Tag Archives: couplers

2010 Glottertal FREMO:87 Meet

I just returned from a very nice visit to Germany, where I stopped by the 2010 Glottertal FREMO:87 meet. Even though I didn’t run a single train during the operating sessions, it was great to be back, talk shop and catch up with friends and fellow modelers from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The modular Proto:87 community seems to be growing quite nicely in Europe and I hope that we US modelers can soon start our own Proto modular system.

ETA 515 makes a quick stop in Seeburg

An ETA 515 makes a quick stop in Seeburg (click to enlarge)

The layout was compact but offered a few interesting features including a short narrow gauge set-up that crossed the standard gauge line on a few dual gauge modules. A completely separate test layout with two fiddle yards allowed for running unfinished projects, locos and cars from other eras/continents including my just completed Penn Central X58.

My Penn Central X58 361825 on a test drive

My Penn Central X58 361825 on a test drive

The new coupling tool from Dutch Werps Modelbouw was in wide use and seemed to help speed up coupling and uncoupling – otherwise quite tedious tasks, which tend to slow down switching and lead to time-crunches during operating sessions.

The new coupling tool from Dutch Werps Modelbouw speeds up switching

The new coupling tool from Dutch Werps Modelbouw speeds up switching

I left the meet inspired to pick up the pace on my modeling projects including a few converted Proto:87 engines. My goal is to help prepare enough era 4 German rolling stock to allow for an operating session with more modern material by 2012.

Below are a few more scenes along the right of way taken with my new DSLR. Enjoy!

Taking a breather on the front porch - a popular scene on the FREMO:87 layout

Taking a breather on the front porch – a popular scene on the FREMO:87 layout

VT 95 in the colorful fiddle yard Rambach

VT 95 in the colorful fiddle yard Rambach

Missed photo op at a level crossing

Missed photo op at a level crossing

A local freight train on the way to Gutach

A local freight train on the way to Gutach

Getting milled lumber ready for pick-up in Gutach

Getting milled lumber ready for pick-up in Gutach

The local freight train arrives in Heiligenthal

The local freight train arrives in Heiligenthal

93 1099 with an afternoon freight train on the way from Fornsbach to Iserlohn

93 1099 with an afternoon freight train on the way from Fornsbach to Iserlohn

A VT 95 and ETA 515 meet in Heiligenthal

A VT 95 and ETA 515 meet in Heiligenthal

Modifying Sergent Couplers to Fit Kadee #78 Pockets

In addition to using PROTO:87 wheels on the Rail Yard Models Penn Central X58 boxcar, I am substituting the Kadee #78 with Sergent scale couplers. The Sergent couplers and the coupler pockets need to be modified slightly to work together. It’s quite easy but takes little time.

Required tools and materials

  • Sergent EC87A assembled die cast AAR type E couplers with compatible shank*
  • Sergent AFC precision cast EC87K assembly fixture
  • needle file
  • X-Acto knife
  • fine sand paper
  • digital caliper

Modifying the coupler

Start by putting a Sergent coupler in the assembly fixture. I found that using the fixture minimizes side to side movement and makes working on the coupler much easier.

Take a needle file and start thinning the shaft. Turn the coupler over on occasion to make sure that an equal amount of material is taken away from both top and bottom.

Unmodified Sergent coupler in assembly fixture.

Unmodified Sergent coupler in assembly fixture. (click to enlarge)

Sergent recommends to thin the coupler shank to 0.057″ (1.45 mm). Use a digital caliper to check the thickness from time to time. The modified coupler should look like this:

Sergent coupler with thinned shaft.

Sergent coupler with thinned shaft.

Fitting the coupler in the pocket

To fit the coupler in the Kadee #78 pocket, Sergent recommends to widen the hole to 0.135″ (3.43 mm) with a tapered reamer until it fits over the mounting post. I found that widening the hole is not necessary. Instead, I forced the coupler over the mounting post and subsequently chiseled off the sides so that the coupler is able to move freely on the post.

Modified Sergent coupler in open Kadee #78 pocket.

Modified Sergent coupler in the open X58 Kadee #78 pocket.

Next, fit the cover over the coupler pocket. You should be able to close the pocket without applying force. When the pocket is closed, the coupler should still move freely. Hold the pocket sideways and check if the coupler falls by sheer gravity. If it doesn’t, thin the shank some more.

Complete draft gear with Sergent coupler.

Complete draft gear with Sergent coupler.

As a last step, insert the spring that comes with couplers and fit it between the coupler and the mounting post. Note that the spring is not intended to center the coupler. It is only supposed to provide friction against side to side movement. Glue the pocket shut. Done!

If you have any questions, leave a comment below.

*If you prefer, you can use Sergent’s EC87K easy-to-assemble die cast AAR type E couplers with compatible shank instead.

Assembling Weinert’s original coupler

Weinert’s original coupler, while it is not exactly to scale, is the best available option for supering German H0 model trains with a prototypical buffer and chain coupler. The following steps outline how I assemble and optimize the coupler to allow for safe and reliable operation.

Required tools and materials

  • Weinert 8632 original coupler kit
  • 0.5 mm drill
  • 0.7 mm drill
  • 0.8 mm drill
  • miniature reamer
  • jewelers saw
  • fine sand paper
  • jewelers flat nose pliers
  • Blacken-It (or similar bluing solution)
  • needle tip precision lubricator

Preparing the parts

Start by cutting the parts from the casting tree using a jewelers saw and smoothen out any leftover kinks using fine sandpaper. I found that sandpaper works better than a file because it is flexible, but be careful not to apply too much pressure when sanding as the material is fairly soft.

Casting tree of the Weinert original coupler

Casting tree of the Weinert original coupler.

Next, widen the holes of the two lugs with a 0.5 mm drill and the ones on each end of the releasing screw using a 0.7 mm drill.

After completing these steps, widen the area behind the towing hook with a miniature reamer. Take enough material away so that a 0.8 mm drill goes through the opening without any problems. This ensures that the shackle can easily fall into it.

Finally, widen the hole behind the towing hook with a 0.7 mm drill.

Assembling the coupler

Take one lug and fit into the the hole behind the towing hook. Then take the other lug and fit it into one of the holes in the releasing screw. If the lugs don’t fit in either of the openings, carefully widen them with a miniature reamer until they fit. The holes need to be wide enough so that the lugs can turn in them freely. Do a gravity test by holding the towing hook and releasing screw at various angles. If the the lugs still get stuck, widen the holes some more.

Next, connect the two lugs. Do the gravity test again. If the parts are moving freely finish this step by pinching together the ends of the pegs with a pair of jewelers flat nose pliers. This will prevent the lugs from falling apart.

As the last step, connect the shackle link with the releasing screw. Again, make sure the hole in the releasing screw is wide enough. Do the gravity test, correct any issues and the coupler is fully assembled.

Putting on the finishing touches

The kit comes blued out of the box, but during assembly bare metal spots may appear on the coupler. To give it back its weathered look, clean the coupler with your favorite solvent and use Blacken-It to blue it. Make sure there are no bubbles attached to the metal for an even look.

When the bluing process is done, remove the coupler from the solution and let it dry. Finish the job by applying a tiny amount of oil with a needle tip precision lubricator.