adjusting couplers

fluff Oct 12, 2013

  1. fluff

    fluff TrainBoard Member

    just got some used athearn tank cars with knuckle couplers. some need adjusting, seem to be too low. im assuming I need some sort of shim? last time I had some ho stuff, there was a metal clip that held the coupler on. these tanks don't have this. some have metal wheels, some plastic. these are old blue box cars..thanks....
  2. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Supporter

    Yes you need shims, and a coupler check guide. Here is a quick video (one of many) that will show you
    how it all works

  3. fluff

    fluff TrainBoard Member

    thanks, ratled...
    still trying to watch the video. I live in rural central texas where a decent internet provider does not exist. I seem to live where every decent provider just almost reaches here, but not quiet. really odd this day and time. i'll see it eventually maybe. thanks again
  4. robwill84

    robwill84 TrainBoard Member

    Part of the problem with these cars is the bottom coupler plate sagging. One thing that can help is to remove the bottom of the frame and flex the cover up. This will hold the coupler up higher.
  5. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

    If several cars have this problem (common for Athearn Blue Box Kits), ordering Kadee raised-head couplers also fixes problem. I've usually tried to avoid washers and shims between truck and underframe as this raises the body and makes the cars wobble or just plain look odd.

    Sometimes adding 36" wheel sets help too.
  6. fluff

    fluff TrainBoard Member

    i'll give it a try.
  7. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

    It is very common to see draw-bar shims welded to the bottom of draw-bar (coupler) pockets on prototype cars and locomotives, I have seen stacks of shims welded in place by the Carmen to keep the heights in spec. On more modern equipment they have a Nylon type of plate under the draw-bars some are bright Orange, some Black.
    I use an index card cut into thin strips colored with Black, Brown ink or Orange highlighters to simulate these.
    This has become more of an issue as the "whisker" type couplers need less clearance to operate, and sometimes they are a little sloppy in the pocket. I will use the older KD w separate centering springs on these to help with the issue as well. I wish we could get a standard for this in the hobby, but that is just a dream.

    Now dont flame me on this, but but If you pull long (50-70) car heavy trains up steep grades you are making a mistake if you dont use metal type draw-bars, as they dont flex in the pocket like plastic ones do. This was learned the hard way.
    Good old KD 58's and 158's are still my coupler of choice, very tuff, very durable, great performing couplers.

    Some of the Athearn RTR tank cars have been horrendous on coupler heights and I figured a very simple fix for them, works every time so far.
    Right now Iam in the middle of a large scenery project but will post pics of the RTR tank car fix, I am referring to in a couple days.
    Very interesting thread full of good information.
    Lets have fun out there!
  8. fluff

    fluff TrainBoard Member

    well..i took the cheap way out...I just pushed the cover up and added a tiny bit of glue to hold it in place. working great so far. I don't have room for big long trains, so I may be ok. while we are talking about these athearn tankers, are the brake wheels still available? just noticed I have a few missing. good ole ebay...just got to love it....thanks to all....
  9. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

    I have had, and do have, some Athearn tankers.
    If I recall, later ones had no provision for holding the lower frame/coupler cover up. Older ones did.
    I fixed mine by chopping the pin out, drilling, tapping the main frame, clearancing, and fabricating proper length 2-56 screws.
    The other issue I have always had was shim washers on trucks.
    If the car was built to the correct height, adding shims makes it..not.
    Some have so many they look very toy-like.
    I mill out the frame, floor, whatever, to keep the car height the same and actually raise the coupler.
    I just use a Dremel and a 1/4" round bit. End works like a mill.
    I did a stack of SilverStreak cars last year. I wasn't about to raise the car with I milled out for the box.
    In your case, screwing the bottom cover through the coupler box and shimming underneath (of the coupler flops) is probably the best bet overall.
  10. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

    Finally got around to taking some photos of the Athearn RTR coupler height quick fix
    1rst image shows the coupler a bit too low.
    2nd shows the trucks removed and the screw loosened that holds the end platform/bolster to the car. If you notice before the screw is loosened the bloster assembly seems to point down towards the coupler.
    3rd shows a .010 thick piece of styrene the scrap piece happens to be .040 wide that was slipped in between the bolster and tank, and the mounting screw re-tightened. This effectively tilts the bolster up just a tiny bit towards the coupler.
    4th shows KD Metal couplers installed with the styrene strip trimmed after tightening the screws and trucks re-attached. As you can see the coupler height is pretty much right on now, this has worked for every Athearn RTR of this design that I have tried it on. And no washers at all used.

    I hope this helps, always glad to see and hear of other fixes too.
    Thanks for looking.
  11. fluff

    fluff TrainBoard Member

    thanks tom
    very helpful......

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