The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Saturday, December 22, 2012

E-Z Mate Couplers on Scale-Craft OO Cars

Standard size Kadee HO couplers have been the de facto standard for American OO operators for many years. They are compatible (manual operation) with Scale-Craft and Lionel OO couplers and are rugged and reliable. As such, I have been a dedicated user and even frequently use the older style #4 couplers when possible; they are great on cars with a wood floor. If not those then I have used the #5 mostly, and the long shank version when necessary (such as on passenger cars).

#5 couplers however don’t install easily in die-cast Scale-Craft coupler pockets such as on the flat car, tank car, stock car, reefer, and boxcar. The typical installation was you assembled the box and then filed it down enough to fit. Not that hard really, but a few extra steps. As a result I have also made some use of their new Kadee whisker type couplers with the built in spring, which can install as a drop in on most Scale-Craft cars. What you do is use only the small lid in combination with a screw and the existing coupler pocket.

With the #5 coupler supply running low and no suitable whisker couplers at the store I finally purchased a set of Bachmann E-Z Mate Mark II couplers for trial. They are plastic and have the centering springs molded on. The result is as seen, compared to the typical #5 installation. Fast and easy, all that is needed is the original screw and a washer.

This does not leave an easy mounting solution for the hopper car which has a different coupler pocket. My personal standard has been to cut the pocket off entirely and install a #5 coupler in its box on the car. I believe with a bit of care and a shim or washer the E-Z Mate will work, but maybe the whisker type better. I don’t run a lot of hoppers, so I leave it to readers to work out this further. But for the standard pocket on all the other Scale-Craft cars E-Z Mate couplers will be seeing use, I will be getting more of these.

To the flat cars in the photo, you may have noticed the trucks. They are what I call “Morlok method” trucks, described further in this article, converted from TYCO or Mantua HO trucks. All of my S-C flat cars are on these trucks, visually and operationally they work well on this specific car type, they have an offset bolster that puts the trucks the right place and also they are not as visible on this car type. More may be found here on the comparison of early and late S-C flats and their truck mountings.


Steve Neubaum said...

For what it's worth, I found in the long run, the EZ-Mates with integral knuckle springs will break quite easily. They aren't meant for the heavier weight metal trains. The EZ-Mate Mark II with the knuckle spring holds up better, as do McHenrys. Kadee Whisker couplers are good, but being all metal, can present a potential short circuit hazard here and there. Run the cars with EZ mates (integral spring) for a few months and do some switching: You'll probably find they don't hold up!

John Ericson said...

Good to know. The coupler inthe article is the Mark II version, seems like it should hold up. This gets at what I like about the #4 Kadee couplers, they have a real solid feel, and sound in a train as the slack action pulls out. The E-Z Mate is very quiet in this respect.