Sam The Answer Man (2006-2008)
Modeling Skills Pt. 4 (December 2008)
Just a few more comments about “modeling skills” in this issue and then I’ll move onto other subjects. These comments were never intended to offend anyone but only to point out various trends. These trends are based on quite a number of things. Model railroading history goes back to when model railroading was an absolute “scratch building” hobby (as did most hobbies). As prototype (real) railroads grew so did the hobby, perhaps beginning with simple “toys” being “whittled” out of a block of wood by some semi “skilled” father (brakeman, engineer, or such) making a gift for his child. As the child grows so does his or her desire for a more “functional” toy. Then the father, with finer tuned skills, now makes rolling wheels and more details. As usual, comes the competition of “one-upmanship” between the kids and between the fathers which, of course, brings better toys. Then some enterprising father or skilled youngster begins to make these to sell to those that may not have the skills or time to make their own.
Along with this come those who try to make their products as close to the real thing as possible. This may have developed into the division of the prototype modeler and the one that just wants to play with trains regardless of the accuracy of their models. Somewhere in all of this the “toys” developed into “model kits”. The enterprisers working from basements and garages moved up to rented rooms and small buildings with perhaps family and friends helping. If they had good business savvy or had someone with the business and marketing skills to do the selling and book keeping while they made kits and developed new products, usually their business grew to the point of a self-sustaining profitable company.
Then maybe those that had a marketing personality could find financing to expand into an actual factory with machinery, packaging, and skilled labor and possible sales people that could get their products into stores and into the hands of returning customers. Then with some risk taking, they’d invest in better production facilities to make better products. Now with better products the modelers can appreciate the details and accuracy then demand more accuracy and finer details which the manufacturers then invest in modern technology, better machinery requiring tool makers with higher skills to make finer details. Finer details from one manufacturer shows other makers that it can be done so they invest in higher quality and finer details. Then someone comes along and offers their kits completely assembled as an “RTR model”. Then those who are rather worn from building kits all their life, those with less time, and those with fewer modeling skills then will buy the RTR models which lowers the demand for kits - which brings us full circle back to the hand crafted one piece toy (RTR) whittled by the father pleasing his child who wanted to play with a train just like his or her dad worked on. Welcome to model railroading, please do all you can to enjoy this hobby then share it with others, that’s what we try to do.
Modeling Skills Pt. 3 (November 2008)
With the many comments I’ve been receiving about my last two installments concerning modeling skills I’m going to continue this for another couple of issues. Last month I did mention that I was from a small town but this didn’t imply that only people from small towns faced the difficulties and challenges I talked about. Because most certainly there were many people from the "cities" that face the same challenges, and a few more for that matter, as we country folks did. I only could imagine making an all day trip of just getting far enough out of town to feel in the country, where we used to make an all day trip just to go to the city. Regardless where you lived developing modeling skills was usually based on the same general factors, economics (extra cash), availability of supplies and models, personal interests, willingness to learn and the bravado to try, overcoming the fear of failure and using failure as a learning tool. One comment was why would I bring up a modeling skill issue since Kadee makes a line of RTR cars.
Our RTR cars are only a small portion of our product line and a majority of our products may require a certain level of basic modeling skills to assemble and or install. We decided to go into the RTR market for a number of reasons. With "true" RTR cars we eliminated most of the missing parts worry that’s associated with "Kits". With an RTR car the completed car is the assurances that all the parts are in the box. Also, our RTR cars have no adhesives (glue) all the parts are snap in or friction fitted, no glue. However, our logging cars are kits and require a higher level of modeling skills to assemble, most of our couplers require assembly and many coupler conversions require filing, trimming, and fitting, and some times drilling and tapping a screw hole, basic modeling skills. I’ve heard too many comments about RTR verses KITS and I feel both have their places in the market. However, there is a trend that many of the kits are disappearing being forced into obscurity by more and more RTR models. In a sense this is following or leading the issues of fewer and fewer modelers willing to use or develop modeling skills. But on the other hand there is a "why should they" issue since there are more and more RTR models available why should a modeler use their time building a model when it is available RTR.
Today, more than ever, I think there is several different categories of modelers, maybe hobbyist is a better term for many. A "modeler" is one that uses basic modeling skills in all the different ways to assemble, customize, kit bash, or scratch build their models along with their layouts and scenery. A hobbyist is one that may put together a kit or two but looks for RTR, pre made, or easy to assemble models. There’s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, many modelers are now hobbyists and enjoy the time they now have to operate or do other things besides build kits. But this is all their personal prerogative and as long as they are enjoying model railroading, that’s all that matters.
Modeling Skills Pt. 2 (October 2008)
Since my last month’s installment I have received many positive comments about modeling skills and the state of the hobby and I thank all those that e-mailed or phoned. It was gratifying to find out that my articles are actually being read, thank you. Continuing with last months comments, I was born and raised in a small desert town in west central Nevada that was somewhat isolated. Not being able to just zip down to the nearest hobby shop or department store forced us to learn our modeling skills at an early age. We did have a variety store, a drug store, and two hardware stores that supplied the basic model cars and airplanes, paint and glue. But when you got past the “build it by the instructions” level and wanted something more than the boring basic models, you were on your own. This is where the improvising, creative inventiveness, and scratch building skills, and the bravado to do it came from. Although I did not know anyone with a model railroad in our town the modeling skills we developed applied to any “modeling” hobby.
Most people living in small towns learned to improvise with what was available or simply did without. This means when something broke in your house and the local hardware store didn’t have exactly what you needed you had to actually use your “skills” to “figure out” how to use what was at hand. This kind of thing actually was past down from our dads (and moms) to the kids. When you were lucky enough to have a friend with skills you didn’t have and they came to help rather than just watching them do it for you, you jumped in and learned and they were quite willing if not demanding to teach you. But if you “had to” you simply sucked it up and gave it a try yourself. This built the character and experience to be able to fix stuff without the fears many people have today. There’s an economic side to this too because not many families had “expendable income” or “hobby dollars” (extra money) back then (and many don’t now). So the simple lack of money made us developed the skills of using what we could find. I remember saving every penny and nickel I could (anything over a dime was a luxury) until I had three or four dollars and when we made a rare trip to Reno we’d make a royal hauling. We wouldn’t waste it on those common kits we’d buy the good stuff....you know...the scratch building stuff. I bet the “modern modeler” (what ever that is) would be shocked to see how much 3 or 4 bucks could buy back then, especially when you had developed the skills to know what to do with it all and the lasting thought of how hard it was to save that much money.
This all doesn’t mean that our models were junk piles, our models showed the innovated skills and creativity we developed taking the junk piles and turning them into something you’d be proud to display at a high class show. But that’s not what this is all about, it’s about not being afraid to simply enjoy learning and developing the skills, challenging yourself to continually improve, and then sharing it with others and helping them to enjoy “modeling” as much as you have.
