Category Archives: equipment

First look at Sergent couplers

Last days off (hard to believe I’m already halfway my hitch after that!) I managed to assemble and test the Sergent couplers I had ordered while at work. I ordered compatible shank type E couplers, with the goodies needed to make them work (assembly fixture, reamer, height gauge, and uncoupler), with enough couplers for 6 pieces of rolling stock for testing. Assembly went really well and ended with (in part) what you see in this picture.20140814_163507

I got lazy and really didn’t take many shots of the assembly process. The instructions on Sergents website, and included with the various pieces do a great job of covering the process. I was lucky that my daughter had a plastic (non-magnetic obviously) pair of tweezers from some crystal-growing kit that I was able to use to insert the ball into the casting. Definitely work on a piece of paper towel or something similar, or you will lose some of the balls!

I chose a cross section of my fleet for testing. I installed couplers on my Proto 2000 0-6-0, an Accurail stock car, a Tichy flat car and tank car, an Athearn (blue box) boxcar, and a Roundhouse caboose. That gives me a tidy little local freight to play with. That’s a Kadee #5 laying beside the Tichy flat for comparison.20140814_164712

These things look great! I also love the lack of slack compared to normal Kadees. I have a couple that are a little bit stiff in the knuckle, but I suspect that will work its way out as I use them. In testing at the club, I was able to couple and uncouple even in an area where the tracks are fully 24″ from the aisle. I only have one or two spots in my plans (mostly around the roundhouse!) where there is anything deeper than 24″ benchwork, so I don’t anticipate that being an issue.20140815_16033620140815_160348

I need to do a bit more testing next days off, but I’m definitely leaning towards converting the entire fleet over to Sergents. I did take a couple videos illustrating coupling and uncoupling, but I can’t get them off my phone with the laptop, so they’ll have to wait til I get home and can use the desktop computer again.

Thoughts on wheels and couplers

aka taking the plunge?

I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on wheels and couplers in this edition. While I don’t have my own railroad yet, I have the opportunity to run my equipment down at the club. The standard there is metal wheels on cars, and Kadee number 5s for couplers. Based on past experience, I was planning on running metal wheels, and using Kadees as I got back into the hobby anyway (I built a non-scenicked layout in my teens, but barely got it to operating condition before moving out of my parents house).

The first wheels I got were from Intermountain. I was very satisfied, but modeling the steam era, I wanted to try find a batch of wheels with the ribbed back characteristic of the cast iron wheels of the day. I outfitted a few cars with ribbed back wheels from Kadee, but they don’t seem to roll nearly as well as the Intermountains. Since those few cars, all of my cars, both freight and passenger, have been equipped with the Intermountain wheels, either 33″ or 36″ as appropriate. I’m not dissatisfied enough with the Kadees to swap them out, but I might. I also weight my cars either to, or slightly above, the NMRA recommended weight, which helps with the operating properties thereof.

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