|Modelling couplings in OO
The ideal is of course to replicate the real thing, and this is now becoming quite feasible. The biggest hinderance to modellers is the cronically sharp curves still common on many layouts, but even so, recent developments have made it possible to make serious visual and operational improvements.
Having a fresh sheet of paper so to speak, I decided to have as many items of rolling stock as possibe fitted with real life type couplings. The problem being that generally SR passenger stock has buckeyes, and locos and wagons scewlink or similar. While a real life Buckeye can be dropped to allow a screw link on a loco to couple, this isn't practical on the model. I therefore decided to fit loco tenders, and bunkers, and both ends of Diesels & electric locos, as well as the ends of carriage sets, and both ends of "loose" vehicles with Buckeyes. Wagons and parcels vans would have to have a mixtue. I group wagons in small rakes of three's or fours with Screw link or three link between and Buckeyes on the outer ends. The preference for Buckeyes is to allow realistic shunting to occur, and the model Buckeyes (as supplied by the US firm Kadee) allow for realistic uncoupling, and delayed uncoupling with the use of hidden under track magnets. No unsightly and unrealistic uncoupling ramps!
Cost was also a factor but when I discovered that Kadees usually cost between £3 & £4 for FOUR couplings, this compares very favourably with even the cost of a simple packet of replacement couplings from Hornby or Bachmann. In addition as most new British outline models now come fitted with a standard NEM coupling pocket, and Kadee now produce their coupling on a NEM shank, this allows a simple clip fit of their coupling. The use of a Kadee Buckeye allows gaps between vehicles to be reduced, and a Godsend for many, a choice of four different lengths of NEM shank cater for most problematically sharp curves, certainly down to 3ft radius, and in many cases even sharper curves. The four NEM shank Kadees are listed as Nos: 17, 18, 19 & 20, where 17 has the shortest shank, and 20 the longest. A number of model shops have also realised the possibilities here, and these coupligs are obviously becoming increasingly popular as word gets around.
For older models not yet fitted with the NEM pocket such as Hornby's Pullmans, it is often possible to simply glue a suitable Kadee to the vehicle. In many cases a No 17,18, 19 or 20 will suffice, but sometimes (such as the case of Unrebuilt Bullied WC & BB's from Hornby), I used the Kadee No 5 which has it's own pocket which can be glued to vehicles. The important factor with Kadees is to mount them exactly at the right height. So that the invisible under track split pole magnets can actuate them. This is best achieved by buying Kadees own Height Jig, which is basically a Kadee mounted in a plastic box, which clips onto any piece of track, so the vehicle being fitted can be checked accurately for height.
The front buffer beam of tender engines and large tanks I fitted with Romford ready made screw link couplings, although I prefer Hornby's metal screw link, as finer, but this is only supplied with the latest steamers it seems. The Romford screw link is fine for this job, but recent purchases of this product have revealed that it is now very stiff, and therefore unsuitable for use as a useable coupling between wagons for example, without a lot of fiddling about to loosen it up! They also work out more expensive than Kadees now!!!
It should be said that the Kadee is visually and operationally very acceptable, but as it is designed primarily with HO scale models in mind, it has to be fitted slightly lower than a real life buckeye would be on a British outline OO scale model, but only slightly.
Additionally I found that one or two British models didn't have their NEM pocket at quite the right height. In some case detaching the NEM pocket and turning it up the other way and slotting it back in solved the problem. Bachmann class 44/45/46 diesels however have to have a new hole made in the front of the bogie, as the only way to get the Kadee to the right height. Good job they weren't too common on the SR!
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This page was created 23 July 2009