Kadee couplers with Athearn cars - not working properly

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adamsdp

New Member
I have some Athearn freight cars that I purchased around 1990 and installed Kadeee magne-matic couplers. I experimented with a Kadee between the rails permanent uncoupler magnet over the weekend. The couplers will decouple when over the magnet but don't go all the way to the delayed position so that when the cars are pushed past the magnet, they recouple. Not sure if the magnet is not strong enough or that there is too much friction within the coupler box causing it to bind. The two freight cards I tried this on have metal clips that attach from the bottom to hold the coupler and spring in place. Could the metal clips be causing interference with the magnetic field? As a side note, I have a Athearn caboose that has a plastic coupler box and center rod that holds the coupler in place. The center rod on the caboose was shorter than on the freight cars and didn't go though the coupler and spring to work.

I have a Rix magnetic hand uncoupling tool that seems to work ok with uncoupling the two freight cars. I want to get the method I am going to use for uncoupling sorted out before building a small dc switching layout. Are there cars available now that can be purchased with couplers installed that will work reliably with the between the rail magnet? Is the between the rail magnet a good uncoupling method? I am not sure if the issue I am having is due to the magnet being weak, or the couplers not working well with the Athearn cars or something else. I only have a few cars and am inclined to order new cars that have couplers installed to hopefully see how they are supposed to work. What would be the best brand of cars that have couplers that work reliably? Any advice will be appreciated.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
Is the trouble occurring with only two freigth cars? Kadee products are the best uncoupling systems of all the brands....IMO. Unless there's a problem with enough side to side movement, the couplers should work.

Some of the Kadee uncoupler magnets do not do the delayed uncoupling function. It's possible that is the type of uncoupler that you are working with on the layout?

Keep us posted.

Greg
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
I don't mean to be elementary here, but let's start with ensuring that you are using the correct technique to use them. Once the couplers decouple over the magnet, it is necessary to pull forward about a half inch to allow them to fully go all of the way to the delayed position. Otherwise they remain engaged. Then back up to spot the car. They will not move all of the way aside without doing this. If you are already doing this, let's go to the next step. You posted that they work OK with the Rix uncoupler which means that there isn't anything wrong that can't be easily fixed. Since they already decouple, that means that they are most likely at the correct height, but check that any way. The track level magnets exert a slight downward pull on the couplers, while the Rix tool only pulls to the sides. I have had to remove the metal clip and either bend the outside edge down very slightly, or burnish that edge with a file to remove any potential burrs.
As far as whether or not there are cars available that work better, as Greg just posted, there is no better system than Kadee regardless of the age of the original cars.
Personally I only use the track magnets in hard to access places, and use the Rix tool everywhere else. Neither is 100% reliable and I sometimes have to take a deep breath and try again.
 

adamsdp

New Member
Is the trouble occurring with only two freigth cars? Kadee products are the best uncoupling systems of all the brands....IMO. Unless there's a problem with enough side to side movement, the couplers should work.

Some of the Kadee uncoupler magnets do not do the delayed uncoupling function. It's possible that is the type of uncoupler that you are working with on the layout?

Keep us posted.

Greg
Thanks for the help and I am using the Kadee no 5 couplers. I retried them yesterday on a straighter stretch of track and they were working about 50% of the time. One of the couplers doesn't return consistently to center or move to the edge of the magnet when over the magnet so thinking there is some friction/binding going on. I have a few whisker couplers and will swap them out to see if they make a difference.
 