Modeling Skills Pt. 1 (September 2008)
We are presently working on the "offset" series of our #148 whisker® coupler. So we’ll eventually have a complete series of whisker® couplers with the long, medium, and short shanks with centerset, underset (raises the head), and overset (lowers the head) shanks. To repeat what we’ve said before, we are not going to make an offset series of "scale" head couplers. There’s about .050" difference between each offset coupler with the standard head. This is a significant amount to justify an offset coupler. However, using the scale coupler head there simply is not enough head thickness (height) to offset the shank in the different positions to make enough of a difference between each offset. Also, another issue is the general appearance of an offset scale head coupler just does not look good. We ask what’s the point of having a nice looking scale head coupler when you ruin the looks with an offset shank, to our eyes it’s simply ugly. Unfortunately, this leaves the modelers without this offset option that use the scale head couplers exclusively. We do presently have the long (#156), medium (#158), and short (#153) shank whisker® couplers available.
There’s another issue that comes up from time to time regarding modeling skills and the present state of the hobby. Meaning there is a large number of model railroaders that have become less willing to develop "modeling skills" and are depending more so on RTR models and pre built products. There are times when I’m asked how to attach Kadee® couplers to a particular model and when I tell them you have to trim this, or file that, or the worst, you have to drill and tap a hole for the mounting screw they get really paranoid, silent, confused, or some other fatal response. I am amazed that so many have come into this hobby without the basic modeling skills or at least a willingness to just try. I’m really not degrading them at all because we all started somewhere and kept at it until we developed enough skill to complete the basic requirements of model building as it was some years ago. Today, as it seems, with all the electronics and computerized everything there are more model railroaders (as well with other hobbyists) wanting the instant play now gratification. Granted, however, there is certainly more of this play now hobby available.
There is also, from what I see, a missing level of communication between the experienced model railroader with a high skill level and those who enter the hobby with few or no modeling skills. I notice at train shows, hobby shops, and department stores that most entry level modelers are buying train sets which are basically a set of lessor expensive RTR models and what their expectations are no one knows. But from what I’ve experienced, the family goes home with a train set expecting to quickly set up an operation just like the one they saw at the train show. Then, unfortunately, the set is not up to their expectations and they have a bad experience and then end up never being interested in this hobby again. What to do? I’m not sure but I believe I’ll continue this subject next month.
2008 NMRA National Train Show Q&A (August 2008)
We just recently attended the 2008 NMRA National Train Show in Anaheim, CA, which also was part of the week long NMRA Convention. It was a great show with the registered attendance announced to be 23,000+. If you ever have an opportunity to attend any NMRA National Convention and Train Show we certainly encourage you to do so. There is something for everyone from the absolute beginner to the hard core experienced model railroader, and even those who may not be model railroaders yet. There are many model railroad shows all over the country going on all the time, from the small local club shows, railroad historical society’s shows, NMRA Regionals, WGH, Trainfest, Timonium, Springfield, NMRA Nationals, and many others including general hobby shows that include model railroading. Don’t pass up an opportunity to attend.
Some of the many questions we answered at the NMRA National Train Show are:
Q: "Are we going to come out with the complete "offset" series of whisker coupler?"
A: We are presently working on this and we’ll be releasing each one as they are completed, these will be the standard head #148 type and not the scale head couplers.
Q: "What is our next type of car we’ll bring out?"
A: We have not yet decided on our next car. We have quite a number of projects we are presently working on so it may be quite some time before we start another car project.
Q: "Are we going to bring out more "O" scale couplers with longer shanks and offsets?"
A: We might in the future since we have been receiving more and more requests.
Q: "Are we going to bring out more products in other scales such as On30?"
A: We’d like to but we have so many projects going on and a very long list of future projects so unless something becomes a priority we really do not know when we’ll get to it.
Q: "How come you don’t sell your couplers to other manufacturers?"
A: As a matter of fact we do sell to several model makers and we certainly are willing to sell to any manufacturer that wants a quality coupler on their models. The main issue is the bottom line the manufacturers are willing to pay for couplers and their little regard for the modelers desire for quality couplers installed at the factory.
Q: "Is the #148 whisker coupler going to replace the #5 coupler?"
A: Perhaps that’s an eventuality but it really won’t happen for a very long time. The #5 coupler is still the back bone of our coupler line, however, any new HO coupler we make will have the whisker centering spring type of shank.
Q: "Are bulk packages of your whisker couplers available?"
A: Yes, and they’ve been available for sometime now. The #14 is the 25 pair & #140 is the 50 pair package of the #148 coupler and the #150 is the 25 pair & #151 is the 50 pair package of the scale head #158 coupler.
Large Scale Couplers (July 2008)
This series is to help answer the many questions about Kadee® products and to provide "Helpful Hints" to modelers using our products.It is again time for the NMRA National Train Show that’s usually held in July. This year it is being held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA on the weekend of July 18 - 20 and we’ll be in booths 430 and 431. We have been working on a number of new products and we hope to have a couple of them ready to display at the show, at least the pre-production prototypes. I’m not going to tell you what they are so please don’t ask until the show. We also hope to have two new displays to show our products with small operating HO and Large Scale switching layouts so the public can see our products in actual use.
There have been quite a number of requests coming in asking if we are going to make an "F" scale coupler which is 1:20.3 scale ratio. At this point "no" because we really have no reason to make another "large scale" coupler just for a particular scale size of model. Our "G" scale (1:24) couplers are .500" (1/2") high and our #1 scale (1:32) couplers are .375" (3/8") high. Both represent a 12" high Type "E" coupler. If you divide 12" by 20.3 you get .591" meaning a scale 1:20.3 coupler would be only .091" difference in height from our current "G" scale coupler. This simply is not enough for us to justify the tooling costs of a new coupler for use in such a limited number of models. Also, since a 1:20.3 coupler would be too over scale to use on other popular scales of models thus adding to it’s limited use. Visually there simply isn’t much difference in the sizes especially during operations. Also, Most often in large scale, except for #1 scale and perhaps 1:29 scale, most large scale models technically are running on narrow gauge track. So for sure "F" scale should represent narrow gauge models or Fn3 and thus might use 3/4 size couplers like many of the prototype narrow gauge railroads may have used. With this in mind, the "F" scale coupler measuring .591" high at the knuckle divided by 3/4 (or x .75) = .443" high. So a common narrow gauge Fn3 coupler would be .443" high. This is right between our "G" scale and #1 scale coupler sizes. But again, it might be another simple visual thing left up to the modeler and based on just how it all looks to him (or her). The most popular "large scale" models are made in 1:32 (#1), 1:29 (A), and 1:20.3 (F) scales all running on 45mm gauge track, which is correct for 1:32 #1 scale standard gauge and some type of narrow gauge for the other scales.
Uncouplers (June 2008)
I’ve had quite a number of request about mounting magnetic uncouplers in track attached to pre-made road bed. Mounting a between the rail uncoupler is really no different now since we’ve introduced our code 83 #322 uncoupler where you no longer have to cut into the ties to mount our code 100 #321 into code 83 track. The main issue is mounting our #308 under the ties uncoupler in pre-made road bed. I’ve mounted our #308 under Kato, Bachmann, and Marklin C track (road bed) and only had to do a bit of trimming and fitting. Remembering that the magnetic flux is stronger on the outside edges of our uncouplers. If you have to trim more than 1/4” off the outside of the #308 you should cut a strip out of the center and use the two remaining outside pieces. On the Kato and Bachmann track I simply trimmed just enough to fit the #308 flush to the underside of the road bed. I beveled the top edges to fit better against the inside taper or shape of the particular make of road bed. I then used a thin coat of Walthers GOO® or Duco® Cement to glue the magnet in place. Once in place the steel intensifier plate fit under the road bed without modifications. On the Marklin C track with the third rail down the center I had to cut a strip out of the center of the #308 and glue the two pieces on each side of the center rail. I had to trim the steel plate to fit over both pieces. The #308 is rather strong and works just fine under the road bed as long as the bottom of the ties is the underneath of the road bed. Meaning the thickness of the road bed needs to be about the same as the thickness of the ties on standard track without road bed.
Another continuing issue we face, as well as the rest of the world, is the constant rising costs of everything. Now with the next hike in fuel prices just about every aspect of our daily lives will be affected. As a manufacturer of model railroad products we sell to other manufacturers, wholesale distributors, retail dealers, and direct retail customers. In this we are faced with the rising costs in having raw materials shipped to us and finished products shipped to our customers. We pay the shipping for the material and products we have sent to us thus increasing our overhead costs. It is a constant battle to adjust shipping costs to our customers regardless of the shipper, the postal rates have just went up and the other shippers are charging fuel surcharges, special fees, and insurances. We presently charge a minimum S&H fee on all orders just to help us recover the increasing costs of labor and shipping. For those of you that may not be in a manufacturing business, if you could track a product from it’s birth to consumer or “cradle to grave” you could never imagine the actual costs involved in that long process. These costs, unfortunately, have to be past down to the consumer or end user. One of the major business concerns of upper management, in any business, is to be able to market a product (or service) at a fair competitive price to the consumer and still be able to recover the cost of making that product and hopefully be able to make a profit. Thus staying in business and paying a living wage to their employees so they can afford the increases in the cost of living, oh what a circle it all is.
USA Quality (May 2008)
The #206 is an all plastic coupler height gauge that can be placed on a live powered track without shorting it out. It uses our whisker couplers and has a coupler box mounting height feature.
The new #322 is a thinner version of the between the rails #321 uncoupler. So now you do not have to trim the ties down in code 83 track for an uncoupler. The #322 will fit into code 83 track like the #321 fits into code 100 track.
The #252 draft gear box is a small rounded box like our 30 series box but is designed for our newer whisker couplers. It has a snap on lid and can be inverted to help achieve the correct coupler height.
Also new is our first released cushioned underframe car. Product #6312 is a MKT 50 foot PS-1 box car with a "functional" cushion underframe. As far as we know it’s the first working cushion underframe in model railroading made on a commercial basis. The centerbeam actually slides independently from the rest of the car. It has a coil spring in the center that "cushions" the impact of coupling and starting and stopping. It’s rather neat to watch the body move gently back and forth during operations.
Another issue I want to address is modelers requests for us to make certain cars. There is nothing wrong with this and we really want to know what the modelers are wanting. However, many think we can produce a new car within a very short time and have no idea what it really takes to do all the tooling and design work for a new car. Mold making, tool and die work is really very time consuming and expensive. We make all of our products right here in our own shop and nothing is made overseas like India, China, or Korea. Since we do not use any glue or adhesives of any kind on our cars there is a great deal of design work involved in getting every part to fit without a visual connection. When we decide on a new car it has to meet certain criteria such as high prototype production numbers, used by as many different roads as possible, not be a car previously "done well" by other manufacturers, and have enough available information to do the car as correctly as possible (photos, drawings, and documentation). Many modelers want us to make their favorite cars that turn out to be rather rare oddities. There simply is no way we can invest in these rare odd cars with such low production numbers and limited use. We’ll leave these cars to the resin makers and other small limited run makers.
Along with the request for new cars we receive many requests for new couplers and redesigned current couplers. We are a company that’s been making couplers since the 1940s and couplers are the back bone of our business. We have many new ideas, designs, and plans to keep up with the market demands and new technology. However, it still is a matter of priorities and time. We are working on many projects with a very long list of projects waiting. Eventually we’ll get to many of the products that have being requested. So don’t hold your breath but keep your eyes open and please do not stop sending your requests and ideas, we do appreciate them.
NEM Couplers and Coupler Height Gauges (April 2008)
We continually receive question about our products that have been addressed in past issues, so I’m going to go through some of these again.
Many modelers believe all of our HO couplers are all metal, however, we do market a number that are not all metal. Our 20 and 30 series couplers have plastic shanks and heads but do have a metal knuckle. Our 40 series couplers are all metal with the same offsets and shank lengths as the 20/30 series. Our 3/4 size #711 and #712 couplers along with the HOn3 #713 and #714 are all plastic couplers. Our NEM #17, #18, #19, and #20 coupler are plastic with metal knuckles. All of our other HO couplers are all metal.
Our "S" scale #802 and #808, "On3" #803 and #807 couplers are all plastic. Our "O" scale #805 is all metal and the "O" scale #806, #804, #801, and #800 are all plastic. All of our #1 scale (1:32 ratio) couplers are plastic with metal knuckles and our "G" scale couplers are all plastic. All of our couplers in all scale operate with the delayed action feature.
The difference between our standard trucks and our "self-centering" trucks: Is when you pick the car up with these self-centering trucks they will center and be aligned with the length of the car. This means that you can set the car on the track with no or very little fiddling with the trucks to get the wheels set correctly on the rails. They have a special bushing with a wedge that fits into the bolster so when the car is lifted up the trucks drops onto the wedge thus aligning the truck with the car. When the car is set onto the track the truck is lifted off the bushing and disengages the wedge to pivot freely. The standard trucks are simply mounted with a screw and needs to ride on a flat surface. All of our trucks are designed to use a #2 screw (usually a 2-56 screw). They require a flat surface so usually you’ll need to cut off any posts from the original car bolster.
We are introducing some new products, last month the #206 HO coupler height gauge and this month the #322 code 83 uncoupler.The #206 is an all plastic coupler height gauge that can be placed on a live powered track without shorting it out. It uses our whisker couplers and has a coupler box mounting height feature.The new #322 is a thinner version of the between the rails #321 uncoupler. So now you do not have to trim the ties down in code 83 track for an uncoupler. The #322 will fit into code 83 track like the #321 fits into code 100 track.The #252 draft gear box is a small rounded box like our 30 series box but is designed for our newer whisker couplers. It has a snap on lid and can be inverted to help achieve the correct coupler height.
Coupler Basics and How-To (March 2008)
It seems that I need to address a few issues about couplers again. We have been receiving quite a number of inquiries about the simple basics of coupler mounting. The following comments apply to all model railroading scales that use functional knuckle couplers. Many problems with couplers can be avoided if the modeler will "spend enough time" making sure their couplers are at the proper height, securely mounted, and fine tuned where needed.
"All" of your couplers need to be mounted at the "same" height and be as level as possible with no droop or slant. Even if the coupler pocket (draft gear box) is level the coupler itself may not fit into the box properly and droop or at least have some vertical play. Check all of your couplers with one of our coupler height gauges or a gauge made to indicate the NMRA Standards (S-1) for coupler heights of the particular scale you are working with. Our coupler height gauges will help you with proper coupler heights and proper trip pin heights. Many modelers complain about the trip pins hanging up in their track work. This, most often, indicates the coupler is not mounted correctly. It’s either mounted too low or it is drooping which drops the trip pin low enough to hang up in the track work. Before you adjust the trip pin always check the coupler height and mounting. Make sure the cover plate, or lid, does not flex down under the pulling pressure of the couplers. Check the vertical play, couplers that move up and down too much will tend to want to slide out of each other. Too much play will cause lots of problems.
In our HO coupler line we have various offset couplers that help compensate for coupler heights that are too high or too low. Each offset is .050" higher or lower than the center set shank couplers such as the NO.5® coupler.
We do not produce an HO "scale head" offset coupler because the smaller head does not allow enough offset to make much of a coupler height difference. Also, because an offset scale head coupler looks really ugly. What’s the point of a scale head coupler if you ruin the looks with an offset shank. The unfortunate part is many modelers that use the scale head couplers have models that are difficult to adjust the coupler height without using an offset coupler.
We do not have offset couplers in S or O scale but we do in the large scales #1 and G.Most of the popular On30 models are made to use the standard HO size of coupler mounted at the HO scale coupler height. However, there are many that use regular On3 couplers. Since On30 runs on HO gauge track you need to use either our #205 or #206 HO coupler height gauge when using HO size of coupler or our #815 coupler height gauge when using On3 couplers like our #803/807 couplers on On30 models.
Aristo-Craft and USA Trains (February 2008)
This series is to help answer the many questions about Kadee® products and to provide "Helpful Hints" to modelers using our products.We recently have seen two of the new Aristo-Craft locomotives that many large scale modelers have been requesting for a Kadee® coupler conversion for. The following has not yet been formally written up and posted on our web site nor in our printed conversion listings.
First thing I wish to mention is that many of the Aristo-Craft and USA Trains coupler mounting pedestals seem to be weak and have too much flex for a good solid coupler mounting. Most of the time if we can not easily fit a coupler to the pedestal we’ll remove it and build a platform to body mount a coupler.
Aristo-Craft E-8/9 locomotive: The pedestal on the particular locomotive we converted was very weak feeling and flexed far too much for our liking. I decided to cut the pedestals out and body mount our #830 coupler (or #1 scale #820 coupler). I made a .100" thick shim platform and attached it to the floor with a couple of screws. Then attached the coupler with a screw through the center of its’ box and platform then into the floor. The thickness of the platform will depend on the individual model so use our #880 (or #829 #1 scale) coupler height gauge to check the mounting platform height and later the coupler height. You’ll find this method of body mounting the coupler is so much more solid and secure than the pedestal coupler mounting.
Aristo-Craft GP-40 locomotive: The pedestal on this locomotive is still a bit weak feeling but the way the coupler sets into the opening makes it just secure enough. I used a #787 medium offset coupler (#1787 #1 scale). It is very difficult to remove the original coupler from the pedestal. I removed the wire centering spring then removed the screw holding the coupler to the pedestal. The coupler will not lift off the pedestal because of the end sill. I could not find an easy way of disassembling the front and rear body work (end sills) so I carefully used my hobby saw and cut the back end of the coupler off just in front of the pedestal and behind the end sill. Take care not to cut into the wires going through the opening. Aristo-Craft certainly did not design their coupler mounting very user friendly and gave little regard for changing couplers or even the maintenance of their own coupler. If any modeler out there finds a way to easily remove the original coupler please let me know. To fit the #787 coupler onto the pedestal I first drilled a 15/64 hole in the box shank in the center of the well. I then cut the shank shorter by a half leaving enough for the back wall of the new hole. Trim down the sides of the shank flush with the inside surface. When you see the #787 box you’ll know what I’m talking about. Drill and tap the pedestal for a 4-40 x 3/8" screw, slip the coupler through the opening and over the pedestal so the box is just inside of the opening. Use a plastic washer, or hand made shim as a washer, with one side cut to fit the back of the coupler box. Then set the screw and washer in place and tighten securely. Check the coupler height. Take note that this worked on the particular model than I had in hand and you may have to make minor adjustments for your model.
If any modeler finds a better way of attaching a Kadee® coupler to these locomotives please let me know, I’m always open to better ideas.
On30 Scale and New Whisker Couplers (January 2008)
This new series is to help answer the many questions about Kadee® products and to provide "Helpful Hints" to modelers using our products.We at Kadee Quality Products hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas and will be having a Happy New Year.Now you have to put away the decorations, clean up, and finish off the leftovers. Then perhaps think about going back to work or, at least, think about putting all the stuff you got for Christmas to use on your layout.
This month I’m going to briefly hit on a few items that keep coming up.Many On30 modelers have been inquiring about Kadee® Couplers for the Bachmann models. Most often our newer #148 whisker coupler will work just fine in most of these models.Mounting Kadee® trucks require you to cut off the extending post or boss that the original trucks slipped over. Our trucks are made to be mounted with a #2 screw such as a 2-56 screw. On less expensive cars with large mounting holes you need to fill in the hole and drill a new smaller hole.We "do not" provide a coupler mounting service. I do mount couplers on customers models if I do not have the information or that particular model available to me for a coupler conversion. This way we have the conversion info to pass along without having to acquire a new model ourselves and the customer has a Kadee® coupler conversion.
We do not offer bulk discounts to individuals but only to our authorized dealers and manufacturers. This way we do not under cut our dealers because they are the back bone of our sales. Each particular item costs the same to make regardless of how many we produce.Because of the increasing costs of material we have had to raise our prices a couple of times in the last few years and we expect that we’ll have to again.Every product we make is made 100% right here in our shop in White City, Oregon, U.S.A.
We no longer make or market "N" or "Z" scale products. In 1990 Kadee® and Micro-Trains split into two totally separate companies. Kadee® makes only HOn3 up to G scale products and Micro-Trains makes only N and Z products and recently a few HOn3 products.Keith Edwards (Micro-Trains) is retired and living in southern California and Dale Edwards (Kadee®) still comes to work just about every day.
We now offer our #153 short, #158 medium, and #156 long shanked scale head whisker couplers along with the standard head #148 whisker coupler. Presently we have no plans to make an offset version of our scale head couplers but we will be making offset standard head couplers as the 140 series (148).There are a number of very old products that we’ll eventually discontinue along with a few items that were made for a special purpose that no longer exists.And finally, we have no plans to reintroduce the "Twin Rail Spiker" we do have a very limited supply of parts and we still make the spikes.
