The TB-coupler


In my model railroad club, Skövde Modellsällskap , we have spent several sleepless nights discussing what coupler to use as a standard coupler. I made some very thorough tests of all the available couplers on the market at the time (well almost all).

The tests resulted in that the best ever made coupler was the Piko I-coupler but Piko stopped selling them in the early seventy s. Why, I can´t understand. That coupler had it all. It looked reasonably prototypical, had a smooth operation (you could couple two cars without ever moving the coupled car), it had delayed uncoupling in BOTH pushing and pulling direction, e.g you could uncouple the car and then either pull or push it to another place on the layout, and then with a small hitch in the movement of the loco, make the uncoupling happen.

Of course we looked at the Kadee couplers, They work great but are so very ugly. Have you ever seen an uglier piece of anything between your buffers. Why on earth should we Europeans cope with such a monstrous work of art. The thing is 2 or 3 times as big as a model of a human being. We are spending our time counting the rivets on the newest Roco loco, but we could without crying mount this big ugly coupler in the nose of Roco`s latest super model.

In 1980 a guy named Kent Hedquist wrote an article in a Swedish Hobby Magazine about a coupler that had been in use in O-scale since forever. He had tried it out in HO-scale and it worked well. Nothing ever happened at that time. No response to the article, but two years later, I started to play around with the couplers at home, and 1983 I converted my club to the coupler. My club, Skövde Modellsällskap, is the leading club in Sweden and the coupler met great interest at our annual open house 1983. The coupler is now a standard coupler among the clubs in Sweden and among almost all modelers who are building from scratch, building kits and buying brass locos and cars. There have been a few revisions of my old standard drawings and delayed uncoupling in pushing direction has been added.

The coupler is made from 0,2-0,3mm music wire and is of the loop/hook type. It is hardly seen between the buffers and you can add a prototype dummy coupler on the buffer beam as well. You can of course add the brake-hoses and other stuff that should be on the beam. You can uncouple them with magnets under the track or by hand, by putting a "magnet on a stick" in between the cars without touching anything. No modification of the buffer beam is done. There are two versions of the coupler, one with the hook moving upwards when uncoupling for freight-cars and one with the hook moving downwards for passenger-cars with diaphragms or bridges between them. We are using normal close couplers on passenger trains that are not normally split, but this couplers are fitted at each end of these "units". The locos are fitted with only the loop part of the coupler (no hook), just to make the sight of the loco more prototypical. It is also possible to lower the loop on a shunter-loco, controlling it with one of the aux-lines of a DCC decoder. In that way you can do some nice shunting.

There is no cost in this coupler. No dealer get rich with this one. You buy it in a hardware-store by the meter or in rolls for almost no cost compared to e.g. Kadee or something you put in a NEM-pocket.

If you are looking at a train coupled with these couplers from the angle you love the most, I mean with one of your ears leaning on the layout and your eyes in buffer level, you can not, and I mean NOT, see the couplers, they are hidden behind the buffers. The cars are coupled 3,5 - 5,5 mm apart depending on how you are building the hook. If you are looking at the train from a "normal" angle you can almost not see it from a 1-meter distance.

We have pushed 40 car trains in a fairly high speed through the most difficult turnout-combinations with no problems, and I don´t know if 40 is the limit. We have not tested it though.

Drawings of the coupling.
Photos of the coupling.
Description on how to build the coupling.

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© 1996 - 2006 Lars Lundgen