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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,
Here's my method of automating Bachmann Blue Riband Couplings, i hope it may be of interest. Basically, it uses re-shaped steel office staples and pairs of magnets buried under the track. The staple tails are attracted down by the magnets, the hooks rise, but only when the hooks are unlocked.
By all means try the idea for yourself.
Cheers, Brian.

Two wagons coupled away from magnets, magnets located as shown. Two spare magnets in front to show size.

The two wagons coupled in tension, over the magnets, remain coupled.

The "train" reverses slightly, unlocking the couplings, the hooks rise.

One van is drawn away.

To recouple, the vans are pushed backwards over and away from the magnets, they recouple.

Plain ballasted track, magnets not visible.
 

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Hi Brian,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for taking the time to post photos that illustrate your "invention". I for one will definitely give it ago.

Dave
 

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I use it. Absolutely brilliant. Swap the metallic hooks and it can be used on Hornby, Bachmann etc.

No need to buy expensive couplings or uncoupling ramps. This uses ordinary staples and magnets. You could save ££££'s. Try it.
 

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That looks like a great money saver Brian I wish you would have posted it about 2 weeks ago before I bought a load of kadee couplings and magnets!!!


Very well done mate.

Kind regards

Paul
 

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I should have said Heljan..... Here is the corrected version:

I use it. Absolutely brilliant. Swap the metallic hooks and it can be used on Hornby, Heljan etc.

No need to buy expensive couplings or uncoupling ramps. This uses ordinary staples and magnets. You could save ££££'s. Try it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Chaps,
I actually thought this up about ten years ago, just after Bachmann introduced their narrow Blue Riband couplings and i was having no end of trouble with the dreaded plastic uncoupling ramps. Apologies for sitting on this for so long, some of the RTR manufacturers have been shown this and liked it, we'll see if they decide to use it.

It works best on these Bachmann couplings, because luckily, they use hooks made from non-ferrous alloy. All the other makes of tension-lock coupling (i.e. Hornby, Dapol, Airfix, Lima and even Heljan) use steel hooks that can become magnetized and then stick together. The principle will work on these other types, but is not quite as effective. The "tails" or "actuactors" (!) are simply made from old or new steel office staples, re-shaped, then crimped and glued to the coupling droppers. The magnets (extracted from magnetic door catches) are used in pairs, buried under the track. These were bought quite cheaply from Screwfix (Ref:14897) -32mm White Door Catches at £1.95 for ten (If you have the catalogue, look under "Bolts and Catches").

I must admit that i've already published this idea, on a certain "other forum", which some of you may have already seen, so this is for anyone who has missed it. Feel free to try the idea, any problems, just ask.
Cheers, Brian.
 

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Paul I think you probably wont regret the cost of the KD's. They do two important things more than this system and that firstly is they can push in the disconnected position to spot a wagon anywhere it can be pushed to. I also suspect that they will be easier to live with as you probably don't have to position the couplings so accurately to get disconnection ( no disrespect implied to the inventor of this modification). Also if you use fiddleyards at all KD's are great because the vehicles do not get hooked up when you try to move them. I am sure you will appreciate all this when you get to have a play with them.
Andrew
 

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Hello Brian

I find myself obsessed with coupling/uncoupling - it is the one essential for a succesful exhition "shunting layout" - or really any exhibition layout! I am a great fan of the Kadee coupling but that doesn't mean that I have a closed mind on the subject.

It seems to me the one problem with your method would be locomotives - especially diesels. I would imagine that there would not be room for the balancing staple on many/most modern locos. What is your experience?

Paul
 

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Hi Brian

Sorry to ask a daft question, but how are the magnets fixed into position. ie. by under the track do you mean glued to the underside of the baseboard, or hidden within the ballast?

Best Regards
Mark
 

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Not wishing to answer for Brian but I mounted my magnets 3 in a row to extend the activated area. They are just loosely placed under the sleepers and held in place by ballast. Each magnet is approx 4 mm thick. Each magnet does have a central hole if you want to screw them down.

Fitting to some loco's could be a challenge but if space is a constraint then the end of the trailing arm can be bent back or bent at an angle. Using this method I have trailing arms that are only 10 mm long on some diesel loco's yet they still couple/uncouple perfectly.

The best thing to do is experiment. The magnets are readily available but you can try with different strengths. The staples are virtually free. It is well worth trying.

