If you have purchased a 00 gauge model from any UK manufacturer in the past 50 or so years chances are it will have been fitted with a tension lock coupling. Chances are also good that you will have found this style of coupling fiddly and annoying. As operating my Inglenook layout is going to involve a great deal of coupling and de-coupling I needed to look for a better way.
After a bit of Googleing I have settled on Kadee Couplings. Kadee couplings are interlocking knuckles similar in appearance to the hook couplings seen on N gauge models. The way the couplings fit together makes it easy to de-couple stock as the required train or wagon can just be lifted off without the hassle of de-tangling that comes with tension locks and as an added bonus the couplings are magnetic so theoretically they offer hands free shunting. I bought a pack of Kadee number 18’s (as recommended by several internet forums) to test out on my stock and here is where to trouble starts.
Number 18’s are designed to fit into NEM pockets (small boxes that coupling fitting clip into) which is fine for stock that has NEM pockets but not so fine for stock that doesn’t. As it turns out NEM pockets are not standard equipment on model trains and its mostly down to luck if your model has them or not. Fair enough, I thought, Kadee also do couplings for models that have their couplings screwed directly to the model. This isn’t a perfect solution however as the height of the screw-in fittings varies and Kadee couplings are a little more reliant on couplings being the same height than tension lock couplings are. I’m not keep on making alterations to stock to fit the screw-in couplings so I’ll be sticking with the clip-in ones.
Overall I’m happy with the way the new couplings make coupling and uncoupling a lot less fiddly so I’ll slowly be changing over my stock as the inglenook layout progresses. Watch this space…