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Decoupler


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#1 Werlu Ulcur

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 02:59 AM

First of all, is that the term for the part/mechanism that separates one wagon from the other :wacko:?

Well, that's what I would like to make. Has anyone ever made something that could automatically separate one wagon from another (without you having to hold the wagons/engine)? Something connected to the track that when the wagon passed over or stopped there the mechanism would separate that wagon from the next?

When I played with my HO trains as a kid there was a special track section where you pressed a lever and a little flap would come up under the wagon and release the hitch between two wagons. That was in the 70's when everything was mechanical, but if I'm not mistaken with HO nowadays you can even do that remotely, so I was wondering if something could be built for L gauge.

Edited by Werlu Ulcur, 06 March 2013 - 03:00 AM.

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#2 Lazarus

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:30 AM

there has been some i have seen but they have inbuilt them into train and they are very slow. never seen one that was piratical

#3 Werlu Ulcur

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:51 AM

Darn :cry_sad:. I was hoping to have something that could separte the cars without having to grab the train.

Edited by Werlu Ulcur, 06 March 2013 - 03:51 AM.

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#4 zephyr1934

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:02 AM

There have been numerous uncoupler designs. I cribbed good ideas from several of them when I built my trackside decoupler discussed in this thread. Mine is fairly quick (under 1 sec start to finish) but it hardly looks like anything you'd see trackside, takes precise positioning to get the train in the right spot (which can add to the fun), and you have to remember to retract the beam after pulling the locomotive away. Some folks have hidden the uncopler under a station platform or in a wayside building.

#5 Selander

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:36 PM

My solution is an onboard decoupler, see below topic.
http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=78802

If you want to separate standard lego train magnets, keep in mind that a relatively high force is needed, so a trackside solution need to be fairly robust and have a sufficient stroke to separate waggons enough.
If you would design another kind of coupling, e g like having some sort of "hook-into-hole-princip", I imagine it could be easier to have a trackside solution and "simply" lift the hook mechanically to separate the coupling.
In any case, with a trackside solution you are obliged to always do the decoupling at a certain spot in your layout.
The advantage with an onboard decoupler is that you can use it anywhere you prefer in your layout.
As always there are pros and cons.....

Edited by Selander, 06 March 2013 - 12:37 PM.

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#6 Werlu Ulcur

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:56 PM

With the on-board system, the big problem would be that I would have to disconnect everything behind the device. I was aiming at disconnecting each car individually, as needed, so I guess the system will have to be track-side.
And basically I think that means lowering a rod between the cars to hold the car in place and advancing the train to release the car :cry_sad:.

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#7 legoboy3998

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:06 PM

I have installed O scale Kadee magnetic knuckle couplers on my engines and cats.  They can be un coupled manually using a "pick" (a sharpened pencil works well) or you can have magnets mounted under the track for automatic uncoupling.  Checking the Kadee site should provide more specifics on operation, and if you search this forum, I started a topic regarding installing them on LEGO trains.  I don't yet have a permanent layout, so I haven't toyed much edith the under track magnets, but in real railroading a crew man needs to maually open the coupler, so using the pick is not all that far from prototypical.

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#8 Spitfire2865

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:22 PM

View Postlegoboy3998, on 06 March 2013 - 05:06 PM, said:

I have installed O scale Kadee magnetic knuckle couplers on my engines and cats.  They can be un coupled manually using a "pick" (a sharpened pencil works well) or you can have magnets mounted under the track for automatic uncoupling.  Checking the Kadee site should provide more specifics on operation, and if you search this forum, I started a topic regarding installing them on LEGO trains.  I don't yet have a permanent layout, so I haven't toyed much edith the under track magnets, but in real railroading a crew man needs to maually open the coupler, so using the pick is not all that far from prototypical.

Sal
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That sounds interesting. Would love to see a tutorial on them.
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#9 Werlu Ulcur

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:30 PM

I would also love to see that!

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#10 legoboy3998

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:10 PM

Here is the topic about them.

http://www.eurobrick...rs#entry1435105

There are other pics on my Brickshelf.

When I get a chance, I'll have to take some step by step pictures.

Sal
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#11 bricks n bolts

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 11:20 PM

View PostWerlu Ulcur, on 06 March 2013 - 02:59 AM, said:

I was wondering if something could be built for L gauge.

Don't forget to take a look at the only official Lego decoupler ever made for inspiration too - http://www.bricklink...em.asp?S=7862-1

For this to work you needed the original '80s magnet holders with the long bit down one side (http://www.bricklink...Item.asp?P=4023) but moreover the thing was unfortunately tricky to operate and unreliable.
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#12 Werlu Ulcur

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:34 AM

That is a good idea, but I think that for me the best solution would be something track-side. It doesn't have to be remotely operated (I'm fine with having to manually "flip the switch" - honestly, I think that's part of the fun), so I was thinking of setting it up in a "staging area", an area/section of track specifically for that, like a rail yard.

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#13 Dan-147

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 01:59 AM

View Postlegoboy3998, on 06 March 2013 - 05:06 PM, said:

I have installed O scale Kadee magnetic knuckle couplers on my engines and cats.  They can be un coupled manually using a "pick" (a sharpened pencil works well) or you can have magnets mounted under the track for automatic uncoupling.  Checking the Kadee site should provide more specifics on operation, and if you search this forum, I started a topic regarding installing them on LEGO trains.  I don't yet have a permanent layout, so I haven't toyed much edith the under track magnets, but in real railroading a crew man needs to maually open the coupler, so using the pick is not all that far from prototypical.

