Model Train Forum banner

1 - 20 of 43 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have posted two photos. I would like to change the couplers on these cars which were manufactured by American Models around 1990. The quality is not very good. I compared it to the quality of the AM Budd cars that I own which is really well made.

I contacted the owner of American Models and he was not at all helpful. When I criticized him for the couplers, his only response was "I have been making these couplers for twenty-five years and no complaints." Thank you sir for helping me to simply want to replace couplers and upgrade my equipment. So much for American Models customer support.

Do you see any possible way to upgrade to Kadee's?

Thanks.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,038 Posts
That's a loooong extension on that coupler bar....What I would do is to cut off the coupler, leaving some room to transplant a piece of AF coupler arm to it...JB Weld, screw or pop-rivet it to the AM arm.. Just be sure the coupler/truck swings freely, and the coupler height is correct..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,038 Posts
After re-reading your post about switching to Kadee's, I can offer nothing more. Maybe what I posted can help in some way.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
After re-reading your post about switching to Kadee's, I can offer nothing more. Maybe what I posted can help in some way.....
Thanks for your suggestions. I own a number of AM freight cars; a set of their Budd cars and a number of locomotives. All perform well. These couplers are "junk", I don't care how much this guy wants to defend his product. As I said, he was zero help and more interested in defending than helping out a former customer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,205 Posts
I have 33 AM passenger cars on my layout. Like you I find the Budd cars to be fantastic operating and appearing cars. I do not have any of those PRR cars like yours, I wish I did. I have three six car sets of the AM heavyweights. I find the AM couplers to be way better than the ones on my AF by Lionel cars. I did have a lot of trouble initially with the couplers because the arm from the truck caused the couplers on the heavyweights to hang too low. Several fixes failed so I did the brute force method, replaced all the two axle trucks with AM 3 axle trucks. This completely solved the problem, picture below.
There is a coupler pad to body mount Kadees if desired. My layout has minimum 30"R curves and body mounts appear to work at that radius on the 72' cars. They will not work on the 84' cars at 30"R. Probably more like a 36"R. I think attempting to truck mount a Kadee would be in the too hard category because I find that long arm to be too flexible, plus with the long distance from the bolster to the end of the arm, a long vertical easement will be need at the bottom and top of all grades to keep the Kadees engaged.


810CE2B7-BE4E-4338-8801-8625D9B73859.jpeg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the information. I may just live with the situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,205 Posts
The only coupler I use in the passenger car sets are the front most coupler to connect up to the engine. If the coaches are in the passenger yard then the coupling is done on a straight track section so just opening the electrocoupler on the engine is usually enough to couple to the cars. AM makes closer to scale size fixed couplers for items that do not need to be routinely uncoupled. The solid couplers also mate with the standard KC's as well as the AF by Lionel electrocouplers. I bought some for use on my FA/FB AM engine set, they work well. They could be mounted on the end of the coupler arm in place of the operable couplers if one was so inclined. Here is a picture of one next to the AM coupler on the back of my FB unit.


8A95DFD9-1A00-4244-8B0C-D1DB95122AE1.jpeg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,205 Posts
Thanks, I think that is about all I know from running the AM passenger cars. I wish I had some of those smooth sided PRR cars you have. I guess I need to look for some.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
As you know, I am not a fan of the coupler arrangement. There are five cars to this set; combine, coach, dome, sleeper, and rear observation. I would part with them if you are truly interested Here are some photos even though they are not the greatest.
DSC_0063.JPG
DSC_0062.JPG
DSC_0061.JPG
DSC_0060.JPG
DSC_0059.JPG
DSC_0058.JPG
DSC_0057.JPG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,205 Posts
If you are willing to part with them send me a PM using the Conversations feature on the site.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,205 Posts
Since the last post here I have acquired this set of five AM lightweight cars from Dick. These are full scale 80' cars made in the 1980's by American Models. They are 15 1/2" long; the heavyweight and Budd cars made by AM are 13 1/4" long and scale to 72'. As you can read above Dick was very frustrated with these cars, and for good reasons! Now that I have them in hand the marginal design of the truck arms and the coupler arms are apparent. The truck arm has no loop/slot to hold the coupler arm and the couplers had to be glued to the truck arms. These trucks are no longer available from AM. The cars were designed to operate on the AM 27"R track. My layout has 30"R and larger so the cars as currently configured run well on it, but because the coupler arms sag the weight on some of the couplers drags on the turnout points and causes random uncoupling.
These cars have a 1" gap when coupled, the heavyweights have a 5/8" gap and the Budd cars a 1/2" gap. I believe AM made an attempt to get them to run on 20"R track but they will not. I can get them on the rails of Gilbert track but the couplers were hitting the side skirting on the cars. As soon as I tried pulling them the car would derail, plus they will not go through Gilbert turnouts because the side of the car hits the turnout lantern box and derails the car.
I have some parts on order from AM to redo the couplers/trucks. I plan to install their solid scale couplers which will permanently eliminate random uncoupling. With these I can also close the distance between cars to 1/2" which will improve the appearance. I have yet to decide if I will install the new 2 axle trucks I took off my heavyweights or reuse the current trucks. Depends on how difficult it is to separate the glue joints between the truck arm and coupler arm.
These are nice cars that look great on the layout so I am glad I have them. No question AM had not perfected the design when these were made, but it is all fixable with some newer parts. Here are a couple of pictures. First is the train on the layout, the cars are longer than they appear in this picture. Next is the truck and coupler, the coupler arm is glued. The last picture is one of the newer heavyweights that shows the support and positioning loop in front of the rear axle along with the screw attachment. While this is a 3 axle truck the 2 axle trucks used on the heavyweights are made the same.


