Coupler questions (upgrading)

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Planning on upgrading most if not all rolling stock this fall to Kadee(or equiv). I plan on using all the same brand. My question is should I convert them all to body mount from truck mount? I have about 20% body mount and about the same with metal wheel. I do plan on converting all to metal wheel also, but not ness going to change the trucks out. Have already started adding weight to some to improve performance. I'm not super concerned about looks since the will be moving most of the time or on the floor if my son is at the helm:)


Well-Known Member
That really depends more on your situation. What scale, HO? N? Something else? What is your minimum radius? I model HO and all couplers are body mounted. Most are Kadees and most of those are #5's. I Know many like the smaller heads on the newer #58's but you often don't see them in a train, and esepcailly with longer cars. They can be unforgiving of less than bulletproof track. They also hate vertical curves.

I also use some McHenry couplers, those with the metal knuckle springs. Necessary if you run brass locos. It can avoid fireworks when double heading :D

Smaller minimum radii may force you to keep some truck mounts, especially with six axle motive power and full length passenger cars. I like the reliability of body mounted couplers, especially necessary when backing a train.

Just my thoughts...
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Sorry forgot to include some info.
Ho is scale plan on running 4 axle locos and smaller cars since min radius is 18". I will later have mainline running 24" min and run longer cars and poss 6 axle locos. Modern era no steam locos. I do have elevation changes on curves. Thanks.


Long Winded Old Fart
I only have body mount couplers on all of my rolling stock, but, I also have big curves.
I try to use the Whisker couplers in Kadee wherever possible. I use the #146, 147
& 148's. I have a lot of 6 axle diesels & use the same above couplers in all of them. I don't think you will find that "all" pieces of equipment will use the same couplers. That's why I always keep an asst. of diff. couplers. A lot of my equipment still has #5's where needed, but, as soon as Model Trainstuff gets some more bulk #148's that is what I'm going to use from now on where they fit. I also have some pass. cars that use the body mount wide swing coupler pockets.


play every day
While I haven't converted near as many as Larry (Hi Larry! :) ), I've done enough to discover that Kadee #148's will convert almost all older horn hooked rolling stock, while Kadee #18's convert the newer European rolling stock to knuckles. ;)

Also get a Kadee #205 couple height gauge...

They are indispensible for making sure all your cars will mate up properly at the same height. You can readily find them on ebay.

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I'm just getting back in after 10 years on the sidelines and this coupler thing is confusing with it's huge expansion in those 10 years. When I last bought couplers they were the #5. What is the new coupler that replaces the #5?

Thanks for the help once again.
The Kadee #148 WHISKER coupler is the newest coupler from Kadee that is easier to install than the Kadee #5 coupler since the spring is built into the shank.

Best regards,
Thanks Roto for input. I am leaning towards Kadee but wondered what others thought about the various other brands. I do intend to purchase the height gauge also.


Long Winded Old Fart
I used McHenry couplers for a long time when they 1st came out because they were cheap. But, you get what you pay for. I run long trains w/real loads of coal & heavy loads on flat cars. Kadee's are the "ONLY" coupler that will hold up. The McHenry's break, rip out of the coupler box & won't stand any falls from the tracks. I've also tried many others & had the same problems. I also run some Euro equipment on my layout & the Kadee's are the only one's that stay together.
I've been doing HO Scale since 1961 & back then there were not many choices. I set my couplers on every piece of rolling stock & engine that I have right out of the box. I also use a Micro-Mark coupler heighth gage. To me it's a lot easier to use. Everyone thinks that every item that they buy will match up together out of the box--NOT TRUE--. That's why there are reg.,upper shelf & lower shelf. Long Shank, short shank & close shank. I have 3 compartment boxes w/all kinds of couplers, coupler boxes, coupler box covers, coupler box shims, snap box covers, spring latch covers & snap in box covers. I've also got tons of the old steam engine Kadee couplers.
If you can put 35 coupler springs in 35 couplers in less than 70 seconds then you can learn how to change anykind of coupler to fit whatever you have on your layout. Patience-Patience-Patience. Now, if I had "N" scale I would be lost.:D:p;):):eek::rolleyes::cool::eek:


Well-Known Member

When did you change?????????;):rolleyes::D


You gotten some very good advice! I would also recommend that you go to:

The first topic will give you a list of what coupler fits what car or locomotive, while the second list will supply directions on how to do it.
I didn't. It was an error in the post. Sometimes I think faster than I can type, and this is what happens. I have edited the original post. I have modified or sold off any equipment that came with truck mounted couplers.
As far as I'm concerned, there is no equivilent!

I've tried them all, and except for a couple of apllicatioins, I'll use nothing but KaDees from now on!

To bring this up to date, I'd hazard a guess that the Walthers Protomax couplers are darn close to equivelent to KD, they look to be dead ringers and made of metal to boot. Being metal I'd hazard they will stand up to abuse and super long trains.

I've never been one to simply attach to a brand just for brands sake. Up until Walthers Protomax, KD was the only metal HO coupler which was commonly usuable (Seargents probably don't mate with KD's and KD clones) and therefore by default was the most durable and reliable.

As far as the comment above that HO is only body mount, lets just clarify that there have been a few hobbiests that have "train set" HO freight cars and especially some of the older ones like Tyco and the like were truck mount couplers. So there have been a few modelers who have converted those to body mount, although most of the train set freight cars look too toylike without modification to be placed along side of the other Athearn, MDC, Genesis, Walthers, Intermountain, ExactRail etc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to