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Minimum distance between wagons?

1723 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  paul stapleton
I am in the process of fitting Bachman MK2 couplers with NEM pockets to some wagons so that they can be fitted with the Brian Kirby magnetic uncoupler.

This is an opportunity to decrease the distance between wagons by adjusting the position of the new pockets.

I realise the minimum distance may be related to minimum diameter of curves as this is where the buffers may interlock. Most curves on my layout are >60cm radius but a couple are 50-55cm.

Can anyone give me an idea of the minimum clearance that is required between wagons? This will cut down on the amount of experimentation needed.


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How about 'it varies', according to what you want? I have been doing this for some time, and am very pleased with the results on traditional 4W wagons.

For 9' or 10' wheelbase wagons, placing the coupler so that the 'bumper bar' is in the same plane as the buffer heads means that the wagons buffer up when pushed, yet are still fully protected against buffer locking, still have enough slack to uncouple on straight track, and pull out to scale distance for a loose coupled train when pulled. Set up like this they are 'on the limit' on 600mm radius, and will not couple up or uncouple, because the coupler is tight.

For your slightly tighter radii you may need to set the bumper bar slightly forward of the plane of the buffer heads. Similar adjustments are required for longer fixed wheelbase and bogie vehicles, I tackle these on a case by case basis, since they are a minority in my operation.

A problem you may well encounter. The distance from buffer face to axle can be too short on some wagon designs to accomodate the NEM pocket. Having started shortening the coupling distance on my Bachmann 16T minerals by cropping approximately 2mm off the front of the pocket, and shortening the push in 'legs' on the coupler to match; this is what I also do on kit built wagons where space is tight. A second benefit of doing it this way is that small adjustments can be made if the coupler finishes too far inboard, by pulling it out to the required position, then securing with cyano adhesive.
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You have to experiment.

Distances between rolling stock depends on the curves on your track and coupling distances and type of stock in some cases (sprung buffers and sprung pocket etc.).

When deciding on Kadee couplers for these Bachmann wagons, I realised that if they were too close then fouled up on some curves.

Other wagon with the same # coupler were fine.

All part of the fun of modelling. I have some trains that can go anywhere, some that can't go through tight junctions due to coupling distances. Difficult to make one rule to suit all stock.
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Hello 34c

At last! There are some other people as mad as me! I thought I was the only one bothering to shorten standard couplings - what a difference it makes! Shortening the distance between wagons is the single biggest improvement you can make to modern RTR stock - apart from weathering !

I have a rake of 35 Bachmann 16ton minerals and with their close coupling they lokk great snaking through pointwork.

Some many of the Country's best layouts ( even Dewsbury Midland ) are spoiled for the sake of a few hours work close coupling the stock. I plan to have a simple "before and after" on my layout so people can see the difference for themselves.

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