Frequently asked Evolution™ Questions
The Myth of the Narrow Gauge Coupler
By Chris Lane
The “modern” coupler is really not that modern. The Master Car Builders (MCB) established the contour in the 1890’s as the #5. MCB later became the American Association of Railroads (AAR). Then, as now, their function was to set standards and practices for railroads and the knuckle couple was a major achievement.
This is often referred to as the “Janney” coupler but really, Janney was just one brand name of couplers manufactured to those contours at that time. The knuckle was 9″ and the body was approx. 12″ deep and about that tall.
A bit later the contour was revised as the MCB “D” which still had the 9″ knuckle, but the body contour was slightly beefier. The later “E” has an 11″ knuckle and a correspondingly larger body, BUT ALL the couplers are compatible and able to coupler to each other. In computer terms, they were backwards and forward compatible.
Most narrow gauge cars sported the “D” due to their build date. Common brands included Janney, Simplex, Climax, Tower and Sharon, with Sharon being the most common.
So, we can stop referring to couplers as “standard” gauge couplers or “narrow” gauge couplers. There is no such thing and never was. The slight visual differences in size simply reflects differences in coupler brands and the evolution of the contour as time progressed
- Excerpted from 2010 issue of the On30 Annual.
1. What is the size of the coupler?
Before the turn of the century the AAR standardized automatic coupler designs, and began the process of eliminating the link and pin coupler.
The Sharon Coupler was one of the many designs to come from this design standard. Some of the more commonly found brands were the Tower and Janey.
The interface (knuckle & body) were common , but the mechanisms were all different.
During the conversion from link and pin couplers, the D&RGW made the switch. The most common was the Sharon. Wandering through the yards here in Durango and in Chama you will find all of these types including ones not listed here. You will even find narrow gauge cars with E type couplers.
As trains got longer and cars became heavier, a larger coupler size was needs. The E type was that coupler. Larger than the Sharon type but still interchangeable. The E type is still in use today along with more modern couplers.
In conclusion the size of these different designs of couplers was dictated by the AAR. Our Evolution™ coupler was designed after the Sharon Coupler.
2. Are they compatible with the Kadee Coupler?
Yes this is one of our primary requirements when we started development. They work with the following couplers: Kadee, Grandt Line split shank, SJCC Scale Working Sharon.
3. How do they couple and un-couple?
Just like the Kadee coupler, these automatically couple when pushed into another coupler. Uncoupling can be accomplished with track magnets (Between Rails, Electro Magnets). They can also be uncoupled manually with a pick (Kadee Part #241).
4. Do they fit the Kadee Coupler box?
Yes they were made to be an exact replacement. They also fit the SJCC coupler pockets and all imports. At this time they do not come with a coupler box.
5. How strong are they?
They were molded in Celcon, one of the strongest resins available. We have pulled a 35 car stock car train (On3) with no coupler failure. Will they hold up to a 100 car O gauge car? We hope so.
6. When can I get mine?
Here are some comments by an "S" Scaler:
I'm a S scaler (4ft 8 1/2) and had been using Kadee HO and On3/S couplers. While it's a shade too big for S scale, I like your Evolution coupler much, much better. Your couplers do not have the annoying slack action and the huge Kadee gearbox that would require butchering much of my older S scale equipment. Yours is a drop-in for the Pacific Rail Shops coupler pockets and my older, soft metal coupler pockets and end frames in which I formerly could only use HO couplers. Yours gather very well on my body-mounted coupler passenger cars. And yours don't have annoying coil springs, particularly the springs used in Kadee coupler shanks. I do have to adjust your magnetic pin slightly for S scale but that's no problem at all.
You also have very fast service. I'll be ordering more later.
Posted by Jeff Mckee (JD) on 3rd Feb 2015
For years I have used couplers from the other company, but never liked their looks. They were not even close to looking prototypical but there was no other option. When I switched to O scale it became worse, you buy a San Juan car that is detailed to the last nut and bolt....until you get to the coupler. Well those days are over! When the Evolution coupler came out I grabbed some and I could not be happier. They look exactly like a "Janney" style prototype coupler as used on the D&RGW. And retro fitting them into my cars was s cinch, they drop right in. But the biggest bonus was that they operate just as well as they look. I like to operate, and these couplers hold up to serious switching. And they look so good at slow speeds, when you are switching you are watching the couplers, lining them up as the distance closes on the two cars. If you want your cars to look like the real thing, the final piece of the puzzle is here. All I can say is "buy them!!"
Posted by Bill Grierson on 19th Jun 2014
I have been using these couplers on the San Juan cars I have on my layout. Flawless operation. I had to purchase some more to replace on a San Juan car I received from ebay. I hope to eventually replace the non evolution couplers on my non San Juan cars.
Posted by Jon Heller on 30th Apr 2014
I needed a very narrow coupler and this was accomplished with the Evolution coupler. I had to drill the pivot hole larger and reduce the width of the shank. This required a lot of handling and trial removal and manipulation. The coupler helps up perfectly and once finished operated flawlessly. It looks great too!