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Replacing Old Couplers With Kadee Lookalikes

Ross wants to hear what others think:

“I am looking to replace the horn hook couplers on several older freight cars. I spotted some Kadee clones that will fit into the coupler mounts on the trucks. Am I wasting my time buying the knock-off clones which are cheaper, or should I stick with Kadee. I know sometimes you pay extra for a brand name. Does anyone have experience using both?”

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20 Responses to Replacing Old Couplers With Kadee Lookalikes

  • Tim Gallaghersays:

    Hi. I would suggest that you spend the extra cash and go with Kadee couplers. I’ve dealt with the knock offs, the OEM couplers that come with/on cars and engines. Mchenry couplers are pretty good but in the long run I’ve learned there is no substitute for Kadee…

  • David Hardingsays:

    The metal Kadee clone couplers are OK for use between cars that will always run as a block. As for the plastic knuckle couplers (McHenry, Accumate, Bachmann E-Z Mate…….etc.) those things are pure junk. Go withKadee if you want quality and reliability

  • Jerry Downingsays:

    If you are into N Scale, the Kadee’s are without a doubt the best. I’m convinced that nothing works as well and looks as realistic as Kadee’s.

  • Bob P.says:

    Hi Ross,
    I have been in the hobby for 40+ years and I have come to find that Kadee is very reliable and they don’t break. I have tried others and they do work, but if your hauling long trains you want a strong coupler to carry the weight. Plastic couplers work good on shorter trains. So it does depend on what your running. Happy Railroading!

  • Rick Reillysays:

    I have found that the McHenry couplers break easy, But the accurail and, Bachman, work really well

  • J Rsays:

    Kadee, Kadee, Kadee ! For trouble free performance – Kadee. You won’t regret it.

  • Art kalischsays:

    Remember you get what u paid, in
    Other words do not buy them, there
    Is usually a reason for the cheaper
    Price. They are not compatiable with
    Other knuckle cuppalers.

  • Anton Brucesays:

    Also as someone who has been replacing horn-hook couplers for 40+ years, I can tell you that in my experience, Kadee are a LARGE cut above the knock-offs. And, you CAN find them on sale, especially from on-line sellers – even Ebay. The plus is that they have a coupler replacement guide on their website, which will tell you which model of their couplers will fit in which brands of locos and rolling stock.

  • Paul Ssays:

    I recently had they same problem, keep multiple types of couplers or replace with Kadee. I made the decision to replace and am glad I did. While I was at it I replaced all plastic wheel sets with metal ones and where I could added extra weight. My total upgrade was not cheap. But I’ve been rewarded with better running rolling stock.

    • Ernie Vahlbruchsays:

      Currently in the same mode as you describe. Figured that if I buy good used rolling stock and give it the wheels, Kadees and weight ungrades, I’m still coming out ahead and I can look forward to a long time between repairs etc.

  • Marksays:

    I went MTL/Kadee in 1977. Why they hadn’t been a standard of the NMRA by 1982, still puzzles me to this day.

  • Kevinsays:

    Use the cheaper Bachmann ez knuckle couplers you can get them for a fraction of the price of Kayde’s and they work really well I dont use anything else myself

  • Laurent Daudelinsays:

    Like others said, don’t bother with any other brand of couplers but Kadee. They’re simply the best and the extra cost is not with it.

  • phil johnsonsays:

    If you are running long trains, heavy cars and you are using KD clones, sooner or later you’ll be embarrassed. I tried them when first out on market 30 yrs. ago and after 3 yrs. went back to KD’s. The plastics under load will raise up and uncouple. Their shanks flex. KD’s or Walthers proto are the only ones I use. If it is plastic I may ACC the knuckle and use as a dummy

  • Greg Wiblesays:

    I find that the Bachmann couplers tend to move vertically somewhat. So if your track differs in elevation, you could have uncoupling problems. I find in those cases that the Kadee couplers do not flex near as much and stay coupled. But in most cases I find no problem with the cheaper couplers.

  • Timothy Purdysays:

    I prefer Kadee’s myself I think the knock off’s you are referring are called McHenrey couplers. They are made of plastic and like any plastic coupler they intend to give way and cause more uncoupling than you can handle. Kadee’s may cost a little more but I think the cost will be worth the headache latter on.

  • John Byerssays:

    I don’t believe the NMRA would ever make a trademarked brand a standard. Their standards are designed so any manufacturer may freely use them to ensure compatibility and proper operation. When they attempted to make a standard design for HO 60 some years ago so that all the train sets would work with each other, and they couldn’t violate anybody’s patents, the committee came up with the X2F horn hook design. This was often called the NMRA coupler even though the NMRA voted against it. Most train sets started using it, which did allow HO train sets to be compatible. Since most model railroaders start by getting a train set in their youth, this helped grow the hobby in that respect. Before the X2F horn hook monstrosity was designed there were numerous non compatible but good functioning couplers on the market. I believe the great John Allen used Baker couplers. There were also Mantua, Devore, and others, none would work with anybody else’s.

  • Angelsays:

    Kadee all the way my friend! Quality over quantity on my railroad any day. Kadee is ALL I use on my model railroad and never had an issue.

  • Gerrysays:

    I you want a Ferrari buy a Ferrari, don’t go and buy a Volkswagen that’s been made to look like a Ferrari; you always, always get what you pay for.

  • Ralph Cunninghamsays:

    I’ve been in the hobby for some 60 years now and when I get a car with the plastic knock offs I trash them and replace with Kadees. There is no replacement for them.

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