 40 foot underframe.
The first road name we are releasing is Missouri Pacific. There are a couple of road names we have not done with 50 foot cars before, like ATSF and Tidewater Southern. Keep watching our website kadee.com for up coming releases.
There are a couple of issues that I have commented on in the past that I feel needs to be addressed again. One is the many “rumors” that seems to get started from various sources that a particular Kadee® product is either back ordered or discontinued, when in fact we have the product in stock and ready to ship. Sometimes the rumor gets started when a dealer, for whatever reason, can not or will not order the item in question and it might be caused by their wholesale distributor. I’m not going to get into all the reasons for this, nor am I going to tell anyone how to run their business. How they run their business is their business. Since our government continually fails to do much about the economy that actually helps the working class many hobby shop dealers do not carry as much inventory as they use to, many have to run their business differently than ever before and this can cause all kinds of problems.
If you hear that a Kadee® product is on back order or discontinued please check our website at kadee.com or contact us directly to confirm product availability.
We do discontinue products for a number of reasons but we rarely back order a product. This is mostly due to the fact that we make our products right here in our own manufacturing plant, in Oregon, USA. When we discontinue a product we make sure it is clearly announced on our website and in our printed monthly fliers.
The next couple of issues kind of go together. One is when modeler’s have a problem with a Kadee® product some of them are looking for help from sources other than directly from Kadee® and this is OK as long as the help is correct and timely. There are modelers asking for help that are lead in the wrong direction or get misinformation from others that may have good intentions but might not know the right answers. Some of this may be caused by the second issue I mentioned and that is the person asking for help not asking in a way that is clearly understood with enough information related to the problem. I get far too many questions that are so vague that I have no idea of what the problem really is. Sometimes it takes several e-mails to get enough details to understand their problem. I can understand this with modelers new to the hobby and I’m willing to spend the time helping them get started and get up to a higher level of modeling.
We want everyone to enjoy model railroading and especially enjoy Kadee® products and we will help as much as we can. If you have any questions about our products, problems getting our products, or problems with our products feel free to contact us.
Accurail’s Narrow Draft Gear Box (April 2015)
In the past we have not been able to fit a functional coupler into Accurail’s narrow Accumate scale draft gear box without some major work and modeling skills and a bit of bravado. This box is simply too narrow for the shank of a standard coupler and the post is too small for the pivoting hole of the coupler. Athearn and Intermountain have used a molded on version of this box on a few of their models. Our normal conversion required cutting down the sides of the box leaving a level platform and then mounting a Kadee coupler box onto the platform. Most of these models are very detailed and have delicate parts that are hard to work around for the average modeler without breaking something.
Recently I was able to spend enough time on finding a way to install a Kadee Whisker coupler in the Accumate narrow box. It still is not a drop in conversion.
Take the box and if it’s molded on the model removed the lid and original coupler, measure back from the front of both side walls about .100” and using very sharp hobby knife or razor blade cut straight down to the base surface then measure back farther .190” and make another cut. Carefully trim the center cut pieces out and smooth the surface so the coupler end can pivot over the edges. Now you need a bushing to fit over the post to enlarge it to the proper size for a standard coupler. You can use the large ID bushing (sleeve) from our #213 package (which is also found in all of our 20 series coupler packages). I used our short #143 coupler, set it over the bushing and post, make sure the whisker wires are inside the box then carefully press the lid in place, still making sure the wires are inside and below the seam of the box and lid. Make sure the lid is tight at the front so the wires can not slip into the seam and coupler is secure with minimal droop. Flip the coupler back and forth to see if it snaps to center freely.
Unfortunately, the narrow box does not allow the maximum coupler swing it does still function enough for magnetic or manual uncoupling. However, in certain cases the narrow box also limits the radius of curves the car can negotiate but most of the molded on narrow boxes are on somewhat shorter cars that may not need a wide coupler swing. I’ve not tested this extensively with all of our whisker couplers yet so I’m not sure how the medium and long shank couplers will look or work. The short scale head #153, of course, looks the best in this box but the short couplers do protrude somewhat because of the forward location of the pivoting post. The medium and long couplers wouldn’t look as good but they’d offer a wide coupler swing.
