Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Couplings in 0-14

There are three coupling types commonly used in 0-14:
  • The prototypical link and pin, indeed the KBScale products come with the coupling pocket, a link and a pin. While highly realistic, I can see this leading quickly to insanity on a shunting layout!
  • The Greenwich coupling as commonly used in 009, with a little work these can be built into the skip frames so the loop of the coupling attaches to a peg on the frame of the next wagon, indeed KBScale sell parts for this.
  • The Microtrains "Buckeye" coupler, the use of which was described by Roy C Link in the Industrial Narrow Gauge Handbook.
Couplings are a personal choice and we all have different priotities, so there is no right answer, and in this scale probably no significant popular choice either. I don't have the patience for the scale links and pins, and personally I'm not keen on the loop-over-pin type couplings (like the Greenwich type) having used DG's for some years in 009. They are prone to getting bent and seem to need constant adjustment, and for reliable operation they work best with loops at one end of the stock only.

That leaves the Microtrains type which I have also used in 009 and found them to be reasonably robust, getting repeatable auto-uncoupling takes some fiddling with magnets but overall I prefer them, so I have chosen them for my 0-14 adventure. Their downside in this context is requiring space for mounting the "draft box", and while they are prototypical for some railways (partiularly American) they were hardly ever used on industrial narrow-gauge in the UK.

Fitting them to the KBScale wagon chassis is as described in the Roy Link manual, although the design of the coupling draft box has changed slightly. The bottom edge of the curved frame and lower part of the centre channel is cut away where the coupling needs to fit, and filed flat. A hole is drilled to take the Microtrains mounting screw, and the coupling screwed into place. I should cut off the protruding screw really.

This shot shows one wagon with the couplings fitted, to which I had strengthened the frame with plasticard offcuts although I don't now think it is necessary, and another having the couplings fitted showing the recess created to mount the coupling.

I have made a couple of useful gauges to assist setting up the couplings. The first is a block that sits on the track to set the height of the coupling, simply made from plasticard the "finger" needs to slide tightly under the coupling mounting created on the wagon. This is about 7mm high, although so long as they are all the same height the actuall height is irrelevant! Hence always using the same gauge. The second is a piece of 10 thou plasticard to sit on the rails, the iron tail of the coupling is adjusted to just skim the top, meaning it will not foul on points etc.

The result is reasonably tidy although it does mean the wagons are quite far apart when coupled, of course in reality the oval frames are the buffers and would touch, with a single link to couple them. I can live with that for the convenience of auto couplings. The next challenge will be fitting the couplings to the loco ...

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