Climbing the Couple Learning Curve


One of the great things about the model railroading hobby is the many and varied tasks required to execute a model railway. Some modellers end up with a favourite aspect such as building rolling stock, or structures but for a complete railway, somebody had to do all the jobs even if it is some unknown person in a factory on the far side of the world. Even then, there are many basic skills to be aquired.

My skill development in the hobby has been uneven due to some of that factory based help. I find myself able to hand lay track to finescale standards, build fancy benchwork, the odd craftsman kit, wire it all up and so on but I have never replaced, installed nor assembled a coupler. I don’t think I have been unconsciously avoiding this potentially character building task but who knows.

With the companionable support of our Saturday night video get together, I set out to remedy this lack. My initial solo operating session pointed out a number of things to address, two of which are coupler related. I figured there was no time like the present while I had a head of steam going. Soon I was searching the show floor for tiny little springs like a seasoned pro. (That would be the character building part of the deal)

The SW-8’s Atlas O couplers are much too stiff for my liking and are hard to get loose from the Kadees on the three cars I have on the layout. I suspect that the springing specs are aimed at 3 rail operation. The photo shows the bottom of the loco after I have got the old couplers off. This was a learning opportunity in itself! I tapped the holes for the 2-56 machine screws prescribed for holding on the Kadees and then realized my only screws on hand are too long at 1/2″ for the loco. Box cars can take any length of screw but the end platforms on a loco not so much. Order placed!

The other coupler related issue is that there are only three cars on the layout. I have an assortment of Ow5 cars and kits on the project shelf that will remedy this to some extent. I identified the car I had appropriate trucks on hand for and installed new couplers and replaced the trucks. So now there are four cars on the layout to knock about once I get the new couplers on the loco.

3 thoughts on “Climbing the Couple Learning Curve”

  1. Don’t forget that you can cut down screws that are too long.
    Fit a nut on the inside of your cut to assist keeping the cut straight and to de-burr when removing the nut. I’ve done this a number of times in the past.


    1. And I have done so! I was, however down to my last couple of screws. Might as well get some of a more convenient length if I can.


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