So now with our whisker couplers, a bushing, sharp knife, calipers, and someone else’s model to try this on you can fit a Kadee coupler into the narrow Accumate draft gear box.
Keep checking our web site at kadee.com for new product announcements and monthly car releases. In May we are releasing a new style of 50 foot PS-1 with an 8 foot door opening and tab style side sills.
Large Scale Stuff (March 2015)
I have a few larger scale issues to go over this month and some of it may be a bit repetitive but that’s how many of us learn, that’s how many of us learn.
The On30 questions never seem to subside. I’m going to be as brief as I can on this without getting into the general narrow gauge issues of modeling. First, most On30 models are made by Bachmann that unfortunately use their standard size “HO” couplers which are prototypically too small for O scale narrow gauge modeling. The problem is that their coupler pockets are mounted at the HO scale coupler height and are very difficult to convert to the proper On3 size of coupler especially their locomotives. So if you have Bachmann On30 models we recommend using our #148 whisker coupler on most of their models and our long shank #146 where needed. Many other makes of On30 models either use the HO couplers or have the option of using the HO coupler or the larger On3 couplers. If you mix Bachmann models with other make then you are more or less limited to using HO size of couplers.
Thanks to MTH in recent years for putting coupler mounting platforms on their O and #1 scale models for body mounted Kadee couplers. We certainly appreciate this and I’m sure many modelers do too. Most of their O scale models will use our common #805/804 or newer #740/745 couplers except for some of their locomotives which will use our short box #806 or newer short #743.
If you have any of the MTH #1 scale (1:32) models most of them will use the body mounted #820 or the newer Type E style #1906. These models will not accept our G scale size of couplers.
There are many Accucraft locomotives that have flat end sills and some of these have small shelf pockets for their link and pin couplers. On most of these models we have used our #779/1779 and newer #905/1905 sill mounted coupler. It requires you to remove the shelf pocket and drill (or drill and tap) some small screw holes. The instructions have a template that helps you to get the coupler height correct. The couplers will work on any flat end sill that’s large enough, or that can be made large enough, for the mounting plate, including rolling stock. I like how they look on the little Hartland Mack Switcher.
For general body mounting for G scale start with the #830 or newer #906 and for #1 scale use the smaller 1:32 scale #820 or newer #1906. If the coupler box interferes with the wheels you can notch out the sides of the box quite a bit without affecting the operation of the coupler. If needed you can use the center set narrower #789 or newer #907 (#1 scale #1789/1907) but these do not have as much coupler swing and might limit the radius of curves that can be negotiated.
The Bachmann 20 ton cars with body mounted couplers will mostly use our medium offset #787 or newer #908 (#1 scale #1787/1908).
When doing any coupler conversion even a direct coupler change out, taking theirs out and putting ours in, you should always check the coupler height and clearance with a proper scale coupler height gauge. We have several height gauges available, for the large scale hobbyist. For O scale (#812), #1 scale (#829/1929), G scale (880/980).
Amherst Railroad Show & Common Questions (February 2015)
We just attended the Amherst Railroad Show in West Springfield, MA January 24 and 25. This years attendance was about 8000 to 10,000 less than the previous years. This may have been because of the storm on Saturday when there was 4-6 inches of heavy wet snow or it could have been the economy that really hasn’t recovered regardless of gas prices or what politicians try to tell us, we really don’t know but there was certainly a difference this year.
Saturday was busy with spurts of heavy crowds but not the constant overwhelming crowds of the normal Saturdays. Sunday was quite different also. There didn’t seem to be the after church stroller crowds and kids but a steady flow of lookers with few buyers.
There were many questions that were asked and many were the same common questions we keep hearing so I’m going to address three of them.
First the #148 coupler is the whisker equivalent to the common #5 coupler and we are not going to discontinue the #5 coupler, no more rumors about this please.
