Model Rail (UK)



My ‘J70’ will be working with rolling stock equipped with tension lock couplings, but I attempted to improve the locomotive’s appearance and shape replacemen­t coupling loops from 1.0mm diameter stiff brass wire. This is an approach I’ve used a lot in the past, offering a much more discreet alternativ­e to regular tension locks.

Despite the lack of a hook on the locomotive’s coupling, I find that the system works well, especially on smaller layouts without significan­t changes in gradient. The hook from the rolling stock must engage the loop reliably and the wire must be set at exactly the right height to be able to propel safely. A bit of trial and error may be necessary, including in terms of the choice of wire. It needs to be thick and stiff enough to retain its shape while hauling and pushing.

Once the ideal shape, size and height has been ascertaine­d, the wire can be secured into the NEM pocket with epoxy or thick cyanoacryl­ate glue. After painting and weathering, the loops blend into the ‘J70’s chassis effectivel­y.


The 1.0mm thick wire was shaped with pliers, using the tension locks as a guide to length, width and shape. Shaping the tails so that they’re ‘sprung’ will allow them to sit in the NEM pockets without glue during alignment trials.


With the full cowcatcher­s clipped into the bufferbeam­s (not glued yet), the wire couplers were pushed through the slats into the NEM pockets. The shape and size of the loops was then tested with rolling stock.


After epoxy glue had been smeared inside the NEM pocket with a cocktail stick, the cowcatcher was secured with cyanoacryl­ate glue. The wire coupler was then pushed back into the pocket and adjusted carefully.


The height and positionin­g of the loop was checked before a blob of Blu Tack held it securely while the epoxy cured. I used a fast-setting formula, but I’d recommend a 10min or 20min version to allow time for fine-tuning.


The process was repeated for the coupling loop at the opposite end. When the glue was cured, the wire loops were painted with the weathering acrylic mix so that the new parts blended into their surroundin­gs.

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