Cameron’s latest missive

Got another installment from Cameron today.

His last one is here – but one or two have got in touch saying there is a mistake in the electrics (have a look in the comments).

“Dear Al,

More as promised.

Lanarth – Part 9 Uncoupling

Scale 1:76. 00
Track Peco HO Code 100
Location – British, Southern Railway, Western Region

Coupling and uncoupling happens frequently on a small shunting layout. For Inglenook Shunting puzzles, like the one I was building, it occurs even more.

My other layout uses Kadee coupling hooks and because I wanted to use the same stock this new layout needed to accomodate them as well.

Kadee offers permanent magnetic uncouplers but these are not suitable when you are constantly going back and forwards over the uncoupler at low speed. At slow speeds they will disengage even when you don’t want them to.

The other option they offer is an electromagnet operated by a switch. These work well but are expensive and require a lot of electrical current to work.

After some pondering I came up with a simple solution that is not electric.

I utilised the Kadee under track magnets and mounted them under the board on a hinged flap. With the flap down they don’t activate the couplers but once the flap is up you can uncouple.

The flap is operated by a wire in tube method. Both the wire and tube can be purchased quite cheaply at model aeroplane shops.

For my layout I have a push rod that moves the wire in tube. The push rod is simply a timber dowel in an aluminium tube.

I found that I could bring both wires to the same push rod so the one push rod operates three uncoupling locations.

You can see the uncoupling locations as large white plastic patches on the layout photo bellow.

The wire in tube is the thin white tube under the layout that runs from the push rod to the flap.

Apologies in advance if this post is a bit confusing.

Hopefully you can get the idea from the photos.

I am very happy with the result and it works surprisingly well.



I think Cameron’s post today demonstrates in spades how there is always more than one way to get the effect you want – and if it costs less than an expensive option, even better…

That’s all for today folks. Keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to roll your sleeves up and get going.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

18 Responses to Cameron’s latest missive

  1. Mike says:

    Pretty kool idea…Mike

  2. Rob McCrain says:

    It looks like a clever low cost solution. I like it. Rob McCrain

  3. John Britt says:

    Hello the Victoria Model Railway Club uses Kadee couplers only. The so called look a likes do not even measure up to the reliability of Kadee’s. Metal wheel sets are also mandetory as they do not collect dirt and grease as much.. Keep up the great work (to coin a phrase from Sir Topham Hat) “Really useful items” As soon as I can compose a missive for our club layout, I will forward atwo videos that were taken at an exhibition last Oct.

  4. Kevin McArdle says:

    Great solution, but I will stick with the manual uncoupling, just because I am not that clever, and too labor intensive. I put my effort into my modeling, and scenery.

  5. Thomas Murphy says:

    I too use manual uncoupling; but this presentation seems to be very catchy; perhaps I shall give it a try. Tom.

  6. Keith Miller says:

    Ingenious Cameron.
    Good to see someone giving the scale and gauge details – I have noticed this is something several folk have asked for. Cameron has gone further and given track and location details as well. Hope it becomes the norm.

  7. Dan Brown says:

    I like your system. Easy to install and operate. I have seen putting the magnet in a trough. The one I say could be moved between two tracks. Saves on magnets. Manual is more reliable over electronic.

  8. Bill says:

    In the American colony’ s we refer to ideas like this as KISS.

    Keep It Simple Stupid.

    Bill in S Tejas

  9. Dominic P. DeMonte says:

    guess that Cameron’ idea should catch on because a lot of modelers use these
    couplers should come aboard. EXELENT !!!!

    Domie Maine

  10. Rod Mackay says:

    Bright idea Cameron, kerching. Well done. Now if only we could persuade our club members to use the same type of couplings… At present we have stock running regularly with tension lock, sprat and winkle, three link, Kadee and a several rakes with internal close-coupling systems such as Keen. All the owners seem convinced either their chosen system is best or it would cost the too much to change.

  11. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great how to, its probably a goer for me keep sharing we modellers are always looking at things that are a bit cheaper.

  12. David says:

    Like your ideas Cameron,keep them coming and thanks for sharing.

  13. It seems to me this is similar to what pipe organists know as the “tracker system” of controlling the pitch and quality of organ pipes (no really good electrical controls for organs before the 20th century – similar to RR air brakes). The “Rahway Valley Railroad (Aldene Yard) is “bucket list # 2” I have been retired for five years and still have not unpacked my HO railroad- which dates back to hand laid track. “BL # 1 should be completed by April, The RVRR lets me model six railroads within a two-mile radius (RVRR, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie-Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio, and the Reading, (1950s).

  14. K.R.Harwood says:

    James Jeffery Zetto, I’m also thinking of modeling the Central/North Jersey area since it offers several different RRs to interchange with. I’m in Monmouth County… Where are you located?

  15. KRH:
    Originally Westfield and Fanwood (Union County, on the CNJ). Left there in 1968 for Detroit, Saint Louis, Cape Cod, Central PA, and Houston (TX). By the way, Houston is
    not the most user-friendly town fir model railroaders, especially if you live north of the city. It also lost its best electronics supply store (Fry’s) to bankruptcy. On the other hand, Texas does have a goodly number of steam and tourist railroads; the state is so big and they are so far away. Amtrack comes through three times a week.

  16. Dan says:

    I consider that genius !!!

  17. As long as you have ‘Tension’ on the coupling, there shouldn’t be a problem

  18. Erick says:

    Looks pretty good.

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