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Motive Power for Micros
Suitable Couplers for Micros


Motive Power for Micros


I’m interested in different types of motive power used on micro’s. Are there any articles?
— R.K.


I’m not aware of any articles about micro motive power. Let’s start one right here!


Scale, gauge, nationality, and era/period modeled are ultra important factors in selecting motive power. Layout configuration and dimensions (including minimum radius of curvature) are also vital considerations. That said, here’s a list of perhaps the “most popular” locomotives used in various scales. For starters this is a U.S. list; I hope readers will chime in and add their observations about the most-often-used motive power!


– Carl Arendt, USA


By Scale:


G &ndash Hartland Mack 0-4-0 switcher


Gn15 – Sidelines Gnat; Schomberg Brookville


O – Atlas Plymouth; Yoder GE 25-ton diesel


On30 – Bachmann Porters and Davenport gas-mechanical


HO – Athearn or Atlas road switcher; Bachmann 44 tonner; Grandt Line 25 Tonner and 25 Ton Boxcab; Athearn/Roundhouse EMD Model 40


HOn30 – AHM Plymouth; Roco diesel switcher; AHM Baldwin saddle tank 0-4-0


N – For minimal size: Bachmann Plymouth and Docksider; medium/small reliable switcher: LL SW-whatever; best all-around switcher? Atlas/Kato RS-X.



Thanks, Carl…


Here in the UK we have similar options, although there are not many narrow gauge scales covered by ready to run items. The list of diesel loco models below covers the standard gauge options for shunting locos (switchers).


– Jim Tinnion, Shropshire, UK


By Scale:


1 – newly introduced Bachmann Brassworks Class 03/04


O – Bachmann Brassworks Class 03/04


OO – Class 03/04 and 08 by Bachmann; Class 08 by Hornby


N – Class 03/04 by Graham Farish (Bachmann)



I would suggest the Hornby J94 in is various forms It can be fitted with Kadees (no 5 or 148) to give remote uncoupling. I have one on my Inglenook which always gets a lot of interest at the minor exhibitions where I have displayed it.


– Peter Marler, Bucks UK





often used in any scale (either H0, TT or N scale): Köf


– Alexander Lehmann, GER



In G scale, or rather pretending to be, but actually slightly larger – LGB Feldbahn diesel, and in 1:20 scale, the Accucraft Whitcomb 4WD.


– Kevin Payne, England





Old timers to the 60es: Steam class 851 by Rivarossi
20s to the 70s: Steam class 835 by Rivarossi
After WWII to the sixties: Diesel class 236 (ex German V36) by LIMA and Ne 700 (former British WD) from UK
60s onward: diesel class 234 and 245 by Rivarossi; very small diesel “sogliola” (solefish) class 208 and 211, next year by Hornby Rivarossi;
Electric: E321 by Rivarossi.

All in HO Scale.


PS. Unfortunately the Rivarossi are all sold out, you have to look on the used market, or wait if the new Hornby Rivarossi will put these in their catalogue.


– Maurizio Melis, Italy



For ultra small US SG switchers, and industrial layouts, the allegedly forthcoming “Trackmobile” by Factory Direct Trains looks promising.


– Prof Klyzlr, Sydney Australia



UNITED KINGDOM. New Bachman “Junior” range locos, dcc ready and run extremely well out of the box, detail up or convert. Cheap as well!


– Don Thomson, Otley UK

Suitable Couplers for Micros


There are many different types of couplers in modelrailwayland. Some are more suited for use on small and micro layouts then others.




European manufacturers each had, and still have, their own coupler systems. The result is incompatability. The MOROP standardized all for political reasons, but it also meant that manufacturers began making replacement couplers for models from their competitors. Starting in the late 1980s, consumers demanded more and more prototype fidelity, including closely coupled trains and easier shunting. Today, a meriad of couplers are available.

  • Märklin still has the original loopcoupler and their ‘shortcoupler’. Neither is suitable for shunting.
  • Fleischmann has a high hook coupler and their Profi-couplers. Only their Profi-couplers can be used for shunting.
  • Roco has loop couplers, which are compatible with Märklin and others, and 2 types of shortcouplers. The latter are usable for shunting, the loopcoupler is not.
  • Hornby has low mounted hookcouplers on their UK range, not compatible with Fleischmann. The international range has loopcouplers. Neither can be used for shunting.

