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Michael Hannigan
Michael Hannigan, Internet Researcher
Category: General
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Experience:  Extensive experience in research and problem solving.
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Mike: I sent the last set of questions via a "COORDINATOR"

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Mike:

I sent the last set of questions via a "COORDINATOR" that contacted me just after we were talking about the specific electronics on the small distribution board. This person sounded "legit", but it appears that you never got the questions????

From now on I want to discuss my "MODEL TRAIN" concerns just with you or another specific expert you introduce to me, not a coordinator.

Here are the same questions that I gave the coordinator (her) to give to you.

1. I do not know if you live close to KATO/USA in Illinois???? If you do then would it be possible to visit and talk to the person who responded to me when I asked them if I could order up the (KATO/KOTO/MTH) DCC auto-uncoupler. There is a person at KATO/USA that knows about the DCC SPECIAL AUTO-UNCOUPLER they once made.

The "REASON", is to actually find a person that has seen and used the DCC auto-coupler for the purpose of asking them the following questions!

Performance of the DCC coupler, was it 100% effective. If it was NOT, how did it hang up???? What are its short comings? Is it true that the action takes 10 seconds, from open to close????

Will the coupler actually catch another coupler when forced together without activation???? I see the "Long Lever Springs", what weight in "Tenths of Ounces" do they take to work???? I am betting they take less than 1/8 OZ.

Can the DCC auto-uncoupler do a "Flying Drop"???? Then it would need to work much faster than 10 seconds!!!!

If there were only less than 10 DCC auto-uncouplers made is there an owner willing to talk about his/her experiences with it????

Was it worth the $450.00 paid????

This product is, "Public Knowledge". Why is there so little information out about it???? I can see a company NOT wanting to make a product. Either there was a life span issue, and a repair/replacement issue is not worth the trouble? Or there was a cost issue that increased production was not going to solve, only become worse. The $450.00 was not going to cover the problems associated with this product!!!! There was NO WAY KATO was willing to take on the PRODUCTION/SUPPORT issues????

MIKE, those are the questions that come to mind. I did tell the, "COORDINATOR", I was satisfied by your knowledge and willingness to research this issue. I do not know if you are a "Model Train Buff", but you are one of the few people I know that has heard of the KATO/KOTO/MTH DCC auto-coupler.

Sincerely,

Milton Chris Carris


1. I do not know if you live close to KATO/USA in Illinois???? If you do then would it be possible to visit and talk to the person who responded to me when I asked them if I could order up the (KATO/KOTO/MTH) DCC auto-uncoupler. There is a person at KATO/USA that knows about the DCC SPECIAL AUTO-UNCOUPLER they once made.

I don't live close, unfortunately. I live in Rhode Island, but the next time I go to Illinois (no plans at the moment) the first thing that's going to come to mind is "Milton" and "Kato" when I touch down on the tarmac.

The "REASON", is to actually find a person that has seen and used the DCC auto-coupler for the purpose of asking them the following questions!


Do you think such a person exists? I had read at one point that the only ones that were made were contracted out to a company in Japan - that they were not even made by Kato directly.

Performance of the DCC coupler, was it 100% effective. If it was NOT, how did it hang up???? What are its short comings? Is it true that the action takes 10 seconds, from open to close????

I have not read anything to lead me to believe they were anything BUT 100% effective, but then with the number produced, you couldn't produce a statistically significant sample even if you asked every one of the five or so owners. What I believe to be the case in terms of how they worked is that the current would contract the wire which would very quickly open the knuckle and then it would immediately start to cool. The way I understand it, it is the cooling process and the closing that takes 10 seconds. I am going to see if I can find that again.

Will the coupler actually catch another coupler when forced together without activation???? I see the "Long Lever Springs", what weight in "Tenths of Ounces" do they take to work???? I am betting they take less than 1/8 OZ.

I believe those are to open the knuckle on the other car. I believe that when opened and this moves, that it opens the other knuckle opens as well. I don't know, however, what would happen if they were forced together. Interesting question, though.

Can the DCC auto-uncoupler do a "Flying Drop"???? Then it would need to work much faster than 10 seconds!!!!

I am pretty sure it COULD do a flying drop if everything were timed correctly, and if I understand a "flying drop". Because the "drop" uncoupling could happen at any point before the switch as long as there is time to switch the track before the rolling cut reaches it. Is that legal to do in real life? It doesn't seem like it should be, but I see that it is done!

If there were only less than 10 DCC auto-uncouplers made is there an owner willing to talk about his/her experiences with it????

Was it worth the $450.00 paid????


Of course. What a silly question J

This product is, "Public Knowledge". Why is there so little information out about it???? I can see a company NOT wanting to make a product. Either there was a life span issue, and a repair/replacement issue is not worth the trouble? Or there was a cost issue that increased production was not going to solve, only become worse. The $450.00 was not going to cover the problems associated with this product!!!! There was NO WAY KATO was willing to take on the PRODUCTION/SUPPORT issues????

I think that at $450, (that's $200 just for the auto-uncoupler, right?), there was a fortune to be made in this product. If it was put into mass production, I don't see any difference in complexity between this and other parts companies are willing to produce - not just in model trains, but think about the common wristwatch! The only addition to the ordinary knuckle is the controller, a small piece of nitinol wire, and a small amount of steel. They could have mass produced the wire, springs and knuckle on a small bracket that could have been fastened to the tender or elsewhere (although I think controller a dozen of these at a time would prove challenging - maybe stick to the engine and the tender). Remember, that these models did have the auto-uncoupler in the front of the engine as well. I think if it were extraordinarily difficult or expensive to make, they could have put it just on the tender and impressed just as many people. I think the most important question to whether these would be profitable to a company would be if it could work when scaled to models larger than N because that would open up a huge market. I think that the issue here is that it was never even considered for mass production. It was offered as a "build to order" part only and then made by a contractor when customers took the initiative to order it (if they even knew about it). I think it was more of a marketing problem. For example, can you tell me (without looking) if Kobo Customs offers an MP36PH with DCC and interior lighting? Only if you were specifically looking for it, I suspect, because it's not in their catalog... but it is available as a build to-order. I don't think they could have run into any sort of life-span issue or anything they could even declare as widespread with so few of them being made.

Of note is that there are other items in their Kobo Customs catalog that were added in 2008 that are still there. So I suspect that the company that was making them to order just didn't have the time nor the desire to make one every "once in a while" even for $200... or they graduated college, or the guy that came up with it retired. What I'm saying is that it could have been anyone making these for Kobo, and the number that they made suggests that it could have been a guy in his garage that said "if you can get any orders for these, I'll make them".

MIKE, those are the questions that come to mind. I did tell the, "COORDINATOR", I was satisfied by your knowledge and willingness to research this issue. I do not know if you are a "Model Train Buff", but you are one of the few people I know that has heard of the KATO/KOTO/MTH DCC auto-coupler.

Well, thank you! XXXXX have to admit it's not surprising if only 5 people in the world have ever owned one. I am a "buff" of many things. I'm sure I'm not the train collector that you are. But I do appreciate the extraordinary detail you are seeking in your passion for the hobby. When I do something, I don't do it "a little". For example, coin collecting is one of my hobbies. I don't just collect different years and mints, I collect varieties. I may go back to a coin 10 or more times under a microscope on different occasions before I can attribute it to the exact pair of dies used to mint it. The vast majority of coin collectors are not "variety" collectors. Even only a few handfuls of us in the world who have ever spent enough time with a coin to determine that it's a "new" variety and have it designated as such. When I enjoy a hobby, that's the sort of thing I really enjoy about it!



Mike

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