advice on avoiding uncoupling and ho derailments is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


New Member
I tried to use ho scale trains in the past but got very frustrated with uncoupling problems and derailments. Especially problemaic was backing up trains thru switch tracks. I'd like to give this another try as the scale is less expensive than 0 scale and you can do a lot more in the same space. I'd appreciate any advice on this topic. I just have no idea what to focus on. Thanks.


Hi Eddie and first let me welcome you to the forum.
You are quite right in that derails and uncoupling problems can ruin your fun and desire to use smaller scale modeling. I had a layout in the late 60's that beside cleaning the brass rails constantly, gave me nothing but headaches. This time around, I swore never to take shortcuts on track installations.

I am not sure when you tried HO, but with the new Code 83, nickel-silver track, cleaning is just routine maintenance. Using flex type track will decrease the number of joints, insuring better continuity and fewer potential problems. New coupler design makes it easy to use a bamboo skewer for uncoupling or you can use magnet type uncouplers for those hard-to-reach areas.

The main thing is to make sure that each joint is well fitted with no kinks. Now, some people have different ideas as to what a kink is, but if you look at the joint and it is not perfectly straight, then you have a kink. The rails don't have to touch each other, but they must be in-line...particularly in the curves. You can also use your finger nail and feel for rough edges top and side of rails. I like to use the end of a 1/2" file to align the joint rail-to-rail and then solder. This will ensure it will remain in position.

My firm belief is you must get your track right before doing anything else on your layout. Once you have done this, you will experience many hours of problem free running. It's not hard, but just takes a little extra TLC.;)

There are some tricks here and there and if you choose HO, I am sure many of us will be glad to assist you.

EDIT: I should have added that the bench work plays an important role in how well your track stays put. Depending on your layout area, the environmental conditions of hot/cold and humid/dry can cause changes in the track that could cause problems. By using quality lumber and materials, proper support and fasteners, you can minimize these effects.
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New Member
Thanks for the quick reply - THere is so much experience out there that can add to this discussion I'm sure. I hope we get other replies.


also the use of track that conforms to the "standards" will help
Atlas, Kato are my 1st choices and Peco is nice too, especially in the area of switches, cross-overs and degree crossings

I have tried the bachmann track (still on my lay out) and I had horrible luck with their switches so most are Atlas now, AND I had to cover the rails and paint the road bed with flexstone paint to get a more realistic look, and use rubber roadbed and ballast on my atlas stuff

I am going to switch to Kato uni-track on my new lay out when I start construction on it, I made a ton of mistakes and thanks to the guys here I have learned how to correct them


In Training Down Under.
You may have used horn-hook couplers which are very frustrating, most locos and cars will accept Kadee couplers which are more prototypical and stay coupled!!



Diesel Detail Freak
I'm using Atlas & Micro Engineering flex track with Peco, Atlas, ME & some custom switches. Add to that, Sergent Eng. couplers.

I's recommend Kadee if you're not in to the almost 100% prototype operation and the price.

I'd also recommend watching the switchbacks, unless their wide.


Long Winded Old Fart
Check the Track Gauge & wheel Gauge w/an NMRA track & wheel ga.
Make sure all of your wheels stay clean(no bumps). Make sure all of your couplers are the same heighth on all rolling stock & engines. I use rerailers before & after all my switches where possible. I use Kadee's & McHenry couplers & spend the xtra time to make sure there is no droops by using spacers where needed. You will still have some problems w/cars that are to light in curves unless you add the xtra weights like I do. There are always problems that you will encounter at some time or another especially when you have friends over to watch the trains run. LOL


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