North America


In North America, the prototype quickly settled on a standard coupler. It evolved over the years, but the principle remains the same and so does their compatability.


Kadee was the first to make a coupler that resembled the prototype. They developed magnetic and delayed-magnetic operation, making shunting very easy. Kadees and their compatible competitors are now used almost universally on North American prototype models.


Sergent looked at the prototype and decided that he could make something more prototypical then the Kadee products. His couplers are used within the Proto:87 community, who strive to a prototypical model with no (or very small) compromises. Shunting can be fun, but it’s at least prototypical.


Because of the original Kadee patents a number of manufacturers developed their own incompatable horn-hook couplers for the US market. After the expiration of the Kadee patents these couplers have lost their use and manufacturers now either add Kadee style couplers on their products or supply no couplers at all.


– Vincent Wesstein



Add McHenry/Bachmann EasyMate to these two manufactures. McHenry makes both. These couplers have the large loop hole found on many HO cars. They come in a variety of shank lengths and shank position on the coupler head.


The difference between these and the Kadee #5 (20, 30, 40 -series) is the centering springs are whiskers facing toward the coupler head. This allows more room behind the mounting boss for truck clearance.


– Glenn Hazel





UK OO gauge mostly use the ‘tension lock’ type hook and bar couplers initially developed by triang in the 1950’s. This is usable for shunting however they are not very practical. There are also at least three different size couplings on current models, which means that it can be difficult to couple different manufacurer’s models (but not impossible).

  • Hornby mostly used a very wide bar, however the newest models are being released with the narrow style used by Bachmann
  • Bachmann ues a smaller ‘narrow style’ coupling, which has an improved visual appearence
  • Dapol use an intermediate sized coupler, however the newest models being produced (2008) are to be fitted with the narrow style coupler
  • Peco also provide an intermediate sized uncoupler for their 00 wagon kits. Peco also produce a ‘simplex’ type uncoupler, which was used by several UK manufacturers between the 1930’s and 1960’s, which is visually similar to a buckeye coupler. This is avaliable in both a manual and automatic version, the latter of which is more appropriate for shunting.


Many UK modellers use small hooks and chains (as used on prototype UK railways) or several specialist autocouplers produced by small firms. The autocouplers are useful for shunting whereas the hook and chain version is mainly used for accuracy. Other UK modellers (particularly of more modern layouts) use the US Kadee couplers.


UK N gauge uses the ‘Rapido’ couplers, which can be used for shunting, but like the tension lock, they are impractical. Peco, however produce a system of automating their couplings, however this only works on thier own modified version of the Rapido. Like in 00, there are also specialist autocouplers, however the hook and chain type is too small in N scale to be practical.


– Matthew Walters, UK



For 00 I use Kadee couplers on UK prototype, either 5s or 148s. A lot has appeared in the UK modelling press about this topic. The NEM pocket version of Kadee is not universally possible as the NEM pocket on different rolling stock and locos is not of a consistent height. So the 5 or 148 needs the removal of other couplings so that they gan be glued to the stock. This might mean some packing to obtain a consistent level. Therefore this conversion is only really applicable to small layouts with limited stock – or someone with unlimited time and patience. It is worth the effort as the remote uncoupling is wonderful for my Inglenook and also for Tymsavers.


– Peter Marler, UK



Europe again:


For HO European couplers, Märklin shortcouplers have the delayed uncoupling function, and therefore can be used for switching even if they are more cumbersome than Kadee. I also tested Roco and Fleischmann, but at the end they are equivalent to Märklin. The advantage of the Märklin is that they are mostly compatible with older loop couplers, so you do not have to refit all your fleet. Anyway, all of these are no match for Kadee-like couplers, but the latter get caught in the European style side buffers on anything less than large radius curved track. Something better if only four wheeled freight cars are used.


– Maurizio Melis ITA



Traction refers to electric traction in railways, meaning electrified mainline railways, trams/streetcars/trolleys/interurbans/light-rail, rapid transit, electric mine railways, etc.


Streetcars and mine railways are particularly well suited to micro layouts.


Here are some interesting/useful traction modeling sites: