​​Houston Area 'G' Gaugers

HAGG Members, don't forget that RRM loves it when we come by to run trains. If you need to get your weekly train fix check in with RRM on what day they need you and run your trains weekly. RRM is open Wedesday - Sunday and they are always looking for folks to  ​play ​ operate trains on the garden railroad. You can also help with the upkeep of the railroad, work on the museum's rolling stock and help train the others to run the railroad. Call Greg today.

Body Mounting Kadee 906’s onto: USA Trains
Extended Vision Caboose​
Moving beyond factory couplers.
By: Keith Stratton

This installment is the seventh in a series of ‘How To’ articles on body mounting Kadee straight shank couplers. The sixth article was published way, way back in Issue #135 (Sep-Oct 2013). Where has the time gone!!

Well, a lot of things have changed since then, including my choice of Kadee coupler styles. My go-to couplers were the 830 (black) and 930 (rust) until Kadee came out with the Type E versions, which are the 900 (black) and the 906R (rust). These are beautifully detailed couplers and the exposed spring has been mounted
internally and is no longer visible (and less likely to go missing…). I have since converted my entire roster over to the 906R rust colored couplers and they not only look great, but more importantly they work great. I’ve installed hundreds of the couplers now, not only on my growing roster but on a number of our club member’s
engines and rolling stock as well. Anyone wanting to be shown how to do a conversion is welcome to stop by and I’ll be happy to show you… once… then you are on your own!

Now, back to the task at hand. I have a number of the USAT extended vision cabeese as shown in Picture #01. The mounting of the draft coupler gear box on either end of the caboose took a long time for me to figure out. Actually a couple of years but believe me it was worth the wait. The first step in any install of this nature is to slide the pointy end of the Kadee coupler gauge up to the coupler pocket area of the caboose as shown in
Picture #02 in order to determine the height of the draft coupler gear box. You can see that the yellow end frame is plenty high enough but the black grating frame behind it is about 1/32” too low. Next we need to flip the caboose onto its backsideand get down to business.

                                      Picture #01                                                                                                      Picture #02

In Picture #03 you can see where I’ve removed the rear wheel-set and then have cut off the truck coupler mount, which will be discarded. You can easily see in this picture how dainty the end porches are with nothing to screw the coupler draft gearbox to. This is the part that had eluded me for so long. Picture #04 shows the
solution! It is a piece of Evergreen #414 Strip Styrene, which is .250 x .625”. It was cut to 2.5” in length and the width was reduced from .625” down to .595” in order for it to fit between the two frame rails that run from the bolster to the end frame.

                                          Picture #03                                                                                          Picture #04

Picture #05 shows one of the coupler mounting platforms painted black and in place. The holes have been drilled with a #30 drill to allow a #4 pan head sheet metal screw to pass through. The holes are located .25” and 1.17” from the bolster, which leaves plenty of room at the other end to mount the coupler. In this picture I
am using a mechanical pencil to trace the holes onto the underside of the caboose floor. In picture #06 a scribe is shown being used to mark the center of the screw hole, which is then pushed and twisted to create an indent for the drill. A #54 drill bit is used to drill the pilot hole, which is shown already drilled on the left end of the
mounting pad. Next thing you’ll need to do is to ‘tap’ the threads into the pilot holes by screwing in a #4 pan head sheet metal screw and then back the screw out.

                                         Picture #05                                                                                                      Picture #06

In Picture #07 you will notice that when you screw into plastic, a raised mound will extrude up around the base of the hole as shown in the right side hole. This raised edge must be cut, shaved or chiseled off otherwise the coupler mounting pad will not have a flush fit against the underside of the Caboose floor. The hole on the left
side has had the raised mound removed. The coupler mounting pad is shown installed in Picture #08 with two #4 x ½” pan head sheet metal screws.

                                       Picture #07                                                                                         Picture #08

The floor of the caboose is only about 1/8” thick so about 1/8” was removed by nipping off the end of the screw with a pair of cutters as shown in Picture #09. This was done so the caboose door would be able to fully open and not strike the protruding screw tip on the inside of the caboose. And now, finally, its time to mount the actual coupler! There is a small amount of material to remove from either side of the coupler pocket opening and the end plate in front of the mounting pad. In Picture #10 you can see where the coupler draft gear box has been placed up against the pocket opening and I typically place a razor saw against either side of the gear box and mark the ends by drawing the razor saw over the end plate. Because there was so little material to remove, I used a 1” wide file to open the pocket to size.

                                          Picture #09                                                                                              Picture #10

The result can be seen in Picture #11. The coupler draft gear box is then placed onto the mounting pad and the screw holes are marked and the pilot holes drilled with a #54 drill. The holes are then ‘tapped’ and prepared in the same manner as the previously installed screw holes and then the coupler is assembled and screwed into place using #4 pan head sheet metal screws (5/8” in the center hole and a ½” in the rear hole. The final
installation can be seen from the underside in Picture #12.

                                        Picture #11                                                                                             Picture #12

Now it’s time to check the coupler height with the Kadee height gauge and as you can see in Picture #13 it is right on the money and let me tell you, it is a great feeling when it gauges out the first time and no additional shimming is needed. Picture #14 shows the coupler from above and now she is ready for service. This coupler mount is very robust and will be able to pull up the rear of any consist, in fact, it could be placed anywhere in a consist, including right behind the engine with a very long string of cars behind it!

                                          Picture #13

Its funny how a solution can elude you for the longest
time and then all of a sudden it comes to you, and you
say to yourself “well, that was so obvious, why didn’t I
think of that sooner!”
I hope you have found this information helpful, even
if you don’t run Kadee’s! Stay tuned for more articles
on how to install these wonderful couplers on our
1/29 th scale treasures…