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Author Topic: New coupler development (was Coupling survey)  (Read 30571 times)

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Offline belstone

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2014, 10:48:04 PM »
Sorry, I meant delayed uncoupling, not remote. The Dapols uncouple just fine. I've tested them. But the delayed uncoupling feature is entirely dependent on the design of pocket they are fitted to.  As far as I can gather it works on most Dapol stock (unsurprisingly) but on a Farish 2MT, for example, I don't see how it can physically work. It's hard to judge how important delayed uncoupling is to people: it's one of those features that you probably don't think very important until you've tried it. Even then it is only really relevant to branch line terminus and goods yard layouts, where complex shunting operations provide almost all the operational interest.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 10:49:44 PM by belstone »

Offline belstone

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2014, 09:37:11 AM »
77 responses now which is far more than I expected. I am deeply grateful to everyone who took the time to respond.  The pattern of answers hasn't changed much since the first 20, so I think I am safe to draw some conclusions.  As promised, here are a few of the more interesting findings:

90% of you are still using Rapido couplings - but often in conjunction with other types. Almost a third of you are using Dapol Easi-shunts, which is higher than I expected.  Looks like a lot of people are running fixed rakes with Rapidos between the vehicles and Dapols on the end vehicles and locos.  Around 13% are using Micro-Trains knuckles, 10% are 'finescale' (B&B etc).

You like to shunt. Over half of you are regularly shunting on your layouts, and another 30% do so occasionally.

Two thirds of you would definitely be interested in hands off, delayed action uncoupling, and most of the rest would consider it.

You really want reliability, closely followed by ease of fitment. Cost is less important - you'll happily pay for something if it works. The fact that so many of you are using Dapols at 6 a vehicle proves that.

Four in five of you would modify a loco to fit different couplings, but most of you would only do so if you had a clear set of instructions to follow. 

Several of you admit to being ten-thumbed bodgers :D

And not directly coupling-related, but the most popular area of modelling interest by a mile is steam/diesel transition era. So where are all those early 60s layouts?

I now have to try and work out what this all means...
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 10:14:40 AM by belstone, Reason: Got name of Dapol couplers wrong »

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2014, 10:00:27 AM »
Yup - I guess that all just sums me up ;)

Offline belstone

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2014, 10:02:10 AM »
Here's my assessment of where we are in N gauge as regards couplers:

Rapido.  For - free with every N gauge vehicle.  Against - bulky, needs a good shove to couple up, hands free uncoupling is difficult, no delayed uncoupling facility.

Dapol Easi Shunt. For - clip in replacement for NEM couplings, couples up easily, magnetic uncoupling works well if properly set up. Against - delayed uncoupling unreliable, trip pin needs careful adjustment, knuckle springs are vulnerable, needs special magnets to pull couplers sideways rather than down. Accidental self-uncoupling over magnets especially with light, free-rolling vehicles. Not especially cheap.

Finescale (DG, B&B etc). For - very cheap, can use hidden under-track electromagnets, good delayed uncoupling, flat mounting plate makes easy fitting on most models.  Against - incredibly fiddly to assemble and set up, designed for body mounting at buffer beam height so unsuitable for sharp curves. Coupling up can be tricky unless you leave the loop off one end of each vehicle.

Micro-Trains. For - been around for many years, wide range, fairly easy to convert spring-loaded Rapidos, works very well when set up properly, bit cheaper than Dapols.  Against - fiddly to assemble, need very careful fitting and setting up, same issue with magnets and accidental self-uncoupling as the Dapol couplers, top of knuckle is at buffer beam height which gives problems with sharp curves, sudden gradient changes and wonky track. Not compatible with NEM pockets, designed for American models, little or no information on how to fit to British vehicles.

Comments welcome...

Offline Ben A

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #34 on: June 13, 2014, 12:57:24 PM »

Hello Belstone,

In your analysis above I agree with most of the points, however I would say that the "finescale" options are not especially easy to fit:  not only do they often require shimming and a lot of height adjustment to achieve reliability, but also they often require that the model be permanently altered.

I looked at couplers myself before - and even invested some money in tooling - but the results were unsatisfactory.  Essentially, the core problems are:

1)  Everything is very small and fiddly. So assembly is difficult, time consuming, or costly.  Or all three.
2)  If it's big enough to be easy to assemble and fit, it looks terrible.
3)  Everyone wants a new coupler, but no one wants to damage their trains.
4)  They also expect any new coupler to be easy to fit to every model they own, regardless of existing couplers.  Without, of course, requiring them to damage their trains.
5)  And no one wants to pay for a decent, new coupler.
5)  If British stock didn't try to combine buffers with train set curves then it'd be easy.

