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Changing Couplers

Here is a question from Ron who is new to HO trains:

“I’m totally brand new to HO modeling … after sorting about 6 locomotives and about 40 misc cars (that I bought at a garage sale), I realized several need wheels and/or couplers … I see that all couplers are not the same … do you advise changing all of them so they are compatible … also how do you change the dang things! (I’ve tried) … thank you”

2 Responses to Changing Couplers

  • Rich Aubel says:

    Yes, you should definitely change/replace couplers and wheelsets. There are a lot of articles and manufacturer instructions on how to install new couplers so you need to do some research into them. Check out the Kadee company’s information and it will tell you exactly what you need. I have replaced couplers on over 60 train cars in the past year and each of them can be a little different depending on the original rolling stock suppliers. Make sure you purchase a coupler height gauge so that all of the couplers are compatible with each other in terms of location.

    I have replaced the plastic wheels on those same train cars with metal wheels. The easiest way to do this is to gently pry open the sideframes and remove the wheels and axle on each end. Then, spreading the sideframes apart, insert the new metal wheelset in each end. There are 4 or 5 companies that sell wheelsets (one wheelset = 2 wheels and 1 axle). Doing the replacement in this way is very easy and fast.

  • Frank B says:

    I will also recommend Kadee couplers, they make a vast range to suit just about every situation.

    However, some of the cheaper rolling stock (particularly those with couplers on the trucks) may not be designed to enable alternative couplers, so you may have to cut them off the trucks, screw new couplers to the end of the car, and otherwise be very creative in your modifications.

    Or perhaps, sell off the cheaper cars, and buy some better ones.

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