Magnetic coupler – Paul’s

Paul’s been in touch with his magnetic coupler – or should that be uncoupler?

“Hi Al,

My new video showing installation of permanent magnets for uncoupling in a switching layout.

This photo shows the slot cut in the bottom of the screw to allow adjustment from underneath the baseboard.

magnetic coupler

This photo shows the cars being uncoupled.

magnetic coupler

This shows the partially finished switching layout.

magnetic coupler

This photo shows the finished product.

magnetic coupler


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

You may remember Paul from his last post, where he enlarges his waterfront.

That’s all for today folks. A big thanks to Paul for sharing his magnetic coupler.

It’s funny, couplers come up so often on the blog because a lot of the time they are the cause of derailments.

Some folk simply solve the problem by using a different brand, and there’s one that always comes up time and time again, as the one to go for, which is Kadee.

Please do leave a comment below if you’ve found the same.

That’s all for this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

26 Responses to Magnetic coupler – Paul’s

  1. Rich B. says:

    Honey of a layout.

  2. Paul Case says:

    I appreciate Al showing my video, but I have to make some changes. First off the 12mmX3mm magnets proved to be toooooo powerful and sometimes would not let the switcher retrieve the car from the siding. So I did some more experimenting and found that 6mmX3mm magnets were just right. The method to install the magnets is the same except we substitute 6-32 x 1 1/2″ screws in place of the large screws. The reason I went with 1 1/2″ long screws is that I would need something to grab onto in order to adjust the height of the magnet. Since the screw is so thin there was no way to cut a screwdriver slot in the end for adjustment from below so I just grip the screw with a plier to adjust. It turns out that the height I found to work best was just 1mm below the track. So this requires that you remove the tie just above the magnets. This seems to work best since you have to pause for a moment over the magnets for the couplers to release. Therefore when you retrieve the car passing over the magnet without stopping does not uncouple. I learned a lot about magnets and superglue. My fingers can attest to the strength of the glue. Paul

  3. george zaky says:

    Thanks Paul
    Clever set-up for the magnets- Did you try one 12mmx3mm in the middle? Also the magnetic flux decreases with distance so that is why you have the screws if the flux is too strong.
    Nice layout
    George from NY

  4. Very useful video, Paul. Thanks for the update piece as well. I wondered about the height of the magnet.

    Mn Dan

  5. John Frye says:

    I use magnets all over the place, even along the edge of my workspace to hold hobby knives and tweezers and little ones to hold buildings that need to be moved to get to stuff. Best place too buy them is EBay, stacks for pennies each, all kinds, different sizes, and shapes. Most I have are like Paul’s, round with a mounting hole in the middle. Never thought of using them for uncoupling though, good idea, thanks Paul!
    John from Baltimore

  6. Sid Pratt says:

    Very good.

  7. Mark Houck says:

    Thanks for posting, nice job. You are giving me more ideas in using magnets.

  8. Terry Miller says:

    Great how-to video…the only question I have is does it work with any type of coupler or does it have to be a magnetic coupler? (I’m thinking it’s the latter) which means I’ll have to switch out all my existing couplers. Am I correct?

    Idaho USA

  9. Gary Manganiello says:

    Great video………I been having trouble with uncoupling and I am going to try your method.

  10. Paul Case says:

    George Z —I didn’t try one in the middle because you want couplers to be pulled sideways to open up. I think in the middle would just pull downward. If you try it let us know how it worked.

  11. Mike RICHARDSON says:

    Paul Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Robert Dickson says:

    Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  13. JACK WINDT says:

    what size magnets do you get, and where do you suggest to get them?

  14. don kadunc says:

    I have mounted all my track, so, it is too late to put them under the track. Have you tried the 12 mm magnets beside the track? I could install them in this manner if they would work. I think they may work in this way. If 12 mm don’t work maybe 15 mm might.

  15. Paul Case says:

    Jack & Don, the size is noted in my update. Putting the magnets beyond the tracks sounds like it might work. Let us know. You can get the magnets on Amazon in bulk. You might try placing the magnets on some double sided foam tape beyond the tracks to see if it works.

  16. james says:

    sounds like a plan

  17. Steven Hesse says:

    Very smart idea. Really handy in small tight spaces

  18. Paul Case says:

    Don I tried placing the 12mm magnets up against the edge of the ties and they didn’t pull the couplings apart. I guess they are too far away. The only thing you could try is removing the part of 2 ties that extend beyond the rails to form a pocket in which the magnets could sit up against the rails. Might work!!

  19. Paul, I believe this was asked however I didn’t see an answer. Will this work with all magnet couplers? What type couplers did you use as well.

    Thanks I I love the idea.

  20. Benjamin Wright says:

    Really cool! Great idea for an uncoupler!

  21. Desmond Cole says:

    This post is about HO/OO couplings. Has anyone used uncoupling magnets for N gauge. If so, can it be posted on this site please.

  22. Paul Case says:

    James so far they are working with all the couplers that came with the cars. I did replace some with Kadee couplers. Obviously the couplers have to be steel or iron. Place a magnet against your couplers to check which will work. Also that little whisker that hangs down under the coupler must be there because that is what is attracted by the magnet.

  23. Norman Rosen says:

    Very good video. Now what do we N gaugers do?

  24. Pete Gladman says:

    A brilliant idea Paul, perfect for a curved track where straight magnets can’t fit between the rails.

  25. Dale Popula says:

    I have two questions with regard to your magnetic uncoupler.
    1 Does it matter which side left or right that the positive pole is placed? I did not hear/missed it mentioned on your video.
    2. If placed on a grade, will a car row free down the grade without the train having to stop (think hump yard)? I would not mind sliding a thin piece of plastic over the magnets to reduce the pull when the switcher has to retrieve the cars.

  26. Bruce Meier says:

    Thanks for sharing your clever solution, to an old problem. I am still in the planning stages of building my layout, as I have been “collecting” piece by piece for 30 yrs ….LOL I’ve got 10 MTH diesel engines and approx 60-70 cars (MTH & Lionel). Alot of scenery pieces, mainly refinery parts. Was able to locate new MTH digital base, and handheld remote…plus a boatload of FasTrack
    I have retired, but planning to move to a warmer climate, so all I can do is plan and learn with the hope I don’t make too many mistakes


Leave a Reply

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