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A Look At Close Coupling Model Railway Coaches

A Look At Close Coupling Model Railway Coaches

Close Couplings


In this article we’ll take a look at eliminating the large gap between coach end gangways by closing up the gap between coupled up coaches. Giving a more realistic look to coupled up coaches. They are various methods of closing up the gap & we’ll look at two of them here.

Using standard tension lock couplings

Using tension lock couplings with the train being hauled there is quite a gap between the gangways on the coach ends as seen here on the right.




One way to improve things would be to use a flexible coach end gangway kit to help hide this gap. However we can improve things by changing the couplings.




Coaches with NEM sockets as seen here on the right allow for easy removal of tension lock couplings. Simply pull the tension lock coupling out of the NEM socket. NEM Socket is basically a box that takes any coupling designed to clip into the NEM Socket, of which there is various types NEM couplings on the market.




Bachmann supply with some of their coaches but also available as spares is the Bachmann Branchline  36-060 coach pipe coupling. Designed to simply clip into the NEM Socket coupling box it gives the impression of the coaches pipework being coupled between coaches. Seen here on the right is the 36-060 coach pipe coupling. The second coach like the first simply clips on to the end of this pipe coupling.




Seen here on the right is two Bachmann Mk2a coaches coupled up using the supplied pipe coupler. Using this system means running coaches in fix rakes. To uncouple pull the two coaches apart whilst holding the coupling pipe at one end.




On curves using the pipe coupling system, the NEM Sockets are fitted on mounts that move as the coach goes around the curve when coupled. Seen on the right the coupling moves & opens up the gap between the coaches on  curves to prevent derailments & coaches fouling each other.




Keen Systems Close Coupling System

Another British manufacturer of close coupling systems for British OO scale coaches is Keen Systems. They produce a range after market close coupling kits to fit most models of ready to run coaches by the likes of:

  • Hornby
  • Bachmann
  • Dapol
  • Airfix
  • Mainline
  • Tri-Ang
  • Replica Railways


Also close coupling kits for kit built coaches such as:

  • Ian Kirk
  • Ratio
  • Comment


On the two photo’s on the right is the Keen Close Coupling System fitted on a pair of Bachmann Mk2a coaches.



In the first photo on the right is tools you’ll need these being:

  • A pair of cutters
  • Glue
  • Screwdriver ( to remove the coach bogie )
  • Small screwdriver ( to help remove spring )
  • Small file
  • Peco loco service cradle ( Or similar / Or use a soft cloth to protect your coach )


The next three photos on the right show one of the Keen System close couplings for a Bachmann MK2a coach. Sold in pairs & also multi pairs packs. Two parts to each pair, the mount & the coupling it’s self. Each kit comes with full fitting instructions guide. The black knuckle coupler comes supplied on a kit fret. Cut & remove the coupler & file off any excess flash. As per the instructions you’ll need to file a little bit off one side of the knuckle. Having done that glue & fit the coupler into the supplied replacement coupling mount.




Unscrew the coach bogie screw.


Remove bogie.


Leave spring mounted on the coach.


Remove coupling mount off the spring.


Carefully fit the end of the spring on to the hole in the end of the replacement mount. You may need to open out the spring hole on the mount if it still has any flash in it. Use a small drill bit to do this.
Carefully fit the mount into the front recess at the coach end. Check that it moves freely from side to side.
Re-fit the bogie & securing screw for the bogie.
Check that the bogie can move freely, if not back off the mounting screw a little.
Repeat the changing over of the couplings on the next coach & so on.
To couple up lift one coach up so that the coupling of it is above the other on the opposite coach. Then slide the coach downwards so that the two couplings slide into each other. First time you try this you might want to swing both couplings to one side to allow more space to couple them up.
The couplings coupled up as viewed from the underside. One thing worth doing is to paint the exposed part of the coupling mount black. Keen Systems suggest black paint or use a black marker pen to do this.
So as seen on the right, on the straight it leaves a gap of around 1mm or less between the coaches. On the curves as seen in the second photo the couplings open out to allow passage around the curve. This system works on tight radius curves, across all point work, S-curves etc etc.

These coupling mounts will also work with Bachmann E-Z Mate Mk2 couplings (between loco & coach), Roco Auto Couplers & Fleischman  Couplers (Between both coaches as well as between locos & coaches).


For more details on Keen Close Couplings can found on their website


Happy modelling.

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