Front Coupler for the Aristo Mikado:

    Every steam locomotive built had a front coupler.  It might be visable in pictures because it was the drop variety, or may have been hidden under sheet metal to give the pilot a more streamlined look, but it was there and could be used for double heading, helper service, branchline switching or even to be pulled or pushed into service areas when it had no fire or steam in the boiler.
    Aristo built its Mikado with front coupler capability, but only if you remove the pilot and leave it off.  I wanted both the pilot in place and a front coupler that was functional, since I do occasionally run double-headed or have sometime set up helpers at the end of a long freight.  Take note that many times when used in helper service the caboose was coupled to the tender of the helper, and it in turn shoved on the last freight car of the train.  This was because the frames of many older cabooses were not strong enough to handle the brute force of a steam locomotive pushing on the rear of a train.
    I looked at the Aristo mount, and discarded the plastic coupler extension that was provided.  I procured a Kadee #820 coupler and discarded its draft gear box.  Since the pilot wheels have a bracket which swings independantly of the truck it provides all the coupler swing that I need without the draft gear.  The #820 is a smaller coupler and is #1 Scale, but I chose it because it will fit with the pilot in place without requiring any major surgery on my part. 
    I cut a piece of styrene to cover the slot on the coupler, and used CA gap filler glue to hold it in place.  I then drilled a hole in the styrene and in the coupler bracket on the locomotive.  A single screw holds it in place along with some more of the CA glue.  The pilot was sanded lightly along the top edge and tapered toward its rear to allow the coupler to swing more freely.  When remounting the pilot, you will find that it must be mounted about 1/16" lower than its original location.  This is not a problem, because it still is above the rails and has plenty of clearance. I drilled new holes for the mounting screws, and re-attached the pilot.  I had to bend the glad hand on the coupler up a slight bit so that it does not rub on the pilot when it is moved from side to side.
    I touched up the pilot and the styrene mount on the coupler with black paint, and then brushed some rust on the coupler.