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Old 13th January 2010, 01:31   #1
RW James
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Default Disaster on the Ffarquhar branch

I started building the third of three modules for my portable layout, when I started to become concerned about some decisions I had made.

1.) A minimum radius of 12 inches
Reading a lot of cautionary tales about this tight of turns.
2.) Using Hornby standard points (radius 2 at about 17.25 inches).
Reading a lot of disturbing criticism of this product.

So before I proceeded an further, I decided to lay some test track on what I felt was probably the most potentially troublesome stretch of track - a 12 inch radius turn, into a RH point into two parallel tracks each ending in a turn, one 12 inches and the other 14.5 inches - all on a 4% grade.

(First let me say that I have built plenty of small layouts with worse conditions than this, but they were using small 4 wheel cars with no buffers - somewhat emulating US prototypes. I've never had a problem. But I had never tried something with buffers.)

First I put my Bachmann Thomas (0-6-0) on the track and ran it back and forth. No problem. So then I coupled on Annie and Clarabel - 4 wheel coaches each 4.5 inches long. As soon as they hit the 12 inch turn the whole train twisted off the track and hit the deck. Admittedly, part of the problem was I had it going too fast. I set it back up and ran it slower and I could see the buffers between the coaches binding.

I ran my Duck (a GWR pannier tank 0-6-0 with a slightly longer wheel base than Thomas) - no problem. I coupled on a matching 4 wheel wagon - longer than the Bachmann wagons - no problem. The reason this combination worked is that they were both made by Lima and the couplers are a lot longer than the Bachmann couplers, so the buffers never came close.

Then I tried a little US prototype 0-4-0 fitted with Kadee couplers. I made up a train of two wagons with buffers and Kadees - no problem. I was relieved because I was concerned since the play on Kadees aren't the same as the Bachmann or Lima couplers.

Having said all this - I am happy to report that the Hornby point worked fine. There was a small dead point if I ran too slow - but I've seen that with other brands as well. I'm not concerned.

So regarding the buffer lock problem, I see two solutions:

1.) Shorten the buffers, or put smaller ones on the coaches. Unless of course the Kadees fix that problem - or make it worse.

2.) This is the one that seems the most promising - Tear up all the road bed and toss it - Build a fourth module and make the layout a big square 78 inches on a side - Create a new track plan with a 15 inch minimum radius (I forgot to mention that the coaches went through the 14.5 inch turn just fine).

I've started working on a design (which by the way I enjoy doing) and this will take some time before I can actually start construction.

In the mean time, if any of you have actual experience with any of these problems and want to weigh in - I would love to hear it.
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Old 13th January 2010, 02:08   #2
Roy Buchanan
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Default Re: Disaster on the Ffarquhar branch

Hi Rick.

I've never dealt with that type of equipment, but if you want to save yourself headaches and time down the road, your best bet is to start over, IMO, as you are considering. A few minutes soent now will save hours in the future.
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Old 13th January 2010, 07:33   #3
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Default Re: Disaster on the Ffarquhar branch

From your report seems that the problem is that Bachmann couplers are a bit short. Would it be possible to modify and make them longer?
That seems (to me of course) to be the easiest solution.
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Old 13th January 2010, 07:57   #4
BR60103
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Default Re: Disaster on the Ffarquhar branch

Rick:
Over the years the British couplings have changed: they became shorter as modellers wanted closer coupling and they built layouts which would take them. I think first radius is about 13 inches (I may be wrong and it might be 15). I'm sure the old Hornby Dublo and TriAng were about that.
The old cars had longer couplings and stubby buffers. The couplings got shorted and buffers longer. Lima always had great huge couplings with extra long hooks. I've had problems with those hooks trying to mate with other brands and knocking on the bodywork.
Trivia for the week: When British passenger cars are coupled using buckeyes (Knuckle couplers) the buffers are retracted somehow so that they don't meet.
I had a problem with long coaches, a short tender, and Kadees on a 36" radius downgrade. The coach caught up with the tender and the buffer heads slid past each other and locked and the car derailed.
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Old 13th January 2010, 17:37   #5
RW James
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Default Re: Disaster on the Ffarquhar branch

Quote:
Originally Posted by BR60103 View Post
Rick:
Trivia for the week: When British passenger cars are coupled using buckeyes (Knuckle couplers) the buffers are retracted somehow so that they don't meet.
I had a problem with long coaches, a short tender, and Kadees on a 36" radius downgrade. The coach caught up with the tender and the buffer heads slid past each other and locked and the car derailed.
David - thanks for that information. That is exactly what happened between the two coaches - though it was a 12 inch radius on a 4% downgrade with Bachmann couplers.

I've been working on a new track plan (which I enjoy doing) but I'm wondering if shortening the buffers may be the answer - and now I know it's prototypical!
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Old 13th January 2010, 20:57   #6
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Default Re: Disaster on the Ffarquhar branch

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Originally Posted by RW James View Post
I'm wondering if shortening the buffers may be the answer - and now I know it's prototypical!
Don't mind at all, I won't tell anybody!
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