What kind of coupler do you like?


Non Rivet Counter
I was raised on Kadee couplers. So far I haven’t been impressed by the plastic look alikes. Does anybody use them? Does anybody prefer them? Why?

And speaking of why. Why is the universal #5 Kadee an all metal coupler when everything else they make is plastic? I have to special order the 40 series to get metal couplers and if I want the rounded draft gear…don’t get me started.
EPTC100 said:
I use the ol' reliable #5 Kadee's or the variations depending on shank length and offset if necessary. I won't use any other brand, however. All the plastic ones break way too easily.
What numbers do you use when you can't use a #5? 20, 30 or 40 series?
Well for myself, Kadee's will be the norm. #5's for all freight unless there is something out of the ordinary ( Murphy's law) :) . What I have done so far # 26's on the 630 locos, still haven't setteled on what I'll be using on the modified Athearn GP7's, but the 30 series is what I'm planning on because of the shorter draft gear box. I have #36's, #38's, #39's . The long shanks are for locos with plow blades. I've seen too many twisted plastic shanks to go for plastic. Plastic draft gear so far no problem so far :rolleyes:

Last edited by a moderator:
I like...

Good 'ol Kadee #5's, as they are on JUST about everything. What doesn't have #5's have slowly but surely been replaced with #58 scale couplers though. :)

Nice CB&CNS train gifs btw. I almost forgot I drew those, :D One of these days, I'll do the 630's for you.

I have no idea of where I picked them up Tom, But the 630's You mean like these puppies
Don't remember where I got them either, but I'll have to do the smoke and background over. A GP18 would be nice though :D

Last edited by a moderator:
I use 5s, 7s and the new 58s. The 7s for the older Atlas locos and I have begun using the new 58s when I put new couplers on. In other words 5s fit almost everything.

What have I used? I've tried several of the new couplers out there and have relegated them to showcase cars (non-operating) In the case of the brand that comes in several pieces that you put together, I threw them out.
On anything other than Accurail cars I use Kadee #5. On the Accurail cars I use thier brand coupler, never have had a problem with them. By the way, anyone want to purchase a few hundred horn hook couplers????? :eek:
So those of you that use the 20 or 30 series Kadee's don't mind using plastic couplers?

Gee All the 26's and 30 series I own, have metal shank, coupler and springs, only the draft box is plastic, even the 38's I just got a week ago. Maybe old stock?
The one 30 series that I bought was all metal as well, but if you contact Kadee they swear up and down that the 20 and 30 series have plastic components. I can't find the email but if I remember, the knuckle is metal and the rest is plastic. So I don't know what is going on, I just buy 40 series for those oddballs that I need. They are advertised as all metal. Of course the draft gear is all plastic in all the series except for those few old numbers.
I've always used straight #5 KD. I avoid all plastic couplers for reasons already mentioned above. I also have yet to run into a situation requiring a coupler from KD other than the #5. Generally if it's a height issue, I shim the bolsters rather than purchase offset couplers. For length I could see a need, with plows and such, however, I do not yet have a need for such a thing.

I like the oooks of the #58, but I am not so happy with their operation, so I am sticking with #5's. Since I do not use magnets, I trim off the trip pins to make them look better.
I basically use the #5 and 58's. The 58's are relegated to RDC's and my Varnish fleet. I did try some of the others, only to have them separate on grades. Not fun watch half the train come flying downgrade while the engine continues to climb. I have a few of the other sizes, but only where KD recommend their use on specific engines.
I'm using 5's on pretty much everything I've got. I may eventually migrate over to 58's.
Anyone know if the '58 would be the correct coupler for the Atlas Master GP38? Any modifications needed for height?
The way I look at a #26 is that it a #5 with a long shank, as it uses the #5 draft gear box. The #30 series is good on Athearn GP's if the coupler is not body mounted. If body mounted on the GP's then cut the pad off the frame and use a #5 or # 26 for plows. There is a show coming to a town near here in Oct. I'll check with the dealers there about the plastic shanks, I'll only buy metal shank couplers.
Cheeers Willis
I have loads of equipment with Kadee #5s, but I only buy #58s since they were introduced. The difference in appearance is dramatic enough to me that I'm slowly purging myself of the #5s. Any plastic couplers, including the plastic Kadees (not sure of the number) that come with Eel River Models beer cars, are removed as soon as I have a package of #58s on hand.

As an aside, I also have begun equipping everything with semi-scale wheelsets. I'm not crazy or patient enough to go with full Proto 87 wheels and Sargent couplers, but I am conscious of the appearance of both wheels and couplers.

I have a few unit trains (grain and coal) that I've equipped with #58s and Walthers dummy couplers at a 1:2 ratio. In other words, in a six car cut where "A" is a car equipped with Kadee #58s on each end and "B" is a car with dummy couplers on each end, the cut is assembled like this:


It eases the pain of buying dozens of packages of #58s and the two couple well (not automatically, of course) once you've removed all the flash from the Walthers coupler. Kadee #5s don't fit quite as well with the dummy couplers, so they've been removed from the unit trains. The dummy couplers look great, they couple tightly which reduces slack significantly, and they're really inexpensive.

As far as using different length shank couplers is concerned, I snip the glad hand off every coupler right away, so I don't have to deal with any coupler other than the #58 on locomotives.
Hi RC, that's quite an idea you have, I hope you don't mind if I copy it. On my layout I'll have 3 seperate trains of hoppers, 9 hoppers each, 1 ( no loads ) 2 with loads for a loads in empties out operation between a coal mine and a power plant. All the locos have Kadee's and some of the hoppers. I don't like the plastic couplers they came with and I don't feel much like equipping every hopper with #5's as for the most part they will allways be coupled together. What is the part number of the Walthers dummy couplers ( I'm lazy, and what works for you should work for me also :D )
Cheers Willis

I don't mind you "copying" or modifying my idea at all. If you think about it, all those dummy couplers could end up saving you enough to buy an additional locomotive....

Anyway, hopefully this link will take you to the Walthers page I just found (don't know if they have some funky database that prevents linking to specific pages or what have you):


The price is $2.98 for 12 cars, or 25 cents per car vs. $1.48 per car equipped with Kadee #58s. You can't beat that!

The photo even shows the molding gate/flash that's typical on these. You'll have to remove it to get them to couple to each other or anything else. And keep in mind they don't couple as easily with #5s as with #58s. They sort of force the knuckle to stay open on the #5s.
Last edited by a moderator:
I was in the process of converting to 58s when I sold out. They are a lot more finicky about bad track, but then I knew where I needed more "maintenance" on the track. Tight coupler standards and truck looseness also made a difference.

When I start over, it will be 58s and metal wheels and DCC. Then my empire of a connected NP Central Washington branch and GN Mansfield branch will come to life.
Thank's RC, your link took me right to the coupler. There are no local hobby shops around here so I'll be mail ordering, looks like the only way to go for me, certainly $ cost effective. Thanks again great idea, I'll use it too. The only difference I'm thinking about is front and rear hoppers will have only one Kadee each for coupling the consist to the loco, all the rest of the couplers will be dummies. ( do you see a problem there, that I dont see?) :)
Cheers Willis