I have been playing around with the new Protocraft coupler. My focus has been on installing the couplers on a variety of my equipment. I have found that the draft gear provided with the coupler will fit on some cars with little or no modifications.


My first installation was on an Intermountain boxcar that was built with the kit draft gear.  I modified the draft gear to minimize the overhang on the end.  The end of the draft gear overhangs the can end by only .040″ now.  The coupler face now extends approximately two scale feet from the end.   This matches dimensions I found on AAR boxcar drawings.

I made a new uncoupling lever from steel so that it can be lifted with the magnetic wand.

The draft gear on the left has been modified by cutting off the face on the bottom plate and box.

The draft gear on the left has been modified by cutting off the face on the bottom plate and box.

That was a fairly easy install.   My next task was to look at how to narrow the draft gear and still maintain the coupler function.   I cut the sides off the box and examined how the coupler to could swing.

The box has been cut down the sides.

The box has been cut down the sides.

I realized that more can be cut to narrow the draft to the point that it will fit into a scale draft gear which are approximately 12″ wide.  I decided to make a pattern for a narrow box that could be dropped into a number of my built models.  Now to get some cast.

draft gear mod2

From left to right: the scale width pattern, the middle is the initial modified box.  The box on the right is what I installed on the Intermountain boxcar.

After operating a train for a couple of hours on Norm Buckhart’s massive layout.  I found that the couplers worked extremely well.  The magnetic wand makes uncoupling very easy.  While they don’t operate like a Kadee, you do feel more involved with operating the train.  I really liked them.

Happy Trails,








9 thoughts on “COUPLERS- Redux

  1. Gene,
    I have found the swing movement of the coupler can be changed by shortening the boss on the end of the coupler. The Stock coupler has a long boss to hold the spring. I found it was hitting the inside of the coupler box and reducing the swing. I’ve shortened the length of the boss and had improved movement.

    I am also experimenting with softer springs to allow a little more movement of the coupler. They still center and they will move easier in the draft gear.

    I really like these new couplers.

    George Losse

  2. Gene,
    I too really like the new Clouser/Protocraft coupler and the magnetic operation. I submitted an article to OST several months ago detailing the assembly, operation and other considerations for the Clouser couplers, especially the magnetic operation. Since then Norm has made everything easier with the pre-assembled new version. Thanks for the post on modifications you and others have made to make the draft gear housing more prototypical for those of us who try to do that. Keep up the good work.


  3. Jim
    The new coupler is a real boon to operation and modeling time. I still have about 25 pair of the original couplers sold by the late Bill Clouser and Bob Hegge later on. I intend to upgrade these couplers to magnetics as well.
    Hopefully, OST will publish your article soon. I am looking forward to reading about your experiences.


  4. Gene,
    Thanks for the report on the experiments. As always your info is really helpful. I have only done a few installations as yet, but that convinced me that this is the coupler for me, considering my planned operations on the new railroad. I know I will need to make some narrow draft boxes, too. When you say you are going to cast them are you talking of brass or resin casting?

  5. Gene:
    The changes you made to the box solved a major problem for me. Available space limits my largest radius to 24 inches. I have ordered one of the MKT box cars and the draft gear will require replacement if it is to operate over my curves. I now have the solution. Thank you.

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