Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tool Tip Tuesday: Uncoupling Tool

What do you use to uncouple your cars? Unless you're using magnets of some kind, you're probably using some sort of skewer. Bamboo or other wood skewers are readily available, easy to use, and pretty effective. But they can sometimes be heavy-handed, especially when used by a heavy-handed person. And their thickness and width can make them a menace to a freight car's end details.

So, when I noticed some dental picks in the package of model railroad tools I got at the drugstore, I got to thinkin'..... and then I got my morning coffee, and got thinkin' some more . . . .

Why not put'em together?

The result is a VERY lightweight, inexpensive, easy to handle, and very narrow uncoupling tool. Not only is there a pointed tip to get in between coupler faces, but a little twist and those little tines help disengage the faces more easily than a wood skewer. My crews have been beta testing them during the last couple of operating sessions and they've been working well.

I used both gap-filling ACC and Canopy Glue to glue the picks into the stirrers. Both methods are effective, but one tool did fail during my last operating session (the pick got pushed up into the stirrer). I just need to figure out which adhesive I used on that one. I suppose one could insert a crosspiece of wire through the side of stirrer and through the pick (um, "skewering" it I guess), but that seems more trouble than it's worth. They've been working fine with just glue.

So you might want to try one of these out - you may like it. And if you think it innovative, don't bother sending the idea to MRH - they've already seen it. :)


  1. Hi Chris:
    Great timing on this, as I've just been doing my own experiments with various uncoupling tools. I'll have to check out the dental picks.
    - Trevor

    Port Rowan in 1:64
    An S scale study of a Canadian National Railways branch line terminal - in its twilight years

    1. Glad you like the tip! Be sure to let me know how it works out. YMMV of course - it'll be interesting to see how well they continue to hold up!