USA Trains 60 foot Box Car Body Mount Factory vs. Kadee Knuckle Couplers

 

USA Trains 60 foot Box Car Body Mount Factory vs. Kadee Knuckle Couplers
Ted Doskaris
December 27, 2016
Rev GE-A  Initial Release

July 22, 2021
Rev GE-B  Added 3-D Print CamPac direct fit Coupler Box option

The USA Trains 60 foot boxcar can be equipped with the Kadee 906 box with custom made adapter / spacer or now with an optional more prototypical "bell mouth" direct fit 3-D printed CamPac coupler box which uses the Kadee 900 slack action coupler - same coupler that is in the Kadee 906 kit - shown below.

 

Contents:

Overview
As Received Cars in Boxes
USA Trains Body Mount Cushion Coupler
Using Kadee Body Mount Couplers


Custom Spacer for Body Mount Kadee 906
Kadee 906 & Spacer Installation

Optional CamPac Direct fit 3-D Print Box
CamPac Box Installation


Car Weight
Layout Operation

 

 


Overview

The USA Trains 60 foot cushion type car is a high quality product.  It comes standard with a very cleverly designed draft gear box.

These "bell mouth" draft gear boxes are intended to resemble and somewhat functionally emulate a longer prototype car having an operable cushioning affect when the cars are forced coupled together.  Typical names associated with prototypes bell mouth boxes are Amsted's Keystone, Pullman Standard's Hydroframe, Santa Fe's Shock Control, Southern Pacific's Hydra-Cushion, etc.

However, since the locos and rolling stock I have are equipped with body mount Kadees with trip pins that can be uncoupled using a Kadee Track Magnet, I decided to be consistent and body mounted Kadee 906 centerset couplers on the USA Trains 60 foot cars, too.

ATSF Double Door Shown Below but with CamPac BoxesTM fitted with Kadee 900 slack action couplers - same coupler used in Kadee 906 box

Shown below is a USA Trains Southern Pacific 60 foot boxcar fitted with the Kadee 906 centerset coupler with its draft gear box projecting from the end bulkhead that emulates the prototype.

Prototype manufacturers such as Pullman Standard (PS) and American Car & Foundry (ACF) produced squared-off cornered flat roof cars that the USA Trains resemble.
An example ACF prototype Southern Pacific Hydra-Cushion 60 foot car is shown below.

 

As Received Cars in Boxes

The USAT 60 foot boxcar is offered in many road names in both single door and double versions.

As of this writing,  I got two double door and two single door cars.  The double door version being the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe cars, and the single door version being the Rock Island car and another Santa Fe car.

 

 

USA Trains Body Mount Cushion Coupler

Out of the box, these cars are modeled with a USA Trains cleverly designed coupler assembly that emulates the cushion effect when coupling a loco or another car to it, or it to another car.  The USA Trains instruction sheet shown below that comes with the car describes how the factory equipped spacer can be removed so that the coupler assembly can be directly mounted to the car floor.

The factory knuckle coupler assembly comes standard with it mounted on a spacer to conform with USA Trains standard height low to the railhead equipment; however, the spacer can be eliminated with the coupler assembly directly mounted to the car floor as illustrated below.

Ensure the coupler with coil spring is reinstalled in the box as shown below before fastening the lid.


Note: The picture above shows the box with factory spacer, but the spacer is to be removed when directly mounting box to the car floor as previously described.  The box must be mounted to the floor before reinstalling the coupler with spring in the box and fastening the lid at its corners with the 4 tiny Phillips head screws.

 

With the factory installed spacer removed and the USAT coupler assembly directly fastened to the car's floor pad, the coupler, also, lines up pretty well with the Aristo GP 40 having a Kadee 907 type centerset coupler - shown at the right.


Factory Coupler has Intrinsic Downward Tilt!

There is an observable unbecoming aspect being the downward tilt to the coupler assembly - which is the same with or without spacer as illustrated below!


This is a bit unsightly but works OK when the car is in a train under tension as forces will tend to pull the coupler upward somewhat (straighter); however, in compression forces imparted could push the coupler downward - though, the cushioned coupler should help minimize this unless it's completely bottomed out.

As to performance when mated to Kadee couplers, the box car's coupler does compress when being coupled with a loco or another car, and it can often - but not always - respond to a mated Kadee coupler trip pin for uncoupling when over a Kadee track magnet.  However, if you have trains equipped with Kadee couplers and want more repeatable operation when switching cars around, it's still highly desirable to convert the car to accept Kadee couplers.  In doing so, the ugly downward coupler tilt is also corrected - described later.

 


Using Kadee Body Mount Couplers

There are now two choices to body mount couplers using Kadee 900 type centerset (no offset) couplers.
(1) Use the Kadee 906 assembly (includes Kadee 900 coupler in wide box) with fabricated adapter plate.
(2) Use the now available 3-D printed direct fit (no adapter needed) bell mouth slim sided CamPac BoxTM, obtainable from Colin Camarillo via his website, that accepts the Kadee 900 coupler & spring.

