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Couplings

The subject of couplings tends to come up at most shows. Each have their own ideas whether manual or autocouplings are best. I’m firmly in the manual camp and within reason I like couplings to look like the thing they are supposed to represent. Yes I know the infamous ‘hand of god’ grates to some but, to me, I like to suspend my belief for a second or 2 while an operator couples up rather than something looking wrong 100% of the time due to some weird design of autocoupling. On Brettell Road I have kind of the best and worst case scenario at the same time for the hand of god problem. Best case because its dark and its easier to hide it. Worst case because if the operators have any hope of seeing what they are doing you need a light! I can appreciate that this might well be the ultimate per peeve for some. Bit like my own of tipped from the box road vehicles or magnificently modelled signals with a flat etch for the ladder, so is there another way? Well there might be!The couplings on this wagon have been modified do that they can be seen in the dark.  in the light there are no derogatory side effects but in the dark……and under a UV light coupling hook they are clearly visible. Potentially easier to see than inter the normal pen torch. The UV torch I have does still give out visible light so the next mission is to find a truly black light source. By marking the coupling link, the wagon hook and the end of the coupling probe with a UV marker I might have a reasonably invisible manual coupling method.

Cassettes

Of the 5 layouts I have regularly helped to exhibit 3 have used a cassette system and this always seems to generate interest at shows. Cassettes are one of those weird things in model railways that everyone seems to be aware of but no one ever really explains to anyone. I have to hold my hands up and say I am not really a fan of them but for Brettell Road I didn’t really have a lot of options.  This is how my cassette system works (other methods are available).The baseboards were designed with a recess for the cassettes. The connecting end of the cassette itself. this is the third revision.   The track is only actually stuck to the cassette at this end via the copper clad. the rest is merely clamped between the cassette and the inner piece that runs down it’s length.

I say third revision because the way it connect to the layout has been a tad problematic. initially I had extra rails outside of the running rails that transferred power to the copperclad sleepers by sitting over the top. This worked for the vertical alignment and at the test session at Phil’s seemed to be fine for horizontal too. However in terms of transmitting the power it wasn’t 100% and as Simon (one of the operators) pointed out – it was likely to wear through the copperclad at some point.

For Scaleforum I retained the extra rails for alignment but added phosphor bronze strips for electrical connection. these were better but fragile. Also oddly we had horizontal alignment problems that hadn’t shown up before.  This is my revised arrangement that I am happy with so far. It seems reliable in tests but until the layout goes to its next show we wont be absolutely sure. It does look a little bit more complicated than it needs to be due to 2 tracks feeding in from the layout. The basic idea is that a piece of flatbottom rail mounted sideways and into the web of the running rail does all the alignment and power transmission. you might have noticed that the rail in the cassette picture wasn’t attached to the first sleeper. this is because it’s slightly tweaked outwards and is held in line by the flatbottom rail. The advantage of this is that its robust but easily adjustable if needed. So far in tests the derailment problem hasn’t re-occured. The cassette in place. I also have some half length ones too.

One Response

  1. Malcolm 'Lostboy' Hunt

    I’m still choosing N gauge atm, but when I did run OO I was an actual second man at Stratford with loads of real couplings to deal with on LvSt turnarounds of loco hauled expresses & non passenger coaches. I belonged to a model railway club in Walthamstow where I met a future colleague who helped me get my job, and I still have a Mk II and locos with the remains of screw couplings on them.
    -Keep on keeping on!

    18/10/2017 at 10:11 pm

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