Essential Skills (January 2007)
Now that everybody is playing with all their new Christmas train presents and needing to install Kadee® couplers I’ll give you some basic principles of coupler installation. The most important is to make sure all of your coupler are at the same height and as level as possible. Learn how to drill and tap screw holes at least in plastic. Learn how our couplers work then you’ll know why it’s important to get the mounting correct. When properly mounted a coupler should be at the correct height, level, on the centerline, and “snap” back to center when you flip it back and forth.
By using our coupler height gauges, coupler conversion lists, and instructions you should be able to mount couplers on just about any model made. If you just can not figure out what coupler to use or how to install it then it’s best to contact Kadee® (me) to at least get pointed in the right direction.
We commend hobby shops, clubs, and individuals who will spend time helping others enjoy this hobby and especially those who will help modelers install Kadee® couplers properly. Our web site (kadee.com) has a coupler conversion section that provides a great deal of help.
Large Scale (February 2007)
I’m going to touch on a few “Large Scale” issues that we continually receive inquiries about. In our terms “Large Scale” refers to #1 (1:32 ratio) up to Fn3 (1:20.3 ratio). All of these and the in between scales run on the common 45 mm gauge track, which is actually #1 scale standard gauge track and in actuality is narrow gauge track for the other large scales. LGB more or less began producing commercial large scale model railroad equipment in 1968 for garden (outside) railroading. Thus the terminology of “G” scale came from the LGB term (German) “Gatenbahn”. Now, unfortunately, all of these large scales are generally referred to as “G” gauge or “G” scale modeling. “G” scale actually is 1:24 (1/2”) and 1:22.5.
The NMRA was slow to address this large scale issue and unfortunately, manufacturers had few guidelines to go by so ended up building their models in a number of different scale ratios that may not match each others equipment. Most of them made their own proprietary coupler styles at various heights but usually lower than the prototype couplers. That’s why there is so much confusion in large scale modeling and that is why we are in business.
Kadee® large scale couplers come in #1 scale (1:32) and G scale (1:24) and are designed so the coupler head is mounted at the correct prototypical height. Both sizes are used on all large scale models regardless of the actual scale of the model. So those of you large scalers can choose either our #1 scale or G scale couplers. Many modelers will use the larger G scale couplers because they have a larger pulling face to help compensate for rough trackage. Some use the smaller #1 scale couplers because they look better size wise and many narrow gauge railroads use 3/4 size equipment where the smaller coupler would actually be appropriate.
NEM Couplers (March 2007)
For those of you that are into European style models both in HO (1:87) and OO (1:76.2) scale I hope the following comments will answer some of the issues regarding European models.
European modeling within the USA is a very small percentage compared to American style of modeling. In Europe they have the NEM which is their equivalent of our NMRA. The NEM has standards just as the NMRA and their NEM 362 coupler pocket is what we deal with most often. Many but not all European models use the NEM 362 snap in coupler pocket. Because of this we developed four lengths of knuckle couplers to fit into the NEM pocket. They are shortest to longest #17, #18, #19, and #20 NEM couplers. These couplers have a flexible “dove tail” shank that simply snaps into the NEM pocket. Compared to standard HO scale couplers they have a very large offset upward to compensate for the difference between the NMRA and NEM coupler heights. Because they snap into the pocket some modelers try to use our NEM couplers in the dummy coupler pilots of American style steam locomotives. This rarely works because of the large offset, where most dummy couplers are actually at the correct NMRA coupler heights. Our NEM coupler works just fine in HO scale European models, however, there are many OO scale models that also have NEM coupler pockets. Unfortunately, the coupler heights for OO scale models is slightly higher than HO coupler heights. OO scale coupler height is 29/64” (12 mm) and HO scale coupler height is 25/64” (9.9 mm) measured from the top of the rail to the “center” of the coupler. This means if you use our NEM coupler in an OO scale model the coupler will be too high to function with HO height couplers and our magnetic uncouplers. This may be OK if all your models are OO scale and you use a manual uncoupling tool. To lower the OO NEM coupler to HO height we use our long #20 coupler and attach it to the “bottom” of the OO scale NEM pocket with small screws through the shank.
For European models without the NEM pocket it’s a matter of custom fitting a Kadee coupler to a level mounting platform. I usually try to use the #38 coupler or the longer #36 coupler because of the smaller versatile draft gear box. Since we have not seen that many European models our coupler conversion information is very limited so we handle these on an individual basis. So if you have a European model and wish to convert it to Kadee couplers please contact us and we’ll try to help as much as possible.
Trucks (April 2007)
We get quite a number of inquires about our “trucks” and in this issue I’ll try to address some of these questions. Kadee markets three basic designs of freight car trucks in various styles. We “do not” make passenger car trucks. We have our standard trucks, self centering trucks, and trucks with couplers mounted on them. All of our trucks are all metal, fully sprung, and come with wheelsets with metal wheels and plastic axles. The plastic axles giving it the needed insulation. Our standard trucks are designed to mount on a flat surface using a #2 screw. Many freight cars have a post the trucks fit over and on these you need to trim off the post and make a level surface for the trucks to ride on. Our self centering trucks have a wedge shape bushing inside the bolster. When you lift the car up, the trucks fall over this bushing and self align with the car body. This reduces the time and fooling around getting the wheels set on the rails. When the car is on the rails the truck lifts and the wedge is disengaged to pivot freely. Our trucks with couplers attached come with the trucks assembled but the coupler needs to be assembled. The coupler is our older #4 in a special metal box. This coupler can be a challenge to assemble with the tiny coil spring and dowel. A helpful hint is to glue the spring into the back of the slot to help get it assembled and set in the box.
We make quite a number of different styles and if you are interested in being prototypically correct the best thing to do is find a photo or documentation on the car you have to see what type of truck was used on the real car. Many manufacturers try to install the correct trucks, however, you’ll find the less expensive and older models may not have the correct trucks. Generally speaking, the Bettendorf style and A-3 Ride Control are the most popular for the late steam and transition era, the Arch Bar is most popular in the early 1900s into the 1940s, the 70 and 100 ton Roller Bearing trucks started in the late 1950s and are now the only style used in the modern era.
We do not have a conversion chart for trucks as we do for couplers. This is because our trucks can be adapted to almost any freight car, even the less expensive and older cars with large mounting holes. There are many ways to fill in the large holes so you can drill a new smaller hole for a #2 screw.
Prototypical Couplers (May 2007)
This month I’m going to “briefly” talk about prototypical coupler designs.
Prior to the development of the “knuckle” coupler in the 1880s, most American railroads were using some form of a “link and pin” coupling. This was basically a “link” of chain (or the end of a draw bar) set into a pocket with a “pin” through it to hold it in place. This method, of course, had it’s advantages but many more safety and convenience disadvantages. Through the years many coupling devices were tried until finally a dependable “knuckle coupler” design came into being. This was the Janney design which was eventually adopted by the MCB (ARA then AAR) in the 1890s, also an improved design came along as the “Tower” coupler of 1893. Then through a continuum of development an improved design of the Janney coupler became standard in 1904. With great effort and testing and constant improvement of the 1904 design in 1916 the MCB Type “D” coupler became standard. The MCB 10 became standard in 1918 and finally with more developments the MCB 10A became todays’ standard Type “E” coupler in 1932.
