Couplers & Safety Chains
Nelson Riedel,
11/7/2012, last updated


I use cast steel couplers from Tom Bee.   Top coupler in photo above is new while the lower one is used with accumulated dirt.   The couplers are ready to use except for a  17/65" hole drilled in the shaft at the position of the dimple and excess shaft sawed off.  I disassemble the couplers and paint the individual pieces before using them.

I initially used operating couplers on each end of the disconnected log trucks.    However, now that I have installed relatively permanent log loads on the disconnected log trucks I plan to remove the operating couplers on the ends under the logs and replace them with cast dummy couplers to save $$$.

The couplers are very reliable but once in a while they come uncoupled --- often when a car derails.   On one occasion I saw a caboose come loose and roll 400 yards down a 2%+ grade gaining considerable speed in the process.  Fortunately someone saw what was happening and put a 2X4 across the track.  When the caboose hit the 2X4 it rolled end over end several times but fortunately came to a stop before hitting anyone.

On another occasion a car came loose and rolled back down a grade and hit a locomotive severely damaging the frame. Fortunately no one was hurt but the repairs took many months.

I have become a believer in safety chains and use them unless I'm running on  a flat track.  The very steep (5%+ grades) on the Mill Creek Central Logging Line make the safety chains doubly important.  


The photo  above shows the coupler and safety chain at the end of a log car.  This car has seen quite a bit of use and is dirty.   The safety chain is 21 links per foot McMaster #3593T41, the same chain as used to secure the logs.  The threaded connectors are 5/32" diameter McMaster #8947T11.   Both the chain and  threaded connectors are rated in excess of 200 lbs.

 The threaded connector fastens through a threaded eye attached to the car sill.  The eye is 3/16" diameter with a 3/8" hole.   The threaded part of the eye is passed through a 3/8" long 3/8" diameter spacer.  The base of the eye is welded to the spacer to increase the strength of the eye. 

 Photo above shows the safety chain eye on my Heisler locomotive.   The eye is made from a piece of 1/8" angle.  The hole is 3/8" diameter.   The eye is attached to the steel sill backing plate with a pair of #6 screws through the oak still.          

I put the safety chain eyes on the left side of the coupler.  The safety chain can hang under the couplers or go above and rest on the couplers.


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