Going Loco: Part 9: A problem … and some possible solutions

The cheap model train sets that I have been using as the basis of my recent locomotive and rolling stock conversions have one major failing … the couplings.

The couplings that come with the toy trains look like this:

They are functional and work … but they leave far too big a gap between the various components of a train. I have therefore been trying to find a cheap system that I can use to replace the existing couplings. So far I have come up with the following two possible solutions.

The first solution is to use the sort of hooks and eyes that are normally sold in haberdashers for attaching one piece of material to another.

The second solution is to use the sort of eyelets that are normally sold in hardware stores for attaching picture wire to pictures.

The latter can be opened up to form suitably sized hooks.

At present I am tending to favour the latter solution rather than the former. My only problem is finding a supply of eyelets that are small enough. I had a look in the local shops today … but without any luck. I will continue my search tomorrow, and if I find any, I will remove the existing coupling mountings from my conversions and begin the process of fixing the new couplings in place. Once that is done I can begin painting them.


12 Comments on “Going Loco: Part 9: A problem … and some possible solutions”

  1. nobby says:

    Could you put an upright post in the coupling on the back of the loco that is shaped like a 'C' and then drop the coupling with a hole in it over the post? will that give enough overhang on curves?
    If not, make a link coupling to join the current fixed parts from wire (rebent and cut paper clip)

  2. Nobby,

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have tried something similar to the second one and found that it kept decoupling when the train moved.

    All the best,


  3. Well there goes my suggestion, I was going to propose florist wire to make custom hooks and eyes.

    Good luck,

  4. Ross Mac,

    I tried making hooks and eyes from paper clips, but they were less than easy to make and ended up rather inconsistent in size and shape. In the end I decided to look for an alternative source of suitable hooks and eyes that I could purchase.cheaply.

    All the best,


  5. Jim Duncan says:

    How about a couple of mini-magnets for a coupling?

  6. Jim Duncan,

    Yet another good suggestion.

    I have experimented with some small magnets, and they worked. The problem is finding a cheap souce for the right size of magnet. I am going to try to find and use some hooks and eyes first, but if I cannot find the right size I will then try to get hold of some suitable mini-magnets.

    All the best,


  7. Ian Dury says:

    May be worth looking at the sort of catches that are used to hold necklaces together. Some of those are of the hook and eye style. A good craft shop should have them.

  8. Fitz-Badger says:

    Good suggestion from Ian (but I think those aren't low cost). How about model railroad couplers (at least that's what they're called on a site like Mircomark, A company/website in the US who sell these kinds of things). I see they have packs of 20 for something like $25 or so. I'm sure the same sort of thing would be available in the UK.

  9. Ian Dury,

    Thanks very much for the suggestion.

    I hope to visit a store today that sells all sorts of different DIY, model, and craft stuff, and I will certainly have a look in the jewellery section to see if the clasps that they have in stock are suitable in terms of price and ease of use.

    All the best,


  10. Fitz-Badger,

    Thank you very much for your suggestion.

    I have looked at the ‘proper’ model railway couplings that are on sale in the local model shop, but they are made by Hornby and are larger than the existing couplings on my toy train conversions. I haven’t heard of Mircomark before and will take a look at what they sell to see if they have something suitable.

    All the best,


  11. Dick Bryant says:

    How about the “glue-on” picture hooks available at hardware stores. They glue on the wall so as to not make a hole and have a small hook on them to ang light pictures or items. If you cut it to little more than the hook width they can be glued on the undercarriage of the car and hook to the one in front and be nearly invisible.
    Dick Bryant

  12. Dick Bryant,

    That is a very useful suggestion. I will look out for some of these, and if they are not too large I may well use them.

    All the best,


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