Good luck - I'd be really interested in any design you come up with!

cheers

Ben A.



Offline belstone

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #35 on: June 13, 2014, 01:46:08 PM »
Thanks Ben, I think that's about the size of it.  The perfect coupler system would be vertical action (so it can work with those poxy NEM pockets) but with some lateral movement as well to cope with tight curves, magnetically operated (using under track electromagnets), with delayed uncoupling, unobtrusive yet robust, made in a variety of lengths to suit everything from 2mm finescale to No.1 radius Setrack reverse curves, and available as a clip-fit for both NEM and older Rapido boxes. And cost about a pound per pair :D


Offline Ben A

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #36 on: June 13, 2014, 02:01:48 PM »

Indeed.

On our club layout we shunt in the steel terminal using Dapol easi shunt couplers. They work with almost 100% reliability - and when they don't it's usually down to operator error. 

They're fitted on 4 locomotives and 8 wagons - but at one end only, making a total of 6 pairs of couplers.

The amount of operational flexibility, opportunities and enjoyment they've given is well worth the 18 they cost to buy.

Cheers

Ben A.



Offline Karhedron

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #37 on: June 13, 2014, 02:05:37 PM »
And cost about a pound per pair :D
A pound a pair? Do you think we are made of money. They should come free with packets of cornflakes. :p

But in all seriousness, I think that you and Ben have summed up the state of play quite neatly. There are a lot of conflicting requirements with people not looking to spend too much money to solve them.

I seem to recall seeing someone doing some very impressive demonstrations on DCC using memory wire. It solved most of the problems but was not cheap and only worked on DCC.
Well, that's just not good enough. Some fount of all knowledge you are!  :no:  ;)

Offline Roy L S

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #38 on: June 13, 2014, 02:13:21 PM »

Indeed.

On our club layout we shunt in the steel terminal using Dapol easi shunt couplers. They work with almost 100% reliability - and when they don't it's usually down to operator error. 

They're fitted on 4 locomotives and 8 wagons - but at one end only, making a total of 6 pairs of couplers.

The amount of operational flexibility, opportunities and enjoyment they've given is well worth the 18 they cost to buy.

Cheers

Ben A.

Hi Ben

Cost is a big issue using easi-shunts but you can see why they are so expensive they must be very time consuming to assemble.

I tend to mitigate the cost a little by putting one Easi-shunt on a wagon and leave the Rapido on the other end. Running in pairs means you can run with either on the outer end by reversing them best of both worlds in some ways.

Buying the 10 packs is also quite a bit more cost-effective than the pairs.

Regards

Roy


Offline SmileyFace

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #39 on: June 13, 2014, 02:19:04 PM »

Indeed.

On our club layout we shunt in the steel terminal using Dapol easi shunt couplers. They work with almost 100% reliability - and when they don't it's usually down to operator error. 

Ben A.
I'd really like to know how you achieve this. The 'uncouple' function when over the magnet works just fine but the sideways movement of the knuckles is always insufficient to allow 'delayed uncouple' when pushed away from the magnet. I've tried positioning the actuating pins as close to the track centre as possible so as to maximise the 'throw' of the knuckle but the physical size of the knuckles will always ensure they will re-engage once pushed clear of the magnet. In my experience coupling-up is not always first-time either.

Any guidance would be appreciated.
Cheers
SF

Offline Karhedron

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #40 on: June 13, 2014, 02:27:44 PM »
It is not the throw of the knuckle that matters. The whole arm needs to swing sideways for the delayed action shunting to work. In order for this to happen, there needs to be room. Normally you need to uncouple, pull the engine away from the train slightly to allow both coupling arms to fully deflect and then shunt into the train again.

This is affectionately known as the "micro-trains shuffle" across the pond for obvious reasons.

If you want to see the position the arms need to swing into for delayed-action shunting, take a look at the photos I put on RMWeb a couple of years ago when I first experimented with them. You can use them as comparisons for your own couplings. If yours do not move into the positions that mine go to in the photos, try and see what is impeding them.

