Re: [SergentEng] We've got trouble in River City

Mike Van Hove

Al, ( and everyone else),
I have no proof that the temp in the work shop/Train Room is causing this, but it could be.

This afternoon, I dug out a box of HO Std Gage Sergent Couplers, I had assembled, early last fall.  They had all been tested and rubbed together to break them in, as per the instructions.  They all worked fine, at that time, or I kept messing with them until they did.

They have been in this tight fitting box ever since last fall.  When I opened the box, I could immediately see a coating of white powder, on the fixed jaw and the movable jaw of the coupler.  A fairly heavy coating.

I also noticed that in nearly every case, (there are over 50 couplers in the box) I could see the ball move from top to bottom with the magnet.  However, the Knuckle is stuck in the closed position.  I can invert the coupler (same as picking up the ball with the Magnet) and then pry the coupler open with my thumbnail, in most cases.  After that, I can worry the knuckle back and forth and eventually, the coupler works just fine.
Takes about 4 minutes to do each one.  Pain in the ass, in my opinion.
Once I have done all this, I can put the coupler close to another and couple and uncouple with the Sergent wand.
Now, if this is a one time deal, I guess I can live with it, but heaven help me if it happens again.  I was going to sell all the Kaddee Couplers I had taken off, but now, I think I better hang on to them, just in case.

I know there are many folks out there who are using these couplers quite satisfactorily.  No one else seems to have had this problem.  I have to wonder if I have something that's causing this Powder to appear, or if there was a bad batch of diecast material.  It seems strange that only some of the couplers are affected.  If it was an environmental issue, in my shop, you would think they all would be affected.  The couplers I have were bought in several different batches, which might explain why some are and some aren't affected.

I have tried to take a picture of this caoting, but I just can't seem to focus in close enough to really see the detail.

Anybody got any more ideas, I'm all ears.

Mike Van Hove

On Jun 30, 2015, at 3:31 PM, Alan Hummel ahummel72@... [SergentEng] wrote:


I have the same problem with heat in the basement paying the electric bill to heat it. I have heat ducts all I have to do is open them. Added onto that,I have cracks in the floor that in Spring & Summer or after a torrential rain I get water in the cracks which lasts about 2days.

So am I facing the same problem? I only have a few couplers installed so far,but am hesitant to start a big project of installing couplers hearing about your difficulties. I buy my couplers rtr as my fingures are too nimble & eyesight is getting bad.

Hope there's another solution than taking couplers apart.

Will continue to follow this subject.

Al Hummel

On Tuesday, June 30, 2015 10:04 AM, "Mike Van Hove mvanhove@... [SergentEng]" <SergentEng@...> wrote:

Hello to all who have responded.

Yesterday evening, I tried the Ultrasonic Cleaner. About a 50% success rate, but the trouble is, the ACC does get loosened.

I had put the couplers in a very fine Tea Strainer, which was fortunate, as some of the couplers came apart.

I think, I will just Ultrasonic the stuck couplers, and disassemble them and start over.

I will be very careful to check for burrs (I thought I had done this the first time).

I'm also only going to put ACC on the long flat area where the top and bottom come together. The place where the "Rivet" is. I may stake the rivet as well.

If the ACC was in any way responsible for the stickiness, this way, there is no way it can get into the Ball Channel.

There is a definate light coating of whitish looking powder or dust on the affected couplers.

This is not on all the couplers. Hmmm?

The train room is in a separate building, from my house. It is very well insulated. However, it does not have a normal heating system. When I'm out there working, I keep a fire in a small wood stove.

When I'm not out there, in cold weather, I leave a small electric heater on. Being a Tightwad, I only try to keep it about 45-50 F. I hate to run the electric bill for it can get a bit pricey.

Only reason I keep the heater on is because of the water based paints, glues, etc. Don't want them freezing.

Maybe, the couplers are getting cold and moisture is condensing on them? I don't have any problem with my machine tools and hand tools rusting, so this doesn't seem like the answer.

I'm at a loss as to the "why", but I guess I just have to bite the bullet, and go through the cars, one by one, and rework the affected couplers. Doesn't seem to be any pattern. Many cars are okay, many have only

one coupler bound up, the other end functioning just fine. Go figure!

Oh well, as someone once said, "Model Railroading is Fun".


Thanks for all who have responded.

Mike Van Hove

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