To XXXXX XXXXXnigan:
I recognize the photos of the auto-uncoupler you posted. Those photos are at the site,"http://www.spookshow.net/kato282.html".
I also found on a web site, "http://www.wig-wag-trains.com/KatoPages/Locomotives/Kato_Mikado_Product-page.html
There is a listing that indicates Kato P/N:(NNN) NNN-NNNNKato 20th Anniversary USRA Heavy 2-8-2 Mikado was the only engine/tender set offered with a special DCC auto-uncoupler. The company's that actually built the coupler was KOBO/MTH.
I contacted Kato/USA this last week asking them how to order the DCC Auto-uncoupler for the Kato engine 2-8-2 Mikado.
The answer that I got back was:
The DCC coupling Mikado was a very limited custom production from roughly 5 years ago. I believe less than 10 in total were made. It is not something we produce any more nor is installing it a service we can provide.
Regards, XXXXX XXXXX
-----Original Message----- From: Milton Chris Carris [[email protected]] Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2013 2:04 PM To: [email protected] Subject: Message from Kato Online Store
From: Milton Chris Carris Email: [email protected] ------------------------------------------------------
I have been trying to find a P/N:(NNN) NNN-NNNNKato 20th Anniversary USRA HEAVY 2-8-2 Mikado with the KOBO SPECIAL DCC rear coupler.
I have not been successful in finding this engine/tender/coupler. I would like to up grade two later USRA Heavy 2-8-2 Mikado engines I own.
Do not have this special? How do I order the DCC couplers for replacement or retrofit? What is the cost for the parts or replacement service?
Please let me know.
Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX Carris
This is the first time I have got an answer and acknowledgement they were once involved with this product. Being that it was only five years ago (2008) and sold into 2009 I am sure that they still hold the archived drawings. I also know that KATO/KOBO makes in HO some diesel model train engines with DCC auto-uncoupler sets with MTH.
Now if you have the contact to KOBO (to see if they will make it) I would like to get it because KATO will not build the coupler. As you can see KATO states that they only built less than ten units. They can't have very much information as to life span and reliability. I believe that KATO was not interested at the time and still is not interested in having to warranty this product. Also at the original cost for the special (includes the engine and tender, $450) most model train hobby people stayed with the original magnetic couplers plus engine and tender at $250.00 The DCC auto-uncoupler can't be worth $200.00. This includes the decoder, distribution board, wiring, soldering, nitinol wire, spring steel, manufacturing, insulation and mounting, original coupler, etc. Is it possible that KOBO/MTH sold this for R&D costs plus materials???? If it is true that only 10 units were built then maybe only a few people were involved making what amounts to are prototype units. For the cost of the DCC auto-uncoupler it was possible to get almost another engine/tender set plus $50.00 KATO/KOBO/MTH did not think the project value vs cost vs want vs need.
So now the second part of my question was and is how do I get my two KATO 2-8-2 engine/tenders fitted with a DCC auto-uncouplers?
The first expert John C and you self can see that the photos show a coil wire (Nitinol Wire) pulls two spring steel wires (top and bottom). You are correct in that the decoder sends a current to the Nitinol Wire and as it heats it contracts pulling the two spring wires, thus opening the "knuckle coupler". As the current is turned off, the Nitinol Wire, cools and relaxes back to it, "Loosened condition".
The two spring steel wires (top and bottom) also act as springs as you can see the there are two loops configured between the Nitinol Wire and the ends of the two spring wires that hook into holes on in the top and bottom parts of the coupler. This allows the coupler enough movement allowing the action to couple when two cars or tender/car are forced together.
All of that said the other part of this is how long does all of this, "TUNED MECHANISM", last in action?
How is the Nitinol Wire secured to the spring steel wire. Nitinol Wire does not solder. Was it laser welded or is it mechanically tied together, hooked?
What are the materials (spring steel?), connectors?, spring steel
supports?, (mounts), insulators (kapton tape?) and other materials? used?????
If KATO/KOBO/MTH are not going to offer this coupler I need to find out how to build it myself or find someone to make it. What about yourself and John C???? INTERESTED????
It is a miniature mechanism. When you know the scale (size) in which it needs to be manufactured it is very small. It is a matter of adding up the purchasable items, manufacturing, assembly, testing, shipping and handling.
Please get back to me about finding a company, person or John C and yourself working out a plan to make some DCC auto-uncouplers that are less than $200.00 each.
Milton Chris Carris