So on a modeling stand point the majority of couplers on the market represent the Type “E” coupler. But in general appearances the “scale” couplers presently marketed can be used to represent the early Janney couplers. This means modelers in any scale can use knuckle couplers for models back to the 1880s and be, at least functionally and in general appearance, prototypical.
Specialty couplers began to appear experimentally in the late 1930s and in 1947 the Type “H” was standardized. The Type “H” sometimes know as the “Triple Lock” or “Tightlock” and, because of it’s safety features, was used on the newly developed high speed passenger trains.
The first interlocking coupler use for freight cars was the Type “F” coupler introduced in the 1940s was made Alternate Standard in 1954. The Type “F” coupler is basically a Type “H” coupler with an additional bottom shelf. Then in the late 1960s the top and bottom shelf Type “SF” coupler was developed and standardized in 1970 for hazardous material tank cars. During this same time period the Type “E” coupler with a bottom shelf was developed as the Type “SBE” and the Type “SE” top and bottom shelf came later on. Both the Type “SF” and “SE” couplers were standard for tank cars in 1975 then eventually became mandatory for hazardous material cars. Also, the Type “F” coupler head is used for the “rotary” couplers found on many coal hauling cars.
Please note the Type “H”, “F”, and “SF” are larger totally different designs than the more common Type “E”, “SBE”, and “SE” couplers. In scale model railroading they should not be mistaken as the same size of couplers. Kadee® #118 Type “SF” coupler is actually a scale size coupler that if compared to the smaller Type “E” scale couplers will seem way over scale but it’s not.
Our #118 coupler can be modified to represent the Type “F” or “H” couplers. Also, Our #118 is an actual functional shelf coupler, meaning the couplers will not slip out of each other during operations.
Most of the above information came from the NMRA and “The Car and Locomotive Cyclopedias”.
Coupler Conversions (June 2007)
This month I’m going to explain a bit about coupler conversions. Not necessarily how to do a coupler conversion but rather what we go through and a little history we’ve been a part of.
Many years ago when we started to make functional knuckle couplers there was a basic problem of how to mount them and by what standards. At that time there were very few if any coupler standards. This meant that any manufacturer making couplers were left alone to use what ever method matched their own proprietary coupler and uncoupling system. Of course, this meant that the modeler was left with using the coupler that came with the model or “custom” fitting another make of coupler such as a Kadee®. We took it upon ourselves to compile information about how to mount Kadee® couplers to the many different models made through the years. We always try to have an actual model in our hands to do a coupler conversion so we had to acquire models from all the various makers in order to determine which Kadee coupler best suited that particular model and to write the instructions where even the most novice modeler with the basic modeling tools could accomplish the conversion. Fortunately, there were many models that were made to accommodate Kadee® couplers yet, unfortunately, so many were made that needed extensive modification to get a Kadee® coupler mounted correctly and at the correct coupler height.
Thanks to the N.M.R.A. and certain individuals, through the years standards began to appear and many manufacturers actually followed them but there were, and still are, some that have given little regard to coupler standards.
Today with most if not all manufacturers using some form of a knuckle coupler you’d imagine that they would have followed the basic standards and made their coupler pockets all to the same standards. To a certain extent, many have done wonderful and should be commended, however, there are some that still give little regard to couplers and to proper correct coupler mounting. So we still have to spend a great deal of time doing coupler conversions and finding ways to adjust coupler heights even on models that have very nice coupler pockets. In the past we had a very small selection of couplers with the common NO.5® being the back bone of our coupler line. So the modeler had to do a lot of modifying to get a coupler mounted. Now, fortunately, we have the largest coupler selection available and with all the different offsets and shank lengths we’ve eliminated a lot of “hacking and whacking” that was common with earlier coupler conversions.
We now have an extensive amount of coupler conversions, mostly in HO scale but also many large scale conversions. We provide coupler conversion lists and many drawings and instructions that are not covered in the individual couplers instructions. We have these available on our web site or, upon request, in printed form (an S.A.E. would be appreciated) These are provided at “no cost” just for the asking. Although we have a very large listing there are many models we have not seen so if you can not find the conversion information you need please contact us.
Uncoupling and Uncouplers Pt. 1(July 2007)
“Uncoupling” and uncouplers are subjects that need to be covered in a bit more detail than I’ve done in the past.
I’m sure most of the modelers that were around in the 1940s and early 1950s remember the many different couplers being tried and used during that era. Kadee’s first couplers first introduced in 1946 used an in-track tripping device. Then in the late 1950s we developed our “Delayed Magne-Matic Uncoupling®” and it is still the primary method of uncoupling to this day. That’s almost 50 years of use and it will be in use for many more years to come.
Kadee offers two types of magnets for uncoupling, permanent, and electric magnets. The permanent magnets are magnetized permanently so the magnetic force (flux) is available (on) all the time. Electric uncouplers are magnetized (activated) only when switched on. We offer between the rails and under the track permanent magnetic uncouplers for HOn3 up to 45 mm gauge (large scale) and offer electric uncouplers for HOn3 up to O gauge.
Uncoupling occurs when the couplers are spotted over the magnet and you allow slack between them. The magnetic flux is on the out side edges so the “trip pins” are pulled in opposite directions thus opening the couplers. I’ll cover the actual “Delayed” subject in my next months article. One point I do wish to make is the term “trip pin” this is the metal wire curving down from the bottom of the coupler head. The term is a left over from the old straight pin used on our older couplers that was “tripped” by a in the track device. Now it is curved for the use of magnetic force to open the couplers. Being curved many modelers mistakenly call it the “air hose” or “glad hand”. We never intended it to represent the air hose and it’s called that just because it is curved.
There are many modelers that prefer to manually uncouple their couplers and many clubs and groups that use a “brakeman” to go around the layout and do the uncoupling using some sort of tool. This method is just fine for those who wish to “play the part” or for those that do not wish to or have not learned the basics of using Magne-Matic® uncoupling. Many variations of manual uncoupling tools are in use. Anything from skewers, drill bits, screw drivers, or commercially made tools like our #241 Dual Tool. You usually slip the tool between the knuckles and give it a slight twist and the couplers will pop open. There are places on certain layouts this could be difficult where the “brakeman” can not reach the couplers or buildings and scenery might get in the way. Magnetic uncoupling is a complete hands off system and when the uncouplers are placed strategically and you spend enough time learning and fine tuning your operations you’ll enjoy all aspects of model railroading to the fullest.
There are a number of remote electric actuated couplers being used in three rail O scale modeling and a few attempts in others scales but these couplers are limited to locomotives and have their development issues. With the popularity of DCC and other computer operated layouts and locomotives you’d imagine that there would be remote couplers available. But I’m sure eventually somebody will be able to over come the development costs and mechanical engineering issues and put a remote coupler on the market that the average modeler could afford. But until then we’ll continue to manually uncouple or use the legendary time tested Magne-Matic® uncoupling.
