Sunday, 22 June 2014

Running Tender First - A Basic Kadee Adaptor

A few weeks ago, I identified a scenario where I should operate a train pulled by 5248 running tender first. The only problem was there was no compatible coupler on the front of the locomotive. Having just repainted the model I did not want to fit a Kadee coupler, so I experimented with an adapter that could link the coupler on the rolling stock with the existing hook coupler on the locomotive. I'm sure this has been done before, but my searching on the internet didn't bring up any suggestions. So it was back to first principles and this post details the outcome of that experimentation.

By way of background, about a year ago, I came across a number of Youtube movies showing steam operations on the NSW railways in the 1960s. One of these showing operations in northern NSW is at . While the quality of these videos is well below the standard of current cinematography , they are a great source of contemporary information on the topic.

Recently, in search of information on MHO guards vans, I revisited this video and was surprised by the number of empty coal trains (primarily LCH and CCH wagons) being hauled by a standard goods locomotive running tender first. So the hunt was on to find a way to replicate this.

After a couple of tries, I managed to get a piece of copper wire shaped in such a way that it would fit a loop into the hook on the locomotive and drop two prongs over the rear of the Kadee coupler. As expected, the copper wire was too malleable, so I fashioned a similar piece using brass wire. This has proved to be successful and is now awaiting painting to match the locomotive and wagons.

You will note from the photo that a second piece of wire has been soldered to the device. This performs two functions. The first is to provide a way to stop the adaptor lifting off the Kadee if the locomotive pushes the wagons for any distance (which the adaptor still does to some extent). The second function is to provide a lifting points for a pair of tweezers or pliers to remove the adaptor when it is no longer needed.

This is a device developed for a particular function and requires a bit of fiddling to make it work. In addition, the normal Kadee features, such as automatic uncoupling and recoupling, are lost, but as I uncouple manually, this is not a problem. Even with the addition wire to retain the adaptor on the hook, pushing forward is done very cautiously. I have also found that it works better with the old Number 5 Kadee rather than the new prototypical couplers but this is probably a matter of further fine tuning.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the device does what is required and now I can haul empty hoppers to Philip's Creek tender first.
 As a  footnote, I had tried to upload a short piece of video to show the adaptor in operation but the process seemed to freeze, so I had to make do without it. The file may have been too large.


  1. Phil

    Like you I do not like Kadee's on the front of steam loco's that did not have them in service, suppose it would be easier in some ways to renumber the model to one that had such a fitting.

    For my purposes I modified an old Euro Coupler from an old Austrains K wagon, by simply cutting the drop hook from it, & then bend the coupling ring downwards slightly which allows it to drop over the hook on the buffer beam.

    That works well for use as a match truck for shunting at Akuna on my layout, with the other end of an S truck with standard # 5 Kadee. I have also considered a similar arrangement if I double head steam, removing the kadee from the tender of the lead engine & replace it with a similar coupler, that allows the 2nd engine to couple without problems.



  2. Col,

    Thanks for the comment. I was sure others would have addressed the problem previously.

    My challenge was that I preferred not to commit a wagon to a matching truck roll for this limited activity. However, for serious shunting, it is definitely the way to go.

    I certainly would not attempt to use the adaptor for double heading steam. It will probably work loose if the locomotives were not matched exactly. However, the main demand for double heading steam at Philip's Creek is coal hauled by the 60 class which is already fitted with kadees at either end, but I may need to reconsider that if I ever manage to construct my second level.

    cheers Phil