Now Athearn coupler problems

qquake2k May 29, 2019

  1. qquake2k

    qquake2k TrainBoard Member

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    What is it with me and couplers??? I have fallen in love with the Athearn F59 locomotives, for some reason. I bought an Amtrak a few weeks ago, and haven't had any problems with it. It's coupled to a Kato P42. I also recently purchased a Santa Fe and yesterday a Southern Pacific. For some reason, these two won't stay coupled. I have tried all different positions. Back to front, back to back, SF in front, SP in front, etc. At first I thought it was the tight curves (9-3/4" radius), but they come apart on straights too. Apparently they're McHenry couplers, which I don't have any experience with. I haven't had any problems with them staying coupled to cars with MT couplers. I also have two Athearn cabooses with McHenry couplers, and haven't had any problems with them. It looks like I could replace the couplers on the engines with MT couplers fairly easily, but is there anything else I can do?





     

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  2. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    Your pictures don't show us some of the things that are often issues that cause unwanted uncoupling. First, are the couplers all at the correct heights off the rails, so they all line-up center-to-center (vertically)? Second, are any of the trip pins too low, so that they snag on something between the rails? (The trip pins should be 0.01" above the rails).
     
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  3. qquake2k

    qquake2k TrainBoard Member

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    I didn't think of that. Is the height of the couplers adjustable? It looks like the rear coupler on the Santa Fe might be high, but not the Southern Pacific. I'll take some better photos when I get home today.
     

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  4. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Using MT couplers in Kato loco pockets often give you a 90% height match to say, a MT truck coupler. You often need to shim (top or bottom, depending on the situation) to get the couplers to line up perfectly in height.
     
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  5. qquake2k

    qquake2k TrainBoard Member

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    Closeups of the couplers.
     

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  6. qquake2k

    qquake2k TrainBoard Member

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    Three more.
     

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  7. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Be sure the two couplers stay at the same height under tension too. In other words, when the locos are running, not just at rest.

    Also, make sure the couplers are closing all the way after they are opened. Open them by hand and release them very slowly and look to see if they fully close. Make sure they aren't hitting anything on the car body to interfere.

    Doug
     
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  8. bman

    bman TrainBoard Member

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    Looks to me like the trip pins are hitting the plow when you are trying to couple to the front of one or both of the locomotives. The photos that show the rear of both locomotives look like they should couple fine. Is the SF locomotive on the right of the photos missing it's little spring on the rear coupler?
    I've had some rolling stock where the spring on the McHenry coupler winds up missing over time. No idea where they went. Not that I spent any time looking for the little things.
     
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  9. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

    Looking at the above photo, I agree with Brian's assessment of the problem. The trip pins are hitting the snow plows causing problems. A few options to fix the problem would be to trim the trip pins using a cut-off wheel in a motor tool or a Xuron or similar track cutting pliers. It appears you only need to trim a very small amount of the trip pin, to clear the front snow plows. Another option is to remove the trip pins on the front of the locomotives. Of course doing so, will prevent you from being able to remotely uncouple the locomotives using an electromagnet or permanent magnet uncoupler.
     
  10. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Bingo! I think Brian and Rich figured it out. Just a note about removing trip pins. Do not remove any trip pins from MT couplers (you can clip them but don't pull them out). They will explode as that's what holding them together. Accumates you can remove. Often they remove themselves. :D
     
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  11. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Have to disagree here. I pull all my trip pins...hate when they fall out or catch on frogs. I have never had a MT coupler fall apart or not work and its been 7+ years of coupling and uncoupling them.

    I dont clip them off...those sharp edges at the cut hurt like %^*(&^%* if you happen to run a finger over them.

    I know they are used for magnetic uncoupling...which I dont do. Some say they are supposed to also represent air hoses between cars. Thats fine if you believe the 1:1 hoses are 8"-10" in diamter...LOL
     
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  12. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    Hi George, That is why I always use my Dremel to cut off the trip pins. I then use the cutoff wheel like a grinding wheel to get rid of any sharp edges. Like Mike mentioned above, I've had numerous Accumate coupler trip pins fall out over time. I've been slowly replacing my Accumate and McHenery couplers with Micro-Trains couplers.
     