The last 2 photos in particular are important. The arms need to deflect enough so that the 2 straight sections of the couplers are central enough. These are what stop the knuckles coupling up again once you move away from the points.

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/48728-dapol-easi-shunt-magnetic-couplings-in-n/?p=570075
Well, that's just not good enough. Some fount of all knowledge you are!  :no:  ;)

Offline belstone

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #41 on: June 13, 2014, 02:34:40 PM »
I think coupler systems have only really become an issue due to the dramatic improvement in loco mechanisms over the last few years.  Most of the old stuff didn't give reliable enough slow speed running to make complex shunting operations possible, so N gauge has tended to develop around continuous run, fixed rakes, watching the trains go by.  Compared to 4mm there are very few branch terminus or goods yard layouts in N - without reliable slow speed running and a good coupler system, an end to end layout isn't much more than a diorama.

Offline SmileyFace

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #42 on: June 13, 2014, 02:51:34 PM »
It is not the throw of the knuckle that matters. The whole arm needs to swing sideways for the delayed action shunting to work. In order for this to happen, there needs to be room. Normally you need to uncouple, pull the engine away from the train slightly to allow both coupling arms to fully deflect and then shunt into the train again.

This is affectionately known as the "micro-trains shuffle" across the pond for obvious reasons.

If you want to see the position the arms need to swing into for delayed-action shunting, take a look at the photos I put on RMWeb a couple of years ago when I first experimented with them. You can use them as comparisons for your own couplings. If yours do not move into the positions that mine go to in the photos, try and see what is impeding them.

The last 2 photos in particular are important. The arms need to deflect enough so that the 2 straight sections of the couplers are central enough. These are what stop the knuckles coupling up again once you move away from the points.

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/48728-dapol-easi-shunt-magnetic-couplings-in-n/?p=570075

Hmm - thanks for that and the link to your excellent photos. I've only used either the Dapol, Microtrains or Kato magnets so maybe therein lies the problem. The whole coupling doesn't move sideways at all - it's just the knuckles that deflect and that movement is insufficient for the delayed uncouple action. Most of my couplings are such a tight fit in their pockets that they are unlikely to move sideways anyway.

Offline belstone

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #43 on: June 13, 2014, 02:53:28 PM »
It is not the throw of the knuckle that matters. The whole arm needs to swing sideways for the delayed action shunting to work.

And that's the problem.  The NEM standard for coupler pockets (which is helpfully only available in French and German) suggests that the pocket should pivot to allow lateral movement, but doesn't set any specific requirement.  The coupler itself clips firmly into the pocket in a way which will not and cannot allow the coupler to move sideways in the pocket. Ideally the pocket needs to have a pivot and very light sprung centring action, but Farish don't seem to employ anyone who can read French or German. So the 2MT for example has pockets mounted rigidly to the pony truck and tender chassis, and the Dapol delayed uncoupling function will not work on that loco however strong your magnets are.

I don't possess any Dapol stock, presumably they have the type of pockets required to make the delayed action work properly. But if Dapol couplers only work 100% reliably when fitted to Dapol products, they aren't as useful as we all hoped they would be.  I don't blame Dapol: the NEM standard seems to have assumed that Rapido would be the standard N gauge coupler for evermore, and Dapol have done the best they can with what they have to work with. (Although it would have helped a bit if the knuckle were smaller, so that the tongue could be closer to the vehicle centre line.)

Offline Karhedron

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Re: Coupling survey
« Reply #44 on: June 13, 2014, 02:57:34 PM »
Hmm - thanks for that and the link to your excellent photos. I've only used either the Dapol, Microtrains or Kato magnets so maybe therein lies the problem. The whole coupling doesn't move sideways at all - it's just the knuckles that deflect and that movement is insufficient for the delayed uncouple action. Most of my couplings are such a tight fit in their pockets that they are unlikely to move sideways anyway.
I have to admit, I used the rare earth magnets to save money and avoid me having to dig up track and fit the Dapol magnets. I assumed that the rare earth ones would not be as good as they were smaller and not designed specifically for the task but perhaps they work better than the Dapol own-brand ones.  :-\

My other question is what stock are you using? My experiments have been Dapol couplers in Dapol stock. I have heard that some of the older Farish NEM pockets are a very tight fit which might impede the swing action of the coupler. Apparently their latest releases have fixed this issue and the NEM pocket is the correct size.
Well, that's just not good enough. Some fount of all knowledge you are!  :no:  ;)

 

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