There still seems to be many older models being traded and sold that still have “Horn Hook” couplers. Unfortunately, many of these older models are being bought by beginner and novice modelers that have little or no experience with horn hook couplers. Many of these models have broken or missing couplers so the modelers do a Google search for model railroad couplers and find “Kadee” listed a billion times. So, of course, they come to us looking for horn hook couplers. We then have to explain to them that we only make “knuckle” couplers and we try to help them understand the difference between horn hook and knuckle couplers and that few if any new models come with horn hook couplers installed anymore. But if they really desire to find horn hook couplers we point them to the Walthers catalog and web site and to swap meets and train shows and even model railroad clubs where they might find horn hook couplers. We also help them learn how to slowly convert to knuckle couplers by using a transition car with a knuckle coupler on one end and horn hook on the other then moving it down their train as they convert more cars to knuckle couplers.
Another older coupler pocket design we still get a lot of inquiries on is the Tyco/Life Like type of Talgo truck mounted coupler pocket with the little flexible arm with the nub on the end that’s on the bottom of the pocket. The nub is the pivoting post the original horn hook coupler fits over. We now offer a couple of ways to convert this type of pocket to Kadee couplers. First we’ve used our 20 series couplers usually the #28 or underset #27. The 20 series packages contain a special Talgo adapter made just for these pockets so just follow the 20 series instructions. Now that we offer our whisker couplers you now can use the #148 or #147 underset couplers in place of the #28 and #27 along with the #212 Talgo adapter which is the same adapter that’s in the 20 series coupler package but sold separately as the #212. The whisker coupler and separate #212 is a much easier conversion than using the 20 series couplers. One helpful hint, set the coupler in place and check the coupler height before you insert the adapter because it’s near impossible to remove without breaking something. Use the #148 or #28 first if these are too low then use the under set #147 or #27 couplers.
2014 COUPLER CONVERSION RECAP (January 2015)
Are you remembering to write 2015, 2015, 2015 ,15, 15, 15? Well, now another “Holiday Season” is over we can move right into the “Recovery Season” or the “Useless Resolution Season” or the “Regretting Season”. Whichever might apply once we’ve had enough time to sit down and think about what we’ve done to ourselves, our bank accounts, and credit ratings. The parties are over, the bills are arriving, decorations are coming down, the new electronic high tech “what-cha-ma-call it” has to be programed using a 6 inch thick instruction book or online instructions that uses terminology you’ve never heard of before and they’re in every language in the universe except plain American English. Then you have use this foot long remote with a zillion micro buttons with hieroglyphic symbols. Don’t forget the proper adapters and cables that go along with it all. Then you find out that you just bought last years model (which was just a couple of days ago) and the manufacturer no longer supports the old technology. Hopefully your new model railroading stuff is not too high tech that you need your grand kids to help program and operate it for you.
There were a few new models introduced last year but not many needed any special coupler conversion efforts except the Large Scale PIKO rolling stock which uses the common #831 or newer #909 on the truck. The odd thing is the little nub on the end of the coupler arm is not round but oval. So this needs to be cut off and the coupler slid inward so you can use the original screw hole. Most modelers will do this anyway for a closer coupling distance between cars.
The Kato Business and Passenger cars with their rather flimsy swinging couplers are still popular and we simply take their complete coupler system off and use our #451 extra swing coupler on these cars.
Almost all new MTH O scale and #1 scale models come with very nice platforms made for Kadee couplers. The O scale models will use the common #805 size of box which all but our short O scale couplers use. Their O scale diesel locomotives use the short #806 or the newer #743 couplers as recommended by MTH. Their #1 (1:32) scale models have platforms made for our #1 scale #820 or newer #1906 couplers. MTH has been doing this for quite sometime and we certainly thank them a great deal. We do hope they continue to do this which helps us and more importantly the modelers. We do still receive many inquiries about these MTH models and I try and point out their coupler platforms to the inquiring modelers that don’t always know about the platforms.
We get a lot of adults asking about converting the models they bought for their kids to Kadee couplers. Most of them are not model railroaders themselves and know little about it but know about the quality of Kadee couplers. So I get them started with the following about newer models. Most new models now come with some version of a knuckle coupler and for the most part these are easily changed out to our #148 whisker coupler, however, you should always check the coupler height with a coupler height gauge like our HO #205 or #206.
Don’t forget this last Christmas and the true Spirit of Christ that should stay with us “forever” and not just a season.