Sal
WFB, WI

I was inspired by Legoboy's original post way back in June 2010 (has it already been 2 1/2 years?).  Since then, I have equipped all my MOCed and MODed freight cars and locomotives with Kadee couplers (13 to date).  I've kept the magnets on my vintage (80's and 90's) trains though.  Here is a picture of the couplers installed on a locomotive and car for anyone that might be interested:
http://www.flickr.co...N07/5705019592/

No LEGO was harmed in this installation.  The coupler is attached to a regular ''3x2 plate with hole'' with a #2 screw and nut.  Here is an exploded view of the components:
http://www.flickr.co...N07/5711044112/

I'm very satisfied with the look and operation of the couplers.  Unfortunately, as with Legoboy, I don't have a permanent layout and I haven't been able to test the uncoupling feature.

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#14 CamelBoy68

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:01 PM

I got to thinking, there must be a simple solution as I too had a Hornby set which had a special track section to decouple items.

I don't know if this has been tried before, but I think I have it.

A pivot, which when the rear bogie of the engine passes over it, it pushes the pivot into the bogie of the following car and as the train moves away the car remains.

The picture below shows the decoupler in place on the track.  I then did a few tests to see if it works.

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Apologies for the dodgy videos, shot on a mobile.

The first video clip shows two wagons rolling forward, with the second one separating itself from the first.

http://www.flickr.co...y68/8536011799/

The second clip shows a train reversing a wagon over the decoupler, then moving forward to decouple.

http://www.flickr.co...y68/8536001341/

What do you think ? Am I missing something, as this seems too simple..... :sceptic:

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#15 Werlu Ulcur

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:20 PM

CB, the principle I think is brilliant, but from what I understood, every wagon that passes over it will be "blocked", right? A loco could go over but you couldn't push a wagon forward over it. Is that it?

If it could be done in a way that you can manually turn it on or off (without having to raise the track to build underneath) it would be perfect. So far the simplest (but not the most ingenious and of course, not remotely aesthetic) solution I could think of is a bar that is pushed down between the wagons you want to unhitch that holds back the wagon from the front of the train.

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#16 mostlytechnic

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:21 PM

That's a pretty clever decoupler there, and seems to work well. The only drawback I see is that you can't ever drive back over it without decoupling. Almost needs a motor or switch to retract the mechanism lower so that you can just use it sometimes. I can't think of anywhere on my layout I'd ALWAYS want to decouple.

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#17 CamelBoy68

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:33 PM

Yes it is a one way decoupler, so the engine can only reverse onto it before pulling away.  As the engines have a lot of undercarriage the plate catches it in the middle, so reversing is the only option.  The clip with the two wagons show that it will work going forward, provided there is enough clearance.

I tried to come up with something that doesn't use motors, its bad enough you need them for the points :wink:.  I need to place it better in a layout, as you would only want to use it near sidings or a yard.

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#18 Duq

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:20 PM

It's an original idea. I just see one problem.
The engine in your video has parked the wagon but how is it ever going to pick it up again? That wagon will never pass the decoupler in the other direction. It's like a diode for train cars...
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#19 Lazarus

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:50 PM

Best idea i have see around for what you need it to do. but everyone is right it does need to be 2way or its a bit point less. could you attach it to some form on leaver. and just ignore the whole motor thing for now. Make it like a see saw.

Just a though you could do it with electromagnets put some small earth magnets on each end and use a electromagnet to pull down a side at a time with a switch.

No motors just science. I am sure they do this for models train also i will have a hunt for something i think peco do something.

Found it

http://www.ehattons....tockDetail.aspx

i Dont know how much power it has, i have not used one for my model trains yet but this under the above idea would be able to make it switch like a seesaw bit of modding and you would need to have you layout on some form of base board also.

#20 bricks n bolts

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:04 PM

I saw this very cute electromagnet on the ebay which I'm sure is useful for something like this or points possibly...http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DC-12V-1A-4mm-Stroke-100gf-Force-Pull-Type-Solenoid-Electromagnet-/360535506955
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#21 Lazarus

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:08 PM

That would work cheaper to. this could be an easy cheap build main thing is u need to have a base board on ya layout.

#22 CamelBoy68

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:06 PM

I think I have a solution.

If I raise the track by two plates, I can slide another one underneath which will block the pivot action. - Slide in to lock and slide out to decouple.

I'll post more pics/clips later

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#23 Lazarus

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 11:40 PM

that would be good to see as my track has be raised 2 plates due to my ballast so i might be able to put this into my layout

#24 zephyr1934

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:46 AM

I really like it. The fact that it is a completely passive control is fantastic.

With three tracks (four switches) two of the tracks with these one way stoppers you could completely switch a train around. You would just have to shove through any time you wanted to pick up the cars on that track and run around with the cut on the unblocked track. With some futzing, one should be able to come up with a spring loaded version that is retractable.

Functionally I see some potential challenges with this implementation though. First, it takes a lot of force to break the couplers. So the train has to be moving. This force will likely start pulling away at the clutch power of the coupler and eventually the coupler will pop off if it is not secured under the bogie plate. Also, it looks like you are catching the underside of the car rather than the truck. That works for the drop baseplate, but not for flat baseplates.

Not to say these challenges are insurmountable, they just turn it into a fun problem.

#25 peterab

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:06 PM

View PostCamelBoy68, on 07 March 2013 - 04:33 PM, said:

Yes it is a one way decoupler, so the engine can only reverse onto it before pulling away.

This would be very useful as is for a hump yard. If your decoupler is located just past the peak of the hump, your engine could shunt cars over the hump, reverse to decouple them, and they'd roll down the hump. With a few automated points you'd be able to do prototypical sorting of cars. Of course all your car floors would probably need to be the same height for this to work but that's not too big a restriction



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