Uncoupling and Uncouplers Pt. 2 (August 2007)
This month is a continuation of last months comments about our “Delayed Magnetic Uncoupling®” system (Magne-matic®).
We have two types of uncouplers in HO delayed and non-delayed, the #312 is a non-delayed uncoupler. It is narrower than our delayed uncoupler magnets so it only opens the couplers just enough to uncouple them but not wide enough for the delayed position. “All” of our other magnetic uncouplers including HOn3, HO, Sn3, S, On3, O, and large scale are all “delayed” uncouplers. Delayed uncouplers are wide enough to open the couplers to the delayed position. This means that as long as the couplers are over the magnet, you can push back into the open couplers and they will not recouple or lock up. The recentering is now “delayed” and the “thumbs” (non moving part) of the coupler heads are pushing into the open coupler keeping the knuckles (moving part of the head) from closing and locking up. As long as you have continual pressure against the couplers you can push the uncoupled cars anywhere on your layout. When you stop and “spot” the car and pull away, the couplers will recenter and are now ready to be coupled again. When all your couplers and uncouplers are mounted correctly the “Delayed Magnetic Uncoupling®” system is a complete “hands off” system. It is so well known that most model railroad companies (up through O scale) have either copied (the couplers and uncouplers) or have made provisions for the use of the Delayed Magne-matic® Uncoupling system. Kadee® is the only known company that offers large scale magnetic uncoupling in #1 and “G” scales, however, a number of large scale manufacturers are now making provisions on their models for truck and body mounted Kadee® couplers. Both Kadee® and the modelers appreciate this a great deal.
A few very important basic principals for couplers and uncouplers are: To have all your couplers at the same correct coupler height and mounted as level and to center as possible. Make sure each coupler has plenty of clearance and the coupler “snaps” back to center when it’s flipped back and forth. Each uncoupler needs to be mounted as designed and as recommended in the instructions, centered properly, and mounted at the correct height and not just “eye balled”. Drooping or slanted, too high or too low couplers will bring nothing but trouble to your operations. Take enough time and get your uncouplers and couplers mounted correctly and you’ll enjoy model railroading so much more. Enjoyment is what this hobby is all about and we’ll do all we can to help you enjoy it and Kadee® products.
Large Scale Troubleshooting (September 2007)
Through this summer I’ve had many calls about large scale couplers and I’m going to address a couple of the more simple common questions.
Our two most common large scale couplers are the truck mounted #831 coupler and the body mounted #830 coupler. Both are 1:24 “G” scale couplers and their #1 scale 1:32 equivalents are the truck mounted #1831 and body mounted #820 couplers. Most of our other large scale couplers are made for certain types of models or particular conversions. We do use a number of these on more models than is usually listed.
The #831 coupler fits on “most” manufacturer’s truck mounted coupler arms (draw bars, tongues). It has a very large offset (gooseneck upward) that brings the coupler head to a more prototypical height. The #831 has a draft gear box that fits the common mounting arm that has a nub (boss or button) on the tip with a ridge down the center. Most often it’s best to cut the nub off and slide the coupler inward on the arm for a closer coupling. The major issue with this type of mounting is many of these mounting arms are too flexible and under a certain amount of pulling weight they flex up or down causing the couplers to want to slip out of each other.
The type of draft gear box used with the #831 coupler is used on many of our other couplers. Using this same box, in addition to the #831 large offset coupler, we offer the medium offset #787 (#1787 #1 scale) and the centerset #789 (#1789 #1 scale).
The body mounted #830 coupler has a very large draft gear box and it’s #1 scale equivalent is the #820 coupler. However, unlike the #831 and the #1831 using the same draft gear box, the #830 and #820 couplers, although having the same designs, are completely different sizes and do not have interchangeable boxes or couplers.
In the past, using the body mounted #830 or #820 couplers was a matter of “custom fitting” the coupler to the underbody of the model and getting it mounted at the correct height. Now there are several manufacturers that are making nice mounting platforms to easily mount our #830 coupler to their models. Most of them are made for the #830 coupler except for the MTH 1:32 models that are made for the #1 scale #820 coupler. If you wish to use the smaller #1 scale #820 coupler on platforms made for the “G” scale #830 coupler you will have to use a shim about .100” thick to bring the coupler down to the correct #1 scale coupler height. Also, you’ll need to drill new mounting holes for the #1 scale coupler and move the coupler forward to compensate for the spacing between cars.
We do not offer large scale couplers that are offset downward because we have rarely found a need for it. Also, we do not have offset couplers for the #830 or #820 types of boxes, again there has been little need.
Use our #880 “G” scale or our #829 #1 scale coupler height gauges to make sure all your couplers are at the same height. The coupler height gauges also will indicate the mounting platform height for body mounted couplers. Remember, if you have a question regarding Kadee® products feel free to simply ask Kadee®.
Changing for the Better (October 2007)
This new series is to help answer the many questions about Kadee® products and to provide “Helpful Hints” to modelers using our products.
This month’s subject is “Changing for the better”. Kadee has been in business since the 1940s and has had very few changes in the way we do business. For many reasons we have tried not to pre announce new products or our monthly release of new road names for our freight cars. However, with growing modern electronic technology and a continually changing competitive world wide market certain policies must be changed in order to keep our customers as happy as possible.
We began recently to “pre announce” what our up coming monthly road names for freight cars will be. But that’s not all, now we are allowing our customers to “pre-order” our cars. This way our customers will have a way to make sure they can get the cars of their choice before they are sold out.
Each month we’ll post to our web site and have an e-mailed announcement (and a hard copy) sent to our dealers and to our retail customers, who have signed up. The posting and announcement now have the current and at least two months of up coming releases. Now the customer and dealers will not only know what we will be working on but be able to pre-order and better plan for future purchases. Kadee will also benefit (of course) in that we’ll have a better idea of how many cars to produce to satisfy our customers and to better control our inventory which reduces costs (and taxes).
October’s announcement not only has October's cars but also November, December & January’s cars and November’s announcements will have December, January & February’s cars, then so on.
Eventually we’ll reduce the amount of hard copy fliers we mail out and rely more so on our web site and e-mail announcements. However, there are many of our dealers that have not succumbed to the computer world and internet marketing and for these we’ll continue to send out hard copies of our monthly fliers.
Our web site’s home page www.kadee.com has a link to the page for the current flier and for “PRE-ORDERING” or you can go directly there at this following URL
Accucraft Conversions (November 2007)
This new series is to help answer the many questions about Kadee® products and to provide “Helpful Hints” to modelers using our products.
Not long ago we introduced our AAR 50 ton, two bay, offset open hopper. Along with the hopper we released three coal loads as after market products, the hopper comes with smaller size “lump egg” size of load. The other two are the mid size “large lump” and the larger coal size “mine run”. We also attach these to a special weight that drops into the bottom of our cars and we sell these separately too. We feel that these are the finest detailed molded or cast coal loads on the market.
