Problem with magnetic decoupler

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#1
Hi !
I'm new to the hobby after 40 years ... and now that I have more time and patience (and more then my $1/week allowance :) I'm trying to get back.
Things sure have changed ! I've decided to go with a fully DCC setup and am doing my first small layout for practice, a 1x6 foot, HO "shelf" type just to get familiar with things, practice, fail and learn. Right now I'm experimenting with decouplers. I have a Bachman engine with "EZ Mate" decoupler, and a single car with what looks like a similar (like kadee) decoupler. Both supposedly magnetic.
I bought a Kadee magnetic above-the-ties delay decoupler and am having problems. My boxcar seems to work fine, the decoupler moves to the outside when I stop it over the magnet. But the engine it hardly moves. I can tell its "probably magnetic" because if I move the magnet close enough to it, it will budge just a little, but not enough to decouple. Plus its claimed to be an "EZ Mate" which claims to be magnetic. So I'm guessing it *sould work*.

Any suggestions ? My ideas are

1) Maybe its just "stuck" and there's some way to loosen it up (oil ? unscrewing ? )
2) Maybe I need to replace the coupler with a Kadee
3) Maybe I need a more powerful magnet ... I have ordered a 'below the track' magnet just to try that out. But maybe I need an electromagnet ?
4) Bash it with a hammer until it moves ...

Any other suggestions or ideas on how to diagnose and solve this problem ? I really want to be able to remote decouple because I'm going to be making "shelf layouts" which probably dont have turn-arounds so I'll be focusing on switching and attaching and detaching cars so this is a key concept for me to get right.

Thanks for any ideas

-David
 

Alcomotive

Grandson of ALCO Bldr
#2
Most of use only Kadee exclusively...I throw out all EZ mate etc and use only Kadees because they are not plastic nor will they break. The "trip pins" or MU cables on the couplers work way better for uncoupling.
 
#3
Thank you !
Do you have an example of a "Trip Pin" or "MU" Decoupler ? I've been looking all over the internet and cant find any. When I was a kid Ihad this kind of wire thing that would cause the decoupling but I cant find any nowadays, maybe I just dont know the right term to search. I live 90 miles from amy hobby store so have been relying on the 'web of 1million lies' for everything.
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
#4
A few of things I can offer:

1 - the couplers giving you trouble may not have their trip pin close enough to the magnet. A Kadee coupler gauge will take care of that on all brands of those type couplers. You adjust the pin by carefully bending it to match the Kadee gauge shelf.

2 - as you noted the coupler covers screws may be causing a slight bind on the cover against the shanks. Backing off the screw about 1/8 to 1/4 turn usually fixes this.

3 - I replace all couplers with Kadee as soon as the car or engine comes out of the box. Bachman diesels work well with Kadee #148 whisker couplers but they will bind if the screws are snugged up properly. See #2 above.

4 - the above ties magnet isn't quite as strong as their under track one. Part of this may due a narrower magnetic field but even so I have no problems with properly installed and adjusted couplers. Also be sure you are using the proper above tie magnet for the tracks code. They make them for both code 100 and code 83 track. The code 83 magnet is only .015" thinner but that is enough not to open some couplers when used on code 100 rail.

Hope this helps.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

cajon

Active Member
#5
Most of use only Kadee exclusively...I throw out all EZ mate etc and use only Kadees because they are not plastic nor will they break. The "trip pins" or MU cables on the couplers work way better for uncoupling.
The Kadee & other trip pins represent brake pipe hoses not MU cables. MU cables are only on diesel locomotives & have nothing to do w/ brake pipe air.
 
#6
Thanks Mike. I'll try all these suggestions.
I have already ordered a Kadee coupler gage and was thinking just what you suggested to bend the pins right but I didnt know if I should. Thanks.
Also thinking of replacing with Kadee couplers, probably will even if I can get this to work but need to do some research to find the right ones, they have so MANY !

And yes my first mistake was using a 100 magnet on a 83 rail ... but that was so obviosly bad when the pins ran right into it :) ... So I found an 83 and got that.

I'm glad I waited until I was older to reanimate this hobby because I didnt have the patience (or money) as a kid to work through these sorts of things. Now I actually want it to take time and effort. ... just not so much as to be impossible !
 

cajon

Active Member
#7
DALDEI
A good Kadee tool is their Coupler Trip Pin Pliers:
http://www.kadee.com/htmbord/page237.htm
While you can use regular pliers if you're VERY CAREFUL, their pliers are so much easier to use plus you have much better control over how much the trip pin is bent. My preference is to put a sharp bend on the end so the end doesn't stick out so much. It may seem expensive at first but if you have alot of them to do then it's worth it. And if you're like most of us, the cars you have now won't be the last you'll ever get!
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
#8
Thanks Mike. I'll try all these suggestions.
I have already ordered a Kadee coupler gage and was thinking just what you suggested to bend the pins right but I didnt know if I should. Thanks.
Also thinking of replacing with Kadee couplers, probably will even if I can get this to work but need to do some research to find the right ones, they have so MANY !
Happy to try and help. When bending the pins do it in the middle of the bend or closer to the track end. Don't attempt to bend right up at the coupler jaw. Absolute best way is as Cajon mentioned, buy and use the Kadee coupler pliers.
 

