1001 things to do… Kadee couplers

There literally does seem to be 1001 things to do when you’re building a layout. To my mind though, that’s half the fun. I don’t have to do the same thing all the time, and if I fancy a change, I can. So, by way of a change, I decided to fit some Kadee couplers to one of my Bachmann JGA wagons the other day, and immediately ran into trouble.

Fitting a Kadee #19 coupler into the existing NEM pocket of a Bachmann JGA wagon demonstrates the obvious height error
Fitting a Kadee #19 coupler into the existing NEM pocket of a Bachmann JGA wagon demonstrates the obvious height difference

I’ve had a selection of Kadee couplers for a while, but not got around to fitting them. The idea of being able to uncouple rolling stock magnetically, and replace the normal tensions lock couplers with something which appears more prototypical, appealed to me. I had already fitted the Kadee #205 Height Gauge to an old section of track mounted on suitable piece chipboard.

The Kadee #19 coupler seems to be about the right length for the JGA wagon
The Kadee #19 coupler seems to be about the right length for the JGA wagon, although I tried a Kadee #20 first.

It should just be a matter of unpluging the tension lock coupler, that comes as standard, from it’s NEM pocket and replacing it with a Kadee coupler. But nothing in life is ever that simple, is it? Although there is a standard set for how high the NEM pocket should be above the rail height (8.5mm), in practice they seem to be all over the place. In the case of the Bachmann JGA wagon, it seems to be out by the thickness of the bogie.

Even at a distance the height of the coupler definitely too low
Even at a distance the height of the coupler is definitely too low

The only fix I could see for this was to cut an aperture through the bogie to take the coupling.

First I removed the bogie.
First I removed the bogie. You can see how the NEM pocket fishtail’s into the bogie and sits up against the underneath

Next I marked an area to be cut away
With the NEM pocket and coupling removed I marked out an area to be cut away

The first part of the bogie removed
The first part of the bogie removed, but not enough to finish the job

Even more of the bogie had to be cut away
Even more of the bogie had to be cut away to accommodate the swing of the coupling

The NEM pocket and Kadee coupler refitted
The NEM pocket and Kadee coupler refitted

Re-testing the coupler with the height gauge
Re-testing the coupler with the height gauge

The height of the Kadee couplers now match
The height of the Kadee couplers now match

I only have to do that 15 more times to fit all of my JGA wagons. Then there’s all the other stock and engines. Like I said… 1001 things to do.

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