Zamzoodled produce a range of model railway couplings and associated products intended for 7mm scale (1:43.5) although they have also been used for GN15 etc. The couplings are designed to replicate the chopper (Norwegian) type buffer-couplers as used on many narrow gauge railways. The Jones-Calthrop couplers are almost exact scale (1:43.5) representations of those used on the Lynton & Barnstaple and Leek & Manifold Railways. The round and square types are more generic styles.
A core principle of the system is flexible mounting to allow the couplers to move sideways on curves - various fittings are provided to support this. All the styles are designed to be compatible with each other. These model couplers will support automatic coupling and several means of manual and automatic uncoupling. The couplers are supplied with a chopper for one end only, which means all rolling stock needs to face the same way round. This matches common prototype practice. However, if a chopper is raised up out of the way it will couple successfully with another coupler+chopper, i.e. you can have a chopper at both ends, but this will preclude the use of iron tails/ electromagnetic operation on such couplings.
The key operational features of the couplers are as follows:
- All couplings are designed flex sideways on curves. The minimum radius that can be accomodated is largely dependent on the track gauge, wheelbase length and overhang, however experience shows that 2-6-2 locos can reliably haul bogie rolling stock around curves of 24" on 14mm gauge track. Tighter curves are possible with shorter 4 wheeled rolling stock.
- They will autocouple reliably as long as the chopper can successfully find the slot on the face of the mating buffer.
- They will support manual uncoupling via a magnet on a stick acting on an iron wire (supplied) loop in the chopper tip.
- They will support automatic uncoupling via an under track electromagnet acting on an iron wire (supplied) tail.
- They can be made to uncouple via DCC, however currently no components are supplied for this.
Experiments have shown that delayed uncoupling is also possible using a small latch, however as the optimum shape is yet to determined there are currently no components supplied for this.
These are scale model parts not suitable for children. They require careful preparation and setting up to work reliably. It is assumed the modeller will be reasonably skilled in filing, drilling, soldering etc. Most castings are produced in nickel silver which is fairly robust and can be easily blackened. A small amount of cleaning up/fettling and drilling out of fine holes should be expected. All instructions are available for download on the Instructions page
Note that reliable operation can only be achieved by:
- Ensuring the couplings can easily flex sideways and, to a lesser extent, up and down.
- Accurate fitting both centrally and to a common height – Note that Zamzoodled supply height gauges for this purpose.
- Ensuring the chopper, buffer faces and slots are smooth and the chopper can rise and fall freely.
- Planning your layout carefully. Coupling may work on gentle curves, but only if the chopper can reliably engage in the slot.
I would encourage you to carefully read the instructions which can be downloaded from the Instructions page.
Ordering and Despatch
This is a venture which is carried out in my spare time. I often work away from home which means it can be some days before I despatch any orders.
Please contact me in advance if you are thinking about placing a large order especially if you are happy to pay by bank transfer as this avoids the significant PayPal charges.
Those that have followed my modelling activities on the O14 group will know I deliberated for a long time about couplings for my long term O14 project The Pentewan Light Railway (fictitiously rebuilt as a 60cm line in the 1920s). Like many modellers I used USA style knuckle couplers which work very well, however they simply do not look right for the vast majority of British prototypes. I eventually set out to assess a whole range of alternatives and along the way started to make my own. Following several requests I have decided to make them available via this website.
My objective was to make accurate representations of the types of Norwegian chopper couplings used on many UK and Irish mainline narrow gauge railways such as the Welsh Highland, Lyton & Barnstaple, Welshpool & Llanfair, Isle of Man. Chopper couplings were also used extensively in Norway (hence the name), India, Australia, New Zealand and many former British Colonies.
If you are interested, my search for suitable couplings, and the initial steps I took towards making my own, were published in Narrow Gauge and Industrial Review magazine issue no 86. This issue also contains details on prototype chopper couplings. A further article in issue no. 87 covered my attempts at DCC automation.
JC January 2016