Everything on model trains, model railroads, model railways, locomotives, model train layouts, scenery, wiring, DCC and more. Enjoy the world's best hobby... model railroading!

DCC Made Easy – Get These Recommended DCC E-Books

How Do You Uncouple Stubborn Cars?

Ross sent in this question:

“Hi to everyone. Just wondering the best way to uncouple stubborn cars during an op session? I’m very new to things, but already not a big fan of the Kadee magnets, which I’m finding a bit inconsistent when I want to keep my fumbling hands and elbows away from the scenery. I saw one guy on video using a pick thingy sharpened and flattened at one end. He wedged it between the coupler jaws and opened the couplers with a little twist. What do people use?”

10 Responses to How Do You Uncouple Stubborn Cars?

  • Kevin Chingsays:

    Hi Ross I do the same thing but it can take a little practice

  • Geoffsays:

    With Kadee, you can often use a small flathead screwdriver to twist the couplers apart. I’ve read of people using a starbucks swizzle stick where they’ve sanded down the end to make a flat pick!

  • Frank Bsays:

    What you saw is probably the Kadee 241 Uncoupler Stick – just a plastic stick with a twiddly end – you could easily make something that would work. It’s like a small screwdriver tickled into the middle of the coupler and gently twisted.

  • Kim Fokkensays:

    I got uncoupling tool(metal one) from Micromark.com

  • Herveysays:

    Ross magnets do work very well if (big if) everything is perfectly setup. The height of the top of the magnet has to be perfect. Follow directions for installation meticulously and do it with the gauge to make sure it is centered in the track. Also the height of the ‘glad hand” has to be perfect and this requires another gauge to check its height.
    That said a lot of modellers don’t like the look of the glad hand or the magnets and use an uncoupling tool such as those sold by Kadee or Micro Mark. I get as good result from a 1/8″ diameter bamboo skewer. These are available at my local dollar store in packs of 50 for a dollar.

  • Tom van den bergsays:

    I have read a few times on different site that some people use a long sharpen wooden skewer

  • William Andersonsays:

    The KD magnet uncoupling system works quite well if properly tuned which can be a bit tedious. But worth the effort if you like shifting the cars around. I like the under track magnets as they are out of sight. Of course their location must be marked in some manner, such as by the KD groundman figure. Essential tools are the KD trip pin pliers, the KD coupler height gauge and the magnet gluing device which must match the size rail you are using. KD has a very good web site, instructions and store.

  • David Stokessays:

    Supplied magnets are often not wide nor strong enough. Mine are 25mm x 50mm so I have lots of “wiggle room”. I also lubricate my KDs with powdered graphite, I make sure that there is no loose powder to get left around the track before rerailing the wagon because some is good, more is bad (graphite that is).
    Also set your couplers up according to the instructions. – get a height gauge.
    Some wagon have magic axle bearings and the wagons roll just that little bit too well, I slow them down by ensuring that they comply with the NRMA weight Recommended Practice.
    KDs will not work well on curves or sloping track, probably obvious, but a point often missed.

  • Steven Attiassays:

    see attached… from a crystal sugar (rock candy) stick, just sharpen the end, insert and twist

  • Morgan Bilbosays:

    The most important thing in MR is the couplers. Make sure they are straight, proper height, etc. Use the gauge. Pins must clear the gauge too. That makes the whole coupling and uncoupling easy. With or without magnets or a pick. This sounds like you might have couplers that are not aligned properly. When aligned properly, they don’t have problems. Kadee are the best on the market. Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a photo or image related to your comment (JPEG only)

N Scale Track Plans

Watch Video


Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

Download Your Free Catalog

Model Train Help Ebook

Model Train DCC HELP


FREE Tour Inside Club

Take a FREE tour inside the club.

Scenery Techniques Explained

Scenery & Layout Ideas

Model Railroading Blog Archive

Reader Poll

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.