These coal loads will fit into most Athearn, Atlas, Bowser, and MDC (and other makes) two bay open hoppers with no or very little trimming.
I’ve modified them to various degrees to fit down into larger open hoppers then painted them to look like other types of heavier material such as sand or iron ore that would not fill the hopper before going over its’ weight capacity.
They also can be trimmed to fit in many tenders with exposed coal loads which make them look really nice compared to the factory molded in loads.
Recently a large scale modeler sent me the tender from an Accucraft 1:32 scale AMS Big Boy Locomotive for a Kadee® coupler conversion. The following is my official conversion write up.
The all metal construction of this model limits the ability to modify the coupler pocket for a normal functional coupler. However, we managed to fit a #822 into the pocket and modified it to function with a centering system. Fortunately, on the model we converted the coupler pocket was at the correct #1 scale coupler height for the use of the centerset #822 coupler. This does not mean that all of the AMS Big Boy Tenders will have the correct coupler height.
Invert the tender and place on a padded surface or cradle. Remove the coupler pivoting screw and original coupler and retain the screw for later use.
Shorten the shank of the #822 coupler to 1/2” measured from the back of the coupler head. Measure again from the back of the head .280 (9/32”) and on the centerline drill a 7/64” hole through the shank as illustrated. Next drill two shallow 7/64” holes, one on each side of the shank, near the end. Do not drill all the way through because the holes are to retain the coil springs.
We sell three coil springs that are suitable for this conversion #875, #877, and #1875. The #875 (knuckle spring for #820 through #828 and #920 & #921), #877 (centering spring for the #821 & #921 couplers), and #1875 ( knuckle springs for 1700 & 1800 series couplers). The side centering springs will be trimmed to where they just set against the side walls of the pocket without being compressed. Take a spring and insert it into one of the side holes in the shank (make sure it’s seated in the hole as far as it will go), set the coupler into (centered) the pocket just enough to “eye ball” how long the spring should be. Trim the spring with small wire cutters (be safe and always wear eye protection when working with cutting tools) then do the same to the other side. Remove the springs turn them around and put them back in the same holes with the cut end inside, set the coupler all the way into the pocket, and use the original screw to hold the coupler in place. Check and make sure the coupler comes to exact center. Flip it back and forth to make sure of the springs functioning and location. If the coupler does not center properly you’ll have to trim the spring on the strong side to get the proper center location.
Trade Shows (December 2007)
Kadee wishes a heart felt Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!! We also hope that you had a great Thanksgiving.
I’d like to make a few comments on this hobby in relation with “Train Shows”. We just had a wonderful experience at the “Trainfest” train show the first week of November in Milwaukee, WI, just as we did last year. We noticed many different levels of model railroaders came through from those that have been in this hobby for 50+ years to those that came to the show not as model railroaders but for the curiosity or to bring their kids to a wholesome event. If one had the resources they could find model railroad shows all over the country and quite a number outside of the country. These shows come in all sizes from the very large national type to the local railroad club or historical societies shows. They cater to every level of modeling skills and experience, every scale, and just about every prototype interest. Some of the larger shows provide clinics, presentations, historical information, local layout tours, kit building, and many opportunities for hands on experiences for adults and kids. Most shows will have very nice layouts for all to enjoy. At Trainfest we saw every major scale (and gauge) represented with an operating layout from Z scale up to G and Fn3. You should have seen the kids (adult kids too) eyes light up when they seen an operating layout with wonderful scenery to look at. Many shows also allow retail sales by manufacturers, hobby dealers, clubs and historical societies, and individuals. This way merchandise is available for those who get hooked and those who have been hooked for many years. There are shows that have a swap meet atmosphere where one can possibly find great bargains, trade and sell their goods, and perhaps find a rare item they’ve been looking for forever. On the other hand there are shows that only allow newer merchandise to be sold to keep the experience and atmosphere as clean and professional as possible. This is not meant to insult or degrade the swap meet types but to show that there are many different types of shows available. Most of the larger shows will have most of the major manufacturers represented and some have very elaborate displays showing their goods and new products. This is where you can visit each one and talk to their reps to learn what’s going on with their company and product line. In the market place there is very stiff competition between the manufacturers but at the shows there is a certain level of mutual friendship and cooperation.
Perhaps the point I’m trying to get to is that this hobby has many ways of getting into the publics eye and Trade Shows are one of the most enjoyable not only for the attendees but also for the venders and exhibitors. When there is an opportunity to attend a Train Show don’t pass it up, take the family, a friend, a bunch of kids (young and old), go alone if needed, watch the forums and find someone to share the expenses (if you have to travel). Keep watching the Internet and magazines to find when and where the shows are, some might be closer than you think. All of them can be enjoyed and that’s what this hobby is all about.
Athearn Genesis Big Boy (November 2006)
This month I’ve decided to do the coupler conversion on the new Athearn Genesis “Big Boy” and “Challenger” locomotives. Since we just released our new “Scale” head “WHISKER®” Couplers I was able to easily install our short shank #153 scale head coupler. You can use the standard head #148, however, it will protrude a little more than the #153.
The tender was a simple change out, just take theirs out and drop our #153 into their box. Fortunately, the coupler heights came out just right on all three locomotives I converted.
The pilots were a bit more work. Remove the screw holding the plate and swinging grate/dummy coupler. Make a narrow shim from .020” thick stock about 1/16” to 1/8” wide x .300” long. Place this at the back of the coupler platform so the back of the draft gear sits on it. Assemble the coupler so the box portion is the bottom. Slide it onto the platform and align it with the back screw hole. It’s best if you can acquire a shorter screw with the same metric threads as the original. If you can not you will need to use some washers or some sort of spacer on the original screw to be able to hold the coupler box in position. All three locomotives required the little shim to achieve the correct coupler height. Athearn should be commended in getting all the coupler heights consistent, at least on the models I worked on.
New On30 Products (December 2006)
On30 modeling is becoming more and more popular. With this Kadee® has entered the On30 market with our new #300 On30 24” Griffin Wheelsets. Although we have not tried them in but a few manufacturers On30 trucks we have put them into the Bachmann trucks and they look great and roll quite freely. These wheels are just like our HO scale wheelsets with die cast zinc wheels and plastic insulated axles. If you are willing you can ream out the journals in other On30 trucks to fit these new wheelsets. We did this on several San Jaun Car Co. trucks and using “The Tool” the wheels roll really nice.
The other On30 product is the #815 coupler height gauge. This is used when the modeler wishes to use an On3 coupler on their On30 models. Most factory made On30 models are set up to use HO scale couplers that are mounted rather low for On30. This requires the modeler to custom fit On3 couplers and mount them at the correct height. Thus the need of a coupler height gauge that sets on HO gauge track and has the On3 coupler at the correct height. Our #815 is the base from our HO #205 coupler height gauge with a special adapter and our #803 coupler mounted on top. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!