Ever thought I’ve only got fifteen minutes, not enough time to do anything with that, well this new page will hopefully show one or two of my fast jobs that make a difference. They’re not much, but all become a part of the whole project and eat away at those ‘one day’ job lists. This is the first of a few that will appear on the new page, so next time you’re scratching yer bum, see what you could have done instead …
The first quick job that comes to mind is couplings for rolling stock. I use three link couplings on both EM and OO stock, as I can live with ‘the hand of god’ appearing on scene for a few seconds or so.
Screw couplings for me in the past been difficult to find really good reliable and reasonably sized couplings. I do use overscale couplings due to practicality. The best off the shelf couplings were Cambrian, unfortunately no longer available. Then theres the Romford coupling, I have a few of them and they are gradually being replaced as I do any work on an item with them. They are very overscale and often stiff where the wire is wound on the links shaft. This means they hang unprototypically, an actual link is a pretty chunky and weighty item and gravity takes its own course, downwards. The other often used types are etched links. Smiths do a set available built or as a kit. I’ve found these not particularly easy to assemble, and they aren’t particularly robust, and I got fed up with them. If you use heavy trains then again the links can fail due to the small etched link shaft bending and the coupling coming apart.
I’ve now standardised on the Masokits screw coupling. These are the best value and once assembled the most robust, and they come with a nicely illustrated instruction sheet. It does take some soldering, but if you can solder a wire to a DCC chip, these will be well within your ability. So do they pass the fifteen minute test?
The first thing is to drill the holes in the etch 0.5mm to remove any etch cusp. Then use a very fine wet and dry paper on both sides to clean the etch.
Choose if you’re using long or short links. For practicality I use short link at hook and long link to couple. Cut the link from the etch sheet and form around a drill shaft ensuring the link eyelets are parrallel to each other.
Fold the centre link etch with the tommy bar and solder it together.
Get a clean overlength section of 0.5mm brass wire and thread it through one link, the instructions suggest a brass lace pin, but if you can’t get them, do as I do and use wire.
A quick touch of the soldering iron on the outside of the eyelet will make the join between the wire and link. Cut the excess wire off and file flat to link eyelet. Note I’m not tinning any of the components as that will potentially seize solid. Repeat on the opposite side. Then repeat the procedure again for the other link.
Remove the hooks and form them soldering them together. Clean any cusp material off and then attach the links.
To do this twist the hook enough to allow the link loop to fall into the link slot, and twist back closing the slot. That’s it coupling completed, you may not manage fifteen minutes for your first one, but you soon will, I tend to batch build them though, completeing them with a dunk into a chemical blackening solution.
These couplings are good looking, functional, robust and by far the easiest I’ve ever built. Just because they are soldered construction that shouldn’t put you off, and it does result in a coupling that so far in my experience is unbreakable with normal use.
Not a bad use of fifteen minutes …