Operational Uncoupling

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Registered Member
Staff member
Hi All, when operating your trains during a session, How do you uncouple the cars?
As I get closer to operating on a somewhat regular basis, I'm trying to decide which is the best method for myself. I can't say I'm overly impressed with the Kadee magnets between the rails. Seems kind of iffy and not overly consistant to me. I purchased one of the RIX hand held uncouplers with the magnets on the sides. Works every time "IF" I get slack in the couplers by nudging one of the cars by hand. Today I noticed somewhere someone used a kind of a pick (sharp and flattened on one end) inserted between the coupler jaws and with a twist of the device, opened the couplers. I have one area that qualifies for maybe an electomagnetic uncoupler to keep the elbows out of the planned scenery. So my friends I am quite interested in " How do you do it?"
Cheers Willis
I use bamboo skewers as picks. As they get dull, sharpen them with a pencil sharpener. (When they get dull they stop working so well.) The narrow ones can also work, you can also use them to fiddle with the magnetic gladhands, since they are slim enough to use as a substitute for a 1:87 brakeman, heh.

I don't like the inflexibility of track mounted magnets, and I don't like the bulky rix setups. Besides, if you use picks, you can, if you choose, snip the gladhands off your Kadees, much improving appearance, and reducing issues like dragging through high grade crossings and turnout frogs, etc....

Also, I dip the handles of my picks into a bucket of red latex paint. Makes them easier to find and more comfortable to hold -- thick coat of paint = no splinters.
I also use the skewers method, except I made some plastic ones. They seem to work just fine, other than a stubborn car once and a while, Then I use the hand of god method! :rolleyes:


Registered Member
Staff member
Thank's guys, Sounds like the way to go. One thing I have plenty of ( if I can find them) is bamboo skewers. I'll give that a try, maybe, just maybe I can get away without installing a electromagnet uncoupler in an area that is reachable but up high. Most other places are easy to get at. What do you do, just push the pointed end into the coupler jaws? Guess I'll have to experiment a bit first.
Cheers Willis


Registered Member
Staff member
Hi again ABC and AK, well I just came up from the train room, feeling pretty good. The bamboo skewers worked great except the point was getting a little ragged. Then I noticed a little plastic device (I used for spreading solder paste) cleaned it and tried it it was also great. I believe it was originaly intended for cherrys in a drink or something like that. It comes to a point and two of the sides are tapered sort of flat, works real good. Don't know where they came from but I know there is more of them somewhere. I've also determined that since I can uncouple on the sidings, I no longer have need of the electromagnet uncoupler in front of the turnout points. My thanks again for more good info, and on the plus side of things, it will save me a bundle of $$ that will be better spent on other things.
Cheers Willis
CB&CNSfan said:
My thanks again for more good info, and on the plus side of things, it will save me a bundle of $$ that will be better spent on other things.
Plus, since you can uncouple anywhere now, it is more prototypical! :D


Registered Member
Staff member
Gosh so many handy things and the price is right too, think I'll bid on another loco on ebay tomorow with some of my savings. I can see now I'll never run out uncouplers.
bamboo skewers as picks.
Well it seems I have lots of bamboo skewers, was going to use them for tree trunks, don't need that many trees anyway
Kadee has come up with an uncoupling pick at a very cheap price
Went to the Kadee site, but I guess they haven't updated as of yet. They have some kind of a starter set that has a somewhat pointed probe in it so maybe that was it.
I have use the McDonald coffee stirrers. Definitely cheap.
Funny but I have quite a bundle of them also. Always figured they were good for something and they are stored with the aquarium stuff. Hmm perhaps I should sell that stuff too and get more and better trains :D
Then I noticed a little plastic device I believe it was originaly intended for cherrys in a drink or something like that
Found another of the plastic dodads, I was using it for stirring paint, it now has a new use.

Anyone else do it differently?

Cheers Willis


Last month I read a review of new tool available for uncoupling. It looked like a stick with a magnet; I also think it had a screwdriver. It sold in the
$6-$7 range.

Long story short, I can no longer find the magazine. Did anyone else see this and can you tell me who makes it. The review was very positive.
For Kadees, I'm fond of small Phillips screwdrivers. Just push the slack in a little, insert the screwdriver in the gap between knuckles, and twist. If that doesn't work, then I use the hand-of-god. I haven't yet seen any magnetic devices that work even halfway decently.

However, I don't have many screwdrivers sitting around my layout for this purpose, as I use Sergent Engineering couplers instead of Kadees. These use a little magnetic stick to uncouple, and work quite well if I was patient when building the coupler!

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