Enjoy that shunting......
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Paul, Mark and Blue Sky,
Firstly to answer Paul's loco query. The short answer is that locos don't even need a working coupling, a simple wire bar will suffice, using the single hook from a coach or wagon to couple. A thin wire bar looks better anyway. The only problem would be if you wanted to doublehead your locos. With the majority of my steam and diesel locos, i favour a fully working Bachmann coupling on the rear and a thin wire bar on the front for the sake of appearance.
You are absolutely right, fitting a working coupling to either or both ends of some diesels, for example a BR Western or Warship is difficult. Maybe, if appearance is paramount, the best option here is to use dummy screw couplings for loco-to-loco.
Blue Sky is absolutely spot on about fixing the magnets. In one direction the magnets will repel eachother, turn around one magnet and then the two or more magnets will happily stick together. I've never found the need to glue or fix the magnets in place, they just sit in the recess made in the underlay or cork,etc. As already said the glued ballast does the rest.
Cheers, Brian.
 

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QUOTE (Brian Kirby @ 28 Feb 2009, 13:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>It works best on these Bachmann couplings, because luckily, they use hooks made from non-ferrous alloy. All the other makes of tension-lock coupling (i.e. Hornby, Dapol, Airfix, Lima and even Heljan) use steel hooks that can become magnetized and then stick together.

Very interesting idea Brian - thanks.

Just a thought. If some form of insulation was placed between the staple and the hook (plasticard) and the whole assembly glued not crimped or soldered, do you think this would prevent the hook becoming magnetised, thereby allowing its use with Hornby, Dapol, etc?

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Mike,
Yes that should eliminate the magnetized hook problem on steel couplings, like Hornby, etc. I was thinking of black rubber/pvc (steady chaps) sleeving, rather like when you strip the appropriate thickness of electrical wire. The round wire insulation should stretch around the flat dropper shape. Then crimp and glue the staple to the insulation. Use black insulation, so as to make it as inconspicuous as possible.
Another little tip, straighten the Bachmann dropper (they are kinked, so as to be on the centre line for the dreaded plastic ramps), otherwise the applied pair of staples may be too close to eachother, where fixed to the droppers (magnetism again). Using two pairs of pliers is the easiest method i've found.
Cheers, Brian.
 

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QUOTE (Brian Kirby @ 1 Mar 2009, 20:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Mike,
Yes that should eliminate the magnetized hook problem on steel couplings, like Hornby, etc. I was thinking of black rubber/pvc (steady chaps) sleeving, rather like when you strip the appropriate thickness of electrical wire. The round wire insulation should stretch around the flat dropper shape. Then crimp and glue the staple to the insulation. Use black insulation, so as to make it as inconspicuous as possible.

Sounds like 'heatshrink' would do the job better and, being black, would be inconspicuous...

Mike
 

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QUOTE (Brian Kirby @ 28 Feb 2009, 23:07) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Paul, Mark and Blue Sky,
......
Blue Sky is absolutely spot on about fixing the magnets. In one direction the magnets will repel eachother, turn around one magnet and then the two or more magnets will happily stick together. I've never found the need to glue or fix the magnets in place, they just sit in the recess made in the underlay or cork,etc. As already said the glued ballast does the rest.
Cheers, Brian.
I was thinking from the point of view that my layout is already built, ballasted scenery etc. and trying to avoid ripping up track etc. to fit them. Thats why I mentioned the "under the basboard scenario". (it's 9mm Sundeala).

Regards
Mark
 

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Brian - this is a brilliant concept. I have just returned from Screwfix with the magnets and converted 2 wagons with Hornby couplers. I separated the staple from the coupler with black plasticard. It works perfectly with one modification. I had to separate the magnets by about 5 cm to make it work. This may be because I have used too long a staple. Little bit of development work may be needed but in principle it does the job.

As a reborn railway modeller (after 40 years) I am starting from scratch and was wondering how to automate de-coupling in an affordable way.. You have solved the problem. Many thanks.

Keith
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi Keith,
Glad you like it. You've had to move the magnets further apart, because the Hornby narrow couplings have a longer reach, than the Bachmann type. Have you tried Bachmann couplings on the wider magnet spacing ? With a mixture of couplings there will always have to be an element of compromise. If using both coupling types, you could add a third magnet, to increase the uncoupling area.
Cheers, Brian.
 

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I am wrestling with the problem of retro fitting the magnets to already laid track. I would prefer not to lift track to cut a hole in the cork underlay. Ideally it might be possible to cut a hole from underneath the baseboard but this will be a problem with 12mm chipboard.

Only way that seems possible is to cut out some sleepers between the rails to give access to 3mm cork below. Insert the magnets and glue the sleepers back.

Anyone got any other ideas?

Cheers

Keith
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hi again Keith,
Cutting out the sleepers from above seems like the best option, then stick them back on top of the magnets. A spot of re-ballasting should hide the evidence !
Cheers, Brian.
 
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