2C874A56-7EF5-4640-B232-4317A898C295.jpeg
26F9C399-9CCA-4206-84AD-44575C07F9B9.jpeg
C3828DEC-3E13-4351-BDB3-3124085E917C.jpeg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,073 Posts
They do look good Tom. It sounds like you got the fix well in hand. I saw some of those same AM cars on eBay random pop ups the other night when I was looking for Southern Pacific engines.

Kenny
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,205 Posts
I just checked eBay, a lot of AM passenger cars but none of the 80' lightweights. I wonder where they went.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,073 Posts
As I said they were pop up pictures. I didn't click on them so I don't know if they were set to end or what they actually were. If they are gone, maybe sold.

Kenny
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Tom,

The cars look fantastic on the layout. They are truly beautiful looking cars. I am glad they are now yours and you have the ability to make them more functional. I believe these cars are in great hands. Best of luck with them and enjoy them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,205 Posts
I will post some finished pictures of the set. Likely in a couple of weeks because I am still waiting on the parts from AM. Then I have some trial fitting and testing to do with the trucks and couplers to get everything fitted right prior to final assembly. I want to do this right and do it only once.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Tom,

I hope all your work on these cars will be rewarded in the way you want. As I said, they are beautiful cars but the coupler system leaves much to be desired. When I wrote Ron about not being thrilled with these and does he have any recommendations to replace them, he became borderline belligerent by telling me he has used these couplers for over twenty-five years with no complaints. I did respond a bit testy by saying I did not care about the twenty-five years; they are bad couplers; period! He was no help and made me feel I had no right to criticize them. Sorry, they were bad, period.

Dick
 

·
Railroad Tycoon
Joined
·
24,024 Posts
Since the last post here I have acquired this set of five AM lightweight cars from Dick. These are full scale 80' cars made in the 1980's by American Models. They are 15 1/2" long; the heavyweight and Budd cars made by AM are 13 1/4" long and scale to 72'. As you can read above Dick was very frustrated with these cars, and for good reasons! Now that I have them in hand the marginal design of the truck arms and the coupler arms are apparent. The truck arm has no loop/slot to hold the coupler arm and the couplers had to be glued to the truck arms. These trucks are no longer available from AM. The cars were designed to operate on the AM 27"R track. My layout has 30"R and larger so the cars as currently configured run well on it, but because the coupler arms sag the weight on some of the couplers drags on the turnout points and causes random uncoupling.
These cars have a 1" gap when coupled, the heavyweights have a 5/8" gap and the Budd cars a 1/2" gap. I believe AM made an attempt to get them to run on 20"R track but they will not. I can get them on the rails of Gilbert track but the couplers were hitting the side skirting on the cars. As soon as I tried pulling them the car would derail, plus they will not go through Gilbert turnouts because the side of the car hits the turnout lantern box and derails the car.
I have some parts on order from AM to redo the couplers/trucks. I plan to install their solid scale couplers which will permanently eliminate random uncoupling. With these I can also close the distance between cars to 1/2" which will improve the appearance. I have yet to decide if I will install the new 2 axle trucks I took off my heavyweights or reuse the current trucks. Depends on how difficult it is to separate the glue joints between the truck arm and coupler arm.
These are nice cars that look great on the layout so I am glad I have them. No question AM had not perfected the design when these were made, but it is all fixable with some newer parts. Here are a couple of pictures. First is the train on the layout, the cars are longer than they appear in this picture. Next is the truck and coupler, the coupler arm is glued. The last picture is one of the newer heavyweights that shows the support and positioning loop in front of the rear axle along with the screw attachment. While this is a 3 axle truck the 2 axle trucks used on the heavyweights are made the same.


View attachment 549704 View attachment 549705 View attachment 549706


Nice picture, nice shot of mountain side. (y)
 
1 - 20 of 43 Posts
Top