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  13. qquake2k

    qquake2k TrainBoard Member

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    Some of the trip pins looked like they might touch the plow around curves, so I rotated them all to the side. Also, the front trip pin on the Santa Fe engine was rubbing on the rerailer track, so I raised it. None of this help, they still come uncoupled, but only on the one straight track. And it's only the two F59 engines that come apart. They never separate from the cars, although sometimes the McHenry couplers won't "grab" the coupler on the car. And when I put the engines nose-to-nose, they don't come apart. I can't figure it out. If I want to keep and run the F59's, it's looking like I'll have to replace the McHenry couplers with MTL.
     

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  14. nd-rails

    nd-rails TrainBoard Member

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    All well and dandy- except have you checked that the locos (all ~4 ?) are compatible under throttle?
    Put them in varying orientations, 6 inches apart and run them at different speeds. In some orientations, ie directions of travel, locos performance means at certain 'line speeds' one will catch up and be pushing and/ or dragging the other loco.
    And on those tight curves as well...
    regards dave
     
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  15. qquake2k

    qquake2k TrainBoard Member

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  16. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    A couple of things from me.

    1. Check the MT web page "conversions" and you can find which of their couplers is recommended for your locos.

    2. If you do not have a MT coupler height gauge then get one. You can check both ends of the loco or rolling stock for correct vertical height.

    I would certainly echo nd-rails comments. I am not sure if a KATO & Athearn will play well together.

    Always have fun,
    Carl
     
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  17. qquake2k

    qquake2k TrainBoard Member

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    I did check the conversions page, and the F59 isn't listed.
     
  18. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    The most popular Micro-Trains replacement coupler for locomotives is the 1015 / 1016 coupler

    https://www.micro-trains.com/index....uplers/rda-body-mt-coupler-1015-1016-00102000
    https://www.micro-trains.com/univer...earch=1015 coupler assembled&description=true

    I do not own the Athearn F59PHI, so my first question is: How is the McHenery coupler / coupler box attached to the locomotive frame or body shell? If it's screwed to the frame or body shell, is the screw a 00-90 screw? If yes, then the 1015 will work. The 1015 will also work if the locomotive uses a clip similar to the clips used on Atlas locomotive body shells.

    On another note, by you moving the trip pin to the side, you may have damaged the inside of the coupler which now is allowing it to open more freely. In my opinion, I'd replace the McHenery couplers with Micro-Trains couplers, but that is just my opinion. You could also try removing the coupler pin on the McHenery coupler and see if that fixes the problem? Also make sure both ears are still on the coupler shank and the coupler stays centered in the coupler pocket. As Dave mentioned above, if the locomotives run at slightly different speeds, which can cause cause slack action, that can result in a undesired uncoupling because of a coupler spreading, due to a weak or missing spring, misalignment, etc. Does the uncoupling happen at all speeds, only at fast speeds, only at slow speeds? Do any of the trip pins hang below the head of the rails? These are all things to look at and when you've exhausted all possible problems and still have undesired uncouplings, then the last step is to simply replace the couplers.
     
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  19. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

    In the above photo, you have quite a high/low situation. Are you sure the coupler box is firmly attached to the locomotive frame / shell? It should not be pointing up and the back of the box looks like it's hanging down, indicating a loose screw?
     
  20. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    I've looked at what's going on here and re-read the entire thread through twice. Just in case I missed something.

    May I add:

    Keep in mind any coupler can fly apart. Removing pins and I've done that isn't always the answer. In some cases the older N scale, MT's and Kadee knuckle couplers need them in place, to work. If you remove them, they might stay together but for how long? The side effect of, won't work as well as in poor performance. Longer trains tend to bring out the worst in couplers. Don't mean to brag but this is what I do. I tend to run 30, 40 and 50 car freight trains on 2.0 to 2.5 gradients. No flat lander railroad. No short stuff, except for locals, allowed on my layout. Therefore the demand on the couplers is greater. Just like the 1:1 foot scale. They end up with broken pins from time to time. The weak link in any coupler.

    Another weak link I discovered early on with HO scale knuckle couplers and I see it back on a N scale version. Is the spring on the outside of the coupler. Those can break off and the hopes of ever finding those...:censored:...springs are next to impossible. I do my best to avoid those.

    Miss-matched couplers as already discussed here. Is worth paying attention to. Good advice.

    I've enjoyed looking at your pictures of your trains and train layout. Do I dare say Lionel O scale in miniature?

    Have fun with your toy trains and what I said in the signature.;)
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
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