Talk Dirty To Me

Get A Little Closer...

As I have continued my exploration of 1 scale I have discovered many things that, in H.O., never really bothered me much, but in 1 scale they become much more painful to look at.  One thing that caught my attention in early 2003 was the distance between the 1-scale cars I had been collecting, notably the Marklin freight cars.  The distance between the buffers is over three-quarters of an inch, completely unacceptable.  I was not a big fan of the prototypical couplers, as I wanted to be able to couple and uncouple at will without it taking several minutes and painstaking labor to do so, so that solution was out of the question.  

I quickly realized that, since the freight cars were designed to negotiate 600mm radii, I could probably get away with much closer couplers, since Carstenbahn One has a minimum radius of 1020mm.

Thanks to some suggestions on Huebner's website, I was able to devise the following solution, which is applicable to the "newer" Marklin freight cars with removable couplers and sprung buffers.  I'm working on a solution for the older cars, but that's still in the works.  In the meantime, here is my quick and easy solution to close[r] coupling on Marklin 1 scale freight cars... 

Here is our candidate, a Marklin boxcar on the same standard frame as almost all their other freight cars.  Besides the car, you will also need a small Phillips screwdriver, a jeweler's flathead screwdriver, Marklin M-track (or C-track, I suppose) screws, and 5/32 and 1/16 drill bits.  First step is to remove the coupler, achieved with the Phillips screwdriver.

With the coupler off, it's time to make some modifications to the car.  

First we drill out the square opening for the coupler with a 5/32 drill bit.  This is done to give the head of the screw enough space to go in all the way.

Using the other hole as a guide, drill into the "rear" of the slot where the coupler used to be with the 1/16" drill bit.  You only need to go in about a half inch.  When you have completed this step, simply reinsert the coupler, but instead of sliding it forward into the slot, just insert the screw from the outside through it and into the "rear".  The screw will pull the coupling head towards the rear of the coupler pocket, not the front anymore.  If the coupler wants to pull forward because the screw threads are grabbing it, just ream out the coupler hole with a 1/8" drill (I just used the 1/16" bit and worked it around a little).

Here is how things should look when you are done: 

These are "before and after" pictures.  Notice where the coupler sits now, at the back of the socket...

That's it!  You are done!  For three minutes' time and a few simple tools (and one screw), you have improved the appearance of your freight consist.  How much improvement?  Judge for yourself:

Here are two more "before and after" pictures.  Note the dramatic improvement in appearance, even with my lousy photography...

Finally, here is a comparison of the modification in a 1020mm radius curve.  Note that the outside buffers are indeed touching, and are, in fact, slightly compressed.  There is still some additional compression possible, so the design does not increase the danger of derailment.  Instead, it has proven to be a simple and effective way of approving the appearance of your Marklin freight cars.

Next:  The Dirt on 1-Scale