adamsdp

New Member
I don't mean to be elementary here, but let's start with ensuring that you are using the correct technique to use them. Once the couplers decouple over the magnet, it is necessary to pull forward about a half inch to allow them to fully go all of the way to the delayed position. Otherwise they remain engaged. Then back up to spot the car. They will not move all of the way aside without doing this. If you are already doing this, let's go to the next step. You posted that they work OK with the Rix uncoupler which means that there isn't anything wrong that can't be easily fixed. Since they already decouple, that means that they are most likely at the correct height, but check that any way. The track level magnets exert a slight downward pull on the couplers, while the Rix tool only pulls to the sides. I have had to remove the metal clip and either bend the outside edge down very slightly, or burnish that edge with a file to remove any potential burrs.
As far as whether or not there are cars available that work better, as Greg just posted, there is no better system than Kadee regardless of the age of the original cars.
Personally I only use the track magnets in hard to access places, and use the Rix tool everywhere else. Neither is 100% reliable and I sometimes have to take a deep breath and try again.
Thanks for the advice and good to know you find the Rix tool useful. I have a height gauge so will check that. I think one of the couplers in binding up in the coupler box or the coupler spring isn't set properly. I am going to try a whisker coupler to see if that makes a difference.
 

MilwRoader_Steve

Well-Known Member
Ditto what Ken said. Kadee sells "Grease 'Em" but any decent dry graphite should work. Give the container a good shake, stick the tip into the coupler box and squeeze. Yes, you will get some dry graphite flying about, but pretty easy to blow/wipe away.
 

GeeTee

Well-Known Member
First make sure the coupler "hose" isn't touching the magnet .

On Athearn BB cars the pins in the boxes are slightly under size so that even with fresh no 5 centering springs they don't always center up properly , also the corners of the metal clips can hang the coupler . The clips also tend to rust.

You can try grinding the corners off on the clips but the only way I 've found to get them to operate reliably is to cut the draft boxes off and replace with the Kadee box , I cut the OEM box off the underframe and then drill a 1/16 hole thru the weight / floor and tap with a 2-56.
 

adamsdp

New Member
First make sure the coupler "hose" isn't touching the magnet .

On Athearn BB cars the pins in the boxes are slightly under size so that even with fresh no 5 centering springs they don't always center up properly , also the corners of the metal clips can hang the coupler . The clips also tend to rust.

You can try grinding the corners off on the clips but the only way I 've found to get them to operate reliably is to cut the draft boxes off and replace with the Kadee box , I cut the OEM box off the underframe and then drill a 1/16 hole thru the weight / floor and tap with a 2-56.
Thanks for the additional replies and I will try a graphite lubricant. Great to know about the pins being undersized in the Athearn blue box cars and how to remedy the issues. Sounds like a good fix. Do you use the Kadee #242 universal coupler box? I will also make sure the hose isn't touching the magnet.
 

GeeTee

Well-Known Member
Do you use the Kadee #242 universal coupler box?
I use the box that comes with the coupler #5 or #148 . If they're not opening all the way its usually either the hoses dragging or the knuckle is hanging on the corner of the clip (file or grind it) . If they don't center all the way its the pin size allowing the coupler to shift to one side.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
I suspect that you have these un-couplers....https://www.kadee.com/ho-scale-uncouplers-c-274_280_300/312-ho-scale-betweentherails-permanent-magnet-nondelayed-magnetic-uncoupler-p-341.htm.

Greg
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
I have over 350 Athearn Blue Box cars going all of the way back to the 80's, and I never had to replace the coupler box. If you do have to replace one, there are some in every Kadee 4-pack of couplers. If you buy in bulk, you'll have to provide your own. Or PM me with your address and I'll send you a handful. Graphite works, I buy it at the hardware store, cheaper than the same thing from Kadee. It's true that the post is slightly undersized but I never found that to be an issue. I like the #148 whisker couplers better than the older #5's, but I have cars with the #5's that have worked reliably for over 30 years.
 

adamsdp

New Member
I have over 350 Athearn Blue Box cars going all of the way back to the 80's, and I never had to replace the coupler box. If you do have to replace one, there are some in every Kadee 4-pack of couplers. If you buy in bulk, you'll have to provide your own. Or PM me with your address and I'll send you a handful. Graphite works, I buy it at the hardware store, cheaper than the same thing from Kadee. It's true that the post is slightly undersized but I never found that to be an issue. I like the #148 whisker couplers better than the older #5's, but I have cars with the #5's that have worked reliably for over 30 years.
Thanks for the help. I did buy the 4 pack of coupler so have some to try. I am planning to give the whisker couplers a try and also order some new freight cars to hopefully see how they should work.
 




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