A comparison of the factory, CamPac, and Kadee boxes can be seen below.

 

With opposite effect to that of the USA Trains cushion spring coupler, the Kadee 906 (900 coupler with its internal spring) does offer a "shock" effect for sudden slack action tension loads as can be seen below.

Shown below is the 3-D printed CamPac BoxTM fitted with the same Kadee 900 straight shank coupler & spring.

 

By installing the Kadee 906 or CamPac BoxTM with couplers, the ugly downward box tilt can, also, be corrected as illustrated below.

Typically, prototype cushioned cars have a very pronounced & projected draft gear box, so this artifact is replicated like that done with the USA Trains factory coupler.

Shown below is the more aesthetically pleasing CamPac "bell mouth" box, that when installed, also corrects for the chassis floor & coupler tilt.

 

 

Custom Spacer for Body Mount Kadee 906

The choice to fabricate an adapter spacer to mount the Kadee 906 box will be described as follows:

A custom spacer made from ABS plastic is needed to mount the Kadee 906 for proper coupler height from the railhead and to emulate the prototype draft gear box projection from the end of the car.

ABS plastic material 1/8 inch thick can be obtained from TAP Plastics cut in a 1.1 inch wide strip.  The material typically is textured on one side and a smooth on the other side.  The strip can be cut into pieces for fabricating several spacers used for mounting a Kadee 906 coupler box assembly.
The dimensions are included in the illustration below.

The Kadee box lid, also, needs to be modified so the box can be mounted unobstructed on the spacer (clearance for screw heads).  The dimensions are included in the illustration below.

 

Kadee 906 & Spacer Installation

The illustration below describes what's entailed to install the Kadee 906 and custom spacer.

Note additional details pertaining to installation are illustrated below.

Note:  I found the USAT die cast metal trucks that came with the 60 foot box cars had a shim between the bolster and sideframes.  The same trucks are used on USAT Modern Tank Car; however, those trucks did not have the shims.

For more detail, click on "USA Trains Barber Roller Bearing Truck Disassembly & Wheel Gauging"


Installation Verification:

Verify the installed Kadee 906 coupler aligns with the Kadee 980 gauge - illustrated in the example below.

With proper coupler and trip pin height established, uncoupling should work using a Kadee track magnet.  Shown in the example below is the uncoupling action over a Kadee track magnet.

 

 

 

 

Optional CamPac Direct fit 3-D Print Box

The choice to use the CamPac direct fit (no adapter / spacer) box will be described as follows:

Using the same Kadee 900 coupler as in the Kadee 906 box but fitted in the CamPac BoxTM looks much more realistic as can be seen below.

 

 

CamPac Box Installation

An example Santa Fe 60 foot double door boxcar will be used that is equipped with its factory body mounted coupler boxes on factory spacers - which are to be removed.

With the factory couplers / spacers removed, illustrated below is a quick view of what's to be done. (For complete instructions, be sure to see "USA Trains 60 foot Boxcar Bell Mouth CamPac Box Install Guide" on Colin Camarillo' website.)

The box can be mounted to the floor with the factory M3 x 6mm screws used for the factory spacer, but because they are short, it's preferable to substitute longer 10mm screws, particularly at the box frontal side holes - which can be requested when ordering the CamPac BoxTM kit.

After the box is mounted - same way at both ends of the car - the Kadee 900 coupler & spring is to fitted, and then the lid fastened.

 

 

Installation Verification:

The installed CamPac BoxTM coupler aligns with the Kadee 980 gauge as illustrated in the example below.

With proper coupler and trip pin height established, uncoupling should work using a Kadee track magnet. Shown in the example below is the uncoupling action of two 60 foot boxcars over a Kadee track magnet.

 

Coupled car distances with CamPac Boxes:

 

 

 

Car Weight

The USA Trains example ATSF 60 foot single door car with body mounted Kadee 906 boxes is shown below.

Its weight measures 5 pounds.

The USA Trains example ATSF 60 foot double door car with body mounted CamPac boxes is shown below.

 

 

 

Layout Operation

Illustrated below are USAT 60 foot box cars having Kadee 906 boxes body mounted with adapter spacers in a short train on 8 foot diameter track circle.

 

Illustrated below are USAT 60 foot box cars having direct fit body mounted CamPac boxes in a short train on 8 foot diameter track circle.

 

Illustrated below is a USAT 60 foot box car having Kadee 906 boxes body mounted with adapter spacers in a long train on the under house layout 10 foot diameter loop back.

 

Illustrated below is a USAT 60 foot box car having body mounted CamPac Boxes fitted with Kadee 900 slack action couplers in a long 38 car train on the under house 10 foot diameter loop back.

 

 

 End,
-Ted

 

 

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