Two begineer questions.


New Member
I would like to know what everyone uses to uncoupler cars during a typical car setting operation. Is there a particular tool used to uncouple Kadee couplers at the location you want to set the car at. Surely you don't place uncoupler magnets everywhere on the layout. Secondly, do you use switch machines on all of your turnouts or do you manually switch them? I am building a basement around the walls 12 X 20 foot layout and would appreciate any suggestions to my questions. I am really "out in the sticks" where I live and my town doesn't support any hobby shops.
Briefly, there are several things available to uncouple cars, but I use Kadee magnets and a pointed shaft that I insert into the couplers and twist. As for the magnets, no, you don't put them everywhere, just at the head of a yard ladder or where ever you need to uncouple that you can't reach. The Kadee allows for 'Delayed' uncoupling by stopping over the magnet, the couplers uncouple, you pull forward and then back into the open coupler on the car. As long as you maintain pressure, the couplers will not recouple allowing you to shove the car where it needs to go.

Switch machines? I have both manual Caboose Industries Ground Thows and automated electrically controlled turnouts. I removed many of my electrical switch machines and replaced them with ground throws to have more personal control over switching. At the same time I replaced older twin coil machines with Tortoise slo-mo machines for more realistic operation.
A neat hand tool for undoing Kadees is made by Rix Products. It has a pair of magnets on a stick that you insert down between the cars, the magents then separate the couplers. It's very, very handy, fast and quite inexpensive. I'm sure it's available on the www.

I also use the Caboose Industries manual ground throws in all locations that I can reach, which (by design!) is all but one. for that one, I just use the old style twin coil machine that came with that particular turnout. It is rarely used, is out of sight and not worth the bother of a "better" mechanism.
I use bamboo skewers to uncouple; I probably have a dozen or two scattered around the layout so there's always one within reach. They're cheap, a hundred for less than a buck. Plus, you can use some of them in the kitchen for their intended purpose as well!

For switches, I use the Caboose Industries sprung throws....

Hi jaynjay, it's not all that long ago I asked a similar question, here is a link to the topic

Since that topic I decided to do the following. Where ever, and whenever it is more practical I will be using a bamboo skewer or similar pointed object to uncouple cars. In the more difficult to reach spots, to prevent elbow damage to the scenery I will install Kadee uncoupling magnets, (their unsightly look won't be all that visible in those areas). I also have one of the Rix magnet thingys, but I prefer the bamboo skewers. The problems encountered with it could be because of Kadee couplers not installed or set right. In any case I find the skewers quicker and easier to uncouple cars.
In regard to the turnout throws, all mine have Atlas twin coil turnout switches. Again, my thoughts on this are, in areas that are accessable and not in the mainline power routing, the electrical throws will be replaced with manual throws as the twin coil ones fail. Just my thoughts, and not necessarily right :D
Cheers Willis
Bamboo skewers is the way I go too - and there are other things thatI can do with them as well.
I use my hand to uncouple cars in odd locations, but have Kadee uncoupling magnets located in the yards.

I use capacitor discharge switch machines on all my turnouts. Don't like to throw them by hand.

Kind of funny... I won't throw a switch, but will lift up cars off the track to uncouple. Go figure.

I recently read an article in Model Railroader (I think :confused: ) bit I left the mag in a hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ :eek: .

Anyway they reviewed this handheld uncoupling device that they said worked great, like a magnet on a stick. Was about $5 or $6.

Wish I still had the magazine, anyone else see that?
LOL, I have no doubt the magnet on a stick will work, BUT! ( ah! there is that little word) think about it, there you are trying to hold the stick in the proper position with one hand, and tyring to hold and operate a throttle with the other. If you put the throttle down to use your hand, then uncoupling magnets are not necessary, use a skewer. As previously posted I have the Rix handheld magnetic uncoupler, but I find the bamboo skewer a lot easier, works every time what more could you ask for. I find with the Rix uncoupling tool that the magnets and legs obstruct the view to the couplers. When cars are close coupled you can't see if the couplers have operated or not,
Cheers Willis
I use both the Rix Uncoupling tool and bambo skewers.

As far as the switches go, I use Tortoise switch machines on all my turnouts.

I use both the Rix Uncoupling tool and bambo skewers
Hi ncng do you find using one has an advantage or easier to use than the other? Or is there certain circumstances where the Rix unit is superior to the skewer?
The Tortoise switch machines are the way to go, unfortunately I can't afford them at this time. :D
Cheers Willis
I've used both. Like the skewer better. Mainly because the length of the skewer is longer than the Rix tool, which is so short, your fingers might touch the tops of the cars. Especially if you're running autoracks or doublestacks....

Hi kennedy
your fingers might touch the tops of the cars
Hmm! OK, I'm needing a little education here. :D (seriously) Ok my situation, I have a hand held throttle in 1 hand and the bamboo skewer in the other opening the coupling, now how do I get the train to part without it recoupling again before I can reach the throttle? What I've been doing was moving the train a bit with the 0-5-0 switcher, not very prototypical but it does work. :D
This presumes you have the throttle in your hand when you wander over to uncouple something.

If you use the Rix one, you just hold it in place while turning the speed knob. Of course, you've previously set the direction to "Reverse".

If you're using the skewer, pretty much the same; you twist it so that the knuckles are open, the throttle up. Train backs away, and depending on where you've stuck the skewer tip, it'll either stay with the uncoupled cars, or move with the train....

Theoretically, if you have to move the cars, you use the skewer to push on the coupler. Saves getting greasy fingerprints on that fancy paintjob on the freight cars....

This presumes you have the throttle in your hand when you wander over to uncouple something.
Hi Kennedy, Right on! and thanks for the answer. Guess I'll build a throttle holder at the required places, now why didn't I think of that?
I guess lapses in common sense happen during construction. :D To me anyway.
Cheers Willis