Friday, 22 October 2021

Protocraft Couplers

With larger-scale modelling, a large layout is never a possibility what is, the attempt at greater realism with one of the biggest scenic elements being the track and rolling stock so it makes sense to attempt to recreate the operation as a method to make the layout larger but just doing more with the items we have at our disposal. 

One of the items that can add realism is the couplers and their operation. In real life, couplers are a manual task and would it not be nice to replace that?

In a previous blog Sound Car, a strategy was outlined for operational sound, so couplers are next with the common link a magnet. When using a Soundtracks Sound Car, a magnetic must be used to consist of the decoders, so using it to operate the couplers would be an operational linkage.

Magnetically operated couplers [# PC-1075] are available from Protocraft  in the USA and are assembled but based on the US prototype but meets my theatrical philosophy.

The first problem was integrating them into the rolling stock currently at my disposal. The first issue was coupler location and height that was addressed in a much earlier blog on couplers and their installation. The original couplers had a much smaller footprint than the Protocraft couplers so a complete rework was required.

The LCH were rebuilt as outlined in Vlog #1 with the coupler having specific issues requiring a large amount of styrene strip to pack them onto the center line of the car at the correct height. In conjunction with the 32 Class locomotive tender, a new coupler standard was now created that required modifications on the S, K and RU wagons, so the ruler was out.

Knuckle centerline from the top rail

The first to be modified was a Waratah S wagon, after a lot of measuring, it was decided to start with modifying the pocket to suit a ProtoCraft coupler pocket. This required removing all the cast-on details for the coupler details plus all the coupler base to the deck floor. This is messy and slow and would best be done with a small milling machine before assembly as it was difficult on an assembled car. 

Lacking this, the Ozito battery-operated motor tool fitted with a Dremel rotary cutter was a good backstop and this was covered in Vlog #2. 

The next task was to dress the modified ProtoCraft pocket then install a styrene strip and 2.5 mm angle on the sides of the pocket to blend it into the car. Finally, a 0.25'' wide styrene strip was used to pack the pocket to its final height and if doing it have 0.010''/0.015''/0.020''/0.030'' x 0.25'' on the workbench for this task.

The knuckle on the couplers is 5.6 mm wide so a 1mm +/- will be acceptable but with most of the cars at this time they are half that,

With this done the RU was modified and required similar modifications to the S with the K wagon being more straightforward with just the opening modified to suit the new couplers. Also, I have a 5000 gallon Tanker wagon and this was a lot of work requiring custom printed parts to integrate the couplers.

5000-gallon tanker

K Wagon

RU Wagon

With all this done it was time to tackle the tender of the locomotive and finally install a coupler in the front of the 32 Class HO style..!