I have really stepped in it this time I simple project (or so I thought) became more complex as I worked on it. I wanted to put Kadee couplers on my three Aristo Blue Comet heavyweight passenger cars, and I wanted closer coupling. As they exist, the Aristo couplers make them look like 027 Lionel passenger cars with too much distance between cars. I have already done close coupling with Kadees on the Aristo streamline and smoothside passenger cars, so I thought I would try it with the three heavyweight cars that I have. My web site has pictures to go with this narrative, so that you can observe the modifications that I made. There were too many pictures to post with this write up for our newsletter.
Puttting Kadees on the existing truck mounted bracket does not give the proper height or spacing between cars. I cut the truck mounted bracket off, and went for body mounting. I bought the kits from Kadee (#838) for body mounting with the flex bracket, and found that they do nothing to close the large gap between the cars. My next step was to see if I could body mount the draft gear without the flex bracket.
Some sort of mounting platform needs to be constructed to mount the coupler on the body. I cut mine from 3/16 scrap acrylic that I had from some other project. The dimensions are 1" by 1 3/8" .
This piece is glued between the frame rails with epoxy glue. The frame then has to be ground down to the height of the mount, and the bottom of the diaphrams have to also be sanded to get rid of the two tabs located on either side of the coupler. All this work is required to allow the coupler to swing freely, and to get it at the proper height according to the Kadee coupler height gauge. The draft gear box needs to be shortened to allow the coupler to be mounted for closer coupling without interfering with the truck end frame. I cut the rear off the draft gear box up to the round tab on the rear of the coupler. I then rounded the rear of the box so that the truck would swing freely with the coupler mounted. Now comes a tricky part. If you have S-Curves on your layout, you will have to mount your coupler so that most of the coupler shows when viewing the car from above. If you do not have S-Curves, you can mount it further back so that only the moving part of the end of the coupler shows.
The coupler is then fastened to the mounting plate using a small screw in the center hole of the draft gear. This will allow the mount to swing if the cars enter too tightl a radius curve. Leaving the screw loose will allow the whole draft gear to re-center on a straight track. I have tested these cars and they will still track well on 8 foot diameter curves, the spacing is more realistic, and the entire train now has a more prototypical look.