Saturday, 6 December 2008


I had a quick look at couplings recently. A friend and I have been debating by e-mail as to which couplings would be best to use for a future project. We've discussed the idea frequently over the last couple of years - a large 'modern-ish' layout in P4. Since we both work in the rail industry we should be at an advantage when it comes to getting details correct! As it currently stands we've not in a position to start any layout construction but careful planning is very easy when you have plenty of time!

Couplings may seem to be a low priority for some; indeed for some modellers they don't even think about it as they're quite happy with the couplings which come with their locos and stock. This is fine, but we not happy with tension lock couplings, and I don't think they're very 'finescale'! So what were the options?

  • Three link couplings
  • Kadee couplings
  • Sprat & Winkle couplings
  • Alex Jackson couplings

We discounted three links as being a bit too fiddly for exhibition use. Kadees are ultra reliable but are expensive and we felt don't look right on most British stock - though for the large EWS hoppers may provide a useful and prototypical solution. Alex Jacksons are brilliant in operation but require careful set up and maintenance - not something I'd fancy on a large fleet of wagons. We are considering using them on Botanic for stock which will be required to shunt the coal yard though.

The final option we have are Sprat & Winkle couplings. My dad and I have used them on Eastmoor for some time and have found them to be rather good. They are discreet and only work out at forty odd pence per vehicle. I hope you'll excuse the lighting in the photos - I was using the kitchen lights at my parents' house! At this time of year East Yorkshire seems to have a distinct lack of sunlight and when we did get it, it was snowing so not ideal for photography!

As you can see the coupling is quite small in its appearance - I used the 3mm scale/4mm 'finescale' version (AC3/3). The couplings are quite subtle too, when vehicles are coupled it is quite hard to see the couplings! As the following demonstrates -

I used 0,33 mm handrail wire for the coupling loops - it's quite thin but in this application will be fine. It's also near invisible to the naked eye when stock is viewed at 'normal viewing distances' - this is especially pleasing for diesel locos where a feature of models is the full compliment of bufferbeam hoses and jumper cables.

So we'll see how the small selection converted gets on before we make a final decision.

1 comment:

  1. Will the S&W work for hands free uncoupling on say a 6ft radius curve? I only ask as that's what I am looking for in a coupling system atm. Thanks