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Handaid Track

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Converting a Sunset SP P-8 Pacific to Proto48

Gene Deimling Constructing an ATSF Bx-27 boxcar

Tom Mix Another Method to Make Rivets

Tom Mix Scratch Building Some Drivers

Robert Lerners's Tank Car Conversion

Dan Ellis's South West Industrial Railroad

Part 2 of
Tom Mix's Locomotives

Tom Mix's Locomotives



Working Coupler Pocket for the San Juan Type-E Coupler

Improving San Juan Type-E Coupler

Bottom Operating Cut Levers

Peeling Paint

Canvas Roofs

Wire Grabs


Proto48 Tip:
Improving San Juan Type-E Coupler


The San Juan Car Company AAR Type-E coupler is one of the most realistic couplers in model railroading regardless of scale. The coupler provided reliable operation when first produced. Somewhere along the way, the die was damaged and repaired. The repair wasn’t exactly right so the operating characteristics of the coupler changed for the worse. A common symptom of the problem is that the coupler won’t drop the lift pin when the knuckle is closed. A sticking lift pin prevents the coupler from locking so switching is made more difficult. The revised coupler can be spotted easily by looking at the rectangular slot on the bottom of the coupler body. This is the slot where the lifting pin moves up and down. The opening was enlarged when the die was repaired. This created slop in the pin movement making the uncoupling balky. Study the close-up photo of the two coupler sprues. The darker one is an older version with a thicker back wall on the opening. The coupler on top has a very thin back wall.

It turns out that the “fix” is very simple. Sheldon Schwedler of Coronado Scale Models came up with a simple modification to the newer versions of the coupler. You start by cutting away the back wall with a knife. Clean up the opening so that the side walls are smooth.
Next glue together a 0.010” by 0.100” and 0.020” by 0.060” to form a “hat” section. Cut off a length of the strip and insert into the opening in the coupler shank as shown in the photo below. Glue it in-place with CA adhesive. Assemble the coupler following the diagram shown in the kit.
It is a simple remedy to make a good coupler even better. San Juan is planning to re-tool the coupler in the near-term. This should eliminate the problem altogether. Thanks to Sheldon for coming up with the idea and providing me with samples to use in preparation of the article.