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Knuckle Couplers on LEGO Trains


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#1 legoboy3998

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 02:57 AM

Since I was asked, I...

Have you ever wanted more realistic looking couplers on you LEGO trains?  I did, after diging around, I found a topic on Lugnet IIRC, which described using Kadee magnetic knukle couplers.  So I thought I'd give it a try.

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Here you can see the installed couplers.  The install is pretty straight foreward.

First I take a "Coupling Plate" (3x2 plate with hole).
Next,I take a #2 Steel washer (Kadee # 1701) and slide it onto a #2-56x1/2" Steel bolt. (Kadee #1709) and slide it though the Coupling plate, than slide a #2 brass washer (Walthers # 947-1273) so it centers the bolt in the hole of the coupling plate.  The Kadee washer covers the hole in the Coupling plate while the Walthers washer fits in the hole.)
Than I assemble the couler (Kadee #806) following the enclosed instructions. (you need to put the copler in the "draft gear box" and install the "centering spring" than place the cover.)
While holding the assembled coupler, I take the coupling plate with bolt and slide the bolt through the screw whole in the couplers draft gear box.
Finally slide a second #2 steel washer (Kadee # 1701) and slide it over the bolt, than add a #2-56 steel nut (Kadee #1700) and finger tighten.  (Too tight, and the coupler won't center properly.)

The only modification to a LEGO piece is to cut a notch in the train wheel holder, and is only needed if you want to have the coupling plate use all of its 2x2 studs to connect.  it is actually nice as the notch holds the coupler draft gear box and keeps it from twisting.

I am working on a more realistic North American style truck assembly, one of the features of which, will include not having to cut anything to add the kuckle couplers.

This past weekend i got my first good test at running trains with these couplers on a decent layout.  The only real issue I had was if the track is seveerly uneven (i.e. a literal bump) one car can raise higher than the other causing a coupler to lift out of the other.  I also had two couplers fall apart, the nuts came of the bolts, this was likely due to the nuts not being tight enough in the first place.  therwise they performed quite well.

If you have further questions or anything I'm happy to answer.

Sal
WFB, WI

#2 zephyr1934

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:06 AM

Very neat stuff, particularly for the prospect of pulling long and heavy trains. Though the fact that they can uncouple on bumpy track is a bit of an impediment. Thanks for posting the details and please do keep us posted if you have further developments.

#3 JopieK

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:17 AM

one can also make better uncouplers with that of course (nice for shunting etc).

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#4 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:16 PM

These look similar to the ones I used to have on my N Gauge trains in the olden days. They are I think quite a bit stronger especially in a bigger size but as zephyr1934 said they do not take much of a bump for everything to come apart in my experience. I imagine though in a bigger scale the bump would have to be that much bigger and I guess that most LEGO train tracks are pretty flat so hopefully it would not be an issue. I am interested to hear what your experience with bumps are or have you not encountered any issues?

#5 legoboy3998

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:54 AM

View PostHrw-Amen, on 16 November 2012 - 09:16 PM, said:

These look similar to the ones I used to have on my N Gauge trains in the olden days. They are I think quite a bit stronger especially in a bigger size but as zephyr1934 said they do not take much of a bump for everything to come apart in my experience. I imagine though in a bigger scale the bump would have to be that much bigger and I guess that most LEGO train tracks are pretty flat so hopefully it would not be an issue. I am interested to hear what your experience with bumps are or have you not encountered any issues?

They were likely made by the same company, (I know there are several manufacturers). The ones I used are made ofr O guage trains.

The bump I had was where two folding tables met. It was at least 2 plates, high if not higher, and the tracks made a peak where they connected. I only had the issue once or twice before I was able to correct it, by reducing the severity of the bump a little. On a layout with custom tables, or that was somewhat leveld beforehand, there shouldn't really be a big issue.

They seem stronger, I believe I was able to hand pull a 9 car passenger train around a very tight oval (the engine was not strong enough to maintain pull). I don't have a home layout, and haven't really set up a large enough track to really test them out. maybe I'll bring some down with me when I stop by Brickworld Chicago this year, if someone is willing to test them on their layout...

Sal
WFB, WI

#6 lostdriveway

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:59 PM

The N Gauge magnetic couplers are made by Micro-Trains and would be too small for LEGO. HO scale by Kadee would also be too small. G scale (LGB) would be too big! The O Scale ones above look to be a perfect size. (My Dad has been importing model trains into Australia for over 30 years so I grew up with this stuff!)

I like the idea and something I have been considering myself but would like to come up with a LEGO way to Knuckle Couple or just a way to hands free uncouple with magnets in the track. This could involve replacing the standard magnets...

#7 LEGO Train 12 Volts

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 09:37 PM

Wow incredible stuff! *oh2* :thumbup:
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#8 legoboy3998

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 02:10 AM

View Postlostdriveway, on 17 November 2012 - 01:59 PM, said:

I like the idea and something I have been considering myself but would like to come up with a LEGO way to Knuckle Couple or just a way to hands free uncouple with magnets in the track. This could involve replacing the standard magnets...

A few years back the NMRA convention was here in Milwaukee, WI. It happened to be right when I was first looking into Kunckle couplers, so I stopped by the Kadee booth and talked to their rep. He said a while back they were in talks with some LEGO fans and even came up with a prototype which sounded like it was basicly my design but the coupling plate was molded into the draft gear box. IIRC he said cost wise it would be about the same as the standard couplers (about $3.50 or $3.75 for a pair). However, he said the fans they were in communication with seemed to loose intrest. He said if someone came to them again they would be happy to look into it again, but for now bolting them on (as I did) seemed to be the most cost effective solution. Sounds like, at the time, there was not enough interest to warrant much on the manufacturing end. I'm sure if enough people showed interest, Big Ben Bricks could come up with something, or Kadee could be contacted again.

But for now I'm ok with the above method. Hopefully I can come up with a workable realistic truck design to compliment the kuckle couplers.

Sal
WFB, WI



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