Motley

Active Member
#9
DALDEI
A good Kadee tool is their Coupler Trip Pin Pliers:
http://www.kadee.com/htmbord/page237.htm
While you can use regular pliers if you're VERY CAREFUL, their pliers are so much easier to use plus you have much better control over how much the trip pin is bent. My preference is to put a sharp bend on the end so the end doesn't stick out so much. It may seem expensive at first but if you have alot of them to do then it's worth it. And if you're like most of us, the cars you have now won't be the last you'll ever get!
Oh man, thanks! I just ruined two coupler trying to bend that trip pin with regular needle nose pliers. I'm getting this tool now!
 
#10
Ive narrowed down the problem but no proven solution yet. I have the Kadee guage and adjusted the heights to match perfectly.
But the couplers just dont swing much when going over the magnets. I even over lossened the screw so it was reallly wobbly and still no.
My guess at this point is the "wiskers" in the coupler mount are too stiff. I can fell a lot of push when I try to move the coupler compared to my boxcar where they move by almost blowing on them.

I think this all points to replacing the couplers with Kadee. So next step I need to figure out which Kadee couplers to use and ordr them ! Plus that Awsome pliers above ! Thank you ! This is exactly the sort of fun I was hoping to have getting back into this hobby. although I secretly wish everyting would just "instantly work" ... fact is its fun having to diagnose the problems and fix them. Otherwise I'd just hire someone to do it all for me. Might as well just go to the museam if I'm gonna do that !

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll post back with the next results , probably be a week+ before I get the couplers in the mail.
 
#11
OK I'm suck ! Any suggestion on what Kadee couplers to use with these 2 engines ?

1) Bachman 4-4-0 Spectrum Item 85105
2) Bachman HO E 44 ton switcher Item 62206

for #1 closest I could find on Kadee site is
http://www.kadee.com/conv/hocc14.htm

Is the "American" which says use a #33

For #2 I think its says use a #33 or #38

Does these seem right ?
Thanks for any oppinions !
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
#12
Can't help with the steamer but I have 2 of the Bachman 44 tonners and 1 of their 70 tonners and I put #148 in all 3. You just have to go easy on tightening the cover screws to prevent a bind. Kadee is pretty good on their recommendations but I had the 148's already so in they went. Also the current Bachman 44 tonners are not a straight rerun of the previous model so maybe the older units took the 33 / 38?

Engines can vary a lot in which coupler is needed. Almost all the popular freight cars like Athearn, Atlas, Accurail, Walthers, etc can use either the #5 or #148. If you have more than a couple of cars to convert you do better buying bulk packs that don't include the plastic draft boxes since just about everything that takes a 5 or a 148 is a direct drop in the cars or engine's own coupler draft box. You'll save money and won't have to find a use for all those plastic pieces left over.
 
#14
Thanks !
The 148's LOOK like whats in both the steamer and the 44 ton. They both have wiskers (plastic) ... I'll try those first, looks easier then the directions to custom fit a #33 and why bother replacing the whole draft box if I can just swap in the coupler.
If it works it works, if not ... on to the next try :) Not too expensive, I'm seeing couplers for about $3.50 per 4 or cheaper @ for a bulk lot, good idea, thanks !
 
#15
SUCCESS
Today I got my pack of Kadee 148 couplers. Wow. Why would anyone use anything else ? The difference is night & day. For retail value < $1 each why would an expensive engine use anything else ?

Anway I attempted to install these on my boxcar, switcher and steamer. Success in all but 1 location. The steamer rear coupler rubs against the end "tailgate" (not sure what its called). Looking carefully at the old and new coupler I can see the old one is just a tad longer. I guess thats what "Shank Length" means ! Now I know :)
SO I ordered some #146's which seem to be the same thing but "long" shank length.
Other then that the 148's fit perfectly in the existing car and engines. And better yet *uncomple perfectly* on the over the track magnetic coupler ! Finally I can see how its supposed to work.. I backed up the engine to the magnet, pulled forward just a hair and they popped open ! then backed up slowly and was able to push the car backwards, then just pull forward and it was uncoupled ! What joy small pleasures bring.

Now on to designing my first "practice layout". I've got the bed made, a 6' x 1' plywood on top of 1"x6" frame. Just having a hard time picking a layout. What if I do a great job and want to actually *use* this practice layout ? what if I do a horrible job and just rip it apart ... How much effort should I put into a "practice" layout ... Questions noone but me can answer I suppose :)

Thanks everyone for your help. I'm sure to be back with other novice questions soon !
 

cajon

Active Member
#16
DALDEI
Don't forget Kadee's Coupler Trip Pin Pliers:
http://www.kadee.com/htmbord/page237.htm
It may be you only need to bend the trip pin on the little steamer. That "tailgate" could be a rear plow / "cow catcher" or foot boards.
You should be able to find plenty of 6 X 1 switching layouts on this site & others or by doing a search on your browser.
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
#17
Congrats DALDEI. A lot better than ripping up track and digging a hole for the 308 magnet. Next lesson will be on underset and overset shanks. LOL
 
#18
Thanks ! I may try bending the 148 but I had already ordered the 146s so we'll see.
Its nice to see them actually working.

I did get a under-track magnet which I may still use (its very strong !) since I have not yet laied track.

And yes whats up with those Over and Under shank things ???

As for 6'x1' layouts ... yup I have found lots of them. Thats the problem !!!
Like the old joke goes about standards.

"The great thing about standards, is there are so many of them !"

If I knew what I was ultimately going to do with my 'practice layout' would make my choices easier, but for now all I have in mind is something to practice on. I really want to do hand-laid track, maybe even hand-laid switches but have no idea how successful I'll be. I just know enough about myself that for something new I should "practice" first :)
 



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